International Pressure on Ortega May Increase if He Refuses to Negotiate

The OAS Permanent Council increased pressure on Nicaragua to resume the National Dialogue suspended two months ago. Photo: OAS / Confidencial


If Ortega does not comply, he opens the door to bilateral sanctions, explains former Nicaraguan Ambassador

“The Government of Ortega is trying to penalize all forms of dissent,” said the US Ambassador to the OAS, Carlos Trujillo


By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved its third resolution on Wednesday condemning the violence of the Daniel Ortega’s regime and urging the government to return to the national dialogue. The new resolution opens the door to bilateral sanctions by the international community, agreed former diplomats.

The resolution was approved with 19 votes in favor, 9 abstentions and four against. The measure exceeded the 18-vote barrier required for approval. It was backed by 19 countries, among them Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and the United States, the most important in the region. Venezuela, Bolivia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Nicaragua voted against this initiative. The Nicaraguan representative, Luis Exequiel Alvarado Ramirez, reiterated that his government “does not recognize” the resolution of the OAS, which it considers part of the “imperialist and expansionist” policies from Washington.

The novelty of this resolution lies in its paragraph 7, which calls “upon Member and Observer States (to the OAS) to implement, in accordance with their respective legal frameworks and applicable international law, appropriate measures to assist in the restoration of the rule of law and the protection of human rights in Nicaragua.”

Former Nicaraguan Ambassador to the OAS, José Luis Velasquez, explained on the “Esta Noche” (Tonight) program that countries could take bilateral actions, whether commercial, diplomatic, or to block the sale of weapons to countries where human rights are at risk.

“All these measures could be applied. The idea is to increase international pressure to re-establish the conditions for dialogue and a negotiated solution to the crisis,” Velasquez said.

Carlos Tunnerman, former Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United States, noted that the resolution mentions the permanent “Observer States” of the OAS, which includes Spain, France, Italy and Japan.

The resolution approved emphasizes that the national dialogue, mediated by the bishops of the Episcopal Conference, must be resumed and be “committed in good faith.” In addition, it urges that the Ortega-Murillo regime “support an electoral calendar” jointly agreed to in this context…and the proposal of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and even the OAS General Secretariat itself favors early elections.

“The government of Ortega is trying to penalize all forms of dissent,” stated the US Ambassador to the OAS, Carlos Trujillo. “The violators of human rights must be held accountable,” added the US representative, who stressed that early elections are the most practical way out of the crisis that leaves more than 322 dead.

“If this resolution is not complied with, and the Ortega Government continues to claim that it is a violation to its sovereignty, undoubtedly it will open the doors to bilateral sanctions,” assured Tunnerman. “Even the preamble of the resolution refers to the Inter-American Democratic Charter. In other words, if the government does not comply, the Secretary General could well apply it based on articles 20 and 21 of the OAS,” added this former diplomat and member of the Civic Alliance.

Meeting with the Inter-American Development Bank

During the Permanent Council session the first report of the OAS “working group” for Nicaragua was also presented, whose creation was approved on August 2, and is formed by 12 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, United States, Guyana, Mexico, Panama and Peru.

The diplomats highlighted what was said by the “Working Group for Nicaragua”: that they will hold a meeting on September 20th with the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Luis Alberto Moreno.

Trujillo explained that the United States Government wants to ensure that the IADB’s money is not used “to pay paramilitaries or police who are abusing the Nicaraguan people.”

Nicaragua has an active portfolio in the IADB of 624 million dollars, which finances various projects, especially on infrastructure. The Executive Board of the IADB, where its 48 members and the United States are represented, has an important task because it has the last word on freezing loans to a borrowing government, something that has not happened since 2009, after the coup d’état in Honduras that deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

The former Ambassador stated that international organizations such as the IADB make periodic evaluations of their clients to review their capacity to pay. If the Government comes to request disbursements, the organization could take into account what the working group for Nicaragua has said about the crisis.

“It will tell the Government to solve its political problems first, because, as long as they persist, every dollar that is invested in Nicaragua will be lost,” said Velazquez. The former OAS Ambassador stressed that the twelve countries that make up the working group for Nicaragua have votes on the disbursement committees of these organizations, especially for Nicaragua.

Velazquez said that Nicaragua needs “external engines”, such as remittances, direct foreign investment, loans and donations. If those “engines go out”, the country will be in serious trouble because it is not Venezuela that receives money from the sale of oil, or even from selling gold.

“We are going to have problems in maintaining the macroeconomic framework, measures will have to be taken in this regard,” warned Velazquez. “Nicaragua is more vulnerable to these pressures. Sooner or later, Ortega knows that he will have to find solutions to this problem. He wastes opportunities as times goes by. The situation will be getting worse, up to the point that it can become intolerable for everyone,” he added.

They urge the government to facilitate information

The twelve countries of the working group concluded that “generalized violence continues” and the Executive’s collaboration with international organizations has “deteriorated considerably”, such as with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC), which has played a central role in monitoring the situation at the beginning of the protests.

Gonzalo Konchke, Chief of Staff of Luis Almagro, asked the Government for “collaboration” with the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI), who have not been able to fully carry out their work due to the regime’s blocking of information.

“Costa Rica expressed its support to the recommendations contained in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner published on August 29th and hopes that they will be fully implemented in order to overcome the current crisis, strengthen institutions and the rule of law in Nicaragua and contribute to the search for truth and accountability. Likewise, it urges that the necessary conditions and support be provided for the work of MESENI and the Interdisciplinary Experts Group,” said the Costa Rican Ambassador to the OAS, Rita Hernandez.

The countries also regretted the fact that the Ortega Government expelled the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Our dismay is aggravated when we hear the Government of Nicaragua insist that the situation has returned to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since our last session devoted to the situation of Nicaragua, in August, regrettable and extremely serious events have happened that force us today, once again, to raise our voice in defense of a population subjected to arbitrary actions contrary to the obligations stipulated in different human rights pacts,” insisted the Representative from Costa Rica, who gave one of the most critical speeches of the day.