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Nicaraguan Cardinal denounces violence against protesters

Official negotiators for Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega had given assurances on Friday that demonstrations would be permitted and that detained protesters would be released.

Only a day later, on Saturday, Nicaraguan riot police allegedly fired on anti-government demonstrators, injuring at least three people.

The National White and Blue Union called the protests. Haydee Castillo, a leader in the Union, said police arrested 10 peaceful protesters at a shopping center in Managua on Saturday, and fired upon at least three others. Another demonstrator was arrested in the city of Leon.

Journalists covering the event reportedly had their cameras confiscated.

Police reports stated that “violent groups” disturbed public order, but did not report the number of people arrested.

'Spiral of violence’
Several of the country’s Catholic officials denounced the arrests.

The Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, condemned Saturday’s violence on Twitter, and asked Nicaraguans to pray for peace.

Bishop Silvio Baez, Managua’s auxiliary, said in his homily at Sunday Mass that the nation is still “caught up in a spiral of violence”.

“It is outrageous that once again in Nicaragua police and violent civilians attack, arrest, and injure civilians who are demonstrating peacefully,” he said.

Bishop Baez also warned Catholics against allowing themselves to be provoked and advised they “not fall into the temptation of taking justice into their own hands”.

Hundreds killed and jailed
Nicaragua’s opposition claims more than 640 people are being held for political causes.

Most have been jailed in protests that broke out in April of last year against the government of President Daniel Ortega.

Another 325 people have died and more than 50,000 have fled Nicaragua, according to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.


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