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Nicaragua pension protest turns deadly

Inti Ocon, AFP | Students clash with riot police at the Institute of Social Security (INSS) in Managua on April 19, 2018.

A protester and a policeman were killed in the Nicaraguan capital Managua after demonstrations over pension reform turned violent Thursday night, officials said.

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The deaths came after protests by both opponents and supporters of a new law, which increases employer and employee contributions while reducing the overall amount of pensions by five percent, rocked the capital for a second day.

A 33-year-old policeman was shot dead, according to police, as well as a young male protester, whom officials said was pro-reform but members of the opposition said was against.

According to opposition demonstrators, a male student was also killed.

Ortega’s wife defends police action

Thursday’s demonstrations were the second straight day of protests as discontent has been growing over controversial changes to social security that will increase worker and employer payments and reduce future pensions.

Students in the capital Managua took over of the National University of Engineering, hurling stones and Molotov cocktails as they faced off with riot police, who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

The protests grew in intensity as pensioners were joined by businessmen and university students in several cities.

Nicaragua’s vice president and wife of President Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo, justified the police response as legitimate defense against “tiny groups.

In Masaya, a stronghold of Ortega’s left-wing Sandinista movement, hundreds of marchers were attacked with sticks by government

With the changes which were signed into law earlier this week, employees will now have to contribute 7 percent of their salary to social security, up from a current 6.25 percent.

Employers will have to contribute 22.5 percent of salaries from a current 19 percent.

Pensioners will also have 5 percent of their pension taken out to be used for medical expenses.

The changes to the pension system are aimed at shoring up Nicaragua’s social security system.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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