Just before midday on Sunday, thousands of people participating in what was called the “March of the flags” began to run and throw themselves to the ground when hooded paramilitaries started shooting from three pick-up trucks identified with red and black Sandinista party flags, injuring two people and generating panic among the participants.
One of the wounded was Dr. Carlos Fletes, a urologist at the Vivian Pellas Hospital, where he was also treated after being shot in the left arm. His condition is stable. Another wounded, who could not be identified, was shot in the hand.
The attack occurred when the march was nearing its end. Armed men from a red pick-up truck fired on the demonstrators. Persons reported on social networks having seen that same vehicle, minutes later, at Station V of the National Police.
After the attack, the people reacted indignantly and several persons set fire to a police patrol vehicle, burned tires and tried to raise a small barricade, on Carretera Masaya, in the sector of the Jean Paul Genie traffic circle.
The burnt vehicle belonged to the patrol of the Police Investigation Technical Team, and was passing by the area of the march when it was stoned by dozens of protesters.
Minutes later, dozens of police and riot patrols were mobilized to the sector accompanied by paramilitaries aboard Hilux pick-up trucks to disrupt the protest. Most of the participants fled to take refuge from new shots. Hours later, people denounced a house by house police hunt in the nearby neighborhoods in search of the demonstrators.
The Police Version
The National Police issued a press release stating that the march involved “hooded groups with firearms, mortars and Molotov cocktails” that assaulted the patrol.
“At approximately 11:50 in the morning, in front of the offices of Movistar, at kilometer 6.5 Road to Masaya, some hooded individuals with firearms, mortars shells and Molotov cocktails, assaulted police patrol 808 and its crew-members: attacked police officer Melvin Antonio Romero Moraga, 30, and inspector Harling Echaverry Salazar, 42, who suffered head trauma and wounds in the thorax caused by a knife, and later set fire to the patrol vehicle,” the press release stated.
A constant harassment
The “March of the Flags” was held on Sunday morning, amid a strong harassment by Sandinista sympathizers and riot-police that forced it to modify the stipulated route.
It was planned for ten o’clock in the morning at the Cristo Rey (Jesus Christ) roundabout with final destination the El Periodista (Journalist) roundabout, the route had to be changed due to the harassment of an improvised caravan of the ruling-party and the presence of riot police.
The protesters moved to the traffic-lights of Autolote El Chele, but once again the so-called “peace caravan” got there to besiege and dozens of riot-police were also present to prevent the march and any violence between both sides.
However, the protestors took to the streets shouting: “murderers”, murderers.” “We are not afraid” the demonstrators shouted at the pick-up trucks caravan with supporters of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
Waving blue and white flags of Nicaragua, and shouting “They will leave, they will leave”, the protestors demanding the departure of Ortega waited for the passage of the vehicle caravan of government supporters, convened at the last minute in an attempt to prevent the march. The protestors demanded to the riot-police to let them march in peace, but hundreds of them decided to block the road and force the so-called “peace-caravan” to change its route.
Finally, the people managed to force back the riot-police, which did not withdraw from the area and indeed cordoned off the main street of Altamira. But, the march took a new route that was defined along the way.
A victory for the protest
“This is a victory for Nicaragua because it was demonstrated that, although they wanted to frighten us and tried to prevent the march, we were able to do it and were able to make them withdraw in a peaceful way,” assured Jean Carlos Lopez, a college student and member of the Civic Alliance.
Edwin Carcache, also of the Civic Alliance, expressed that the message from Ortega-Murillo once again makes it clear that “they do not want to leave as they cling to power by force.”
“They continue intimidating the population by selectively hunting people that they take-away from their homes, and now they also want to prevent the marches. But, the people continue to go out to the streets and are not afraid. We are tired and want a definite change in Nicaragua,” they stated.
“They have to let us march always. It is a wicked plan to threaten the people. The government wants to expel international organizations and threatened us. But we are not afraid, we are going to continue in the streets,” Carcache added.
A caravan of state workers and Sandinista supporters accompanied by paramilitaries on Sunday morning prevented the people of Madriz in north central Nicaragua from carrying out a departmental caravan called “Respect the Homeland.”
The demonstrators were going to meet around ten o’clock in the morning in front of the Catholic Church, in Somoto, from where they planned to drive their vehicles around the main streets of the city,” reported citizens in social networks.