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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Students strike in Nicaragua

Conservatives from every country want to cut funding for education and students are fighting back. That’s the case for Nicaragua

From Radio France International:

Hundreds of students used homemade mortars to attack the National Assembly building in Managua on Tuesday as they protested against government plans to cut university funding. Further unrest is forecast for the weekend as pro-and anti-government demonstrators have both scheduled rallies in the capital.

No one was injured by the homemade mortars but several windows in the building were shattered.
The National Assembly is the only branch of the legislature not controlled by President Daniel Ortega who led the 1979 Sandinista uprising that ousted the regime of US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza.
According to reports, lawmakers appeared visibly rattled as a mortar explosion shattered several skylights overhead in the main chamber of parliament, showering shards of glass upon their heads.
“Luckily the big pieces of glass fell where there weren't any people, because it could have killed someone,” opposition lawmaker and National Assembly Secretary Wilfredo Navarro told The Nica Times.
“Each day these mortars are getting stronger and stronger with a longer range - and we all know it's the Sandinistas who are sponsoring this.”
The student protest was against government plans to cut funding for public universities as set out in the draft budget for 2010, said National Universities Council leader Telemaco Talavera.
Lawmakers have admitted that the law was “a mistake” and have committed to support a presidential veto of the law expected this week.
Meanwhile, groups for and against President Ortega traded insults and claimed the right to demonstrate this weekend on the same stretch of road where thousands of people will square off with the likelihood of violence.
Pro-government groups said they will muster 100,000 people in support of the leftist president, while opposition leaders speak of "sinister plots" by authorities to arm their followers with rocks, clubs and bombs so they can use them against dissenters.
Opposition groups have complained to authorities for allowing the two demonstrations to take place Saturday at the same time and place, while business leaders have appealed to Ortega to personally ask that his followers change the timing of their march.
"The government thinks it not only owns the streets but the whole country. We're going to march, which will be orderly and peaceful,” Pro-Nicaragua Movement official Violeta Granera told AFP
"We won't allow ourselves to fall into violence because we're not only after ending the (Ortega) dictatorship and rescue democracy, but also breaking the vicious circle of violence gripping the country.”
The tension has been building since the ruling Sandinista party's crushing win in mayoral elections a year ago, which the opposition charged were riddled with fraud, and a Supreme Court ruling last month that cleared the way for Ortega to seek re-election in 2011.

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