For over a month Nicaragua has faced a social and political crisis. Among other causes, it was prompted by President Daniel Ortega’s abrupt announcement of a Social Security reform that would increase taxes and decrease benefits, affecting workers, employers and retirees. This circumstance triggered massive demonstrations and civil unrest which started mostly with university students but quickly spread to the general populace across the country.
The first protests began on 18 April and were greeted with a heavy response from security forces and regime militants (known as turbas divinas, or “divine mobs”) using live ammunition on the activists. After five days of rallies, marches, road blockages and occupation of government facilities and universities, as well as the killing of nearly 30 people, Ortega announced a cancellation of the reforms. However, around that time the opposition has continued to denounce the President’s violent reaction to the rallies and to demand his resignation.
On 29 April, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua city, for the “peace and justice” march organized by the country’s highly respected Catholic Church, which has also stepped in to mediate a dialogue between government and citizens. In the meantime, ongoing demonstrations were reported by GWS through mid-May, as well as police repression leading to more deaths each day.
Following the indefinite suspension of the National Dialogue on 23 May, fresh violent clashes between supporters of Ortega and pro-democracy demonstrators broke out in the dams of León, Chinandega and Madriz, leaving about 54 people wounded by gunfire, rubber bullets and blunt instruments. In the aftermath of more than three weeks of civil unrest and brutal oppression by the Nicaraguan President, at least 76 people were reported to have been killed and more than 860 people are believed to have been injured. In addition, 400 people were arrested including students, journalists and human rights defenders.
At the moment, the National Dialogue Board remains suspended and demonstrations have continued to take place throughout the country. During this period, GWS has provided real-time security alerts on the incidents and will keep on updating every relevant information in Nicaragua to keep travellers safe and informed.
Following is a timeline of the events in April as reported by GWS:
- Nationwide demonstrations planned for 18-30 April – Published on 18 April
- Clashes and casualties reported during protests – Published on 20 April
- Clashes were reported during protests on Thursday, 19 April. According to local reports, at least four people were killed amid confrontations. Other 33 were injured.
- Protests spread nationwide on 21 April; expect further protests in the coming days – Published on 22 April
- Major protests – many of which were violent – spread throughout Nicaragua as of 21 April. Demonstrations occurred in most cities, including Managua, Matagalpa, Masaya, Leon, Esteli, Chinandega, Jinotega, and Grenada.
- At least 10 people were killed; military forces were deployed in an effort to put down rioting. Several buildings, many of which were affiliated with the government or ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front, were burned down.
- Thousands joined march for peace and justice in Nicaragua on 29 April – Published on 29 April
- Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the city of Managua on Sunday, 29 April. This was the second massive demonstration in less than a week following a wave of deadly protests against social security reforms.
Following is a timeline of the events in May as reported by GWS:
- Protest reported in Managua with the involvement of riot police on 2 May – Published on 2 May
- Protests were reported in Managua outside the National Assembly of Nicaragua, on 2 May. The protests reportedly involved the presence of riot police.
- Pro-democracy rallies planned on 7 and 9 May – Published on 7 May
- University students and the nonpartisan organization Movement for Nicaragua called for a pro-democracy rally in Managua on 9 May. The protest was expected to start outside the Metropolitan Cathedral around 14:00 (local time).
- Ongoing demonstrations and associated roadblocks reported nationwide on 14 May – Published on 14 May
- Ongoing demonstrations and associated roadblocks throughout Nicaragua were reported on Monday, 14 May. In Camoapa city, Boaco department, activists also launched a general strike.
- Protesters killed as protests resume nationwide 23 May – Published on 24 May
- Clashes broke out across Nicaragua following the suspension of a national dialogue between the opposition and the government on Wednesday, 23 May. Reports state that at least two people were killed in clashes between different groups on Wednesday in Leon, northwest of Managua. At least 50 people were also reported injured after clashes in different cities.
- Nationwide rallies to continue on 26 May – Published on 27 May
- Thousands of protesters marched in Managua and other cities on Saturday, 26 May, to demand the resignation of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo. Demonstrators blocked main roads, waving placards and chanting slogans. According to police authorities, four people were killed in clashes.