Hundreds of protesters clashed on Thursday in the Nicaraguan capital with anti-riot forces trying to neutralize them with tear gas and rubber bullets in a protest against a reform of the pension system.
Although no deaths are reported at the moment, at the same time, independent media and journalists have denounced the government’s censorship, including the television newscasts signals blocked.
For its part, Vice President Rosario Murillo said that the protesters belong to “tiny groups” that undermine peace and development, and justified the violence by ensuring that the actions of their supporters and supporters are in “legitimate defense.”
In the vicinity of the Universidad Nacional Agraria (UNA), north of Managua, stones and mortars were thrown and a cameraman from channel 15 television, transmitting live the skirmish, was injured.
The protest was called by students of the UNA opposed to the reform, which increases the amount of contribution to employers and workers and imposes a deduction of 5% to the retirement pension for medical attention.
A tense atmosphere was felt in the vicinity of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) and the Universidad Politécnica (UPOLI), where protesters were trying to protest, while support groups for the government remained on the roundabouts of the capital.
In Masaya, 30 km to the southeast of Managua, hundreds of protesters headed by pensioners who reject the deduction were demonstrating in the streets, in the presence of the riot police.
The protests began on Wednesday when at least 18 people, including journalists, were wounded and beaten by blunt objects when surprised by groups aligned with the government.
Alternate protests have also occurred in León (west of Managua) and Matagalpa (north of Managua), according to social media reports.
The Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Julio Báez, called on the wisdom of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo to “stop the violence and repression. Do not endanger the peace of the country!” He posted on his Twitter account.
Changes to the pension system were recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to give sustainability to the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS).
Although the government maintained the retirement age and the number of pension contributions intact, the increases in contributions have been rejected by employers, opposition unions and the people.
The Fundación Nicaragüense para el Desarrollo Económico y Social (Funides) warned that the reform will cause “layoffs and more unemployment” and projects that some US$200 million dollars will stop circulating in the economy, which will result in a slowdown in consumption and greater informality.
Estudiantes se enfrentan a los antimotines y fuerzas de choque del gobierno, quienes les arrojan bombas lacrimógenas en estos momentos en la UNI. Los jóvenes se oponen a las reformas del INSS ordenadas por el gobierno de Daniel Ortega pic.twitter.com/wpqsGWTenu
— Wilfredo Miranda Aburto (@PiruloAr) April 19, 2018