Saturday, July 14, 2018

"Inside the church where Nicaraguan paramilitaries laid siege on university students"


“In there” was the vast, jungly campus of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN), which by Friday afternoon had become a battleground. Far from the initial fighting was the Catholic church, a supposedly safe place for triage, and beleaguered and wounded students were arriving from the front lines by pickup truck, by motorbike, and on foot.


These students, and much of Nicaragua, have been in revolt against President Daniel Ortega’s government for the past three months, enraged by how he has consolidated near total power over his four terms as president, undermined democratic institutions, and allowed his security apparatus to employ deadly force against protesters. More than 300 people have been killed since the conflict began in April, the vast majority civilians.

Starting Friday afternoon, a new crisis emerged. Pro-government militias set out to crush the student rebellion at the UNAN, one of the last strongholds of open resistance in the capital. During a 15-hour siege, some 200 university students and others were pinned down by gunfire inside this small Catholic church compound.