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NICARAGUAN stability came under threat again today as violent right-wing opposition groups warned that they would return to the streets a year after the failed coup against President Daniel Ortega.
A government-initiated peace process restarted in February, having stalled last year, as Mr Ortega’s Sandinista government sought reconciliation after months of deadly attacks from armed opposition groups came to an end.
Violence flared following the initial protests, which started a year ago tomorrow over a package of social reforms.
The measures were proposed under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, which demanded an increase in the retirement age to 60 and higher contributions from workers.
The Sandinista government instead proposed a 3.5 per cent rise employer contributions to bother the pension and health funds, provoking an angry response from bosses’ organisations.
The ensuing violence saw armed right-wing gangs take to the streets, setting up roadblocks across the country to damage Nicaragua’s growing economy.
Hundreds of people were killed in the following months as Washington-backed opposition groups sought to overthrow Mr Ortega.
Despite the president having been democratically elected in 2017 with 72 per cent of the vote, the United States and its imperialist allies demanded that elections scheduled for 2021 be brought forward.
Washington tightened economic sanctions through the 2016 Nica Act, giving the US power to veto any loan or international assistance to Nicaragua from the IMF, World Bank and International Development Bank without unspecified improvements on issues of “democracy, human rights and corruption.”
However, the majority of Nicaraguans swung behind Mr Ortega and huge demonstrations opposing the coup took place across the country.
He established the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission in an effort to bring about stability and investigate deaths that occurred during the failed coup attempt.
Since peace talks with the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy resumed in February, Nicaragua has released around 200 prisoners and introduced a scheme for the safe return of those who fled the country after the opposition violence erupted last year.
The process of the release of political prisoners will be overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is verifying the numbers involved.
The programme announced by the government assures those who return to Nicaragua voluntarily that they will be welcomed “with fraternity, cordiality and solidarity, without confrontational attitudes, so that there is reconciliation and peace in the Nicaraguan families.”
The government stresses that all those who return must contribute to “peace, tranquillity, security and reconciliation among all Nicaraguans.”
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