Ex-EPS, Gov’t reach agreement

Former fighters lift roadblocks, give gov't until April 17 to start acting on its promises

(posted March 16, 10:15 a.m.)- Retired soldiers from the former Sandinista Popular Army (EPS) agreed to suspend their roadblocks yesterday afternoon after finally reaching an agreement with the government of President Daniel Ortega.

The former fighters, who had been blocking the Sébaco Bridge and staging highway protests at several other points north of Managua for two weeks, agreed to lift their roadblocks after the government promised to meet their demands for social benefits.

Though President Ortega did not meet with the group face to face, as the ex-soldiers had initially demanded, he called and spoke with them by phone and “ordered (the government ministers) to resolve the issue,” according to Carlos Ramírez, president of the National Council of Homeland Defenders, a group of some 16,000 former EPS soldiers.

The government agreed to buy land to give to the retired soldiers and provide disability benefits to injured veterans. The government also promised to discuss a new pension law for retired soldiers, and to include them in the government’s social housing projects and agricultural assistance programs.

The Council of Homeland Defenders agreed to give the government one month—until April 17—to see some compliance on its promises. If the government drags its feet any longer, the retired soldiers will resume their protests, they warned.

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