Nicaragua: political violence leaves one dead

A Sandinista party member was killed and an undetermined number of Liberal Party opposition followers injured in clashes between rival demonstrators on highways around Nicaragua Nov. 21. Rafael Anibal Luna Ruiz, a 42-year-old mechanic, died in the northern town of Ciudad Dario from wounds suffered when he was hit with stones thrown by opposition supporters on the highway from Matagalpa to Esteli. The Sandinistas were headed to Managua for a rally in support of President Daniel Ortega, while the Liberal supporters were returning from a rally in the capital against him.

Some 50,000 opposition supporters marched in Managua chanting “Democracy yes, dictatorship no!” Perhaps twice as many Sandinista supporters—apparently including many government employees—gathered in a city square on the southern outskirts of Managua to celebrate the triumph of the governing party in the municipal elections of Nov. 9, 2008—victories considered “fraudulent” by the opposition. (AFP, LAHT, Tico Times, Costa Rica, Nov. 23)

Last month, the Sandinista majority on Nicaragua’s Supreme Court approved a controversial measure allowing Ortega to run for re-election in 2011. The six judges who voted in favor included three who were summoned as replacements when opposition magistrates did not attend the session. The opposition says the ruling is illegal, as a constitutional change needs to be approved by the country’s congress. (NYT, Nov. 16)

See our last posts on Nicaragua and Central America.

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  1. Nicaragua: political violence leaves 1 dead-What are the facts? reported “MANAGUA – Nicaragua’s media highlights Sunday that an estimate of 350,000 people participated in the pro-government march on Saturday in favor of President Daniel Ortega.”… “The radio report contrasts the huge Sandinista National Liberation Front’s crowd, “while right groups were protesting against the government with just 7,000 participants according to National Police’s estimates,” it added.” However, you are reporting 50,000 anti-government protesters. Who should we believe?

    1. That’s a good question.
      You should address it to our sources. AFP put the opposition rally at 50,000, while giving no figure for the Sandinista rally. Costa Rica’s Tico Times put the Sandinista rally at 100,000, while giving no figure for the opposition rally. Latin American Herald Tribune gave no exact figure for either, merely saying “thousands” turned out for the opposition and “several thousand” for the Sandinistas.

      1. Who cares???
        The number of people in the rallies is no importance since the government of Daniel Ortega has taken away the freedom of assembly by organizing violent counter demonstrations against the opposition. Whatever the numbers maybe, they do not represent reality in Nicaragua.

        1. Who showed up and why?
          I wonder how many pro-governmental “ralliests” actually showed up by paid supporters, bused in for show only? A true talley on support is in the most recent polls of “satisfaction” or “unsatisfied” with present government. Stuffing ballot boxes or throwing away ballots doesn’t mean the “voters” spoke or speak.

  2. More political violence in Nicaragua
    The world media is paying little note to the latest violent political crisis to rock Nicaragua. In a wave of protests that climaxed April 22, “turbas sandinstas” (Sandinsta mobs) beseiged the National Assembly building in Managua, and attacked it with rocks, stones and homemade bombs and mortars. (El Pais, Spain, April 22)

    The Economist (April 29) explains what it’s all about:

    The constitution allows a maximum of two, non-consecutive terms. So Mr Ortega, who was president from 1985 to 1990, is doubly barred. But last year his political allies in the Supreme Court ruled the relevant articles “inadmissible.” Faced with losing his majority on the court, Mr Ortega decreed an extension of the terms of the obliging judges. He also extended the tenure of senior officials at the national election council, which had allowed his party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), to claim victory in municipal elections in 2008—elections that the opposition and observers denounced as rigged.

    Opposition parties, which together hold a majority in congress but seldom agree on much, have united against all this. That prompted Mr Ortega’s ruffians to block access to the National Assembly. When the opposition assembled at the Holiday Inn, that became a target. The following day, a group of legislators was trapped in a meeting room by another violent crowd.

    The OAS has expressed its “deep concern” over the situation, while the UK, Sweden and Denmark have cut off aid. The US, EU, Germany and Japan have either scaled back aid or imposed conditions.