Students Call for “Huge Marches” to Force Ortega Out


They hope that the human rights organizations from the OAS and the UN can guarantee a halt to the repression.

They don’t rule out a new general strike: Ortega’s exit will depend on “internal and international pressure,” assured Carlos Tunnermann. Photo: Carlos Herrera /confidencial

By Anagilmara Vilchez  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Teyler Lorio’s aunt is demanding it, in a scream: “He needs to go! That man killed my little boy!”  Teylor, 14 months old, was killed on June 23rd in the arms of his father. “This is the dialogue they want!” protested the family at his burial. Indignation at the on-going killings at the hands of the police and paramilitary has pushed the population to cry for justice and refuse to suffer another nine months of sobs and burials.

The clamor in the streets exerts pressure on the National Dialogue and on the Civic Alliance which is trying to point the way to a democratic way out of the crisis in Nicaragua. According to student Waleska Valle, the Alliance seeks the resignation of Daniel Ortega, but “we want to do it in a Constitutional way, in a formal way, so that this state can be reconstructed.”  The young woman affirmed this intention during her appearance on the weekly television news program Esta Semana [“This Week”].

Carlos Tunnermann, former rector of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, and ex-Minister of Education, explained that Ortega’s departure will depend on “the internal and international pressure.” Such coordinated pressure can be obtained, he felt, with the protests of the rural residents, the peaceful marches, and the backing of other countries that condemn the violence, as at least eleven nations in the OAS Permanent Council did this past June 22nd.

Teyler Lorio’s aunt: “He needs to go! That man killed my little boy!” Teylor, 14 months old, was killed on June 23rd in the arms of his father.

Tunnermann felt that even Luis Almagro, the general secretary of the OAS, who has refused to call the Nicaraguan government a “dictatorship”, has been steering in a direction that distances him from the regime.

“I believe that he’s modifying [his position] upon realizing that this level of repression can’t be attributed to a democratic government. He also stated that the crimes taking place in Nicaragua can’t continue to go unpunished, that they must be investigated and those responsible brought to justice,” explained the university professor.

The Episcopal Conference has already demanded a clear response from Daniel Ortega regarding whether or not he accepts early elections and if he will tender his resignation.  But while the President refuses to answer, the Civic Alliance clarifies that they will not accept any “under the table” deals between Ortega and Almagro.

“The calendars that Almagro has presented for elections aren’t ones that the Alliance accepts. That calendar must be defined in the National Dialogue, and for that to happen, there has to be a previous political agreement to move up the elections,” asserted Tunnermann. The OAS secretary general’s proposal was to hold general elections in the first quarter of 2019.

On Esta Semana, Francisco Martinez, a student and a member of the University Coalition, attributed President Ortega’s silence to the fact that he didn’t expect a proposal like the one that arose from within the Alliance.

“Ortega still holds an adult-centric point of view, and he didn’t expect that the young people from the University Coalition could present such a viable proposal for the agenda. He also didn’t expect that all these sectors – private business, civil society, the farm sector and the student movements – would come to an agreement,” he assured.

“Ortega continues to place his bets on State terrorism”

For Carlos Tunnermann, the struggle’s success depends on its non-violence. “We continue to remain in the civic camp. If we fall into the camp of violence, Ortega has everything to gain there.  We believe that the civic struggle, with the nearly universal rejection of Ortega within the Nicaraguan population, is where we have our strength and where we’ve won widespread international support,” he underlined.

Young man behind a barricade at the UNAN Managua. Photo: Carlos Herrera. Confidencial

The sustained attacks, the rolling out of the paramilitary squadrons and the siege of the population are all provocations, believes Francisco Martinez, spokesman for the Student Coalition.

“He [Ortega] is going to repress people in an intent to provoke them. He wants us to fall into a position of violence, he wants us to respond the same way, in order to declare a State of emergency and later call for a general amnesty,” Martinez asserted.

This representative of the University Coordinator for Democracy clarified that since they couldn’t count on the necessary security guarantees, the massive activities in the streets were temporarily suspended. However, with the arrival of the international organizations, the population will be able to go out once again to protest.

This Sunday, June 24, a technical team from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) arrived in Managua to install the Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Nicaragua; on June 26, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will land and set up shop.

The presence of these organizations was obtained by suspending the work sessions of the National Dialogue until the Nicaraguan Government sent the invitations.

Members of the technical team of the IACHR that installed itself in Managua on Sunday.

“When they [the organizations] are here and we have some guarantees of safety, there’ll be enormous marches, one right after the other, continuing our presence in the streets to pressure Ortega, telling him: “You gotta go,” highlighted the student spokesperson.

Waleska Valle, also speaking on behalf of the university students, agreed with Carlos Tunnermann that the peaceful struggle is the only possible route. “The greatest arm that we have against them is non-violence, and the civic and peaceful intelligence that the Nicaraguan people have so nobly demonstrated, especially the patience that they’ve displayed in not responding violently to the massacre that [Ortega] is perpetrating against our brothers and sisters,” she declared.

The army must disarm the paramilitary bands

Article 95 of the Nicaraguan Constitution rules that “no other armed forces can exist in the national territory except those established in the Constitution, nor military ranks other than those established by law.”

Despite this premise, paramilitary groups ride down the streets with their weapons in plain view, and shoot at the population in full daylight. For that reason, Tunnermann states, “the Nicaraguan Army, constitutionally, is under the obligation to disarm those men, because there can’t be three armed bodies in this country.”  [The other two being the Police and the Army.]

Anastacia Morales, 96, asks at the El Chipote detention and interrogation center for them to free her grandson. The young man had been illegally held for several days.  Photo: Carlos Herrera. Confidencial

An end to all violence and the disbanding of these paramilitary forces are urgent tasks for the country’s democratization as the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights has reiterated.  In its final report, presented this past Friday, they concluded that in two months 212 people have been killed and at least 1,337 wounded, while 507 detentions have been reported in Nicaragua.

Meanwhile the population demands another national strike, this time for 48 hours, the Civic Alliance explained that this “is a card that’s always on the table,” but they need to “use it at the right moment,” said Francisco Martinez.  

Waleska Valle insisted that “although time is passing, the civic resistance isn’t going to stop,” and that not one single stone would be removed from the roadblocks while the population “has no guarantees of security”.