Nicaraguan government declares protests illegal on September 28, threatens to prosecute organizers
An official statement released by National Police on September 28 declares that protest marches against the government constitute a threat to peace and security and are therefore illegal. According to the statement, those who organize new demonstrations will be prosecuted. It also places the blame on the organizers for the shootings, attacks on property, and the death of one civilian during protest events in September. Additionally, the government has reportedly commanded its supporters and public employees to remain in “permanent mobilization” to defend President Daniel Ortega’s government and intimidate opponents, who continue to call for regime change since protests began in April.
While protest marches and sit-ins were initially triggered due to opposition to Ortega’s controversial pension system reform, these have evolved into a broader opposition toward the government, in power since 2007. Ortega refuses to negotiate with the opposition and has dismissed any mediation attempt or proposal by external actors. Moreover, he is seemingly aiming at subverting due political process by means of a vaguely worded anti-terrorism law passed by parliament in July. In this sense, while the government is increasingly relying on civilian militias and security forces to maintain order, President Ortega is showing no interest in political compromise. In the meantime, against the backdrop of the deteriorating security situation, unrest will most likely continue in the short term.