Nicaraguans demand their president resign as violence escalates

Nicaraguan protesters demanded the resignation Sunday of President Daniel Ortega, defying a government crackdown that has killed 300 or more protesters since demonstrations began in April.
By Rick Docksai | Jul 24, 2018
Protests in Nicaragua's capital city of Managua continue unabated despite mounting deaths of demonstrators at the hands of police, with approximately 300 fatalities total as of Sunday. Demonstrators marched through the capital's streets throughout Sunday to denounce President Daniel Ortega as a "dictator" and demand that he step down.

Manuel Bojorquez, a CBS News correspondent reporting live from Managua, described an "eerie quiet" throughout the city for much of the day, as businesses closed down and most residents stayed indoors for their own safety. While protesters amassed in throngs throughout the streets, a team of masked men armed with homemade mortar launchers stood guard. They told Bojorquez that they would fire their mortars into the air to warn protesters if they saw government security forces approaching.

The armed men told Bojorquez that they are prepared to risk their lives: "The fear is gone," one said.

The protests began April 19 over lawmakers proposing to cut social-security benefits. The demonstrations quickly turned violent, with government forces allegedly killing more than 40 protesters that week. The death toll has been climbing ever since, according to human rights groups.

Bojorquez visited Monimbo, a neighborhood where a bloody confrontation between police and protesters took place last week and ended with an undetermined number of deaths. Cobblestone barricades built from the neighborhood's streets still stand, and one woman told Bojorquez that her neighborhood would not back down.

Ortega is standing his ground, too, however. The president has lashed out at the protests, which he blames on outside agitators, and has resisted demands from several international organizations to end the violent crackdowns on the protests and to hold early elections next year. Observers accordingly expect the protests to continue.

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