Strike Paralyzes New Chamorro Government
Thousands of striking workers paralyzed the government today, and Vice President Virgilio Godoy said the opposition Sandinistas were “trying to overthrow President Chamorro.”
It was the most serious threat to the 19-day-old government of President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who defeated the leftist Sandinistas at the polls Feb. 25.
Riot police fired tear gas into the Foreign Ministry building to disperse workers who occupied the building, but state employees retook the premises immediately and pushed out the police. Strikers ignored threats of massive firings from the government.
It was just one of several government buildings occupied by strikers. Chamorro’s whereabouts were not immediately known. At most buildings, police merely stood outside. There was no sign of any army presence.
Telephone, telegraph and telex communications went dead, cutting off Nicaragua from the rest of the world. Workers threatened to cut off electricity to the city in the afternoon, then to shut off the water supply. Both electrical and water ministries were occupied by strikers.
An angry mob rushed Foreign Minister Enrique Dreyfus and a group of Nicaraguan ambassadors who were standing in the porch of a restaurant across the ministry parking lot. Police protected them from the mob.
The strike was for higher pay, but it became increasingly clear that the stoppages were a political confrontation between the government and the Sandinistas. In addition to their economic demands, the strikers issued a new demand that the U.S.-backed Contra rebels immediately demobilize.
Tires were set ablaze in front of about six government buildings, while loudspeakers at the gate blared Sandinista revolutionary slogans against Chamorro and her government.
“Violeta, start packing your bags!”; “The people own the government, not the bourgeois!” and “Not one step back!” were some of the slogans chanted by strikers at government buildings.