Over the past weekend, protests against the changes to social security contributions and pension plans resulted in clashes between activists, as well as between police and protesters. The worst violence was reported in Managua, where police and military personnel were deployed to several locations, including the National University of Engineering, Metropolitan Cathedral and Polytechnic University of Nicaragua. Protesters threw rocks at the police and set public buildings alight, while the security forces responded with live fire, rubber bullets and tear gas. Violence was also reported in Carazo (Carazo department); Chinandega (Chinandega department); Esteli (Esteli department); Leon (Leon department); Masaya (Masaya department); Matagalpa (Matagalpa department) and Sebaco (Sebaco department).
Individuals in Managua and other major urban centers of Nicaragua should exercise caution and avoid the vicinity of all gatherings, due to ongoing violent unrest. Vice-President Rosario Murillo stated on April 20 that the government was willing to initiate talks to resolve the crisis, but gave no specific details. Anti-government activists responded by announcing further demonstrations for April 23 to pressure the administration to begin negotiations. At least ten people were killed and more than 100 injured on April 18- 21 in related unrest in Managua and other urban centers.
On Monday, April 23 2018, the U.S. Department of State raised the Travel Advisory of Nicaragua to a Level 3: Reconsider Travel. The Embassy in Managua will stop providing services to the public (except for emergencies and by phone) and pulling out some of its employees because of the deadly protests. The increase in the Travel Advisory Level for Nicaragua makes the entire country a Category 2 UT Restricted Region.
For more information:
- BBC: Nicaragua leader scraps pension reform after deadly riots
- LA Times: Journalist is among more than two dozen reported killed in Nicaragua street protests
- The Washington Post: US raises Nicaragua threat level, pulls diplomats’ families
On April 25, 2018, individuals in South Africa should anticipate significant traffic disruption during, and avoid, countrywide protests by the SAFTU trade union federation starting at 10.00 (local time). The demonstrations are linked to ongoing wage disputes, labor law reforms and the government’s National Minimum Wage Bill, which SAFTU claims sets ‘poverty-level’ minimums. A related rally in Cape Town (Western Cape Province) on April 12 caused significant traffic disruption along its route.
While sporadic gatherings elsewhere are also possible, the planned routes for marches in major urban centers are as follows:
- Bloemfontein (Free State province): Protesters will assemble at Batho Community Hall before marching to the Department of Labor at 13.00 (local time).
- Cape Town: Demonstrators will gather on Keizersgracht Street prior to marching to the City of Cape Town offices and the Parliament building.
- Durban (KwaZulu-Natal province): Participants will assemble at Botha’s Place before marching to Durban City Hall, the departments of labor and economic development, the Premier’s office, and the Mayor’s office.
- Johannesburg (Gauteng province): Protesters will assemble at Newtown Precinct prior to marching to the Department of Labor, the Provincial Department of Health, and the Premier’s Office.
- Polokwane (Limpopo province): Demonstrators will gather at SABC Park before marching to the departments of labor and social development.
- Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape Province): Participants will gather at Vusi Dlamini Square prior to marching to Nangoza Jebe Hall (Centenary Hall).
- Public protests and demonstrations are common, but they can be very dangerous. Even a peaceful protest or demonstration can become violent without warning. Students should never participate in a public rally, demonstration or protest. If these events occur during your program, avoid the area.
- Vacate an area immediately at the first sign that demonstrators or security force personnel are beginning to gather. In the event of violence, return to your accommodation or another secure location as soon as it is safe to do so, and stand fast until the situation normalizes.
- Although the police are likely to swiftly contain any disturbances with demonstrations, those caught in the vicinity may face incidental risks.
- Anticipate localized travel disruption during protests or strikes in major cities. Allow additional time to complete important journeys.
- Do not attempt to cross roadblocks and reconfirm the status of routes prior to setting out.
- Do not watch or take photographs of rallies and demonstrations. Maintain a low profile and quickly but calmly vacate the area at the first sign of a crowd forming.
- It is advised to not express political views on social media.
- Closely monitor any developments, using local sources and International SOS travel security alerts to remain up-to-date of developments.
As always, if you are abroad and in need of immediate assistance (medical or security related) please call International SOS at 215-942-8478 or UTPD at 512-471-4441.