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article imageNicaragua: 10 months of deadly crisis

By AFP     Feb 27, 2019 in World

A now-abandoned pension reform announced in April 2018 kicked off months of protests in Nicaragua against the government of President Daniel Ortega that were harshly repressed, claiming more than 300 lives.

The leftist Ortega regime has jailed several hundred opposition figures, and more than 50,000 Nicaraguans fled their country during the turmoil.

Here is a timeline of the unrest.

- Pension reform fury -

April 18, 2018: The government presents a plan to increase employee and employer contributions to the social security fund and reduce benefits in an IMF-backed bid to cap a rising deficit.

The move is deeply unpopular. Student-led protests that break out in several cities are harshly repressed, with 25 mostly young people killed in five days.

April 22: Ortega scraps the pension reform.

- 'Unlawful' killings -

A mass protest in Managua on April 23 demanded an end to repression and the resignation of president...
A mass protest in Managua on April 23 demanded an end to repression and the resignation of president Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo
Rodrigo ARANGUA, AFP/File

April 23: Tens of thousands of people demonstrate in the capital Managua to demand an end to government repression.

April 24: The United Nations urges Nicaragua to carry out an independent investigations into the deaths, saying some may have been "unlawful."

- Catholic Church mediates -

May 16: Talks begin in Managua between Ortega and opposition groups mediated by the influential Catholic Church.

Anti-government protesters demonstrate near the Our Lady of Fatima seminary in Managua on May 16  20...
Anti-government protesters demonstrate near the Our Lady of Fatima seminary in Managua on May 16, 2018
DIANA ULLOA, AFP

One week later the Church calls off negotiations talks when the government rejects a plan for early elections.

Amnesty International says paramilitary groups are being used to suppress anti-government demonstrations.

May 31: The death toll hits 100 as Ortega rejects calls to step down.

June 7: When mediation resumes the Church postpones a plan for early presidential elections and constitutional reforms. It says Ortega requested a "period of reflection."

- General strike -

June 11: Violence erupts in Managua, with anti-riot police attacking barricades manned by protesters.

An anti-government demonstrator wields a home-made weapon as he stands behind a barricade in the cit...
An anti-government demonstrator wields a home-made weapon as he stands behind a barricade in the city of Masaya in June 2018
INTI OCON, AFP/File

June 14: A general strike paralyzes Nicaragua, with more deadly violence.

June 15: The government and opposition leaders agree that human rights observers should investigate the violence.

- University, basilica attacked -

June 22-23: Police overnight open fire at a key student protest camp in the capital, leaving more dead.

Pro-government paramilitary forces burst into the San Sebastian Basilica  in Diriamba  Nicaragua on ...
Pro-government paramilitary forces burst into the San Sebastian Basilica, in Diriamba, Nicaragua on July 9, 2018
MARVIN RECINOS, AFP

July 7: Ortega rules out bringing forward presidential elections, describing his opponents as coup plotters.

July 8: Hundreds of Ortega supporters break into the San Sebastian Basilica in the opposition heartland town of Diriamba and harass Roman Catholic bishops.

July 16: The regime approves a terrorism law that would send demonstrators to prison for up to 20 years. The death toll passes 300.

- 'Climate of fear' -

August 31: The government expels the UN human rights mission after it criticized a "climate of fear" in Nicaragua.

A protester holds a homemade mortar during an anti-government demo in Managua on August 30  2018
A protester holds a homemade mortar during an anti-government demo in Managua on August 30, 2018
INTI OCON, AFP/File

November 1: Washington labels the leftist regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua a "troika of tyranny."

December 19: The Ortega regime expels two expert missions from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, accusing them of bias and interference.

December 20: US President Donald Trump signs a law limiting Nicaragua's access to international loans.

December 21: Police shut down an opposition television channel and arrest its director, who is accused of "terrorism."

- Peace talks -

Nicaraguan National Police officers equipped with riot shields stand guard in Managua  wary of possi...
Nicaraguan National Police officers equipped with riot shields stand guard in Managua, wary of possible anti-government demonstrations
Inti OCON, AFP

January 29, 2019: The Socialist International, the worldwide association of socialist and labor parties, kicks Ortega's Sandinista Party out of the group over rights violations.

February 27: Peace talks between the government and opposition get underway. Authorities release scores of prisoners arrested during the protests.

March 5: Government and opposition negotiators announce they have agreed on rules for a dialogue aimed at resolving the turmoil.

Representatives from the Catholic and evangelical Protestant churches will act as witnesses in discussions, and "international guarantors" -- to be chosen by consensus at a later date -- will participate.

A tentative date for finalizing negotiations is set for March 28.

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