The president challenged the Organization of American States and called on his followers to "not let down your guard" and to exercise"self-defense" in the midst of the grave crisis rocking the country.
Ortega said that he is the victim of "a conspiracy armed and financed by internal and external forces," and disqualified the bishops as mediators in the crisis because they have "taken sides."
In a July 14 statement, the Nicaraguan Bishops' Conference denounced "the lack of political will by the government to dialogue" and seek real processes that would lead the country to a true democracy.
Finally, Fr. Gutierrez stated that Nicaragua is "in a state of emergency," and that an "anti-terrorist" law was recently passed such that "all those who support the men at the roadblocks, or according to [the government] are collaborating against them, they're going to put on trial."
Barricades and roadblocks are now found throughout Nicaragua, and clashes frequently turn lethal. Bishops and priests across the country have worked to separate protesters and security forces, and have been threatened and shot.
Nicaragua's crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces initially.
Anti-government protesters have been attacked by "combined forces" made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and pro-government vigilantes.
The Nicaraguan government has suggested that protestors are killing their own supporters so as to destabilize Ortega's administration.
The Church in Nicaragua was quick to acknowledge the protestors' complaints.
The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega's authoritarian bent.
Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014. He was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.
(Story continues below)
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