Pope Francis and Nicaragua: as violence escalates Pope Francis encourages communication

As political unrest and violence intensify in Nicaragua, a reported 100 people have been killed, businesses have been looted and burned and police and government militias continue to clash. Amidst the conflict, Pope Francis has denounced the violence against protesters and has asked for prayers for the country’s victims and their families.

Nicaragua has been gripped by turmoil since April when protesters began to call for the resignation of the President, Daniel Ortega, following the announcement of reforms to the country’s social security and pension plans.

In office since 2007, President Ortega is currently serving his third term in office and, along with his wife and Vice President of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, holds almost complete control of the country.

A recent Washington Post article reported a march through Managua, the nation’s capital, was led by mothers of some of the victims killed during recent protests. The march ended when gunmen opened fire on the gathered crowd, resulting in 18 deaths and more than 200 wounded.

The Post reported that President Ortega blames the violence on “right-wing agitators”.

Pope Francis calls for dialogue

Crux Now reports, following Angelus Sunday, that Pope Francis strongly denounced the strong-arming of protesters in Nicaragua.

“I join my brother bishops of Nicaragua in expressing sorrow for the serious violence, with dead and wounded carried out by armed groups to repress social protests,” the Pope said earlier this month.

“I pray for the victims and their families. The Church is always for dialogue, but this requires an active commitment to respect freedom and above all, like. I pray that all violence should cease and the conditions for the resumption of dialogue [come] as soon as possible.”

Conflict in Nicaragua

As President Ortega faced significant backlash following the announcement of his proposed reforms, the decision was made to abandon the changes. Despite the President’s willingness to renege on the reforms, unrest and violence have continued to escalate.

The increasing tensions and ongoing violence led the Nicaraguan government to enter into negotiations mediated by the Catholic Church. By the end of May, however, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes announced talks had been suspended indefinitely after reaching an impasse between President Ortega’s government and the opposition.

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