Nicaragua: 'Mothers of April' call national strike

The "Mothers of April" movement condemned the "massacre" that took place during the group's march on Nicaragua's Mother's Day, and called on the business sector to declare a national work stoppage to press for the resignation of Daniel Ortega's government. “They went out to massacre that sea of people who came out to support us in our mourning, in the largest march in the recent history of the country. Therefore, we ask the business people to call a national work stoppage, because although we will suffer from hunger for a few days, it's better than them continuing to kill us," said Rosa Cruz Sanchez, mother of Michael Cruz, a the young man killed during the April protests. At the June 2 press conference, gathered mothers shouted "National strike! "National strike!" Many said they have continued to face harassment since May 30 Mother's Day march. "Unknown people continue to come to stalk our homes, continue to persecute us and harass us, we ask that they leave us alone when they are the cause of so much pain," said Graciela Martínez, sister of Juan Carlos Lopez Martinez, also slain in the April protests. (Nicaragua Confidencial via Havana Times)

The Mother's Day march in Managua, demanding justice for protesters slain in the April repression, itself turned deadly when it was attacked by police and pro-government turbas (mobs), leaving 15 dead and some 80 injured. Among the slain was a youth of 15 years. By some accounts, snipers and "paramilitary" forces also fired on marchers. Sporadic violence has continued since then around the country.  "Every day they’re killing more people," said Gonzalo Carrion, a lawyer with the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CINDH). "They are causing a wave of terror." (Confidencial, WaPo, El Pais, Today Nicaragua)

The days following the Mother's Day march saw street clashes and a stand-off in the city of Masaya. Five were killed in street fighting June 2, including one police officer and another youth of 15 years, before protesters took refuge in a church, which was then surrounded by security forces. Doctors were allowed into the church to treat the wounded and some 30 sheltering there were allowed to leave following mediation by Catholic clergy. As a result of the deal, 30 Masaya residents detained at Nicaragua's notorious El Chipote prison were also released. (BBC News, Nuevo Diario, Nuevo Diario, Confidencial)

On May 29, Amnesty International issued a report, Shoot to Kill: Nicaragua's Strategy to Suppress Protest, denouncing a "lethal policy of state repression" by the Ortega government. The pro-government press (El19, VivaNicaragua) routinely call the protesters "delincuentes de la derecha golpista" (criminals of the coup-mongering right).

Observations on Nicaragua protests

A couple of observations. First, in defense of the notion that the protesters are mostly middle class, I will note that the Madres de Abril are appealing to the bosses rather than the workers to initiate a national strike. I will also add that bourgeois composition of the protesters (even if true) is not a license for the government to carry out masscres.

And yet again, we have enigmatic prose (at best) by a human rights group, at a time when clarity is extremely urgent. What on earth can Amnesty International's Erika Guevara-Rosas mean when she says the "simulation of the government of President Daniel Ortega has reached inconceivable levels of perversion." Uh, "simulation"? Are you implying that the Ortega regime is not actually a government? Or do you just need a copy-edtor, Amnesty?

More killings in Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) told AFP news agency June 9 that one person had been killed in the northern city of Jinotega and another in the capital, Managua. In Managua, a man on a motorcyle was shot by gunmen also on motorcycles, in an apparenty politically motivated attack. Student protest leaders said the young man who died in Jinotega was killed during an armed attack on protesters who were guarding a road barricade intended to keep security forces back. "Paramilitaries linked to the government gunned down boys who were fighting in the streets for liberty and democracy," said a statement from the city's student movement, calling it "a night of terror." Protesters continue to block roads throughout the country. (Al Jazeera)

Nicaragua peace talks stall

Talks between the Nicaraguan government and local civil groups to end two months of political unrest stalled on June 15 after the government dismissed calls for an international probe into violence during the protests that has left 170 people dead. (Reuters)