Besides having been a priest Edgard Parrales is a lawyer. He knows Sandinismo closely, speaks five languages and is a law professor.
By Eduardo Cruz (La Prensa)
HAVANA TIMES – Edgard Parrales was a priest and is a lawyer. He is 76 years old and knows Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega well. In the eighties, he was a Sandinista Government Ambassador to the OAS and also held other public posts with the same government.
Before the protest broke out last April, he already criticized the illegality of Ortega and Murillo. He did it from the classrooms of the UNAN-Managua university, where he taught.
Parrales has analyzed the present situation and believes that Ortega is against the wall, with the OAS on top of him. In this interview he maintains that Ortega is not a man of dialogue and that the “gentleness” of Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes has been for good.
Give us your thoughts about what is happening in Nicaragua since last April?
Last year I stopped being a full-time law professor at the UNAN. I taught constitutional law, philosophy of law and professional and legal ethics. I used to criticize my students on everything, because the crisis of values is not from right now, or of legality and legitimacy, it is not only from April to now. It has been from 2007 until now. On this aspect, I have to admit that they respected my academic freedom, because they never sanctioned me. When the crisis happened, I was still a professor at UNAN, teaching constitutional law. Since everything was interrupted, the criticism I made in my classes I began to do publically, through the media. When the classes were restored, they did not call me anymore. I was a part-time professor and my class was finished by another professor.
In your opinion, what has happened?
A total destruction of the country due to the irrational, illogical and unethical posture by these people (Ortega-Murillo)
You have dealt with Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, what have you seen in them?
I see two motivations in them. A double motivation, one of a personal nature, and another of a geopolitical strategic nature. In the personal motivation I see two incentives, one of power and another of money. They are obsessed with power and the wealth they have accumulated.
On the other hand, they are immersed in the geopolitical strategy of the socialism of the XXI century. They are also resisting to abandon power because they are with the idea of socialism of the XXI century, linked to Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba.
That is what I see as a background of their attitude. That will not last because Nicaragua is different from Cuba, and Venezuela, we have other political and historical circumstances.
In the eighties you were vice president of Social Security. This current crisis started over reforms to Social Security.
When we arrived (in 1979) we discovered that Somoza had used social security as their petty cash. And, there was a debt of about 500,000 Cordobas then, which was a lot. At present is not petty cash, it is the big cash box of the government. The government owes many millions of dollars and I am very sure that social security has been used to pay for big demonstrations that the (Sandinista) Front has done, which cost a lot; to pay for people they place in roundabouts, to pay the Sandinista Youth, to pay the paramilitaries and for many other things that we do not know. That is why social security is so eroded.
“Ortega no longer governs, he has power by force. He armed a bunch of people. Veterans of the MINT (Ministry of the Interior), ex-soldiers of the Army, degenerates and the Sandinista Youth. It has been revealed that some are people who work in the ministries, in the Supreme Court of Justice.”
What do you think of the protests?
I participated in all (the marches), except the last three because I was sick and due to involuntary circumstances.
Did you think that Daniel would leave power in those days?
Yes, with the massive marches that occurred at the beginning. The one supported by the bishops and the one organized by Cosep. But, when the dialogue began, I sent a letter to Luis Sanchez, telling him to be careful, Daniel Ortega has never been a man of dialogue, never. Daniel Ortega has dialogued when there is no other recourse, when the circumstances have been unfavorable to him. At the moment he saw things very dark, that is why he asked for dialogue, but asked for it without conviction, to gain time to be able to recuperate.
Was that dialogue a mistake?
There were too many people participating. There was no cohesion in the positions. A negotiation has to be carried out with few people.
What else had influence for Ortega to remain in power?
Ortega no longer governs, he has power by force. He armed a bunch of people. Veterans of the MINT (Ministry of the Interior), ex-soldiers of the Army, degenerates, the Sandinista Youth. It has been revealed that some are people who work in the ministries, in the Supreme Court of Justice. They prepare them militarily, organized them and made them practically the kidnappers of the Nicaraguan nation. That is what we are, kidnapped, because he is not governing.
What else happens is that, with the pressure that is coming from outside, he is now in a situation in which he is not in complete control, he faces a critical situation. And it will become more critical if the Democratic Charter is approved. And if the Europeans enter the game and put limits and conditions, it will also become very difficult.
What consequences will Ortega have if the Democratic Charter is approved?
Some are diplomatic, others are economic, political and others are social. In the diplomatic, OAS member states will break or freeze relations with Nicaragua, as Argentina did. In the financial, the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) is in the inter-American system; the OAS only needs to tell the IDB: the loans that are in process of being executed, set them aside, and the new loans do not approve them. And this is consistent with what the US Congress and the Executive are doing with the IDB, the Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in stopping loans to Nicaragua.
In the Central American Bank of Economic Integration, although the United States does not participate, it has influences with other countries and can stop loans to Nicaragua. (The United States) could put sanctions and stop CAFTA. Imports and Exports zero.
