Nicaragua's LGBT community urges Ortega to resign

LGBT protesters demonstrated in Nicaragua's capital to demand President Daniel Ortega's resignation (AFP Photo/INTI OCON) (AFP)

Managua (AFP) - Nicaragua's LGBT community joined with devout Catholic adherents on Thursday in demanding the resignation of President Daniel Ortega and an end to political violence that has left 220 dead in just over two months.

Sounding horns as they carried multicolored flags, LGBT protesters demonstrated in the capital Managua.

"In this dictatorship we have also felt we have no rights. We are part of this new revolution. Ortega has to leave," Damaso Vargas, a 25-year-old transgender told AFP. He said was wearing black to honor those killed.

Elsewhere in the city, the papal nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw presided over the Mass of the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral: "Pope Francis asks us to be builders of the peace of Christ, calling for the cessation of all violence, the avoidance of useless bloodshed," he said in the homily.

"I came to ask that the massacre ends and they leave the country, what they have done has no name," Nidia Vargas, 70, told AFP.

"We ask the Lord for peace that this government took from us," said Auxiliadora Martínez, 60.

With the mediation of the Catholic Church, the government and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy - a civil society coalition - resumed on Thursday talks at the level of working groups, to try to unlock the dialogue that seeks to resolve the crisis.

The process is stalled because Ortega, whose third consecutive term ends in January 2022, still has not responded to the proposal to advance the elections from 2021 to March 2019.

"Unfortunately there has not been the slightest sign of goodwill," said the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Baez, who said he did not rule out that if the "political problem" is not resolved and "repression ceases" it will lead to a greater conflict.

The protests began in April as demonstrations against now-scrapped social security reforms under Ortega, who led the Sandinista revolution in 1979 and ruled until 1990. He returned to power in 2007 and is now on his third straight presidential term.

But a heavy-handed police reaction transformed them into demands for justice for those killed, and for the exit of Ortega and his wife Vice President Rosario Murillo, who are accused by critics of ruling like dictators.