October 18, 2018 — The Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology and the Ignatian Solidarity Network issued a statement of continued solidarity with the people of Nicaragua on the six-month anniversary of nonviolent protests that led to the deaths of at least 300 civilians at the hands of police and government-sponsored paramilitary groups.
A demonstrator holds a crucifix during a protest against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government in Managua, Nicaragua, May 15. (CNS photo/Oswaldo Rivas, Reuters)
“We unequivocally reject the violations of human rights and the blatant destruction of democratic structures that protect the rights and dignity of our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters,” the statement said.
The initial protests led to the deaths of more than two dozen people. Álvaro Manuel Conrado Davila, a 15-year-old student at Instituto Loyola, the Jesuit high school in Managua, Nicaragua, was among the victims killed while peacefully protesting on April 20.
Mourners at Álvaro Manuel Conrado Davila's funeral. (photo: Ingrid Orozco)
The ongoing struggle began with nonviolent citizen protests on April 18 after the government announced changes to the nation's social security system — an effort that was canceled by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on April 22 in response to the public outcry.
However, protests continued to arise in response to the broader context of the current government’s consolidation of power over several years. In 2011, the Supreme Court controversially ruled that President Ortega could run for reelection, and in 2014, a constitutional amendment eliminated limits to the number of terms a president could serve, as well as minimum vote requirements.
Today’s statement is also intended to demonstrate particular solidarity with Fr. Chepe Idiaquez, SJ, rector of the University of Central America (UCA), a work of the Society of Jesus, who has been an integral part of the Catholic Church’s call for a national dialogue process, as well as the broader UCA community, which includes Jesuit priests, lay faculty, staff, students and their families.
“We will continue to honor the dignity of the victims, political prisoners, and the disappeared through our efforts to bring awareness to the suffering of our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters and to further amplify their call for justice, peace, and democracy,” the statement concluded.