Ex-combatants: roadblocks will continue

Former EPS fighters say the roadblocks will spread from Sebaco to other parts of the country

(posted March 12, 2:15 p.m.)- A group of several hundred demobilized combatants from the defunct Sandinista Popular Army (EPS) say they will continue to block the Sebaco Bridge “indefinitely” following the failure to reach a negotiated solution with the government today.

The former Sandinista fighters who were demobilized in 1990, as well as a group of retired Nicaraguan soldiers from the 1990s, are demanding the government attend to their rights to a state pension, land and healthcare, among other basic services.

The ex-soldiers, who have been blocking the northern highway on and off for the past two weeks, claim they will intensify their protests and spread their roadblocks to other parts of the country, paralyzing transportation and trade.

A small group representing the ex-combatants, who claim to number 12,000 in the northern departments of Matagalpa, Jinotega and Nueva Segovia, say they are tired of waiting for the legislative wheels to turn to approve a new law benefiting retired soldiers. The bill was presented more than two years ago, and has been sitting in commission ever since.

Representatives from the National Assembly who met with the ex-combatants promised to form a new commission to study the group’s demands.

The former EPS fighters, however, claim they are tired of committees, and are frustrated that no high-ranking official from the Sandinista government will meet with them.

“We don’t want any more commissions; we want president Ortega to show his face on this and for the government to pass the law giving us benefits,” said Carlos Ramirez, in representation of the former combatants.   

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