Nicaragua: Dozens of Prisoners Released Before Talks

A human rights organization has confirmed that dozens of prisoners who were arrested for taking part in the protests against the government have been released. The organization did not give details on how many people were released but witnesses told the media that they saw buses leave from jails.

The release of the prisoner comes shortly before the government and opposition hold talks. The two sides have held talks in the past but they will resume them after a long pause. The protests, which left hundreds of people dead, were the main reason why the talks began. The talks were paused in June.

In April 2018, many residents took the streets to show the support for the opposition and demand for the government to step away. The protests went on for months but they slowed down. Hundreds of people were arrested for participating in the anti-government protests.

Reports say the releases began in the early hours of Wednesday. An official told local media that between 100 and 150 would be taken from jails to house arrest. More than 700 people were arrested during the protests. Organizations say around 600 of them remain in jail. It is not yet known how many were released today.

The releases are believed to be linked to the talks that will take place between the government and opposition group. Members of the opposition group Civic Alliance are preparing for the talks. The talks between the two sides are said to be over the situation in the country and to discuss ways on how to end the political crisis.

Daniel Ortega, who has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, announced a few days ago that the talks would resume. The announcement came more than six months after the last dialogue came to an end.

The deadly protests began back in April when Ortega announced changes to the country’s social security system. Ortega, who has been in power for 12 years, angered the population with the announcement. Many of them took the streets shortly after to call for his resignation.

The two sides held talks shortly after but they ended with no agreement. During last year’s talks, it was proposed that Ortega should call for early elections. The president refused to hold early elections and the two sides paused the talks. The opposition’s main demand was for elections but the talks ended and more arrests were reported.

Ortega’s announcement of new talks come during a time in which Venezuela, one of its allies, is in the middle of a battle with its interim president and opposition. Venezuela’s former president Nicolas Maduro refuses to step away, despite the accusations and warnings from the international community.

Maduro has been accused of human rights violations after the incident at the bridge connecting Colombia and Venezuela. On February 23, Venezuela’s interim president Juan Guaido began his efforts to bring humanitarian aid to the country. Three trucks attempted to cross the bridge but the efforts ended in a battle with security forces after the aid was burned.

Maduro and officials said they defeated the coup after the incident but the international community has heavily criticized them for what happened on February 23. Ortega and Maduro have said in the past that they would like to meet with US President Donald Trump.