Nationwide strikes to hit Nicaragua as workers protest Ortega government

Photo: Marcin Recinos/AFP/Getty
Photo: Marcin Recinos/AFP/Getty

A national strike will take place in Nicaragua today, the latest in ongoing demonstrations against ruling leftist President Daniel Ortega.

Despite an economy that has averaged 5.2% growth since 2010 and reducing poverty levels, the opposition has bristled at Ortega’s administration, which is built on an uneasy alliance between the private sector, the Catholic church and the military. Critics accuse the president of promoting a cult of personality and engaging in nepotism—Ortega’s wife is the vice president and protesters suspect she is being groomed as his successor.

Triggered by deeply unpopular pension cuts (which were later withdrawn), over 250 people have been killed in rioting since April. Mr Ortega has rejected calls by the opposition for the 2021 presidential elections to be brought forward to next year.

Even if elections were brought forward, the prospects of defeating Ortega are low given the divisions that beset the opposition. Opponents range from right-wing conservatives to middle class liberals, and Socialists who feel betrayed by Ortega’s recent embrace of capitalist economics.

Expect Ortega to continue to reject calls for early elections. However, this may change if the military deserts him—it already refuses to be on the streets nor crackdown on protesters. If the killings go on, the military may intervene to force elections.

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