Nicaragua police stamp out protests with tear gas, punches

GABRIELA SELSER and MARIA JOSE DIAZ
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Nicaragua Protest

People come to the aid of a young protester who was injured by a stun bomb launched by police to disperse demonstrators at an anti-government march dubbed, "Nothing is Normal” in honor of slain student Matt Romero, in Managua, Nicaragua, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. 16-year-old Matt Romero was killed during “crossfire” last September when armed men wearing hoods clashed with anti-government protesters. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaraguan police on Saturday dispersed anti-government protesters with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets, injuring two people.

Carrying blue and white balloons, demonstrators gathered at several locations in Managua to condemn the death of teenager Matt Romero during a march last year and to demand elections to replace President Daniel Ortega.

Hundreds of Nicaraguans have been killed, jailed or forced into exile since protests against Ortega erupted in April 2018.

"They know this is a people they can't shut up, they can't turn off, and we're going to continue the fight," said protester Jose Dolores Blandido.

Police mobilized hundreds of officers throughout the capital early Saturday to block the protest, which the government had forbidden. The protest was summoned by a coalition called Blue and White National Unity. Blue and white are the colors of the Nicaraguan flag.

Protesters shouted "freedom!" as they tried to push past police holding plastic riot shields. The protesters pulled back after police shot tear gas into the crowd.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned via Twitter what it described as "state violence against protesters" on Saturday.