Nicaragua braces for general strike as political unrest spreads





Managua -By Gabriela Selser, – Nicaraguans were bracing for a nationwide 24-hour general strike called by the opposition, with many people stocking up on food ahead of the stoppage expected to bring the country to a standstill on Thursday.



 
The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy in Nicaragua, which includes student, civil society, private sector and peasant representatives, called a nationwide strike following one that was restricted to the city of Leon on Tuesday.
The alliance wants President Daniel Ortega to "stop the repression" against demonstrators and to resume a dialogue mediated by the Catholic Church, the group's representatives said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The dialogue was suspended after the government refused to include the resignation of Ortega and early elections on the agenda.
Nicaragua has been in turmoil since April 18, when protests erupted against new taxes on old age and disability pensions, as well as an increase in social security contributions.
The official death toll from the violence stands at 42, while the human rights group Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH) puts it at 149.
Markets in the capital Managua on Wednesday were largely paralyzed.
People moved with caution as masked gunmen, whom the opposition regards as pro-government paramilitary groups, have been patrolling the streets and firing at shops or people.
Supermarkets, however, are functioning normally.
The educational system is also largely paralyzed after students joined protests and occupied some universities.
The strike announcement followed the reported deaths of five people on Tuesday.
They included two killed during clashes between police and demonstrators in Jinotepe near Managua; a man killed in a shoot-out and the discovery of another body in Jinotega in the north; and the death of a peasant from bullet wounds in Siuna in the north-east.
Meanwhile in Leon in the west, alleged paramilitary groups dismantled barricades erected during the city's Tuesday strike.
"Today the city woke up full of barricades, and traffic is limited. Yesterday's strike was successful and now people are preparing for Thursday's national strike," Anibal Toruno from the local radio station Dario told dpa.

 


Wednesday, June 13th 2018
(dpa)
           


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