Former Spanish European Parliament member, Ramon Jauregui, asserts that Ortega fails in global politics, and insists on the urgent need for a negotiated solution
HAVANA TIMES – The adoption of a legal framework to apply sanctions, by the Council of the European Union (EU) is a sign of the failure of the Ortega regime in the international arena, according to the Spanish former member of the European Parliament Ramon Jauregui, who stressed that the intention to punish the dictatorship has garnered agreement among the 28 countries, despite “their diverse viewpoints and interests”.
During an interview with the program “Esta Noche,” Jauregui acknowledged that the EU has taken “a long time to apply” restrictive measures against officials of the Ortega regime, although he justified that the Europeans have been waiting for results of the dialogue between the Government and the Civic Alliance—suspended since last May—and the release of political prisoners.
The politician—who led a delegation of MEPs who visited Nicaragua last January—called on the great powers and international agencies, including Europe, Mexico, the OAS and the United States, not to forget Nicaragua. “We must facilitate this dialogue, we must force the Ortega regime to dialogue and seek a negotiated or agreed solution, because honestly there is no other solution than democracy.”
Jauregui emphasized that civic protests have been limited by fear and repression, which has become “much more selective,” although this will not stop the people’s struggle. “I don’t know how long [this situation will persist], because nobody knows it, what I do know is the final destiny of that struggle and that heroic people, who are asking for freedom, and I know that they will get it.”
A few hours after Jauregui’s interview, the dictator Daniel Ortega referred for the first time to the possible European sanctions, which he criticized for joining the “interventionist and imperial” policies of the United States against his regime. “I don’t see how to promote a dialogue with the European Union if they are talking about sanctions,” Ortega complained.
In the presence of the new chief of mission of the European Union, Pelayo Castro Zuzuarregui, Ortega complained that “the European Union adheres to United States’ policies,” in reference to the sanctions of the United States and Canada, which already reach dozens of its officials, including his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo, and his son Laureano Ortega Murillo.
“It’s incredible that the European Union elects as head of foreign policy Mr. (Josep) Borrell,” said Ortega, after labeling the head of European diplomacy as “a radical.” Last week, Borrell told the European Parliament that Nicaragua is worse off than Venezuela.
Borrell, who will be in office from November 1, 2019 to December 31, 2024, has been in favor of the international community imposing sanctions on the “dictatorship” in Nicaragua for the “bloody repression,” which has left more than 300 dead, thousands injured and more than 80,000 citizens in exile.
At the end of last January, Borrell (of Spain’s Socialist Workers Party) promoted a meeting of the European Council—integrated by the EU foreign ministers—to discuss the situation of Nicaragua. The diplomats condemned the repression in Nicaragua and concluded that they would respond to “any further deterioration of human rights and the rule of law.”
On that occasion, the 72-year-old Spanish foreign minister, said that Nicaragua and Venezuela are “the biggest crises Latin America is experiencing in a long time” and Europe “cannot but to address that.”
“It is not enough to say that we are sorry and impose some sanctions,” he added.
The Council of the European Union approved a legal framework to apply what they call specific restrictive measures. Does this mean individual sanctions for officials of the Ortega regime?
Indeed. This is the decision that the European Union has adopted in virtue of the evolution of events in the country, aware that the repression continues, that the conditions for an agreed democratic process are not met.
The European Union has established a framework of sanctions through which certain persons in the regime, responsible for human rights violations, can be sanctioned by the European Union.
What is the scope of the sanctions? Are they restricted to individuals or can they also affect entities or institutions of the Nicaraguan State?
In the first place, they are a rupture of trade with Nicaragua, in relation to what has to do with arms trade or sale of repressive material, or even collaboration with the police systems in Nicaragua.
Secondly, it has to do with the possibility of preventing the entry into the European Union of a list of persons of the regime. Thirdly, the freezing of its financial assets and its banking operations in European banks.
These are the three measures that are planned to be implemented gradually, if the regime does not evolve in the sense of guaranteeing freedoms, of allowing international organizations to return—who have the capacity to analyze if the country functions democratically or not—and if a framework for an electoral process is not agreed, that is free and guarantees equal opportunities.
Waiting for the national dialogue
Are there political deadlines for making decisions, in terms of assessing whether the situation in Nicaragua is positively changing or applying these sanctions?
