UN secretary general calls deaths of 275 Nicaraguan protesters ‘unacceptable’
July 17, 2018
On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the recent deaths of protesters in Nicaragua and the “lethal use of force by entities tied to the state” was “unacceptable.” Twelve people were killed over the weekend, Reuters reported, and the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights reported that 275 people have died in protests against President Daniel Ortega since April. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) alleged that armed groups and police have used “excessive and arbitrary force” against the student protesters.
“It’s essential to immediately halt the violence and rebuild national political dialogue,” Guterres said at the 40th anniversary event of the IACHR. “Only a political solution is acceptable.”
Protests began April 18 when the government announced it would reduce public pension benefits. While the government withdrew the plan, general demonstrations against the government continued. The opposition has called for Ortega to step down and call elections.
The Nicaraguan president says he is open to dialogue and to having the IACHR verify that human rights have been respected in the country.
On Monday, the U.S. State Department said in a statement that Ortega’s government should hold elections. Earlier this month, the U.S. government issued a Level 3 travel advisory for travelers to “reconsider” visiting the country, ordered non-emergency U.S. government personnel to depart Nicaragua, and imposed sanctions on three individuals “for being responsible for, or the leaders of entities involved in, serious human rights abuse in Nicaragua.”
Ortega, 72, is a former Nicaraguan guerrilla leader. He has been president of Nicaragua twice, serving from 1984-90 and from 2007-present.