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Nicaragua braces for more street violence

February 27, 2009

Nicaragua is again bracing for another round of political street violence this weekend following the Sandinista Front´s call for a nationwide mobilization Saturday, the same day the opposition has scheduled a march against the government in nine different cities across the country.

The ruling Sandinista Front, frequently criticized for its crackdowns on public protests over more than the last six months, announced this week it will launch a campaign the same day as a march by opposition groups. Under its new member-identification slogan “We are millions,” the party said it will carry out its campaign “with caravans, marches, and activities throughout the entire country.”

The Sandinista Youth has also called for massive mobilization to celebrate the revolution throughout the country.

Opposition and human rights leaders, however, say the Sandinistas´ call to “celebration” is a thin guise for a call to repress the protest marches scheduled for the same day. Civil society and opposition politicians are organizing simultaneous marches in Managua, León, Chinandega, Chontales, Jinotega, Boaco, Puerto Cabezas and Ometepe Island to protest what they consider to be fraudulent municipal elections last November and the installation of dictatorship in Nicaragua.

First lady Rosario Murillo this week rallied fellow Sandinistas to start a “permanent campaign” aimed at retaining the presidency in 2011.

The timing of the Sandinistas´ new campaign has sparked suspicion and criticism, prompting critics to call the move irresponsible and intolerant.

“The call by President Daniel Ortega to mobilize his people the same day as the opposition march is a way of trying to provoke and intimidate people,” Marcos Carmona, executive secretary of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights, told The Nica Times yesterday.

In the past, Carmona said, the “Sandinista mobs” have “attacked civic protest marches with machetes, mortars, knives, sticks and stones.”

Carmona said his group has already sent a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to blame in advance the Ortega administration for any political violence during Saturday´s march.

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