Europe has taken a long time to implement these measures, to a certain extent because the political dialogue that was open by the Government and the opposition. It brought expectations, a window of opportunity, inclusively because the prisoners were released as the European Union requested. Based on these two circumstances, the European Union has been in expectation, waiting for this to evolve favorably.
Today it has established this framework for sanctions because we think that the dialogue was interrupted. The regime does not guarantee a clean democratic process and there are no freedoms. There are even new prisoners. Likewise, there is harassment by paramilitary towards the people and leaders of parties and opposition movements. The European Union has said: if there is not a quick evolution around these three factors, we will apply the sanctions.
In parallel there is an inter-American process, a commission that has been created by the OAS General Assembly, with representatives from five countries, which also has a mandate and a deadline to provide a report; a last resort diplomatic action with the Ortega regime to seek a political solution, but the Government prevented its entry into the country and practically has ignored the existence of this commission. What does this impasse look like, from the perspective of the European Union?
We believe it is very important that Nicaragua receive international assistance for the dialogue. Those five OAS countries—United States, Canada, Jamaica, Argentina and Paraguay—were a good mechanism, a contact group to facilitate dialogue and to advance democratic agreements for the future. In this sense, we believe that the non-presence of that representation is a problem.
I call to the great powers and international agencies, including Europe, Mexico, the OAS and the United States, not to forget Nicaragua. We must facilitate this dialogue. We must force the Ortega regime to dialogue and seek a negotiated or agreed solution, because honestly there is no other solution than democracy.
We have to return the word to the people, that the people can vote with freedom, and that they can choose between the Ortega party and other leaders, because that is the internal controversy that the country is experiencing. There are two Nicaraguas in conflict: an official Nicaragua, which supports the Government, and a Nicaragua that asks for freedom, a Nicaragua of students, peasants, and political organizations; also of the Sandinistas that abandoned Ortega, who want to live in democracy.
The immediate reaction of the regime has been to ignore this mechanism approved by the Council of the European Union. It seems that Ortega is following Venezuela’s path in the face of such actions of the European Union. In the case of Venezuela, the policies applied by the community have not been effective. Why do you expect this to have a different impact on Nicaragua?
I would like Venezuela not to be the example that Nicaragua follows, because that has truly become a horrible humanitarian crisis. Without a doubt it has some influence, a solution to that crisis in Venezuela can contribute to one in Nicaragua.
I hope Nicaragua finds its own way and that the international community can help the country, and pressure through the sanctions on the regime. These are not perfect measures. Unfortunately, the rest of the world does not have the ability to change the internal life of Nicaragua.
We can apply sanctions, we can pressure, we can help, but sometimes things depend on the country itself. In that sense, all I can say is that we should do everything we can. I have the impression that the answers in the end will also depend on other pieces on the international chessboard. I would like to see some local powers, from Cuba to Mexico, from the OAS to the European Union to favor a solution, because the people of Nicaragua deserve it.
A more selective repression
Do you think that internal pressure is contributing to this process of seeking a solution or do you perceive from abroad that the regime in Nicaragua does not feel that internal pressure?
We have to recognize that the repression has become much more selective, that the mobilization capacity of the people has been greatly limited by fear and repression itself. However, I have to note that historically, Nicaraguans are a very brave people, with great strength.
Dictatorships are not eternal, and history proves it. It could last longer and the people will suffer a lot, but this will end up entering a path of a democratic solution. You cannot live in the world with regimes that crush freedoms, that violate human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Nobody recognizes you, you are left out of the world, nobody cooperates with you, nobody negotiates, they sanction you, your economy suffers, your people suffer.
I don’t know how much time is involved, because nobody knows. What I do know is the final destiny of that struggle and of that heroic people, who are asking for freedom, and I know that they will get it.
The decision of the European Council means a complete diplomatic isolation of the Ortega regime in Europe.
Yes, it is not easy to get 28 countries to agree, with their diverse viewpoints and interests, and it has been achieved. In the international arena, in the diplomatic arena, in global politics, Nicaragua is a politically failed country.
Everybody expects elections to take place, but they should be free, with equal opportunities. We know that they are [scheduled] for 2021, and they could be advanced or not. At this moment, the most important thing is not the date, what is vital are the guarantees, the democratic conditions. That must be agreed, and at the same time, an emerging alternative leadership structure is essential so that the people can also see the hope of a political alternative.