Nicaraguan government forces attack Monimbó (July 18, 2018)
Over 1,500 Nicaraguan police and pro-government paramilitary forces swarmed Masaya's indigenous Monimbó neighborhood at dawn yesterday in a battler that lasted over five hours. It was the last rebel bastion in the city that has been at the fore of protests against President Daniel Ortega's government. It's the first time since mid-April that government forces recovered control of Monimbo, and heavy machinery was used to clear citizen barricades.
In a symbolically important city -- a traditional Sandinista stronghold -- Monimbó is particularly emblematic for its historic role of resistance against the Somoza dictatorship. The timing is crucial, the government seems to be angling to crush resistance before tomorrow, the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista's overthrow of Somoza. It's also the three month anniversary of the uprising against the government. (Confidencial, Wall Street Journal, El País, Associated Press and Al Jazeera)
On Friday and over the weekend, the government cracked down on remaining focuses of resistance in Managua -- namely the UNAM campus -- and around the country. (See Monday's post.)
The Asociación Nicaragüense Pro Derechos Humanos (ANPDH) counted at least three dead in the Masaya clashes yesterday, and protest leaders said there were five dead. Testimony seems to indicate that one of the victims, Emilia Castro, was executed by paramilitaries after being captured in her home. There were widespread reports of pro-government forces detaining citizens.
Masaya was shut-off to outsiders yesterday. Press and human rights organizations were prevented from entering the city, reports Confidencial. In the evening, Alianza Cívica members denounced security forces and paramilitaries were searching homes.
Government officials said the city had been "liberated from blockades" and Vice-President Rosario Murillo said "security and peace" had been restored. (BBC)
Yesterday the National Assembly passed two laws aimed at criminalizing opposition to the government, reports Confidencial. One of the new laws characterizes damage to public and private property in a protest as "terrorism" and punishes it with 15-20 years in jail. Another could be used to punish fundraising for opposition groups.
The attorney general's office charged Alianza Cívica negotiator Medardo Mairena of organized crime, terrorism and the deaths of four police officers in the context of the protests, reports EFE. Campesino leader Pedro Mena was also charged. The preliminary hearing was held yesterday without the opposition leaders' having proper representation, according to Confidencial.
The ANPDH denounced that paramilitaries are interfering with humanitarian actions. Paramilitaries and security forces alike shared pictures on social media after the clashes, showing the paramilitaries in their ski masks and blue t-shirts, toting assault rifles.
International condemnation has been growing louder from around the world. Yesterday the U.N. human rights office has asked the Nicaraguan government to open all prisons to monitors and called for a halt to violence. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the number of dead was "unacceptable" and noted the government's responsibility to protect citizens. Costa Rica, Spain, and the U.S. joined the chorus of criticism and the OAS is expected to vote a resolution condemning the violence today. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay expressed concern in a joint communique and denounced "violations of human rights and fundamental liberties." (Al Jazeera and EFE)
Confidencial covers the heart-rending funereal of a young student killed in Saturday's clashes at the Divina Misericordia church.
With the Sandinista Liberation Day anniversary, the historic parallels between Ortega and the dictatorship he helped overthrow four decades ago are more glaringly obvious than ever, writes Charles Lane in a Washington Post opinion piece.
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