Nicaragua pro-government forces retake opposition stronghold of Masaya

Latin America

In Nicaragua pro-government forces have seized a stronghold of opposition protesters.

It’s the latest move in a crackdown that’s left more than 300 people dead.

CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports.

Pro-government forces fought for hours with Nicaraguan protesters before seizing control of the town of Masaya, located 30 kilometers southeast of the capital, Managua.

“There is an escalation of violence and repression and there is a diversification of the forms of repression in the country. Now there are kidnappings, land grabs, invasion of houses to kidnap people in the early morning hours. The situation in Nicaragua is alarming and is getting worse every day,” said Paulo Abrao the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Tens of thousands of protesters call Ortega authoritarian and corrupt. They demand his resignation. Street demonstrations against the Ortega government have continued since April, when he called for cuts to Nicaragua’s social security program.

That program is designed to provide economic support and services to elderly, disabled and underemployed people in one of Latin America’s poorest nations.

President Ortega, who has governed for the past 11 years, condemns the protest movement, accusing its leaders of being terrorists and leaders of organized crime.

“If the coup-mongers want to reach the government, they’ll need to seek the vote of the people. Let’s see if the people will vote for the coup-mongers who have caused so much destruction these days,” said Daniel Ortega the President of Nicaragua.

Ortega led an armed revolution against a Nicaraguan dictator in the 1970s. He has been democratically-elected as president in three consecutive terms.

Ernesto Cardenal is one of Nicaragua’s most renown writers. He served as Minister of Culture during the first Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega. Cardenal now denounces Ortega.

“What’s happening in Nicaragua is very tragic. We have lost the Revolution. Sandino and the Revolution have been betrayed. We do not have a government of the left. It is a dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and his wife,” said Ernesto Cardenal a Nicaraguan Poet.

As Nicaragua’s deadliest political crisis since the 1980s continues, the United Nations has criticized a law passed by the country’s National Assembly to arrest protesters and charge them with terrorism.

Nicaragua’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the UN’s statement, calling it a manipulation of the Central American nation’s sovereignty.