MANAGUA – Fifteen people, most of them youths, who had participated in recent anti-government protests, were released from a Nicaraguan prison on Friday through the mediation of the Catholic Church.
Thirteen of the 15 detained protesters had been held at a facility known as El Chipote, while the two others were held in preventive detention, Rev. Miguel Mantica told reporters.
The fifteen protesters were reunited with their relatives at the Managua Cathedral’s gardens.
The youths who had been held at El Chipote, an infamous prison that was used during the Somoza dictatorship, were immediately embraced by their mothers and other relatives.
An especially moving case was that of Anastasia Espinoza Centeno, 96, who had began protesting this week in front of El Chipote to demand the release of her 27-year-old grandson, Bernardo Jarquin Urbina.
“We don’t want any more arrests, we don’t want any more deaths or people being injured. I hope we can find another way,” Rev. Mantica said.
The unrest, which has led to more than 200 people being killed, dates from April 18, when violent protests began against a controversial plan to overhaul the pension system.
Though the government abandoned the plan, protests continued and opponents began demanding the resignation of President Daniel Ortega, now in the 11th year of his current tenure.
He previously governed the Central American nation from 1979-1990 after leading the Sandinista revolution that overthrew US-backed autocrat Anastasio Somoza.
Ortega, 72, was re-elected in 2016.