Since demonstrations began in April this year over unpopular social security reforms, the Central American nation of Nicaragua has been embroiled in civil crisis. The months of civilian demonstrations have been marked by state-backed violence against civilians and the Ortega administration’s deepening authoritarianism, which has solicited numerous public condemnations from international non-governmental organizations and government leaders alike. But last week, Nicaraguan officials took the opportunity presented by the UNGA to share their side of the story.
“In interviews and public appearances in the United States, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Valdrack L. Jaentschke has painted the protesters as violent extremists seeking to topple the democratically elected government of President Daniel Ortega.
In an interview on Tuesday with The Washington Post, Jaentschke described the protests, which began in April, as part of a “coup” attempt. The demonstrations, he said, were part of a “violent effort to overthrow the constitutionally elected government” by political radicals unable to win widespread support through the ballot box. He did not identify those people or describe their political allegiances…
Jaentschke called the concern over the social security measure an “excuse” by radicals to foment “terror” and “violence.” He also took issue with the death toll reported by human rights groups, which have said more than 300 people had died in the unrest, the majority at the hands of government forces.
The minister disputed the allegations, saying about 200 people have been killed in the violence and more than half of them were government supporters and security forces trying to keep the peace. “Social media operators” were “promoting widespread violence,” he said. “We blame them for every single one of the deaths that occurred.”
Jaentschke also said the government stepped in only when the security of the nation was at stake. “Our first concern was to avoid a civil war,” he said.“