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Relatives of US Embassy Staff Told To Leave Nicaragua

The U.S. State Dept. has ordered relatives of U.S. Embassy staff in Nicaragua to leave the country; and curtailed embassy services

The U.S. State Department has ordered the relatives of U.S. government employees based in Nicaragua to leave the country. In addition, services at the US embassy in the capital in Managua will be curtailed.

The order comes after days of deadly rioting triggered by planned changes to Nicaragua’s social security system.

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Even though Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega on Sunday revoked the changes, namely increases in payments and a reduction in benefits to the social security fund, the INSS, the situation remains tense as protests continue and more are expected.

The state department also said it would authorize US government personnel to leave Nicaragua but that those decisions would have to be taken on a case-by-by-case basis.

In a statement, it warned that “political rallies and demonstrations are occurring daily, often with little notice or predictability. Some protests result in injuries and deaths,” adding that buying food and fuel could become a challenge and access to the airport in Managua could be blocked.

The unrest first started on Wednesday when hundreds of people, mainly pensioners, took to the streets of the capital, Managua.

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The protesters blame the police and pro-government gangs for the ensuing violence, that by Thursday escalated in clashes between the opposing factions, mainly university students, and anti-riot police.

The clashes spread across the country, all major centers reporting violence. By Sunday morning, stores in Managua and Masaya were looted, prompting president Ortega for a call to peace and announcing a revocation of the INSS board measures adopted days earlier.

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