Manuel Orozco, researcher of the Inter-American Dialogue, gives his view on the negotiating table
HAVANA TIMES – While the second attempt at a national dialogue to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis in Nicaragua stagnates again, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega try to “raise the stakes” with their conditions for the process.
However, the Ortega regime has not shown any sign of being committed to change direction in the country, considers the researcher of Inter-American Dialogue, Manuel Orozco.
In an interview with journalist, Cindy Regidor, on the program “Esta Semana” (This Week), Orozco commented that the refusal of the Catholic bishops to participate as “witnesses and companions” of the negotiating table that was installed at the end of February is “an episode that was to be expected,” in view of the lack of will showed by the Ortega regime.
“The Catholic Church is sending a very strong message: it indicates that the conditions in which the [initial roadmap] agreement takes place does not create confidence to sit down and validate,” assures Orozco, who notes that the Government has practically controlled the talks.
But he believes this should represent an opportunity for the Civic Alliance to require the participation of an external guarantor and mediator, but it is urgent to establish real guarantees of the process itself.
“There is talk of guarantors, of mediators, but the negotiation process is more complicated, because to have a guarantor, guarantees are needed at the negotiating table,” he points out.
The regime must show commitment, and the Civic Alliance demand it
On Saturday March 9, Ortega invited the Organization of American States (OAS) to participate in the negotiations established with the Civic Alliance, which has indicated that it will reconsider its participation in the negotiation process and demanded that the regime show “signs of political goodwill” to continue with the talks.
Orozco believes that “the Government has not raised a single guarantee that there is a commitment to enter into a process of political change in the country.”
“Simply, they called for a negotiating table to discuss a route to the political process, without offering any single guarantee,” Orozco noted.
According to the analyst, given this lack of good faith shown by the government, the Civic Alliance “has the opportunity to really demand that the political process be taken seriously, that they stop delaying things at the table, and state what the guarantees are, with which a guarantor can enter to determine if the process is being categorically fulfilled.”
Orozco explains that it is not even enough to say “here we are going to move up the elections,” but to specify what are the guarantees of the electoral process.
In parallel with its invitation to the OAS, the Ortega regime revealed its negotiating agenda, which is far from the citizens’ demands for freedom, justice and democracy, while instead it exhorts to suspend all sanctions against its government.
The dictatorship announced its five points on the agenda to be discussed at the negotiating table, in which it rules out moving up the elections scheduled for November of 2021, precisely one of the main demands of various sectors to overcome the crisis.
In addition, Ortega proposes to “strengthen” the electoral institutions -of a system actually collapsed-, through the implementation of the recommendations of the mission of electoral support mission of the OAS and proposals for electoral reforms that improve free, fair and transparent electoral processes. The Government had already established in 2017 an agreement with the OAS on this subject, which months later was suspended without explanations.
The government agenda offers justice and reparation “to continue consolidating peace, security and stability in Nicaragua” and speaks of the “release of the prisoners in the context of criminal acts that occurred as of April 2018 against the State of Nicaragua, which have not yet been tried, and those already prosecuted.” However, the regime proposes to review each of their files, with the supposed purpose that no case is left in impunity. In reality, among the more than 600 political prisoners who still remain in the country’s prisons, there are no police or paramilitary forces prosecuted.
Another of the proposed points is “to continue strengthening” the freedoms, rights and guarantees established in the Constitution, although in practice it keeps infringing on the rights to mobilization, expression and protest and permanently harasses the independent media and non-governmental organizations that work with civil society and in defense of human rights.
However, the researcher of the Inter-American Dialogue, Manuel Orozco, believes that a basic guarantee of the entire process is to create the conditions and the proper political environment for the elections. In addition, to repeal the law against terrorism, under which they have prosecuted and sentenced the leaders of the protests. Likewise, free the political prisoners and change the composition of the Police, for a neutral system.
Ortega seeks to return to the status quo
According to Orozco, Ortega seeks to return to the status quo. For the analyst, the real change is about basic concessions such as reforming the Electoral Law in exchange for starting a normal process to regulate political tension; second, to determine a date for the elections. “Theirs is to have reforms first, without considering early elections,” he compares and notes that the restoration of the violated constitutional guarantees is being excluded.
Orozco said that there is a political tie, in which Ortega makes use of the few cards in his favor, limited to the control of the legal apparatus and repression. While the opposition to his regime estimates that it is about eight out of every ten Nicaraguans, which it considers gives legitimacy to the Civic Alliance to negotiate.
“Ortega is really trying to leverage his position, to enter a new path, but rather what he has done is to further deepen the political crisis,” he says.
For Orozco, the Civic Alliance has the strength of the legitimacy of the population, and a team that has the political will to work for political reforms, and not just for electoral reforms. Its disadvantages are the distrust of the population in this process, which they believe is controlled by big capital.
The future of sanctions
The dictatorship, in its agenda, also proposes to carry out international efforts to obtain support for the implementation of the final agreements of the negotiation, and the implementation and fulfillment of the agreements.
In its statement, the Executive also made “a call to the international community to suspend all sanctions against the people of Nicaragua, to facilitate the right to human, economic and social development of Nicaragua, favoring the most vulnerable sectors of the population.”
However, Orozco said that it is likely that the international community will continue its pressures, with more sanctions against individuals of the regime for corruption and human rights violations.
More US sanctions are pending over the dictatorship. Already sanctioned are the police chief and an in-law of Ortega and Murillo, Francisco “Paco” Diaz; the Secretary of the Mayor’s Office of Managua, Fidel Moreno, accused of coordinating paramilitary operations; the treasurer and vice president of Albanisa, Francisco “Chico” Lopez; the guardian of the secrets of El Carmen and intelligence and espionage operator, Nestor Moncada, and the Vice President and wife of Ortega, Rosario Murillo. In addition, the European Union has warned of similar measures against Ortega and his associates.
In an attempt to evade the siege of sanctions, Ortega ordered the State to buy the BanCorp, bank [which has handled huge sums of his companies’ money] an action that for Orozco “is clowning,” because he believes that Ortega tries to show that he still has an exercise of democratic sovereignty in the administration of the money of the people. However, what will happen with the sanctions is that they will move from one institution to another.