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Iran Press TV

Nicaragua revokes social security changes after deadly protests

Iran Press TV

Mon Apr 23, 2018 05:32AM

Nicaragua's President Ortega has canceled controversial social security reforms, which sparked four days of deadly anti-government protests and looting in the Latin American country.

The 72-year-old leftist leader announced on Sunday that he was scrapping the overhaul of the Nicaraguan Institute for Social Security (INSS), "which acted as a trigger that started this whole situation."

The government said the changes, which were implemented on April 16, were meant to improve Nicaragua's security system and contain a climbing deficit by increasing taxes and reducing benefits.

However, the reforms triggered angry protests and clashes with security forces on Wednesday, with students playing a major part.

Ortega responded to the unrest with a heavy hand, deploying military forces to the scene. During the crackdown, assaults on journalists and independent media were reported, while counter-rallies were organized to confront the opposition camp.

The government, however, failed to contain the mayhem, which saw panicked people loot stores and gas stations to get ready for what they feared could be a prolonged turmoil.

At least 26 people, including students and minors, were killed, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights.

Ortega, however, blamed the protesters for the violence, saying they acted like criminal gangs.

"We must reestablish order, we will not allow chaos, crime and looting to reign," he told a group of business leaders, who had also opposed the reforms.

Meanwhile, some students say they still demand more than this.

"We are fighting not only for the INSS, we are fighting for all those years of pillaging of the people," said one student in Managua who identified himself as Cristofer.

"The struggle continues. Not a step backward," yelled another student outside the city's Polytechnic University.

Amalia Montenegro, another student, also said, "We are fighting against the oppression that President Daniel Ortega and [his wife] Vice President Rosario Murillo are imposing on us."

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