Nicaragua’s communist dictator Daniel Ortega over the weekend described the government’s violent crackdown on protesters demanding his exit that has so far killed more than 300 demonstrators since April as a “battle for peace” that follows in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
According to transcripts of Ortega’s speech addressing a pro-government rally on Saturday in the capital Managua, the 72-year-old dictator described his opponents as criminals, murderers, torturers, terrorists, and “sons of the evil one” denounced by Jesus Christ.
“We are fighting in these weeks, in all these days, fighting once again a battle for peace,” Ortega declared, later adding:
Christ never said: kill your brother … Christ never said it! Christ said: ‘Love your brother as yourself,’ and that is what we Nicaraguans have to practice, and that is what all of us should do, all without exception, even those who throw curses and they sentence us to death in the name of Religious Institutions … Christ commanded us to love one another, and that has been our effort in the Christian, socialist, and solidarity practice, and will continue to be our effort and it is our commitment.
His comments came a day before pro-government paramilitaries kidnapped a prominent pastor and carried out attacks against anti-Ortega groups that left 14 people dead, including a Christian translator murdered in front of his children, one anti-riot officer, one paramilitary member, and two police officers, according to the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH) and Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).
“In one of the deaths, the victim’s body was doused in gasoline and set on fire,” United Press International (UPI) reports, citing Nicaragua’s El Nuevo Diario.
The recent deaths raised the death toll at the hands of the Ortega regime since the unrest began on April 19 to more than 309 protesters.
On Sunday, Alvaro Leiva of the ANPDH revealed, “the number of people kidnapped, missing and injured is indefinite,” El Nuevo Diario reports.
Echoing her husband’s speech on Saturday, Rosario Murillo, the first lady and vice president of Nicaragua, described the Communist regime’s repression against the Catholic Church and the protesters as “God’s work,” Crux notes.
Taking the role as a mediator, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has come out in support of the oppressed opposition.
On Sunday, Nicaragua’s Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and Bishop Rolando Alvarez addressed President Ortega and his vice-president and wife directly, blaming them for the increase in repression in the country, El Nuevo Diario reports.
“In the name of God, stop this action that will bring more pain and sadness. Whether you like it or not, this situation bears on your shoulders,” Cardinal Brenes proclaimed in his homily at the Cathedral of Managua on Sunday amid the wave of the attacks that left at least 14 people dead.
“They are criminalizing and terrorizing this country,” Archbishop Alvarez added, referring to the Ortega regime’s use of weapons and irregular forces.
On Sunday, U.S. Ambassador Lauren Dogu, the American envoy to Nicaragua, reported gunfire near her house in Managua on Twitter.
“Confirming there was gunfire near my house. My house was not targeted, and I am ok. I am very concerned at reports of violence this weekend. I condemn the violence, and my prayers are with all the victims and their families,” she wrote.
Confirming there was gunfire near my house. My house was not targeted and I am ok. I am very concerned at reports of violence this weekend. I condemn the violence and my prayers are with all the victims and their families.
— Kevin K. Sullivan (@USAmbNicaragua) July 9, 2018
On July 6, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration ordered non-emergency American government personnel to leave Nicaragua and advised travelers to reconsider going to the country.
The Trump administration on July 5 reportedly slapped sanctions on three top Ortega government officials over human rights abuses, corruption and ordering attacks on peaceful demonstrators.
On Monday, the United Nations urged the Ortega regime to end the violence.