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Nicaragua opposition raps law for victims of 2018 unrest

May 30, 2019

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Nicaraguan opposition groups panned the National Assembly’s passage Wednesday of legislation for supporting victims of violence during last year’s anti-government protests, which President Daniel Ortega has called a failed coup attempt.

The so-called Law of Integral Attention to Victims guarantees access for victims and their relatives to government services.

But Francys Valdivia Machado, a leader of Mothers of April, a group made up of those who lost relatives during the unrest, said the law promises things already guaranteed in Nicaragua’s constitution like access to health care, housing and education.

“It is not an integrated law because it was not created by us the victims,” she said. “We demand that the reparations begin with truth and justice.”

The law makes no mention of seeking justice or investigating those responsible for what the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has said were at least 325 killings during months of protests against Ortega’s government. Much of the violence has been blamed on security forces and pro-government allies.

Valdivia’s brother, 24-year-old Franco Valdivia Machado, was killed during a protest in the northern city of Esteli in April 2018.

Protests erupted across Nicaragua that month after Ortega decreed changes to the social security system, including cuts to pension payments. Marches and opposition roadblocks were regularly attacked by police, paramilitary forces and Ortega loyalists. Public demonstrations have been effectively banned since late last year.

International observers who have visited and investigated the unrest found no evidence of a coup attempt.

The latest attempt at dialogue broke down earlier this month. The government has committed to releasing all political prisoners by June 18, but the opposition says 233 remain imprisoned.

The Mothers of April scheduled a Mass at Managua’s cathedral for Thursday, which is Mother’s Day in Nicaragua. The service will commemorate lost loved ones and the dozen people killed during an attack on a Mother’s Day protest march last year.

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