Nicaragua Hears Demands for Ortega’s Exit and Early Elections

(Ortega and Murillo) are going, they are going. End the repression, peace!  Photo: Bienvenido Velasco EFE /Cinfidencial

University coalition proposes “Law to set the framework for a democratic transition”

Government opposes this, alleging that it implies “breaking with the Constitution”

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The University Coalition on Monday proposed the adoption of a “law to set the framework for transition and democracy”, with its first step the immediate destitution of Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega. The students feel this is the only way to move past the crisis that has cost the lives of 76 people since last April 18, according to information provided by the Interamerican Human Rights Commission.

The proposal was launched by university student Lesther Aleman during Monday’s session of the national dialogue in Nicaragua, a dialogue that began last Wednesday, May 16.  Aleman’s proposal was summarily rejected by the government representative present.

The student leader criticized the current constitutional framework, because “the system has been corrupted” and proposed discussing a framework law that would include the destitution of Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, prior to reforming the Constitution.

“No restructuring can be done within the same system,” he warned in the forum, which was transmitted live by a television channel in the country belonging to the Catholic Church.

Victor Cuadras, another of the student leaders, underlined the fact that they were at the table to demand the “surrender of Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo and their minions” and that this demand isn’t negotiable.

Foreign Minister Moncada appeals for “caution”

Speaking for the government [in the absence of Ortega and Murillo] Denis Moncada, the Nicaraguan foreign minister, warned the members of the Episcopal Conference who are witnessing and mediating the process that “we must view with great caution anything that implies a break with the constitution.”

In the same way, he claimed that “it’s incongruent to speak of political reforms if we don’t agree to guarantee the country’s stability.”

Students in Managua participating in a protest against the government of Daniel Ortega. Photo: EFE / Bienvenido Velasco / Confidencial

In that sense, he noted that blocking the highways “seriously” affects the population, and that it’s necessary to reestablish peace.

In addition, Moncada asked that four representatives of the Organization of American States be invited to the next session of the dialogue in Nicaragua, planned for Wednesday. The OAS currently maintains negotiations with the government to reform the country’s electoral system.

Agro business rep criticizes the lack of transparency in the negotiations with the OAS

Michael Healy, a representative of the private sector, criticized the lack of transparency in the negotiations between the government and the OAS on themes regarding the country’s institutions.

“It’s a mockery to the Nicaraguans that behind the curtains they’re cooking up things that we don’t know about,” noted Healy, president of the Nicaraguan Agricultural Producers’ Union (Upanic), at the same time that he gave his support to the students’ proposal and in addition demanded the resignation of National Assembly president Gustavo Porras, who presides over the public health sector of the country.

Healy criticized Porras for the hospitals refusing to receive the students during the protests and for their negligence. He based his comments on the denunciations that have been made public.

Medardo Mairena, a rural leader of the movement against the plan for a canal, also demanded Ortega’s resignation. because “that’s what the people are asking for.”

For his part, Juan Sebastian Chamorro of the private sector suggested that the entire bench of magistrates for the Supreme Electoral Council should also resign, and invited Luis Almagro, secretary of the Organization of American States to visit Nicaragua.

Government cites the economic instability and the risk to jobs

The government, in the words of Ovidio Reyes, president of the Central Bank, insisted that first and foremost the country must recover its stability. He warned that Nicaragua has lost 258.9 million dollars during the protests, with those most affected being the “hotels, restaurants, commercial sector and service industries.”

“Our streets cry our blood.” Graffiti on a wall in the indigenous neighborhood of “Monimbo” in the city of Masaya. Photo: Jorge Torres, EFE /Confidencial

Reyes, who put the losses from the tourist sector at 185 million dollars, also warned that more than 50,000 jobs could be lost this year when the economy will now grow at a rate between 3 and 3.5%, less than [up to 5%] as had been foreseen.

“It seems that [the government] puts more value on money than on the lives lost,” replied Jose Ramon, one of the university student representatives. He also denounced the fact that the government had broken the 48-hour truce that they had agreed upon last Friday to halt the violence.

“In terms of the truce, we’ve done the best we could,” stated chancellor Moncada.

Later in the afternoon, those participating in the round table met in work groups to continue discussing the proposals for an agenda.

Includes information from the EFE news agency.