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    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Violance in Bilwi

    I got this off Marlies site, and posted it here and am trying to get ya´ll some pictures from here, but my service is so slow...It is really frustrateing.

    This story does well in summing up the tensions between the larger Yatama No Sandinista´s and those that aligned with the FSLN

    Special to The Miami Herald

    MANAGUA -- Efforts to cancel upcoming municipal elections in parts
    of Nicaragua's hurricane-ravaged North Atlantic Autonomous Region
    sparked rioting Friday in the indigenous community of Bilwi, where
    opposition leaders claim the Sandinista government of President
    Daniel Ortega is trying to establish a dictatorship.

    ''The situation is chaotic and dangerous, and I think it is going to
    get even hotter,'' anti-Sandinista indigenous leader Osorno Coleman,
    said in a phone interview from Bilwi. ``The authorities have to act
    prudent right now.''

    Two people were shot and there were conflicting reports on their
    status. Several others were injured by rocks as the regional
    Sandinista-allied group, YATAMA, clashed with a much larger
    opposition group that met with a delegation of Liberal Party
    lawmakers who traveled to the coast to investigate the situation.

    The three visiting lawmakers were initially held hostage on their
    airplane, which was surrounded by some 80 YATAMA supporters. A
    larger group of several thousand anti-Sandinista indigenous people
    then came to the lawmakers' rescue, clashing with the YATAMA group.

    The rioting then spread as anti-Sandinista protesters took over the
    YATAMA-controlled mayor's office, looting the building and breaking
    windows, while another group burned two government vehicles in the
    street. All flights to and from the regional airport were canceled
    for the second time in a week.

    Coleman claims that the gunshots came from the YATAMA group headed
    by Brooklyn Rivera, a former anti-Sandinista militant who formed a
    controversial electoral alliance with Ortega in exchange for a seat
    in the National Assembly.

    Rivera, meanwhile, claims the violence and rioting was incited by
    the three visiting lawmakers, including Enrique Quiñónez, against
    whom the Sandinistas filed a criminal accusation Friday afternoon.

    ''The population on the coast doesn't have guns; it was the Liberals
    who went there and got the people drunk and drugged and gave them
    weapons, which they fired indiscriminately, killing one of their
    own,'' Rivera told the Miami Herald.

    Quiñónez said he and the other lawmakers went to the coast only to
    listen to the concerns of lawmakers, and that he wouldn't dignify
    Rivera's ''stupid comments'' with a response.

    ''The same ones who tried to persecute and exterminate the people on
    the Atlantic coast in the 1980s are, with their YATAMA allies, again
    trying to take away the right of the coastal population to have free
    elections,'' Quiñónez told the Herald.

    The National Police sent a high-level delegation from Managua out to
    the Caribbean coast by helicopter to investigate, but as of Friday
    night police and military reportedly had not intervened in the
    violence, witnesses said.

    At the center of the controversy is the Sandinistas' efforts to
    cancel the upcoming November elections in three municipalities under
    the argument that the conditions for voting don't exist due to
    damage caused by last September's Hurricane Felix, which destroyed
    much of the region, including school houses used for voting.

    Ortega last week called for a suspension of the elections in the
    municipalities of Bilwi, Waspam and Prinzapolka -- the same three
    municipalities controlled by the Sandinistas and their YATAMA ally.

    The opposition claims the Sandinistas' real motive is to hold onto
    power by avoiding elections they would lose. Critics claim efforts
    to suspend the vote is another example of the Sandinista government
    politicizing the hurricane disaster to meet its own needs.

    Enrique Sáenz, of the dissident Sandinista Renovation Movement, said
    the ruling Sandinista Front is ''afraid that the [Caribbean] coastal
    population is going to hand them the bill after their disastrous
    terms in office.'' He noted that the previous elections have been
    held in the Caribbean during times of flooding and even amid violent
    protests, and says the conditions are no worse now.

    Bernicia Sanders, a leader of an indigenous women's group from
    Bilwi, traveled to Managua last week to ask opposition political
    parties for support in defending the region's right to hold

    ''We know our rights,'' she said. ``And we need to elect our own

    Coleman, a former anti-Sandinista militant leader from the 1980s,
    says that canceling the elections would be nothing short of
    canceling democracy. ''If they suspend the elections, we will have a
    dictatorship, '' he said.

    There is also disagreement over which government institution would
    have the right to cancel the elections. Ortega has said the final
    word is up to the regional government council, controlled by YATAMA,
    while opposition lawmakers insist only the National Assembly has the
    right to cancel an election.
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    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...

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