U.S. Shuts Down Embassy Ops in Nicaragua [VIDEO]
U.S. Shuts Down Embassy Ops in Nicaragua [VIDEO]
April 24, 2018
There’s been plenty going on in the world of popular uprising and civic unrest, from Syria’s civil war to starving Venezuelans firmly renouncing socialism as a leg up to better things. What’s escaped notice – because of those headlines – is that Nicaragua is also going up in flames – ostensibly fanned by a fight over Social Security.
Mr Ortega, who ruled the Central American state from 1979-90 and is currently on his third consecutive term in office, vowed over the weekend to withdraw the planned social security reform that triggered the unrest in which human rights activists says more than 25 people have been killed, and which shows no signs of stopping.
The changes would have increased pension contributions from workers but paid out lower benefits in a bid to rein in the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute’s deficit, which has nearly tripled in three years to $77m in 2017, according to central bank data.
Announcing his U-turn, Mr Ortega said he was “clearing the table” to allow discussion of the reform issue. But he warned: “We have to re-establish order. We cannot allow chaos, crime and sacking to take hold here. We cannot allow it.”
Protests were first called against Ortega’s plan last Wednesday and have escalated in violence since. He backed off with a statement Sunday night, but it was too late to stop the snowball effect of years of resentment, as well as the angry citizens’ reaction to a brutal government crackdown of both media and protesters. In a classic socialist blunder, they’ve alienated the very students they depend on to keep them in power.
The embattled president had tried to placate the protesters on Sunday by revoking a pension reform plan that would have increased both employer and employee contributions and reduced benefits, in a bid to cap a rising $76 million deficit at the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS).
It was that plan that first sparked a wave of student protests on Wednesday that quickly spread to other sectors of Nicaraguan society.
– ‘No space for dialogue’ –
“The protests are no longer just about the INSS, it is against a government that denies us freedom of expression, freedom of the press and to demonstrate peacefully,” 26-year-old political science student Clifford Ramirez told AFP.
“We believe there is no longer space for dialogue.”
The demonstrators won the backing of workers and retirees angered by government corruption and the deterioration in living conditions, with people coming out to show their support by banging kitchen pots.
…- ‘We want new leaders’ –
Before his U-turn late Sunday, Ortega had agreed to hold talks with the private sector, only to be rebuffed by business leaders who said there could be no dialogue unless his government “immediately ceases police repression.”
Ramirez said the bloodshed ruled out any chance of resolving the crisis through talks.
“We can no longer accept this government, we are protesting so that the Ortega-Murillo couple leave power,” the student added.
He said young people do not feel represented by the opposition parties that have in recent years backed Ortega, nor by the business leaders who supported him since his return to power in 2007.
“Since the Sandinista Revolution in 1979, we’ve had the same political leaders, they don’t let anyone else come in,” he said.
“We want a new leadership who represents the youth.”
In what has to be a shock to the system of the old revolutionary, the new kids are tired, tired, TIRED of his fascist schtick. The part where there’s no jobs, no future, the state runs your life and it’s still…well…Nicaragua.
Esther Chavarria, a 26-year-old architect who joined Monday’s march, said: “Nicaraguans are saying enough violence against the people, no more repression and violation of the constitution.”
In an intensification of the rhetoric, students made it quite clear what the end game was and Ortega should know this music well. He wrote it to use against someone else:
Students leading the protests vowed to keep up their demonstrations until the 72-year-old leader and his wife, vice-president Rosario Murillo, are ousted.
The students have taken over the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua and have drawn various coalitions together with their anti-Ortega message. Including not just the business community, which was virulently against the Social Security scheme, but also anti-Sandinista groups nurturing decades of festering grievances.
The march Monday headed to the Nicaragua Polytechnic University where students have taken control of the campus. The Nicaraguan Medical Association confirmed two deaths occurred Sunday night during a clash at the university.
Their sense of maltreatment has only been bolstered during the protests by groups of Sandinista thugs, pro-Ortega motorcycle gangs and the live ammunition used by police to terrorize, injure and physically intimidate those in the streets. In one horrifying incident, a local journalist was killed while reporting on Sunday:
In one particularly shocking development over the weekend, a local journalist, Ángel Gahona, was shot dead while broadcasting a Facebook Live report about damage caused by the riots that have escalated since demonstrations against the reform first began last Wednesday.
The Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights, or Cenidh, said what had begun as opposition to the planned social security measures “has become the trigger propelling legitimate demands against another series of outrages on the part of the current government”.
La Prensa, a historic Nicaraguan newspaper whose editor’s murder in 1978 fuelled riots that led to the overthrow of dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 by Mr Ortega and fellow Sandinista rebels, demanded in an editorial that the president must go.
It’s not so easy to keep the peasants in the dark any more and the uprisings by a boisterous few to isolated instances. Nicaraguans have cell phones and satellite dishes. Maybe nothing compared to your average middle class American neighborhood, but they are wired all the same. I remember my blessed MIL coming back from her native Panama about 15 years ago. All she could talk about was how every Indian in the interior…had a cell phone. “Chachacha” she mimicked. They were all talking to someone, ALL the time. Whatever a regime does in real time is now news to everyone before you can snap a finger. And there’s no controlling it. Word is getting out. So is organizing a resistance.
All this led to Monday’s march by tens of thousands of Nicaraguans…
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans marched Monday in the capital to protest government repression and call for peace after several days of violent demonstrations set off by a social security overhaul.
Human rights groups say clashes between police and protesters left nearly 30 dead since people took to the streets last week to oppose tax hikes and benefit cuts meant to shore up the ailing social security system.
…and to the United States State Department making the decision Monday afternoon to pull its diplomats OUT:
The US withdrew its diplomats out of Nicaragua on Monday after days of deadly protests against the government of leftist strongman Daniel Ortega.
The move came after Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, condemned “the violence and the excessive force used by police and others against civilians” in protests sparked by plans to overhaul Nicaragua’s social security system, which the International Monetary Fund last year warned was on course to run out of cash by 2019.
They’re raising the threat level, urging U.S. citizens to reconsider travel and working on getting folks home safely.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is shutting down routine operations at its embassy in Nicaragua and pulling out some if its employees amid a string of deadly protests.
The State Department says it’s raising the threat level for Nicaragua and encouraging Americans to reconsider plans to travel there.
Family members of U.S. diplomats who also work at the embassy are being ordered out of the country until security improves. The State Department says it’s also allowing U.S. government officials posted to Nicaragua to leave “on a case-by-case basis.”
Another side effect of the chaos and U.S. pulling out Monday afternoon?
It said the purchase of food and fuel may become harder and access to the airport in the capital of Managua may be blocked.
Well, we’ve seen THAT show before! Speaking of which – you’ll never guess who Ortega is turning to in his time of trial and tribulation. (Come on, GUESS!!)
Okay. I’ll tell you.
Ortega received support Monday from Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, who said the protest outbreak was “a violent ambush by groups that sadly have already done a lot of damage.”
One old socialist commandante to another, commiserating on the phone to each other about “kids these days.” Aw, c’mon guys. Bust out the Che tees, a good Cuban cigar, some purloined rum and let rip about how life has treated you so badly, while the ingrates you tried to bring the wonders of collectivism to burn the place down around your ears.
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