At least four more people died on Friday from clashes between police and citizens, on the third day of protests in rejects of the reforms to the Social Security, which includes an increase in employer and employee contributions and reduces the overall pension benefits by 5%.
Vice-president Rosario Murillo said the number of dead was ten, blaming the violence on “vampires demanding blood to feed their political agenda”.
Murillo, President Daniel Ortega’s wife and government spokesperson, said Friday night the government was ready to open dialogue with the private sector to discuss a new set of social security measures.
The last three days have been the deadliest wave of unrest in Nicaragua since Daniel Ortega came to office in 2007.
The violence began on Wednesday, when pensioners took to the streets of Managua. The next day, Thursday, they were joined by thousands of students and workers. Three people were reported to have died om Thursday, at least four more on Friday, as the unrest spread to more cities across the country, including Esteli, Matagalpa, Tipitapa, Leon, Chinandega, Masaya, Managua, and Granada.
The Ortega government says public buildings have been set on fire. Protesters have accused the riot police and government supports of initiating the violence. Up to five independent television news stations have been taken off the air after broadcasting the demonstrations live.
Miguel Mora, director of the private television channel 100% Noticias — which the government blocked — accused Ortega of applying the same censorship he imposed in the 1980s during the Sandinista Revolution.
When Ortega returned to power in 2007 he promised to “never censor a media outlet — and today he is doing just that,” Mora told Channel 14.
The sentiment of most Nicaraguans was expressed clearly by Juan Bautista: “We are against these reforms, which means we’re against this government taking from the pockets of Nicaraguans”.
Bautista added the riot police brutally attacked demonstrators like him because “the dictator does not like people to protest”.