MANAGUA – At least one person died and two were wounded on Saturday amid a march seeking the freedom of “political prisoners” that took place in different municipalities of Nicaragua as part of the protests against the government, which have left hundreds dead since April.
The victim was identified as Lenin Mendiola, son of the peasant leader Benigna Mendiola, who died after a confrontation in the Nicaraguan city of Matagalpa between anti-government protesters and groups related to the government of Nicaragua.
Meanwhile, the opposition Civic Movement April 19 Matagalpa reported at least two people injured in an attack perpetrated by paramilitaries and groups related to President Daniel Ortega against a group of protesters participating in a march for political prisoners.
The attack, according to that opposition movement, took place near the Mayor’s Office of Matagalpa when supporters of President Ortega, supported by paramilitaries, attacked a group of civilians marching.
That version was confirmed by the activist Roberto Largaespada, of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH), who in turn corroborated the two wounded and whose names are under investigation.
The self-appointed demonstrators in Nicaragua on Saturday marched in different cities, including Managua, to demand the release of the “political prisoners” who have been imprisoned for protesting against the government.
The protesters, who have become in the last few months a source of significant pressure on the government, have raised their voices for freedom, justice and respect for the human rights of political prisoners who are in various prisons in the country, where they were taken “just for thinking differently,” the young Jorge Padilla told EFE.
According to sources opposed to the government, at least 135 people are imprisoned, after being kidnapped by the “combined forces,” composed of police, riot police, paramilitaries and groups related to the government, who capture them without a court order or proven crimes.
Padilla, a university student, considered that “the violent and repressive policy applied by Ortega is not worthy of a country that defines itself as democratic. This is not democracy, it is the most cruel of dictatorships, where one cannot even say what one thinks, not protest freely.”
Some of the most well-known “political prisoners” are the Alliance member and peasant leader Medardo Mairena, the rural leader Pedro Mena, the merchant Ireland Jerez, the businessman Cristhian Fajardo, as well as young African-Nicaraguans Brandon Lovo and Glen Slate.
Pro-government marchers chanted the slogan “Daniel stays” as the Sandinistas held a massive march in Managua in which they also called for justice “for the victims of coup-plotting terrorism,” formed, according to them, by the protesters against the government.
The militants and supporters of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) believe that the killings that took place in the country since the beginning of the popular revolts were encouraged by the protesters, even though they do not have the firearms of the state forces.
As if it were a lesson learned, Carlos Chavez, a self-confessed Sandinista, told EFE that “it is fair for Ortega to remain in power and for the coup leaders and terrorists to be judged as they deserve. They have killed 197 people and they must pay for it.”
Since April 18, Nicaragua has been engulfed in a sociopolitical crisis that has left, according to different human rights organizations between 317-448 deaths, while the government says the death toll stands at 197, thus becoming the bloodiest since the ’80s.
The protests against Ortega were initiated by failed social security reforms and became a demand for the resignation of the president, after 11 years in power, and who faces accusations of abuse and corruption.