The crisis in Nicaragua is only escalating. Over the weekend, eight people were left dead as the protests against President Daniel Ortega’s government continue to rage on.
“Loud bursts of assault rifles were heard on Saturday morning, apparently emanating from makeshift roadblocks near a university campus, according to a Reuters news agency reporter in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital and the epicenter of protests since mid-April,” writes Aljazeera. “The violence flared hours after Ortega and civic leaders agreed on Friday to cease hostilities, remove roadblocks and allow for a foreign inquiry into the country’s bloodiest confrontations since a civil war ended in 1990.”
A building near the university caught on fire after the owner refused to let government soldiers access it.
“This is a massacre. A barbarity. These police surrounded the house and burned it after my nephew refused to let them put snipers on the roof,” said Jose Maria Hernandez, the uncle of the building’s owner.
Six people, including two children, died in the fire.
In the last few months of political unrest, there have been at least 170 deaths in Nicaragua.
In the city of Masaya, the streets have been deserted and the police station remains the only government stronghold. Food and resources are now scarce.
Ortega has lost control of most of the country.
There are over 120 barricades on the city’s main road, where rebels are searching vehicles and trucks to make sure the government isn’t transporting weapons.
In 2016, Ortega “won” the presidency for his third term in a landslide of a victory. He has managed to get control of the Supreme Court, the National Assembly, and the electoral commission.
He has suppressed any political opposition and refuses to step down.
“Talks between the government and a coalition of students and business groups to find a peaceful solution resumed Friday a day after a 24-hour strike paralyzed Nicaragua’s economy. But hopes of a quick resolution faded as Mr. Ortega’s representatives rejected a proposal to invite international observers to the country,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “The impasse could set the stage for a long conflict, some analysts say. Mr. Ortega has said he will consider a proposal by the Catholic Church to call early elections for March 2019, but he rejects demands he step down. Most cities are in open rebellion, including Granada, a quaint colonial city favored by U.S. tourists where the city hall was burned down, and León, the country’s second largest city.”
Ortega led a movement in the 1870’s against the former President/Dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle and later was elected president in 1984.
As a Marxist–Leninist, he has implemented controversial socialist policies like wealth redistribution and land reform. He has made alliances with other Latin American socialists, like the former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
Now, the majority of citizens believe he has lost his revolutionary roots and that he has also become a dictator that caters to capitalist interests.
The protests started after Ortega decreased pension benefits in April and have quickly turned violent after Ortega’s aggressive approach to handling the protesters.
Author’s note: This is yet another cautionary tale proving that socialism never works. Since it’s a small country, the crisis isn’t being covered as much. Could Nicaragua be on the brink of collapse like Venezuela?