At Least 10 Arrested in Demonstration, Opposition Says
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ Police using clubs, electric prods and dogs on Saturday broke up two demonstrations staged to test the leftist Sandinista government’s commitment to a new regional peace plan, opposition leaders said.
At least 10 demonstrators were arrested, witnesses said. The Interior Ministry issued a statement saying only two political leaders were arrested and ordered detained for 30 days for disturbing the peace.
In one confrontation, police broke up a gathering of about 1,000 opposition supporters preparing to hold a march after inaugurating the offices of the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinate, said the group’s president, Carlos Huembes.
In another part of the capital, police halted more than 500 relatives of prisoners accused of anti-government activities as the group tried to leave the headquarters of the Social Christian Party to hold a demonstration, said party president Erick Ramirez.
Huembes said some people at the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinate gathering were hit, but that there were no reports of serious injuries.
″Police charged into the demonstrators with truncheons, electric prods and trained dogs when they were just beginning to march,″ he said.
Ramiro Gudian, vice president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise, said people ″took refuge in the building.″
Julia Conrado, who lives nearby, said as people left the building to begin the march, ″about 40 policemen with trained dogs were waiting outside and blocked them. There was struggling and there were blows from both sides. Several of those in the group were put in a police jeep and taken away.″
Police remained outside the building for more than two hours until about 500 people who had fled inside exited, a few at a time, witnesses said.
Unauthorized demonstrations are prohibited under a state of emergency in effect since March 1982. The government had denied permission for the march, Huembes said.
″We tried to hold the demonstration,″ he said, ″to see if the Sandinista government was willing to fulfill the agreements on democratization″ in a regional peace pact President Daniel Ortega and four other Central American presidents signed Aug. 7.
″But what just occurred shows that the government of President Ortega is not willing to fulfill those agreements that he signed, since he cannot tolerate the people in the street insisting on freedoms,″ he added.
The Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinate includes the private enterprise council, four opposition political parties and two labor unions.
Huembres said those detained included Lino Hernandez Trigueros, president of the Permanent Human Rights Commission, an opposition-aligned group, and Alberto Saborio, head of the Nicaraguan bar association and secretary-general of the Nicaraguan Conservative Party.
The Interior Ministry statement said Hernandez and Saborio ″were sentenced to 30 days of non-commutable arrest″ for disturbing the public order.
The statement said: ″The Sandinista police urged them not to go into the street and ... some of the people incited the others to attack the police and as a result provoked the disturbance and aggression to the authorities.″
At about the same time in the eastern part of the city, police vehicles and officers blocked a march by relatives of prisoners.
″They, the mothers and relatives of the political prisoners, were asking for the amnesty which the presidents’ agreement speaks of, but apparently the Sandinista government is not willing to fulfill its commitment,″ Ramirez said.
The Permanent Human Rights Commission estimates there are 6,500 political prisoners in Nicaragua, including 2,300 former members of late dictator President Anastasio Somoza’s national guard.
Somoza was overthrown in 1979 by the Sandinista-led revolution.
The government denies it holds political prisoners. It says some prisoners face charges of activities against the Sandinista revolution, but gives no number.
The peace plan signed by Ortega and the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica calls for cease-fires in Nicaragua and El Salvador, democratic reforms and amnesty for political prisoners.
It also calls for an end to foreign aid to the U.S.-backed Contra rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government and to El Salvador’s leftist rebels, as well as a halt to rebels using the territory of any country to attack another.