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Nicaragua Protests Take a New Turn: Empty Streets

“But we haven’t seen any willingness from the government to respond to our democratization agenda,” Mr. Chamorro added. Those demands include Mr. Ortega’s resignation, free elections and justice for the families of those killed in the protests.

Mr. Chamorro warned that the blockades and protest marches would continue.

Mr. Ortega, 72, the onetime leftist revolutionary who has dominated Nicaraguan political life for much of the past four decades, has created a government in his own image since he won election in 2006. He later secured changes to the Constitution to allow him to run for re-election indefinitely, and established control over the Supreme Court, Congress and the electoral authority.

Among the government offices that were open on Thursday was the headquarters of the migration ministry, where hundreds of people stood in line to apply for a passport, the first step to leave the country.

Among them were Katherin Mendieta and her husband, Darwin Chávez, both 21 and students at Polytechnic University, which has been a center of the student protests.

“We’re scared, my husband is young and young people are being attacked,” said Ms. Mendieta. “We decided not to join the protests because we are scared.”

The couple have a 6-month-old daughter and no idea where they will go, but they want to leave Nicaragua’s political turmoil behind. “I have never gotten involved in politics because I have seen that it is all false and dirty,” Mr. Chávez said.

The two months of upheaval have begun to take a toll on people’s livelihoods. José René Zamora, 75, a pineapple farmer, was filling his pickup truck at a state-owned gas station, his family crammed on the flatbed. “I have my pineapple plantation, but you can’t plant because there is nowhere to sell,” he said.

He would like to see Mr. Ortega go, he said, but in peace, without any more bloodshed.


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