By Alix Hardy
The number of deaths in Nicaragua from a months-long crackdown on antigovernment protests has risen to 264, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) said Wednesday.
“As recorded by the CIDH since the start of the repression against social protests, 264 people have been killed and more than 1,800 have been injured,” CIDH Executive Secretary Paulo Abrao said at a meeting of the Organization of American States, of which the CIDH is a member.
The CIDH reported on June 19 that 212 had died and 1,337 had been wounded.
The Nicaraguan government has not released official figures for more than a month. On May 31, following deadly clashes on Mother’s Day, the Health Ministry indicated that 15 had been killed and 199 wounded.
Other non-governmental organizations that have been monitoring the protests provided much higher figures. The Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH) released a report Tuesday saying that 309 had been killed from April 19 to July 2.
Thirty-eight more were killed Sunday in clashes between government opponents and police and pro-government groups in the southwestern towns of Diriamba and Jinotepe and in the northern province of Matagalpa, according to the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (Cenidh).
The protests erupted on April 18 when the Nicaraguan government announced changes to the social security system regarding pensions. President Daniel Ortega backed down a few days later, but the unrest didn’t stop. More protests took place demanding the resignation of Ortega and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, after 11 years in power, with opponents accusing them of confiscating power and restricting freedoms.
After two months of continuous clashes, on June 22, the CIDH denounced the state’s “repressive action” against protesters.On July 7, Ortega dismissed any possibility of elections as a solution to Nicaragua’s crisis, which the Nicaraguan private sector and the president’s own brother had come to support.