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Anti-protest bill recalls Somoza's regime
By Toby Mailman, Weekly News Update, 7 June 1997
MANAGUA, June 4--A bill being heard in the National Assembly today which would make certain forms of protest illegal has provoked strong reaction here.
The bill, introduced by Liberal Alliance deputy Eliseo Nunez, proposes reforms to the penal code which would prescribe fines and jail terms for such activities as burning tires in the streets, building roadblocks, meeting "in a tumultuous manner in clear challenge to authority," and intimidating or threatening someone, among other provisions. According to Nunez, if this bill becomes law it could undermine any plans for another national protest such as that which took place here in April against the government's economic and social policies.
Sandinista National Liberal Front (FSLN) deputy Victor Hugo Tinoco called the bill a reflection of the authoritarian and repressive character of President Arnoldo Aleman's government. He added that instead of seeking negotiated solutions, Aleman is "making prisoners" of the social sectors most affected by the social and economic crisis. He said the bill is worrying because it reflects a preference for repression over consensus.
Returning recently from a trip to Europe, FSLN deputy Bayardo Arce said people there are "astonished" at what is happening in Nicaragua.
Dr. Alvaro Ramirez, a member of the Nicaraguan Democrat Lawyers Association said the bill is reminiscent of a law passed during the time of dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, which provided for punishment for diffusion of certain ideas or for belonging to certain political parties.
After review by the National Assembly the bill goes to the Assembly's Justice Commission for its recommendations.
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