More than a dozen killed in Nicaraguan protests

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University students takes part in a march against Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega in Managua, Nicaragua, Wednesday, May 30, 2018. The march ended in violence, as influential business leaders call for early elections to resolve a political standoff between Ortega’s government and protesters demanding his exit from office. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Violence in Nicaragua has claimed at least 15 lives this week, as protests against President Daniel Ortega rage on.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

The violence began in mid-April as people took to the streets protesting planned changes to the Nicaraguan social security system. The government scrapped those plans, but the rallies only grew and evolved into protests against Ortega’s leadership. The U.N. said more than 100 have been killed in all, and more than a thousand have been injured since the protests began.

Family and friends attend the burial of teenager Orlando Aguirre Cordoba who was killed by a shot to the head during a Mother’s Day march, in Managua, Nicaragua, Friday, June 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga)

Relatives and friends of Orlando Cordoba, allegedly killed by the police during a mother’s day protest against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, carry his coffin during his wake in Managua on June 1, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Inti OCON)

Protesters blame government forces. The Ortega government rejects any responsibility for the violence and blames criminal gangs.

On Thursday the Secretary General of the Organization of American States said the violence must end.

“Nicaragua lived through another tragic day yesterday, a day of repression, violence and death. We condemn the murders committed yesterday by the repressive forces and the armed groups and we are in solidarity with the victims’ families. We call on the state to stop the violence of these repressive factors,” said Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States.

The Central American nation celebrated Mother’s Day on Wednesday, but it was a bitter day for some mothers.

Yadira Cordoba, mother of Orlando Cordoba, allegedly killed by the police during a mother’s day protest against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, mourns during her son’s wake in Managua on June 1, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Inti OCON)

“On this day we cannot say that there is joy because there is no joy anymore because a son is not coming home because of this protest. To have love is to have them alive but now that they are no longer here, present in our hearts, we cannot be joyful on this date today, ” said Darling Rivas, whose son was killed in a protest.

The U.N. human rights office is calling on the Nicaraguan government to conduct an impartial investigation into the violence and is urging government forces to prevent further aggression and stop the violence.