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US Ambassador to Nicaragua says shots fired near her Managua home
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There was gunfire on Sunday night near the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua.
Laura Farnsworth Dogu confirmed on Twitter that there were shots fired in her neighborhood in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. She clarified that her house was not targeted and that she was not harmed, while condemning the reports of deadly violence.
Confirming there was gunfire near my house. My house was not targeted and I am ok. I am very concerned at reports of violence this weekend. I condemn the violence and my prayers are with all the victims and their families.
— Laura Dogu (@USAmbNicaragua) July 9, 2018
Violence sweeps the nation
Dogu’s urgent report comes amid a wave of violence sweeping the country as protesters escalate calls for the country’s far-left leader, Daniel Ortega, to step down. Dogu retweeted a statement from Vice President Mike Pence last week condemning the Nicaraguan state for corruption and violent crackdowns against the protesters.
A human rights group in Nicaragua reported that paramilitary forces supporting Ortega killed 14 in raids against dissidents Sunday night in the cities of Diriamba, Jinotepe, and Dolores. One of the victims was reportedly doused in gasoline and set on fire, according to El Nuevo Diario.
Paramilitary forces supporting Ortega moved into the cities along with police and tore down barricades set up by protesters. The opposition, based in Masaya, often blocks off roads to protest Ortega’s regime.
One video of the protests posted to YouTube shows armed men in black paramilitary clothing standing on a street corner and firing shots. Another video apparently of the protests shows tractor-trailers full of masked men with rifles entering the city of Leon to “sow death and terror against the people.”
Ortega slams protesters in weekend speech
More than 300 have been killed in Nicaragua since unrest erupted in April over now-abandoned social security reforms. The initial protests led to calls for Ortega to resign amid discontent with his rule.
Ortega, a former Sandinista rebel who initially came to power with the Marxist take-over of the country in 1979, was re-elected in 2007. The mostly student-led opposition accuses him and his wife of consolidating authoritarian control.
Human rights activists blame Ortega for the violence. But speaking to thousands of supporters at a rally in the capital, Managua, on Saturday, Ortega blamed protesters for the killings, calling them “coup leaders” and “murderers.”
“If the coup leaders want to reach the government, let them try to win the vote of the people and we will see if the people want to vote for the coup leaders who have caused so much destruction these days,” Ortega said.
Speaking at the rally, Ortega ruled out a proposal by the country’s Catholic clergy to hold early elections to solve the months-long crisis. He demanded that protesters seeking his ouster wait until his term ends in 2021 to seek the “vote of the people.”
“We will see if the people will give the vote to the coup mongers who have provoked so much destruction in recent weeks,” Ortega said. “There will be time for elections.”
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