Despite an agreement between Nicaragua’s government and sections of opposition, who vowed to refrain from violence, attacks claimed at least nine lives between Friday and Saturday alone.
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On Saturday morning, at 6:47 a.m. Nicaragua’s fire department reported a fire had been set in a three-story house in Managua’s Karl Marx neighborhood. Seven people were killed in that fire, including four adults and three children.
According to a statement by the fire department, neighbors told them that a group of masked vandals threw Molotov cocktails at the house causing the fire. The large house, which was used to store mattresses and other items, caught fire quickly.
On Saturday, the government and opposition started the second day of national dialogue, mediated by the Catholic church. During the roundtable detractors of Daniel Ortega’s government tried to place blame for the fire on the government, claiming it was Ortega’s supporters who burned down the house with the family inside.
Opposition politician Carlos Tunnermann said, “the government is not fulfilling the agreements made here in this roundtable.”
However, Nicaragua’s foreign minister, Denis Moncada read the fire department’s statement where they reported: “neighbors from the sector explained that masked criminals, who had laid siege on the neighborhood for weeks, threw Molotov cocktails inside the house starting the fire.”
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Later, a police report stated that at 8:45 a.m. municipal workers, police and neighbors who were removing roadblocks were attacked by masked criminals, who shot at them and killed Francisco Arauz and Antonio Fernandez. The report says their bodies were burned using gasoline and tires.
These are only the latest cases of opposition-led violence in Nicaragua, despite the opposition’s insistence that they are demonstrating peacefully. Photos and video of masked protesters using homemade mortars and Molotov cocktails were posted widely on social media Saturday. There are also several reports of opposition protesters attacking public servants, including health workers, and burning down public buildings and Sandinista buildings.
Thursday night, on the eve of a new round of talks two Sandinistas, Ulises Santiago and 15-year-old Nixia Jockin, were murdered in an arson attack against a Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) office in Bilwi.
On Tuesday an attack against government supporters in the town of Jinotepe resulted in the killing of two historical figures of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation, Marcos Gutierrez and Guillermo Mendez.
Earlier this month masked opposition groups burned the government offices complex called German Pomares in Leon, and in the city of Masaya opposition forces attacked public health workers.
"We were intercepted by 20 vandals near Pochotillo, with mortars," Health Ministry worker Dr. Silvio Navarro said. "We couldn’t pass: they surrounded us, they pulled us out, threatened to kill us and immediately proceeded to burn the vehicle.”
Furthermore, the nationwide roadblocks have created a problem of scarcity that is affecting all Nicaraguan families.
During May the same dynamic of violent attacks against government buildings, government officials, and suspected or outspoken government supporters was registered.
On May 30 opposition groups organized a series of violent protests destroyed several buildings, injured many and killed at least five.
Before that an opposition group armed with homemade mortars attacked a Sandinistas caravan heading to Managua for the Mother’s Day homage, killing two and injuring at least 12 people including police officers.
So far, the national dialogue promoted by Nicaragua’s Episcopal Conference has had no positive effect on curtailing deathly violence.
The Nicaraguan political crisis began in mid-April when protesters took to the streets against a proposed social security reform that sought to overcome the system’s financial crisis by increasing contribution by both employees and employers to avoid raising the retirement age.
Employers would have faced a 3.5 percent hike while workers a 0.75 percent hike. President Ortega withdrew the reform and issued calls for dialogue to avoid a spiral of violence, but the protester’s demand had shifted towards getting President Ortega to step down before his term ends in 2021.