Thousands of Nicaraguans have taken to the streets in the capital, Managua, in support of peace after days of political violence that reportedly killed 43 people.
People of all ages carried blue and white national flags as they marched through the streets of the capital and gathered outside the city’s cathedral for a Mass on Saturday.
“We have come on a pilgrimage as one people, brothers in the faith of the Lord Jesus, brothers in suffering for so many lives lost... desiring justice, peace and reconciliation,” Managua’s archbishop, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, told the crowd.
He said he would serve as a mediator of a national dialog called for by President Daniel Ortega following protests over controversial government welfare reforms, which triggered the country’s worst unrest in more than a decade and which Ortega later cancelled.
Despite the 72-year-old leader’s cancellation of the reforms, protesters continued to demand his ouster.
In his Saturday remarks, Cardinal Brenes said he would impose a deadline of one month to see “if a real commitment exists” to carry out potential agreements.
“If we see that they are not taking these steps, we will call a halt and we will tell the people of God that we cannot carry on,” he said to widespread applause and chants of “Make them go!” in reference to Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.
There was no immediate response from the government of President Ortega.
Reports say days of protests over the government reforms led to the death of 43 people. That figure has not been confirmed by the Nicaraguan government.
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