AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Social welfare reform: protests explode, the Church says "No" to repression

Friday, 20 April 2018 civil society   youth   society   bishops   local churches   the elderly   human rights  


Managua (Agenzia Fides) - "How much barbarity! There is already at least one student killed in the university. I feel a lot of pain! Let's say No to repression": this is the heartfelt appeal of Mgr. Silvio José Baez, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, to the Nicaraguan authorities, where in the last two days the population has taken to the streets to protest the social welfare reform (INSS ) that directly affects the elderly and pensioners.
Agenzia Fides received Mgr. Baez’s appeal and also the testimony of Catholic missionaries and journalists who denounce the violent repression put in place by the police.
According to the latest information, at least four people, including a policeman, died yesterday during the protest demonstrations unleashed, due to the controversial reform which increases the contributory share of employers and workers and takes away money from pensioners. The 4 victims are a policeman, two young university students (in Managua) and a high school student who was murdered in the municipality of Tipitapa. The demonstrations took place in several municipalities and, as reported by the Red Cross, has wounded at least 33.
The reform has been criticized by all the economic sectors, by entrepreneurs and experts: it favors unemployment, decreases consumption and competitiveness. The Chamber of Industry of Nicaragua (Cadin) has asked the government to suspend the reform, considering that "it undermines the economy of the country, and that has generated the escalation of violence that has not stopped for two days".
Students, workers and housewives took to the streets and considered the denunciation of Nicaragua's vice president, Rosario Murillo, "scandalous" when he said that there is "political manipulation" in the protests. Through social media, everyone was able to see how things went: the government had convened public employees for some pro-government demonstrations; but the demonstrators instead started a protest against the executive.
Most of the university population in Nicaragua studies in state universities, and when students were asked to go to the streets to support the government of Ortega, the students went, but to offer their support to the elderly, against the reform of the INSS.
The police sent forces to violently disperse the peaceful protesters parading through cities across the country.
According to the latest information, the demonstrations have already spread to 16 cities in Nicaragua.
The Catholic Church, through the Bishops, immediately denounced the violent repression against the students and against the elderly. The Catholic Youth Ministry of the Diocese of the city of Leon, as in many other dioceses, use its own social media channels, and has called for "peace" against the outbreaks of violence resulting from an unjust social reform. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 20/04/2018)

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