The Nicaraguan government and opposition have resumed the national dialogue to stop the violence that has killed more than 150 people in two months, despite opposition-led attacks during Thursday’s 24-hour strike.
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Among the casualties reported Thursday were a 15-year-old girl who was killed in the city of Bilwi, and the kidnapping of a security guard in Jinotepe.
On Friday, members of the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission investigating the deaths of opposition members and government supporters called on the Episcopal Conference, which is mediating the national dialogue, to promote the cessation of violence.
The bishops also called on national media to stop inciting riots, and insisted the government of President Daniel Ortega accept intervention by a third party "to establish the truth".
Denis Moncada, Nicaragua’s foreign minister and government representative in the roundtable, vowed that "the government will coordinate with international institutions for them to accompany the national dialogue."
However, the government is also demanding an end to the roadblocks that have brought much of the nation to a standstill – a demand the opposition has so far been unwilling to fulfill.
Trucker Luis Jimenez criticized the roadblocks, arguing they violate the human rights of Central American transport workers who have been kidnapped. One of them, Teodoro Ruiz, was recently shot dead.
Moncada condemned the suffering caused by criminal gangs targeting the police, Sandinistas and public servants, and urged the opposition to respect human rights.
"Daily, we have seen, suffered and noticed everyone’s concern when they see how people, youths and adults are brutally murdered, kidnapped, tortured, gunned down… We must respect the human rights of all Nicaraguans," Moncada said.
The dialogue was halted on May 23 after the opposition demanded President Daniel Ortega step down before finishing his term in 2021. The demand was criticized by Moncada, who called it an attempted coup.
Opposition members insist the government is not allowing the Inter American Commission for Human Rights to enter the country, despite their arrival in May.
The Nicaraguan political crisis began in mid-April with protests against social security reforms that President Ortega later withdrew in a bid to halt the escalation in violence.