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Nicaragua releases 50 prisoners in hopes talks can resume

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MANAGUA (Reuters) – The Nicaraguan government on Friday released a second group of prisoners following demands by the opposition for more detainees to be freed before political dialogue to broker a way out of a national crisis continues.

The interior ministry said 50 people – which the opposition considers political prisoners – had been released, joining 100 others let out on Feb. 27, the day talks between the government and its opponents had restarted.

Talks broke down when the opposition made continued dialogue conditional on the release of “all political prisoners.”

A committee representing relatives of the detainees said there are still more than 570 political prisoners in custody.

The latest to be freed left a penitentiary on the outskirts of Managua and headed into the city. Dozens of residents came out to wave the Nicaraguan flag and greet the prisoners.

Nicaragua has been in a debilitating political crisis since President Daniel Ortega attempted to push through a social security reform last April, leading to massive protests. Ensuing chaos tipped the poor Central American nation into recession.

Ortega, a Cold War-era former Marxist guerrilla leader elected in 2006, unleashed a crackdown on the protests. Some 320 people were killed and more than 600 imprisoned, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Editing by David Gregorio)

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