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Nicaraguan dissidents take to the streets to protest Ortega’s reelection bid

July 10, 2011

MANAGUA – Protesters took to the streets of the Nicaraguan capital Saturday to show their disapproval of a reelection bid by President Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista Party. Some 500 demonstrators mostly from eight politically unaffiliated organizations said they are “encachimbados”, a slang phrase meaning “fed up,” with the country’s inability to block Ortega’s reelection bid, which is widely thought to be a violation of the Nicaraguan Constitution.

“We are fed up with the entire system and the way democracy is neglected in this country,” said Moisés Hassan, of N2.0, a human rights organization. “Ortega’s reelection is illegal, and for the younger generation we have to fight to uphold democracy in our country. A dictatorship is not what this country wants or needs.”

Incumbent Ortega leads polls leading up to the Nov. 6 elections, though opponents say his campaign violates Article 147of the Nicaraguan Constitution that prohibits presidents from serving consecutive terms. Ortega’s reelection would also mark his third term in office, which is also disallowed by the constitution. Ortega, who was also Nicaragua’s president from 1985-1990, claims his candidacy was legitimized by a controversial alteration to constitution by the Supreme Court in 2009 (NT, Oct. 16, 2009).

During the three-hour march on the muggy streets of Managua, protesters chanted “Yes to democracy, no to dictatorship,” and climbed political billboards at intersections of major streets to cover Ortega’s face with graffiti. The protest was the fourth of its kind so far this year, and with only four months until elections, more protests are expected.

“Our mission is to continue to generate more resistance and awareness about the final days of our democracy, which is going to end if we elect Ortega,” said Rescate Nicaragua’s (Save Nicaragua) Luis Francisco Peña, who was dressed in a lime-green wig and skirt. “We need to inform people that they don’t have to vote for Ortega and that they shouldn’t fear other options. What they should fear, is a dictatorship.” 

For an update on the Nicaraguan protests, see the July 15 edition of The Tico Times.

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