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10 Dead, Including Reporter, in Nicaragua Unrest


Protesters yell from behind the roadblock they erected as they face off with security forces near the University Politecnica de Nicaragua in Managua, Nicaragua, April 21, 2018. Nicaragua's government said it is willing to negotiate over controversial social security reforms that have prompted protests and deadly clashes this week.

Days of protests in Nicaragua over a social security overhaul have resulted in the deaths of at least ten people, including a journalist reporting live via Facebook. Some rights groups estimate the death toll since Wednesday, when the demonstrations began, is as high as 25.

In a nationally televised address Saturday, President Daniel Ortega said he is open to negotiations so that there is "no more terror for Nicaraguan families." Ortega added, however, that he would only meet with business leaders.

"What is happening in our country has no name," Ortega said. "The kids do not even know the party that is manipulating them...Gang members are being brought into the kids protests and are criminalizing the protests."

Soon after his televised speech, demonstrators were back on the streets in several cities, including the capital, Managua, after tensions had calmed down somewhat Friday night.

FILE - Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega speaks with his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, during an event to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan army, in Managua, Sept. 1, 2017.
FILE - Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega speaks with his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, during an event to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan army, in Managua, Sept. 1, 2017.

Late Saturday, journalist Angel Gahona was covering the protests live on Facebook from Bluefields, a town on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, when he was shot and killed. In the footage that has circulated widely on social media, gunfire is heard, Gahona falls down and several voices call out to him.

The United States condemned the violence and excessive force used by police Sunday.

"The United States calls for a broad‎-based dialogue involving all sectors of society to resolve the current conflict, restore respect for human rights, and achieve a better, more democratic future for all Nicaraguans," U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement, adding that the U.S. calls on the Nicaraguan government to allow journalists to operate freely.

A Nicaraguan police officer aims his weapon at protesting students during a third day of violent clashes in Managua, Nicaragua, April 20, 2018.
A Nicaraguan police officer aims his weapon at protesting students during a third day of violent clashes in Managua, Nicaragua, April 20, 2018.

President Ortega is a former guerilla soldier. His vice president is his wife Rosario Murillo.

A court decision allowed Ortega to run for re-election in 2011, even though the country had a one-term limit. Three years after that, his leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party, gained enough support in congress for a constitutional amendment to allow unlimited presidential terms.

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