MANAGUA – At least two people died and two were wounded Saturday in an armed attack by a police unit against university students seeking refuge in a Managua church, Nicaraguan Cardinal Leopoldo Jose Brenes announced.
“Unfortunately, two young people lost their lives this morning and another two were wounded,” Brenes, who is also the archbishop of Managua, told a press conference.
“For us (in the Catholic Church), it is terrible and we have said it on may occasions: Not one death more,” Brenes said with regard to the sociopolitical crisis Nicaragua is going through, the bloodiest since the 1980s and which has taken at lease 351 lives since last April 18.
One of the dead was identified as Gerald Vasquez, 20, who was studying to be a construction technician at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN). The other has as yet only been identified as Francisco.
Both of those students – who had been hiding out since Friday night in the rectory of Divina Misericordia parish in Managua, together with a dozen other students, three journalists, doctors and priests – were shot and killed, the priests said.
The other students, who had been hunkered down since Friday night in the parish, managed to get away in cars, SUVs and a bus to the Metropolitan Cathedral, escorted by bishops and the Nicaraguan Red Cross with the mediation of the diocese.
These students were handed over to their families in the garden behind the cathedral in the presence of Cardinal Brenes and the papal nuncio, Stanislaw Waldemar Sommertag, amid the singing of religious hymns and the Nicaraguan national anthem.
The students were greeted by a crowd that chanted protest slogans like “A people united will never be defeated,” while raising their fists as a sign of victory.
The young people, who were more than 16 hours hiding in the church, were hugged by their mothers, brothers and sisters and other family members who shed tears of emotion to see them alive.
Meanwhile protesters riding cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pickup trucks paraded through the streets of Managua demanding Daniel Ortega’s resignation.
During that caravan of vehicles called “Together we’re a volcano,” called by the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, Nicaraguans demanded Ortega’s resignation because they see him as the direct cause of the at least 351 people killed in almost three months.
“Go, get out!.”..”Long live a free Nicaragua!.”..”Long live the students!.”..”They weren’t criminals, they were students!.”..”Long live the Catholic Church!” were some of the slogans shouted by the demonstrators while waving the blue and white flag of their country.