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NPR | Stay Or Go? Ortega’s Crackdown Pushes Nicaraguans To Make Hard Choices

Author: Carrie Kahn
Image: Relatives and friends attend the burial of teenager Matt Romero in Managua, Nicaragua, last September. He was shot dead during clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police and paramilitaries.Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images

Blanka Callejas looks out over the production floor of her family’s factory just outside the Nicaraguan town of Granada. Workers scrub down huge metal vats where they process fruit for the Callejas brand of jams and preserves, a staple in Nicaraguan homes for decades. She is worried about how she will pay her 50 employees.

These days, she says, jam has become a luxury.

Nicaragua has been in turmoil since last April, when President Daniel Ortega launched a brutal crackdown on opponents. At least 325 people have been killed, thousands injured and 550 arrested. In December, Ortega expelled international observers who were invited into the country to look into allegations of human rights abuses. The Organization of American States said at the time that the expulsion of its observers “further places Nicaragua into the terrain of authoritarianism.” The economy, after years of growth, is now in recession.

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