(AP) — Dozens of roadblocks set up on Nicaragua’s highways by protesters opposing President Daniel Ortega’s government have stranded about 6,000 transport trucks carrying goods to other Central American countries, a transport official said Saturday.
Raul Alfaro, president of the Salvadoran Association of International Freight Carriers, called on protesters to let the trucks pass and urged countries in the region to not send more cargo vehicles through Nicaragua, which has seen a wave of anti-government demonstrations starting in mid-April.
Truckers “have nothing do to” with the “Nicaraguan problem,” Alfaro said.
He said there are about 70 blockades at key entry points connecting Nicaragua’s capital with the Caribbean coast, north and south of the country.
The Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development, one of the country’s most respected think tanks, said the country’s political crisis could cause serious economic problems in the short and medium terms.
The foundation warned that if the problems continue until the end of July, Nicaragua’s economy could lose US$404 million and 20,000 jobs. The rate of economic growth could also fall by 3.2 percentage points, it said.
The latest report by the non-governmental Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights attributed more than 135 deaths to the protests and response by the government and Sandinista youth groups. The government has a lower death toll.
Protests began in mid-April in response to changes to the social security system, but expanded to call for Ortega’s exit from power.