At least 280 people have died and 2,000 have been injured in Nicaragua since unrest began three months ago, according to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH).
People have taken to the streets demanding President Daniel Ortega stand down, in the bloodiest protests in Nicaragua since the country’s civil war ended in 1990.
The unrest began in mid-April, when Ortega, a former Marxist rebel leader, proposed reducing pension benefits to ease budgetary pressures.
Though the plan was later dropped, it provoked large protests and calls for Ortega to step down over his government crack down on demonstrators.
Here is what we know so far:
Demonstrations began on April 16, led by university students in Managua after the government failed to handle forest fires in one of the most protected areas of the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve.
“I’m [protesting] because I’m indignant that my grandparents are going to receive five percent less of their already anemic pension, after having worked for 44 years, that’s not money they are being lent, that’s money they have paid in, so it bothers me,” Pablo Sanchez a protester told Al Jazeera during the early stages of the protests.
Sandinista Youth, a group aligned with Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), launched counterprotests in support of the reforms.
The government cracked down on the protests, and several people were killed, including journalist Angel Gahona, who was shot dead while reporting on the protests live on Facebook.
The government maintained that the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS) was very close to insolvency and that if changes were not made, it would end without liquid assets by 2019.
But in a televised meeting, aired on April 22, President Ortega scraped the controversial reforms. In the meeting, Ortega denounced protesters for acting like “gangs killing each other”.
“We must re-establish order, we will not allow chaos, crime and looting to reign,” he said.
Due to the heavy-handed tactics used by the government to curb the demonstrations, tens of thousands of people continued to protest, demanding Ortega’s resignation.
“We are fighting not only for the INSS, we are fighting for all those years of pillaging of the people by the Sandinista regime,” an engineering student in Managua who identified himself as Cristofer told AFP news agency during the protests.
Ortega’s government has faced condemnation in recent years over plans to build an inter-oceanic canal, for hobbling political rivals, and consolidating power when his wife, Rosario Murillo, was elected vice president in 2016.
Ortega has been elected three consecutive times since 2007 after serving a first presidential term in the 1980s.
The UN has called for access to investigate the deaths and has accused the government of using excessive force.
On May 29, Amnesty International released a report accusing the government of working with pro-government armed groups to suppress the protests. It also said authorities “adopted a strategy of repression, characterised by excessive use of force and extrajudicial executions”.
On May 31, the church issued a statement saying it would not resume talks while the Nicaraguan people “continue to be repressed and murdered”.
The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have also said they would investigate the unrest.
Ortega told supporters that Nicaragua “is not private property” in response to the demand, according to local newspaper La Prensa. He also ruled out early elections last month.
“We proposed from the beginning a fundamental tool to stop the violence, the conduct of early elections in the framework of a clean and transparent electoral process,” Almagro said.
At least 10 people, including a young girl, were killed on July 15 after pro-government forces launched an operation in and around the city of Masaya, a rights group said.
The violence came a day after 200 university students were freed from a besieged church in Managua after a 16-hour ordeal in which two were killed.
Bishop Silvio Jose Baez tweeted:
Government of Nicaragua crosses the limit of which is inhuman and immoral. Criminal repression since Friday night against civilians, mostly students, is condemnable from every point of view. The international community can not be indifferent! @WHAAsstSecty @OAS_official
— Silvio José Báez (@silviojbaez) July 14, 2018