And, what if Nicaragua decides to leave the OAS?
It cannot leave just like that. If Nicaragua wanted to say I will leave the OAS, that exit will be in a year. It has to wait a year, which is what is happening with Venezuela. Venezuela said I will leave, yes, but your exit will be effective in a year, because it is in the OAS Charter treaty, that any member can waive membership until a year after the resignation is proposed. Meanwhile, it continues being a sanctioned member, because in the end it is a sanction, a suspension from participating in anything to do with the OAS. But, it continues as a member.
What other effects would a possible departure from the OAS have?
Problems with Central America. If the United States removes the CAFTA for Nicaragua, it creates a huge problem for our imports and our exports. The United States represents 45 percent of our trade. Central America represents the other 45 percent. The remaining percentage is distributed among Europe, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. If Europe gets involved, it will create more problems.
That is why they just sent that letter, which is a laughable and ridiculous letter that the Nicaraguan Foreign Minister sent to his counterparts of the Americas. To the same ones who at the OAS were called interventionists, and violators of Nicaraguan sovereignty.
Now the letter begins: dear brothers and sisters, foreign ministers of America,” in a shameful and ridiculous attitude. Insisting in the same position, that this was a coup d’état, that all the deaths and wounded, the kidnappings, were done by civil society, that they have not done anything. And, nobody believes that. There you have the GIEI, Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Meseni and High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN reports. Who will believe what the government says?
Some supporters of Ortega talk about breaking with Costa Rica and the United States…
Fools. The country with which we have more intra-Central American trade is Costa Rica. Are they going to isolate themselves completely? It is stupid.
What future do you see for the government?
On January 20th comes a delegation from the European Parliament, which initially they said that it will not be received, but later they agreed to. The delegation is headed by a European socialist, but who is very clear about the situation, and has already made statements saying the it does not seem right to him what is happening. They are coming to convince him (Ortega) to accept an opening to a certain dialogue, they come to talk with the church, with the Government, with capital, with social organizations, they come to talk with everyone. I think it is going to be the last chance to see how they react; otherwise, definitely there is nothing more to do but apply the Democratic Charter and everything that follows as a consequence.
You knew the young Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega.
More Rosario, not him.
How have you seen her act?
She is a different character from the one I met in the seventies. In those days, she spoke of human rights, democracy, of the rule of law. Everything that we continue to invoke while she continues hiding through a hypocritical and cynical attitude, of calling on God at every moment, but at the same time ordering repression. A dual person, with a double personality.
It is said that she wanted to be president, do you think her ambitions are buried?
For me they are finished. This regime could end before 2021. If the early elections take place, the matter is over.
You knew Daniel as a political prisoner…
Yes. And, I knew him later. I will tell you something. Being his ambassador he never spoke to me. My contacts were with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The biggest dialogue we had was hello. He did not say one word to me.
How can you explain that he now has political prisoners?
He sees it as a kind of revenge or punishment for treason because a high percentage of prisoners are from a Sandinista origin. About 60 to 70 percent are people who had Sandinista origins, families who participated in the revolution. When I was a priest, his mother, Dona Lidia, and the mother of Leopoldo Rivas, would come to my parish to ask the priest that was with me to help them so they could allow them to visit the prisoners. We would give them food and some money. They were in a state of penury.
What solution do you see for the current situation in Nicaragua?
If they yield, there will be an opening that will lead to their loss of power. If they do not yield they will take the country to chaos, to total economic and social ruin. The people will explode, not so much for political reasons, but motivated by hunger.
You were a priest, how do you see the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Government?
The danger to the institution of the church is that it is subject to manipulation by governments. And, it has been so. Many times, to survive, the church has gone along with that little game. On the contrary, the church we have right now is playing from a truly church position.
Cardenal Brenes is considered by some to be naïve.
He is a good person, a good priest. With a pure heart, a man of God, but he is weak.
Is Brenes not the adequate priest to deal with this government?
To a certain extent he has been, but to those that have manifested themselves as truly critical such as Baez, Alvarez and Mata, they [the government] have tried to harm and if the Archbishop were one of those (they would have expelled him from the country), as happened in the past with Zelaya, who sent Monsignor Lezcano out of the country.
With his soft attitude, he has managed to contain the devil, that he (Ortega) has not had a harsher reaction towards the church. In reality he is a gentle man, not of confrontation, not of conflict. I understand him, it is not my ideal, but I understand him and have a friendship with him, but he is not vigorous.
It is said that almost 40 journalists are in exile, one dead, two prisoners. Who does that tell you?
This regime absolutely does not respect human rights. It has a conception of people as things, because it has a Marxist conception. In Marxism, people are not subjects of rights, they are numbers, they are things to be quantified, to be used for everything.
They took away Confidencial from Carlos Fernando Chamorro, and 100% Noticias (News) from Miguel Mora…
And, they will take away the houses where we all live. If the time comes when they no longer have anything to take and there are only houses, they will send people as they send people to invade the farms. They will send (people) to take everything from you.