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)