Nicaragua frees prisoners ahead of talks with opposition

Nicaragua frees prisoners ahead of talks with opposition
FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2018 file photo, the President of Nicaragua Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice-President Rosario Murillo preside a rally in Managua, Nicaragua. President Ortega said Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, that he will restart talks with his opponents, seven months after the last round of dialogue broke down and the government unleashed a round of arrests. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga, File)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has released dozens of people arrested in a last year’s crackdown on street protests.

The releases came just hours before talks between the government and opponents are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Rights groups estimate that at least 770 people have been arrested in relation to anti-government protests that broke out last April.

Several vans carrying people in inmates’ uniforms left the Modelo prison in Managua. Families and lawyers of several prisoners said the released inmates had turned up at their homes. However, there was no clear information on the number released.

Some of the inmates waved small Nicaraguan flags, a frequent gesture in last year’s protests. Government supporters prefer the red-and-black banners of Ortega’s Sandinista party.