Nicaraguan police have arrested dozens of people after breaking up a group of demonstrators gathering for an anti-government protest on Sunday, in Managua.
Police wielded clubs and hurled stun grenades at the crowd in the Colonia shopping parking lot.
Men and women, some of them elderly, were beaten by police before being dragged down the street and loaded into police vehicles.
The demonstrations were part of an alliance of 40 opposition groups calling for President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo to step down.
Tamara Dávila, hija del coronel retirado Irving Dávila (qepd) fue apresada por la Policía, también la mayor parte de dirigentes del MRS pic.twitter.com/zeylK444z8
— Ismael López (@lopezismael) October 14, 2018
The demonstration was the first organized by the coalition of activists, calling themselves the Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco (UNAB). On Saturday, hundreds of anti-riot police were deployed to key points in the capital.
The country today completes six months of socio-political unrest, with more than 300 dead, hundreds more injured and jailed since April 15.
Some reporters covering Sunday’s protests were also beaten and briefly detained by police. Journalism is an increasingly dangerous profession in Nicaragua, where reporters face harassment, assault and death threats, some taking to wearing bulletproof vests during protests.
Miguel Mora, the founder of 100% Noticias local TV channel, said being a journalist in Nicaragua today is “a matter of life a death”.
“We’ve been harassed, shot at, angry mobs sent by the government to intimidate us. At one point we were under siege, unable to leave the building for several days,” added Mora.
At least one journalist has been killed so far and several foreign reporters have been deported. The latest crackdown was criticized by both the Organization of American States (OAS) – of which Nicaragua is a member – and the president of neighboring Costa Rica, where thousands have applied for asylum since the unrest began.
On Saturday, Nicaraguan police said in a statement that the planned protest was illegal and that they would do everything necessary to stop it. Shortly after, President Ortega also criticized the protesters in a speech to supporters on Saturday.
Sunday night, the government of Daniel Ortega released a list of the detained, among them two Costa Rican nationals taking part in the peaceful protest.