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Fort Myers professor concerned over students trapped in deadly Nicaragua riots

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Posted at 10:29 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-24 23:18:57-04

FORT MYERS, Fla., -- A Southwest Florida professor says UPOLI (Polytechnic University of Nicaragua) college students are getting caught in the crossfire of police riots there after peacefully protesting their rights. 

“They’re like my own children," said Dr. Bruno Baltodano, Professor of Political Science at Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers. "[I] fear for their safety." 

**Editor's Clarification: No FSW students are known to be in Nicaragua or involved in the conflicts there.

Baltodano says he's gotten messages from Nicaragua the last couple days of students being killed and injured from the police. He says it started when the Nicaraguan government revoked social security pensions from citizens, leading students there to protest, often asking him for help. 

“To a simple degree of can you help find a way to get a truck to get us out of here?” the professor said of one student. 

According to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, there have been 28 killed, 43 missing and 67 injured since the riots broke out.

For FSW student Owen Dyches, who took the trip to the Nicaragua campus just last month, he says he's been up all night messaging his colleagues trapped on campus.  “We got a message just saying they're killing all of us," said Dyches. "Their government is attacking them...purposely killing students who are not armed who are just speaking out in a civil way.”

In the meantime, Baltodano is working on trying to get transportation to get the students out, but is hoping more will join in to help. 

“If we don’t care about violence elsewhere, it’s difficult for me to assume that we’re going to care about violence back home.”

If you or someone you know would like to lend a hand in bringing the students to safety in Nicaragua, Baltodano urges you to call the Nicaraguan Consulate at 305-265-1415.