Roadblocks Intensify and Death Toll Rises in Nicaragua

By Johnny Cajina (dpa)

Road closed. Photo: 100% Noticias

HAVANA TIMES — Roadblocks multiplied over the weekend in Nicaragua’s capital after the opposition called upon the population to organize and defend themselves against the Government in their peaceful nationwide protest.

Meanwhile, alternative media platforms have reported two more deaths in the northern city of Sebaco after paramilitary forces attacked and human rights organizations have raised the death toll to 139.

Stone barricades have been set up in Managua’s crowded neighborhoods such as La Luz, Ducuali and El Eden, which have now joined other neighborhoods in the capital where residents are trying to counter attacks of hooded henchmen who are shooting from pickup trucks without license plates in the middle of the night.

On Sunday, a caravan of people (several kms long) drove through a maze of streets in Managua calling for citizens to protest peacefully and “to organize themselves in order to defend themselves from the paramilitary attacks, who are sowing terror in Managua every night and killing young people.”

Protesters handed out flyers with tips on how to create so-called “Blue and White Committees” (the colors of the Nicaraguan flag) in every neighborhood, which mainly seek to prevent looting, the arresting of young people by the police and to stop paramilitaries from entering.

Sunday was tense but relatively calm day throughout most of the country, except for Sebaco (in the north) where a group of protesters was attacked in the afternoon which resulted in two fatalities, different media outlets have reported.

Meanwhile, political expert and academic from the opposition, Felix Maradiaga, who has been targeted as the “head of a criminal network” who is leading protests against Daniel Ortega’s government, has delayed his return to Nicaragua from the US after an alleged arrest warrant being placed on his head.

In a video he published on Twitter, Maradiaga accused the Government of running “a media circus” by accusing him to trial for crimes he hasn’t committed and he said his return would be taken advantage of to “sow chaos” in the country.

“I repeat my decision to return to Nicaragua in the next few days. However, after analyzing the situation with very serious sources, we have concluded that it isn’t the right time for me to fly back to Managua tomorrow. I am putting it off for the time being,” said the political expert who has denounced the Nicaraguan crisis in the United States, along with a group of students and civil society.

Funeral procession on June 8th in Jinotega for the 17-year-old Abraham Castro Jarquin. Photo: S. Cruz / laprensa.com.ni

On the other hand, the Government has kept quiet about the opposition’s dialogue agenda which seeks to “democratize the country”, delivered to the president by the bishops of the Episcopal Conference on Thursday.

Instead the Ortega-Murillo government called on their followers’ to take part in a “tweet for peace” campaign on Twitter and to pray for the nation with a Puerto Rican Evangelist who preached in Revolution Square in Managua on Sunday afternoon.

The death toll in Nicaragua as a result of the crisis that broke out in April now stands at 139, informed the non-governmental organization Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) reported on Sunday.

According to CENIDH, most of the fatalities are young men with a common pattern: high caliber bullets to the head, neck or torso, linked to possible sniper executions.

Nicaragua sunk into crisis on April 17th after students protested against the Government’s new Social Security reform law, which affected thousands of workers and pensioners.

However, protests spread all over the country as a result of Police and paramilitary lethal violence against unarmed civilians.

After 54 days of peaceful protests, with over 125 stretches of highway are blocked off by roadblocks, as a growing number of Nicaraguans are now demanding President Ortega and his wife, vice-president Rosario Murillo, leave power as the only way out of the crisis.

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