Nicaragua Dialogue Fails: Ortega Clings to Impunity

Members of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy at a press conference in Managua on the evening of April 3rd. Photo: EFE


The government’s rejection to advance elections will bring more sanctions and economic crisis

The Civic Alliance demands implementation of the accord to release political prisoners and restore freedoms, but there are no agreements on issues of justice and democratization


By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The deadline of the political negotiations set for April 3, ended in Managua without agreements on democratization and justice. The government of Daniel Ortega rejected moving up the 2021 elections and the investigation of the massacre perpetrated by the Police, paramilitaries and agents of the regime, preferring to leave the crimes in impunity.

Both sides rejected each other’s proposals on Wednesday. For the opposition “the negotiation is closed owing to the lack of political will by the regime.”

The Civic Alliance informed that they will not continue talks with the government’s representatives and will focus “their work” on the fulfillment of the partial agreements signed last week, referring to the release of political prisoners and the restoration of citizen freedoms that have been violated.

“We discussed those points (justice and democracy), but we had notable differences blocking any possible consensus,” said Max Jerez, a member of the opposition delegation. The university leader explained that they recommended to the regime to reflect and consult until the conditions are reached that allow the debate to continue. “But the negotiating table is still alive,” he stated.

The Civic Alliance noted in a statement that they asked the witnesses and companions to facilitate, through their efforts, the continuation of the negotiations under conditions that renew their credibility.” “This implies that there are other international guarantors, that the issue of justice and the advancement of elections be discussed in depth,” said Carlos Tunnermann.

However, sources of the Civic Alliance emphasized after the press conference held on Wednesday night that “the negotiation is closed” until the dictatorship demonstrates “real political will.” They clarified that “the (negotiating) table is alive” in the sense that they will dedicate themselves to the fulfillment of the agreements signed on the release of political prisoners and the restoration of freedoms.

In addition, the Civic Alliance assured that they cannot fully withdraw from the negotiation because of the commitment acquired with the International Committee of the Red Cross: the negotiating table is the counterpart to execute the agreement to release 760 political prisoners.

 “We will not continue in a dialogue without results”

“In order not to continue in the trap of an endless dialogue, we decided to move away because there is no consensus. We are going to dedicate ourselves to implement what was agreed upon…that is, the dialogue will devote itself to implementation: we cannot abandon our political prisoners; they must receive their freedom,” said Jose Pallais, a member of the Civic Alliance, told Confidencial.

In the same sense, Juan Sebastian Chamorro explained that after having exhausted all the resources in the negotiation, it was “unacceptable” to extend the term that expired on Wednesday. In his opinion, having extended it for two or three more days would have resulted in the same situation without agreements.

“The Civic Alliance is willing to resume talks when we see an atmosphere of political will. But if they sign agreements and in less than 24 hours they are repressing, it makes no sense to continue signing papers without compliance,” said Chamorro. “Let the government take its time to reflect so that it can take action if they are interested in resolving the national crisis. We are not going to continue in a dialogue without results. Failing to comply with the agreement on releasing all the prisoners and allowing citizen guarantees is the best example of a lack of political will,” added the member of the Civic Alliance.

The government also opposed the incorporation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as guarantors of the restitution of civil liberties, so that issue remains pending.

Perpetrators of the massacre in impunity

The proposal of justice presented by the government’s delegation was the height of hypocrisy in the session on Wednesday at INCAE. The government proposed that it be the Police, State institutions and its “Porras Commission” that provide justice for the crimes of the massacre that occurred as of April 18.

Juan Sebastian Chamorro affirmed that the Civic Alliance was adamantly opposed to the perpetrators of the massacre being in charge of providing justice for the victims. The opposition also presented its own justice proposal, which was rejected in the same way by the envoys of Ortega-Murillo.

The regime insisted that only its hand-picked truth commission remain in force, that is, “Porras Commission” and, at the same time, rejected the proposal for the creation of an independent Special Prosecutor’s Office to clarify the crimes of the massacre.

“At one point they (government delegates) wanted to mix the issue of political prisoners with that of its paramilitaries, and they raised something like an amnesty. The Alliance stated they could not be mixed, noting that the agreement for the release the political prisoners was already achieved and that they had to comply with it. That is why no agreements were reached,” the source said.

Without advancing elections

The Civic Alliance also presented to Ortega’s delegation and to the witnesses and companions its proposal for electoral reform and, above all, early elections. The delegats led by Foreign Minister Denis Moncada flatly rejected the proposal of the opposition, and said that “all the electoral issues should be seen by the Organization of American States (OAS).”

“The government does not want to advance elections and also wants that the Civic Alliance not to be the counterpart of the delegation that will be in charge of the electoral issue alleging that the Alliance is not a political party,” the source told Confidencial.

“What cannot be resolved will remain the responsibility of the government, because we are here in good faith, trying to propose solutions that will provide a way out of the crisis,” said Mario Arana, negotiator of the Civic Alliance, on the program “Esta Noche” (Tonight). “But we cannot do the impossible. If there is no will on the part of the other party, we are not doing anything at the table. We are facing big decisions. We are facing a historical opportunity to get the country out of the crisis.”

Arana said that if the dialogue fails in its entirety, the international community will redouble sanctions against the country and officials of the regime. “We said in the framework of the agreement that we were going to advocate that these sanctions do not to affect the country, because we are not interested in this getting worse. However, without agreements we cannot make that call,” said Arana.