Nicaraguan Students: “We Won’t Negotiate at a Bloodstained Table”

They demand the presence of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and the UN. “The objective that united us is freedom and justice in Nicaragua, to have democracy.”  Photo: Wilfredo Miranda


By Ivan Olivares (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The self-organized students have declared that there can’t be a dialogue until a trustworthy and independent Truth Commission has been named. However, Ortega doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to fulfill this requirement.

Interviewed on the television program Esta Semana [“This week”], Fernando Sanchez, a communications student and member of the Nicaraguan University Alliance stated that in meetings with other groups it was decided that the creation of an independent commission “is a pre-dialogue issue.”

“We reject having the same parties that are to be investigated be the ones assigned to issue a verdict or determine who is guilty. We won’t allow this. We ask [that this independent commission be set up] before the dialogue, because we can’t go and sit down at a negotiating table stained with blood, without obtaining justice for all our heroes.”

“Especially because it will be the killers who are going to be judging each other. We all completely agree that this is a pre-dialogue requirement that must be met before we can sit down at the negotiating table,” said Valeska Valle, a student of accounting and member of the April 19th University Movement.

Enrieth Martinez, a sociology student and member of the University Coordinating Group for Democracy and Justice, pointed in the same direction when she assured that “we all agree that this condition must be in place before the dialogue. There has to be an independent commission to follow up on the State criminals.”

Francisco Martinez, one of the University Coordinating Group’s spokespersons, declared that they need these minimal conditions to be met as a means of guaranteeing the “security” of the young people, to know that they’ll be able to attend the dialogue.

“We’ve asked for the creation of a Truth Commission against impunity. This must be set up by the international organizations, in order to assure that those guilty of killing so many Nicaraguans are going to be judged, and that the harassment of the demonstrators stops immediately,” he asserted.

Fatima Villalta, from the same organization, said that they don’t feel represented by the State powers, and believe that the investigations of the massacre “can’t be carried out by the very same people themselves.”

Keep the pressure on

The students set a deadline of four days for the president to invite the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) to come to the country. Not surprisingly, the leader has responded according to the pre-established script, under which his National Assembly names a “truth commission” made up of “notable” and “independent” citizens. With such a commission the State will finish investigating the State. Given this, the students’ next step is to keep the pressure on.

Martinez trusts that different organizations of civil society can exert pressure and are willing to unite efforts to achieve the entrance of the IACHR.

Sanchez recalled that the young people who began the struggle have already shown once that – yes – they can put pressure on the government, even when they were alone in the struggle, “but now, you have to remember that all society – or the better part of it – is supporting us and waiting for our call to unite in this effort.”

Lesther Aleman, another leader of the Nicaraguan University Alliance, recalled that Ortega was clear when he “said that no one was going to put conditions on the dialogue,” but said they would continue to demand justice for the dead “because we students suffered the majority of the casualties.”

“We’re going to continue rejecting the government of Daniel Ortega with our protests; we’ll continue demanding the visit of the IACHR so that all of these deaths don’t remain unpunished. We’re not giving up the streets,” he insisted.

Send in the best

While the deadlines run out; while the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference selects a date for the beginning of the national dialogue; while Ortega continues with his pantomime; while the church and the private sector ask them to speed up their process for the election of representatives; the students are taking their time.

“We accept what the Bishops say,” Sanchez assured, “but it seems to me that pressure isn’t the most adequate tactic at this time. If our country hasn’t gotten organized for decades, you can’t ask us as youth to define our representatives in less than a week. We’re working on that,” he argued.

Valle noted that the population is depending on them and has put the future of Nicaragua in their hands. “For that, we want to be sure to choose people who are capable, competent to be there representing us, and who understand the demands that we’re placing before the government.”

More than deadlines, it’s the process that’s important. We’re all willing to undergo a process so that the ones who attend that dialogue – if it happens, if they meet the conditions – be true representatives of the students’ interests,” stated Martinez.

“It’s not a matter of electing representatives and it’s done, without being able to train them and have all of them on the same page, one that goes along with our objectives,” Sanchez noted.

Without people’s support, they’d kill us

After calling them “minuscule groups”, “bloodsuckers”, and other lovely phrases, spokespeople for the government party went on to say that the young Nicaraguans who oppose the Ortega-Murillo administration are part of an organized conspiracy financed by the United States government.

“We are self-convoked. The principle objective that unites us is to have liberty and justice in Nicaragua, to have democracy. There’s no one standing behind us, no entity with other objectives than these, or anyone else that directly influences the decisions that we make as students,” Sanchez guaranteed.

“Those are strategies that the government utilizes to confuse the people that help us,” said Valle, explaining that they’ve created their own sites on the internet, “so that the population can understand that we don’t have any help. Literally, without the people standing with us we wouldn’t be alive. I was in the Upoli, and without the citizens they would have shot it all up, they would have forced their way in, they would have killed us,” concluded Valle.