Nicaragua: Ortega Promises to Free Political Prisoners and Allow Rights & Freedoms

A young person holds the Nicaraguan flag during a demonstration in March in Managua demanding the resignation of Ortega. Photo: Jorge Torres / EFE


Dictatorship vetoes the OAS’ Inter-American Commission for Human Rights in favor of the Red Cross

Azahalea Solis: The government’s commitment to fulfill the Constitution is “surreal”, since every aspect of this requires a specific protocol for compliance.


By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The dictatorship headed by Daniel Ortega agreed on Friday, March 29, to reaffirm the nation’s constitutional rights and citizens’ liberties, which had both been violated and truncated since April 2018.

The government delegation signed an accord with the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy in which they committed themselves to respecting the right to demonstrate, freedom of the press and free expression; reestablishing the legal status of the non-governmental organizations that had this annulled; ending arbitrary detentions; and disarming the paramilitary. According to Civic Alliance delegate Azahalea Solis, each one of these accords will be corroborated by a specific protocol for restoration and compliance.

Solis termed “surreal” an agreement in which the government recognizes that citizens have a right to carry the Nicaraguan blue and white flag.

In this way, the negotiations being held at the INCAE business school in Managua have once again been cleared of obstacles, and the beginning of the total liberation of all political prisoners at the hands of the International Red Cross is anticipated.

Friday’s work session finalized with the approval of three documents: joint communique number ten, the agreement for facilitating the freedom of the political prisoners, and another entitled, “Agreements to fortify the rights and guarantees of citizens”.

Further involvement of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission vetoed

On the topic of the liberation of the political prisoners, the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo vetoed the possibility of the OAS’ Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) returning to the country.  The Civic Alliance maintained its demand for the return of the IACHR to fill the vacuum that the assignment of the International Red Cross creates, since the latter can’t be involved in the legal mechanisms that would lead to the total liberation of the more than 760 prisoners of conscience and the annulment of their political trials.

“Within the context of the present accord, the parties at the negotiating table will define the mechanisms that permit the definitive liberation in each case, and the follow-up and verification of compliance with the human rights of those people who are liberated,” affirms the joint statement.

“To this end, the parties will subscribe to a protocol for guaranteeing the security of those freed, that will define the authorities responsible for the follow up and the organizations that will support them in that objective. In case of necessity, the parties, in common agreement, will request the national and international support required,” the document adds.

Azahalea Solis, constitutional lawyer and a participant at the negotiating table, explained for the YouTube news program Esta Semana, to be transmitted Sunday, March 31, that the agreement contemplates the total liberation of the political prisoners, not just their transfer from prison to house arrest as occurred with the first 160 political prisoners who were released from the penitentiaries.

“This is total liberation. It’s not simply that they let them out of jail while the court cases continue, or that they’ll end being found guilty and sentenced. It’s absolute liberation,” Solis insists. “There’s a protocol that will be released which explains the process of security and the guarantees that those freed aren’t jailed once again or have other criminal accusations fabricated against them. There’s nothing to be done accept their complete liberation and the complete closure of the trial processes, with no criminal records left for the people involved,” Solis affirmed.

International Red Cross will reconcile the lists

As was previously known, the International Red Cross will reconcile the lists of political prisoners from among the different registries maintained by the government, the IACHR and the Civic Alliance respectively. The provision for the prisoners’ liberation within ninety days will be maintained.

“The liberation of those who have been deprived of liberty requires the adoption of specific legal measures and a procedure, under the norms of due process, that permits the regulation of the legal situation of every person to be benefitted by the aforementioned liberation,” establishes the agreement.

Solis asserted on Esta Semana that there’s a committee of attorneys working on each case involving a political prisoner to design the legal mechanism for their liberation.

“There’s a legal entity which has a registry of the legal processes. These are rigged, false trials involving crimes imputed that were never committed,” stated the constitutional lawyer, alluding to the nullification of these legal processes. “We have a registry of such cases, in which we can give definitive proof of the unfulfilled legal processes. But there’s been an analysis with the government.”

Effective restitution of freedoms?

After making known the agreement on the liberation of the political prisoners, the negotiating table published its “Agreement to fortify the rights and guarantees of citizens”.

This is a declaration of intent in which the government commits itself to ending the arbitrary detentions, disarming the paramilitary bands, assuring the safe return to the country of the over 40,000 exiles, and further guarantees of political rights such as the freedom of mobilization.

Item seven of the agreement establishes: “Guarantee the rights of assembly, demonstration and public mobilization in compliance with the Constitution and the respective laws. When the lawful requirements are fulfilled, the National Police will authorize the exercise of this right.”

Another of the items in the government’s commitment to restore the public freedoms is the reestablishment of the right to free expression.  Contemplated in this is the restitution of the editorial offices and equipment confiscated by the police – specifically that of the television news channel 100% Noticias and of Confidencial – in addition to the government ending the custom’s office hold on the ink, paper and other raw materials and spare parts needed by the independent national newspapers El Nuevo Diario and La Prensa, who have complained about a virtual blockade that has lasted for thirty weeks.

“It’s a matter of being concrete: the return of 100% Noticias, the release of the station’s director Miguel Mora and news director Lucia Pineda Ubau; the restoration of legal status for the non-profit organizations. There must be protocols for the return of the occupied buildings and their contents. There must be international guarantees to certify that the agreements are being complied with,” Solis said.

Early elections out?

Nicaraguan foreign minister Denis Moncada stated this week that moving up the elections was off the negotiating table. The Civic Alliance contradicted the official, stating that this has been a recurring theme in the INCAE negotiations.

The government official argued that any discussion of that topic implied “violating the established Constitution of our country, which sets up clearly defined presidential terms.” The presidential elections are currently foreseen for November of 2021, at which time Ortega will have completed fourteen consecutive years in power since his return to the presidency in 2007.

In addition, in the hypothetical case that this was agreed on, it would set a bad precedent, according to Moncada.

“What would happen if we used as a method, as a precedent, moving up the elections for every president that could be subject to this over the course of time? It would be very difficult for us to strengthen democracy that way,” he indicated.

In a similar vein, Moncada alleged that “there’s no representation of the political parties” at the negotiating table, and that the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy “is represented by those who were involved in an attempt to stage a coup d’etat and in the violation of the country’s legal and constitutional order.”

However, Solis maintained that “the foreign minister isn’t speaking the truth, because in distinct moments at the negotiating table it’s been proposed that, on the topic of democratization, early elections are fundamental.”

“I believe the government wanted to send a message to their party bases, and to delegitimize or annul the possibility of debating this topic. But for the Civic Alliance, moving up the elections is a central point. For the Alliance the demand is not subject to another evaluation. Otherwise, the negotiation wouldn’t make any sense,” she stated.

On Friday, March 29, it was also revealed that the negotiating table has a new date for concluding, April 3rd. Members of the Civic Alliance explained that the negotiating process can’t be extended indefinitely and advised that by the date there should be an agreement regarding the moving up of the elections.

One thought on “Nicaragua: Ortega Promises to Free Political Prisoners and Allow Rights & Freedoms

  • March 30, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Less than 24 hours after signing an agreement with the Civic Alliance restoring constitutioinal guarantees of rights and freedoms, Ortega sent out his riot police once again to attack a non-violent protest and arbitrarily beat and arrest participants. Its as if he is playing a game with the citizenry not even pretending to comply with what he signs. Here is a video I just saw:

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