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Hunger strike spawns growing anti-Ortega protest in Nicaragua

June 6, 2008

MANAGUA – As the popular protest movement grows in the streets against President Daniel Ortega, sparked by the continued hunger strike by legendary guerrilla heroine Dora María Téllez, today entering her ninth day without eating, the Nicaraguan American Chamber of Business (AMCHAM) is adding its voice of dissent to the growing chorus calling on Ortega to step up the presidency and seek a national consensus to stop the spiraling economic and political situation here.

AMCHAM released a statement yesterday denouncing the “critical situation” of Nicaragua due to high petroleum prices and the deterioration of the country’s institutional democracy.

In recent weeks, the Ortega government has moved to eliminate minority parties from participating in the upcoming municipal elections, suspended the elections in the Caribbean until January of next year, and started to crack down on civil society – a series of moves that critics claim threaten the country’s democracy.

AMCHAM is stressing that action must be taken immediately to prevent the situation from worsening.

“We issue an urgent, clear and energetic call to Nicaragua’s political society, especially to the president of the republic, to, in the shortest time possible, convoke an inclusive dialogue with participation from economic, political and social sectors to find a Minimum Agreement for Governability,” the AMCHAM statement reads.

The group also expressed its solidarity with Téllez and its “strong admiration” for the media outlets that are conducting the “valuable work” of defending the principles and values of democracy.

Téllez’s hunger strike has spawned a massive outpouring of solidarity from Nicaraguans of all political stripes. During the last week, there have been nightly vigils, concerts, marches and protests against what the group claims are Ortega’s efforts to establish a dictatorship in Nicaragua.

The protests, to date, have been mostly peaceful except for an incident several days ago where several masked men in pickup trucks without license plates visited Téllez’s protest camp around midnight, shouting for her to die and tearing down several dozen protest signs against Ortega.

Téllez and others were quick to blame the incident on Ortega, who still hasn’t acknowledged the strike or the growing street protests.

Tomorrow, see The Nica Times, an eight-page publication of The Tico Times, for the feature story “Is Nicaragua Returning to Dictatorship?”

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