Ortega Hangs on to Power in Nicaragua Through Fear and Repression
Yesterday's national strike brought Nicaragua to a halt, but didn't bring the Central American nation any closer to a resolution to its political crisis. The strike was organized by Nicaragua's "Civic Alliance" seeking the release of activists and student leaders imprisoned by President Daniel Ortega's government.
The Guardian: "Most shops and small businesses in the capital were closed on Friday, while in the nearby city of Boaco, local media reported only 7% of businesses were open."
"Jorman Estrada, 23, lounged outside the bar where he normally works as a waiter. “All the bars, restaurants and businesses in this neighborhood decided to close today to support the national strike. We all have to work together to end the repression,” he said."
The strike was called just days after the United Nations issued a scathing report on human rights abuses in Nicaragua.
New York Times: "The Nicaraguan authorities and paramilitary groups working with them have killed, tortured, raped and forcibly disappeared anti-government protesters, creating a climate of fear that is driving thousands of people to flee the country, the United Nations said Wednesday."
“Repression and retaliation against protesters continues in Nicaragua as the world looks away,” said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations human rights chief, in a statement."
Around 300 people have died and more than 2,000 have been injured as the authorities resort to multiple forms of repression — including extrajudicial killings, widespread arbitrary detentions and the ferocious intimidation of critics — to curb protests in the past five months, according to a report released by the rights agency."
The success of yesterday's national strike should send a message to Ortega that the opposition is organized and growing.
The Guardian: “This strike is how the people tell the dictatorship that they won’t take any more of this repression,” said Dora María Téllez, who played a key role in the 1979 Sandinista revolution, but later split with Ortega and founded the MRS. “This is evidence that the struggle against the Ortega dictatorship continues, that we Nicaraguans will not give in until Nicaragua has justice and democracy.”
So far, however, Ortega remains adamant that he won't step down and refers to the protesters as terrorists.
The Guardian: The government, however, describes the protesters as terrorists and fake agitators paid by foreign organizations.
“The majority in Nicaragua want work and peace,” Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife and vice-president, said on Monday. “[But] there are still blind people out there … these small groups [are] of bitter, blind, low-lifers, souls full of misery.”
As the stand-off continues, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans are fleeing the country, many to Costa Rica, and its once burgeoning tourist industry has crashed, leaving thousands unemployed.