The vice-president of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, has said that the communist government’s most recent brutal crackdown on priests and citizens was “the work of faith in God.”
Murillo, the wife of President Daniel Ortega, said that forcible removal of civilian protest blockades, which involved the death of four citizens, was nothing short of a divine miracle, according to reports Friday.
Having managed to recover mobility and security on the highway, Murillo said, allowing for traffic to move freely, was a “miraculous event, the work of faith in God.”
Over the past two months Nicaragua has been immersed in the bloodiest sociopolitical crisis since the 1980s, when Daniel Ortega was again president. The uprising and its suppression have resulted in more than 220 deaths in 75 days of anti-government protests.
The protests against Ortega and his wife began over failed reforms of social security but grew into a general demand that the socialist leader resign from his post after 11 consecutive years in power, amidst accusations of corruption and abuse of power.
The Catholic Church has been unusually critical of the leftist regime but has sought to play an intermediary role in a dialogue process between the government and the opposition. These efforts have been thwarted by the Ortega government, which has sought to crush the protests rather than enter into discussions.
In the latest skirmish, when a group of four priests from neighboring parishes tried to reach the highway blockade to speak with men under Ortega’s command, they were intercepted by a group of “five armed men, some of them wearing hoods,” according to Father Eugenio Rodríguez, who was one of the priests in question.
We were trying to draw near to “dialogue and prevent a clash between demonstrators and the police, but when we arrived, the paramilitary stopped us,” he said.
The paramilitary forces reportedly went beyond removing barricades, entering directly into neighborhoods, and social media showed pictures of armed men roaming the streets.
This week the human rights group Amnesty International announced that apparent overtures by the Ortega government to dialogue with the Catholic Church-backed opposition are “insincere,” since he has no intention of talking.
The Catholic Church has abandoned its “traditional solidarity” with the left — Ortega’s Sandinista Revolution — to support the oppressed opposition, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.
“Long a pro-government entity there, Church representatives have become increasingly vocal against the Ortega government’s crackdown on protests,” DW declared. “In recent weeks it has become more directly involved as a negotiator and strongly aligned with the opposition.”
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