May 24, 2019
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Cops scatter opposition protest against Ortega near Managua cathedral

Managua, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Nicaragua's anti-disturbance police scattered demonstrators protesting against the Daniel Ortega government at the end of the traditional Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday near Managua's Metropolitan Cathedral.

Security forces blasted some preventive gunshots in the air and launched stun grenades and tear gas against a crowd of the so-called "self-summoned," mostly young people who brought traffic to a temporary standstill in a street alongside the cathedral, which they then ran inside of to take refuge, EFE observed.

Civilians hiding their faces with motorcycle helmets threw stones inside the cathedral, who were answered in the same way by the young "self-summoned."

The incidents occurred after the traditional Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday, in which thousands of Nicaraguans took part, including children, women and the elderly.

After the procession, dozens of youths started waving Nicaraguan flags and wooden crosses with the names of those slain in the protests that broke out a year ago.

They also shouted slogans demanding freedom for opposition members they call "political prisoners" and justice for the victims of street protests.

"Long live a free Nicaragua," "Freedom for Nicaragua," "Democracy yes, dictatorship no," the demonstrators chanted, among other messages against Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo," and sang the national anthem.

Later, they left the atrium of the Managua cathedral and headed for a street to keep the protest going and again blocked traffic.

But minutes later at least 10 police patrols showed up and shot their guns in the air to disperse the demonstrators.

Volunteer firefighters of the Rapid Intervention Brigade attended to a minor who suffered a hysteria attack and fainted when she heard the guns, a spokesman told reporters.

During the procession, which went off without incident, a group of young people, most of them with their faces covered, hoisted Nicaraguan flags as symbols of protest against Ortega.

Others displayed a flag stained with red like blood near the image of Christ crucified in commemoration of the hundreds killed in the crisis.

During the procession, the "self-summoned," as protesters are called who do not act along any party lines, joined forces with the so-called "political prisoners" of the opposition.

During the day, journalist Sergio Leon reported that he was detained by police officials who surrounded the independent radio station La Costeñisima that he directs in the Bluefields municipality of the South Caribbean Autonomous Region (RACS).

The Nicaragua Monitoring Mechanism (Meseni) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) tweeted that "respect for freedom of expression and the work of journalism in #Nicaragua is urgent."

Nicaragua is going through a grave crisis that has left 325 dead since April 2018, according to the CIDH, though some groups put the number of fatalities at 568, while the presidency acknowledges only 199 and denounces an attempted coup d'etat.

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