Tomorrow will likely be the most intense day of Nicaragua’s near two-month long civil conflict so far.
The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy of Nicaragua, a leading coalition, has called for a 24-hour nationwide strike set to begin noon local time on Thursday. It’s expected that many workers, including those in Nicaragua’s cigar industry, will participate.
The purpose of the strike is to force the country’s president, Daniel Ortega, back to the negotiating table to end civil unrest that has left roughly 150 dead. That negotiation is likely to demand Ortega’s resignation, an option he has so far refused to entertain.
It’s the culmination of violence that started in mid-April when Ortega announced an overhaul of the country’s pension system. Following protests and as many as 30 deaths, he reversed his position on the matter, but by that point, the damage was done. Protestors, led by students at the country’s universities, had begun calling for the end of the Ortega administration. Ortega responded with counterprotestors, some allegedly paid, and eventually government forces.
Since then, an estimated 148 people have died and Nicaragua is in a full civil crisis.
The Asociación Nicaragüense de Tabacaleros (ANT), the Nicaraguan cigar association, will meet Wednesday morning to discuss whether the group will take an official stance on the strike.
It’s the latest in a rapidly escalating conflict that has seen Ortega increasingly use force against protestors. In the last week, protestors around the country have set up roadblocks. Those 150+ roadblocks have left an estimated 6,000 trucks stranded throughout Nicaragua.
Over the weekend, a cargo transport alliance announced it would no longer support transport within and into Nicaragua and various other groups and companies announced the suspending of shipments.
One of those roadblocks is located in the southern area of Estelí, home to most of the country’s cigar rolling. That roadblock and others has slowed shipments out of the country and many companies are preparing for the situation to get worse. In addition, some factories have already seen worker shortages, shutdowns, intrusions and shootings outside a factory.
For more information about the situation in Nicaragua, click here.