OAS approves a resolution calling for early elections in Nicaragua and an end to repression and human rights violations.
By Sara Barderas (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Exactly three months after a wave of protests began in Nicaragua, the OAS today approved a resolution that urges the government of Daniel Ortega to “support an electoral calendar,” a formula of calling for early elections as a way out of the worse crisis in four decades in the Central American country.
The resolution, presented by a group of nine countries, was approved by an OAS permanent council special session held in Washington D.C. when the dead in Nicaragua surpassed 300.
A total of 21 countries approved the text, three opposed (Nicaragua, Venezuela and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and seven abstained. Three countries were not present at the vote of the 34-member body.
The resolution calls on the Ortega government to “support an electoral calendar agreed together in the context of the National Dialogue process.”
In that dialogue, which is currently suspended, the opposition Civic Alliance called for early elections and the Catholic Church, which acts as mediator, accepted the request.
The bishops then proposed to the Nicaraguan president the holding of elections on March 31, 2019 instead of waiting until the end of 2021. On July 7, Ortega rejected the early elections.
Nicaraguan foreign minister, Denis Moncada, rejected both the resolution and the early elections it requests. “What is happening in Nicaragua is a coup d’état and a rupture of the constitutional order,” he said. Moncada accused the United States of seeking “interference” in the Central American country.
“Nicaragua already lived such in the 80’s. It seems we are going back to the time of soft coups, “he said. “This has become a court that is judging a State that is a member of this organization,” Moncada said of the OAS permanent council.
A resolution presented by Moncada at the last moment, urging the international community “to respect the self-determination of the State of Nicaragua to restore peace and security without interference of any kind,” was rejected by 20 votes against, three in favor and eight abstentions.
Today’s extraordinary permanent council session – the third meeting on Nicaragua in a week-, took place one day after a new major offensive of police and paramilitary and troops against the city of Masaya, erected as a symbol of resistance to Ortega and which triggered a broad international condemnation.
In their last report the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said at least 273 persons have been killed since the anti-government protests began and human rights organizations from within the country raise the total to more than 300.
There was also a broad condemnation of the siege of the previous weekend at the National Autonomous University (UNAN), the last bastion of student resistance, by armed groups loyal to Ortega.
The resolution also condemns “the attacks against the clergy, the harassment of Catholic bishops participating in the National Dialogue, the attack on the headquarters of the Church’s charity organization, Caritas, and against other peaceful protestors.”
The resolution states “its strong condemnation and its grave concern for all acts of violence, repression, violations of human rights and abuses, including those committed by the police, paramilitary groups and other actors against the people of Nicaragua, as documented by the IACHR” .
The IACHR has denounced a worsening of the serious human rights crisis in the country and urged the international community to demand that Ortega put an immediate end to the repression and human rights violations.
The text adopted today also requires “the dismantling of paramilitary groups.” “This blunt statement was fundamental,” said Colombian Ambassador Andres Gonzalez Diaz.
The wave of protests began on April 18th after a presidential decree on Social Security reform, violently repressed by riot police and gangs of Ortega supporters. Days later he revoked the unpopular reform but by then the situation had greatly escalated due to the deadly repression.
The discontent in Nicaragua with Ortega is not new. The opposition denounced fraud in the municipal elections of 2008 and in the presidential elections of 2011. In the 2016 elections, in which Ortega was re-elected with 72.5 percent of the votes, the main opposition alliance was excluded from participating.
The countries that submitted the resolution were, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States and Peru. They were joined today as co-sponsors by Mexico and Brazil.