After months of deadly anti-government protests, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega rejected reports that excessive force has been used against anti-government protesters in the country, denied any persecution has taken place and called the crisis a “coup” financed by the US.
“There is no persecution in Nicaragua,” Ortega told Carolina Chimoy in an exclusive interview, in Managua, with Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW).
“Who are the coup-plotters? They are troops who are being supplied by the United States,” he said. “The best support that Germany can give us is to tell the United States that they shouldn’t meddle in Nicaragua,” Ortega added.
The UN estimates that 300 people have died and another 2,000 have been injured as a result of the government’s violent repression of the opposition and student protests that started on April 18.
Ortega also accused the country’s bishops of supporting anti-government demonstrators.
“We have bishops who have a real interest in securing peace in Nicaragua. There are others who are compromised,” he said. Ortega added that the country’s Bishops’ Conference has been “contaminated as an institution” by the bishops who have voiced support for the protesters.
In July, Ortega slammed the clergy for siding with “coup-plotters” and “terrorists,” prompting further protests in support of the bishops.
The Nicaraguan president also said that despite the crisis, and the demands by the protesters, Civic Alliance and the clerty, among others calling for his stepping down and calling early elections in March 2019, he will not. The next presidential elections Elections are slated to take place in 2021.
In late August, a UN human rights report condemned Ortega’s government for a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters that included illegal arrests, torture and closed trials. The UN human rights delegation was then immediately ordered to leave the country.