Nicaragua: Ortega Government Accepts Call to Stop the Repression

By Gabriela Selser (dpa)

Nicaraguan foreign minister Denis Moncada (r) represents the govenment at the National Dialogue in the absence of Daniel Ortega and his wife/VP Rosario Murillo.

HAVANA TIMES – The Government of Nicaragua accepted Monday to address a list of 15 recommendations from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stemming from the serious violations of fundamental rights during the crisis that has been affecting the country for over a month.

The official acceptance came after a long debate in the second session of the national dialogue between the government of President Daniel Ortega and students and other sectors that have staged protests and that also adopted the preliminary report issued Monday by a delegation of the IACHR that visited the country.

Under the mediation of the Catholic Church Episcopal Conference, both the authorities and the “Civic Unity Alliance for Justice and Democracy”, made up of students, business people and civil society, agreed to establish mechanisms to monitor compliance with the 15 recommendations.

In its diagnosis, the autonomous body of the OAS urged the Government to “immediately cease the repression” of the protests and to investigate and punish those responsible for 76 deaths since April, during which 868 were also reported injured, five still serious in the hospital and 438 detained.

The IACHR also urged the Ortega-Murillo government to dismantle its paramilitary groups and adopt measures to “guarantee the free and full exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and political participation.”

Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega only showed up for the inaguration of the National Dialogue.

The Human Rights institution said that the police used bullets of different types and tear gas “indiscriminately” to quell the protests and in some cases there were snipers. The commission received reports of possible extrajudicial executions and emergency cases of wounded that were rejected at public hospitals.

“The Commission strongly urges the State of Nicaragua to investigate these facts, prosecute and punish those responsible and provide redress to victims of human rights violations,” the text emphasized.

At the request of the five mediating bishops in the National Dialogue, it was also agreed to request the Government to invite a team from the IACHR back to the country to join as an observer of the talks.

During the debate on Monday and hoping for reciprocity –as if it was a concession to accept the IACHR report- the official delegation asked the civic alliance to withdraw the “barricades” (roadblocks) placed by rural residents who support the protests in the 16 provinces of the country, which are affecting commerce and the economy, but the proposal did not achieve consensus.

“The economy is not going to be fine while Ortega is in power, we are not guilty of the crisis,” said student leader Lesther Alemán, speaking on behalf of the university students who had previously called for the “immediate resignation” of the president.

“Here the only ‘roadblock’ that prevents resolving this crisis is in El Carmen (the heavily guarded and blocked off neighborhood where the president lives),” said businessman Michel Healy, president of a Cattle Rancher’s Federation.

One of the student protest spokespersons, Lesther Aleman.

The three sectors agreed that there cannot be democratization in Nicaragua without an “immediate” change of government. Otherwise, the protests will continue because “the people do not forget their martyrs,” said feminist and labor rights activist Sandra Ramos.

“As to the preliminary report (of deaths and injuries) Nicaragua has already changed and this private sector has also changed: There is no turning back,” said Jose Adan Aguerri, president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), in reference to the previously harmonious relationship between big business and the Ortega government.

“The country can’t wait for a medium-term solution, the solution must be now,” said Aguerri, who until the April events maintained a “strategic alliance” with Ortega.

Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, head of the official delegation, said that the government is working on the institutional issue with the Organization of American States (OAS) on the basis of an agreement signed a year and a half ago with the secretary general, Luis Almagro, to reform the electoral system.

This agreement was signed after the OAS endorsed the results of the last presidential elections (2016), which gave Ortega his second re-election despite repeated complaints of fraud. The opposition accused Almagro of favoring the president.

Moncada announced that four OAS officials will arrive in Managua in the next few hours to join the dialogue sessions starting on Wednesday.

In this regard, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, representative of a business sector, demanded the presence of Almagro in Nicaragua, so that “there is no further negotiations behind closed doors” with the OAS.

“We do not have time and people are waiting for results from this dialogue,” said Chamorro, who also called for the immediate resignation of all magistrates from the electoral tribunal.