Nicaraguan forces attack protesters in rebel city of Masaya

Catholic priests continue to report human right abuses in Nicaragua

By Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

MANAGUA, Nicaragua - Archbishop Silvio Baez said Tuesday the paramilitary was attacking protesters in the suburb of Monimbo in the western city of Masaya, Nicaragua. 

The indigenous population that lives in the neighborhood has fiercely opposed President Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice president Rosario Murillo's measures. 

"The bullets are reaching the Maria Magdalena parish church where the priest is sheltered," Baez wrote

Nicaraguan reporters warned Tuesday that there were some 1,500 armed men -- some who were police officers working with paramilitary --  in the city streets. They were blocking roads and were not allowing anyone to leave the city or access health care, protesters said on Whats App and Twitter. 

Human rights activist Vilma Núñez, the president of the Centro Nicaraguence de Derechos Humanos, said Tuesday afternoon that what police officers and paramilitary were doing in Monimbo was criminal. 

Human rights activists in Nicaragua warned Ramon Avellan, the chief of police in Masaya, announced that he was following orders from Ortega and the vice president to clean the streets from protesters.

 "We are going to comply at whatever cost," Avellan told reporters

Protesters were using the #SOSNicaragua, #SOSMasaya and #SOSMonimbo hashtags to report there were people wounded who didn't have access to medical attention.

Users were also sharing pictures of residents who they claim were arrested. The list included Oscar Gaitan, Alejandro Espinoza Briceño and his brother, Roger Espinoza Briceño and Moises Rodriguez. 

The protesters also reported an armed group broke into the San Juan Bautista church, in Masaya, and vandalized sacred communion objects. Rev. Augusto Gutierrez told a reporter with Spain's Cope that Ortega's supporters were using heaven military weaponry against protesters for at least four hours.

"This is genocide," Gutierrez said in tears, according to Cope. "It doesn't have another name. This is a neighborhood of common people, a neighborhood of indigenous, working people."

It wasn't the first time Ortega supporters attacked a church. Rev. Erick Alvarado Cole, a member of the clergy in charge of the Jesús de la Divina Misericordia parish in Managua said he remained inside the church with dozens of student protesters who sought shelter there. He tweeted Saturday when Gerald Vasquez was shot in the head in the church. 

"We strongly urge President Ortega not to attack Masaya," Francisco Palmieri, the U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, wrote on Twitter. 

Murillo, who is a member of the Evangelical church, referred to the protesters who want her and her husband out of power as demonic, satanists and terrorists, a Nicaraguan reporter from Confidencial reported.  

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the United States will respond to the Nicaraguan government's aggression and murders and will have to be accountable. 

"While the despot of Ortega and his circle of criminals intensify repression in Monimbo, Masaya, the world is witnessing," Ros-Lehtinen wrote on Twitter. "The U.S. will not sit idly by."

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#Nicaragua y la crisis, la violencia en aumento #praying #SOSNicaragua

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