Peaceful demonstrations in Nicaragua turned violent, when police and pro-government groups cracked down on protesters, reportedly leaving at least 26 dead. Protesters were initially exercising their right of freedom of assembly to protest President Daniel Ortega’s proposed reforms of the social security system.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least nine journalists have been injured since the demonstrations began and at least two have had their equipment stolen. Meanwhile, multiple independent television networks that were covering the events were temporarily blocked from transmission, and one remains off the air.
The United States government regrets the loss of life and injuries suffered in Nicaragua during protests by its citizens. “We condemn the violence and the excessive force used by police and others against civilians who are exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
Amnesty International called on Nicaraguan authorities to “stop repressing demonstrators and protect their right to protest.”
Erika Guevara-Rosas, director of Amnesty International in the Americas, said, “The authorities’ crude and violent response to these demonstrations has deeply troubling implications for human rights in Nicaragua.”
The United States calls for a broad-based dialogue involving all sectors of society to resolve the current conflict, restore respect for human rights, and achieve a better, more democratic future for all Nicaraguans.
Spokesperson Nauert “call[ed] on the Nicaraguan government to allow journalists to operate freely and restore all television coverage to the air. Additionally, we urge the government to allow an independent investigation and to prosecute those responsible for the deaths.”