Social Security System Receded in Nicaraguan as Riots Led 26 Deaths

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Late Saturday, journalist Angel Gahona was covering the protests live on Facebook from Bluefields, a town on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, when he was shot and killed.

During talks with business leaders, Ortega announced he was revoking the April 16 pension reform of the Nicaraguan Institute for Social Security (INSS), "which acted as a trigger that started this whole situation". A journalist covering the unrest was also killed.

That the protests have occurred "in nearly all the cities of the country, in all the universities" and "have been repressed with violence by the government, means that there is a malaise of the population not only over the reforms, but for the way in which the country has been run", Tunnermann said.

The streets of Managua wore a devastated look following the clashes between the police and the protesters, AFP said further.

A Nicaraguan human rights body says more than 20 people have been killed in days of anti-government protests. Parts of Managua were rubble-strewn where demonstrators had faced off against riot police the night before.

He also seemed to try to justify the tough response by the government and allied groups, accusing demonstrators, a lot of them university students, of being manipulated by unspecified "minority" political interests and of being infiltrated by gangsters.

The police crackdown on demonstrators and curbs on some media in the past few days have fuelled broader criticism of Ortega, who has gradually tightened his hold on the country's institutions since he returned to power more than 11 years ago. Gang members are being brought into the kids' protests and are criminalising the protests. State-affiliated media showed images of armed soldiers patrolling the city center and said they were safeguarding strategic concerns after fires at several public buildings. He added, "We can not allow chaos, crime and looting".

"We are seeing social chaos in Nicaragua provoked by the absence of government leadership, and the crisis has been combined with poverty, and that in any society is a time bomb", sociologist and analyst Cirilo Otero said.

But critics accuse Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, of trying to establish a family dictatorship.

A Nicaraguan police officer aims his weapon at protesting students during a third day of violent clashes in Managua, Nicaragua, April 20, 2018.

"It is believable that the government is promoting (the looting) to put pressure on private enterprise to give in to dialogue even if the violence does not stop, and the cost could be very high", he added.

Pope Francis called on Sunday for an end to the violence in Nicaragua and called for differences to be "resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility".

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