Excessive secrecy on first day: roadmap, mediators and guarantors are negotiated
OAS Secretary asks to release all political prisoners “because we cannot enter a negotiation in which we will have to negotiate liberties”
By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The first day of negotiations to solve the sociopolitical crisis that Nicaragua is going through ended Wednesday with a brief statement, read by the Vatican Nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag: The Ortega-Murillo dictatorship and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy agreed to approve nine of the twelve points “of the initial proposal” for the “functioning of the negotiation.”
“In this first session, we worked on the approval of the roadmap, which constitutes the guidelines for the functioning of the negotiation,” Sommertag informed in a brief appearance before the press at INCAE, where negotiations are held in Managua behind closed doors. Nor were there questions by journalists at the end of his appearance. Secrecy surrounding the meeting prevailed and raised more suspicions among the citizens.
Although Confidencial tried to contact several members of the Civic Alliance delegation to know the nine points approved, none of them answered our enquiry.
Veteran defender of human rights, Dr. Vilma Nunez, criticized that if “the points” were defined “who is going to sing the anthem, to pray and how they are going to sit down,” that could be “discussed in half a minute.”
“Apparently the Alliance may be falling into the trap of Daniel Ortega’s secrecy. We do not even know if there are preconditions, and if within those preconditions is the immediate freedom of the political prisoners. I would not be in agreement that the political prisoners be a point to discuss in the agenda, because that implies entering into a negotiation. As we have said, human rights are not negotiable,” Nunez explained.
Prior to the beginning of this new dialogue, the dictatorship released 100 political prisoners. However, Jose Pallais, member of the Civic Alliance delegation, said that this decision was taken unilaterally by Ortega, and that they would demand the release of all the political prisoners.
It was not clear if in the “roadmap which would constitute the guidelines for the functioning of the negotiation” are included the preconditions demanded by society, such as the release of all, and not partially, the over 760 political prisoners, as well as early elections.
Civic Alliance Reports after Thursday’s Second Day of Talks
The negotiations of the second day advanced with the discussion in detail of those points pending agreement.
The talks will continue at 10:00 a.m. on Friday.
As reported Wednesday, the negotiations are in the stage of defining critical aspects of form and procedures for clarity and transparency when addressing substantive issues. It is important to reiterate that the negotiation has not entered into substantive issues. We consider it crucial that the rules on conducting the negotiation be clear and well agreed upon in order to adopt and respect possible agreements.
Our expectation is to make public all the points of this stage of the negotiation as soon as we have agreed upon them.
We reiterate our mandate with which we base our role in this negotiation:
1. Release of political prisoners and restoration of freedoms, rights and guarantees established by the Nicaraguan Constitution;
2. Electoral reforms that guarantee fair, free and transparent elections.
We thank Nicaraguans for their support and patience in favor of this process being successful.
[/pullquote]It was not clear whether the preconditions demanded by society, such as the total and not-partial release of the 760 political prisoners, as well as early elections, are raised in the “roadmap that constitutes the guidelines for the functioning of the negotiation,” noted Nunez.
According to the President of Cenidh the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (organization closed by the government), when you are in a negotiation there must be a proposal and a counter proposal. “In exchange for what are they going to release the political prisoners? What will Ortega ask for? Amnesty? That would mean that Ortega would be promoting his self-amnesty. Amnesty should not even be mentioned, let alone accepted,” Nunez recommends.
The former deputy Eliseo Nunez has a different opinion to that of Nunez, regarding the criticized “secrecy.” Until now, he does not see anything uncommon. He explained that “a space is needed to reach agreements.” He adds, “They are playing at gaining trust and lowering sensibilities. The uncommon thing for me will be that after three days they continue in the same, and do not provide information.”
The former president of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS in Spanish), Ana Margarita Vigil, said that it is difficult to comment on the first day of the negotiations because we still do not know what was talked about. She gives a vote of confidence to the Civic Alliance, but “recalled that it is essential” to inform the public.
Almagro: OAS is willing to be guarantor
On Wednesday night, shortly after the end of the day of negotiation, the Civic Alliance issued a statement explaining few details of the meeting, in which they “defined the rules of the game.”
“The theme of today’s agenda was to define the rules of the game and to agree on the best route to reach that will lead us to the solutions that the people of Nicaragua expect urgency,” reads the Civic Alliance statement. “Our priority is to agree on the methodology and timing of the process, as well as to agree on a selection of mediators, witnesses and guarantors,” explained the Alliance.
This same Wednesday, in Washington, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, affirmed that the organization could act as “guarantor” of the dialogue in Nicaragua and reiterated that, in order to do that, the release of the “political prisoners” was necessary.
“We are in agreement with a process of dialogue, not exactly as mediators, but as guarantors of that process,” Almagro explained in statements to the press at OAS headquarters.
Prior to the call for resumption of the dialogue, a delegation from the OAS General Secretariat met in mid-February in Nicaragua with representatives of the Nicaraguan Executive to request the release of the political prisoners and actions to improve the electoral system.”
“I believe, says Almagro, that the path to the freedom of political prisoners would, let’s say, clear up the obstacles and lead us to the institutional and democratic solutions that the country needs.”
Almagro’s believes it is possible to reach a “Nicaraguan solution” to the sociopolitical crisis that the country is suffering since last April and that has left hundreds dead and imprisoned. But he considers that this “Nicaraguan solution” must follow the “agenda” of the “values of the Inter-American system,” meaning, it must happen with guarantees and without “political prisoners.”
“That is what we have requested, the freedom of all political prisoners because we cannot enter into a negotiation in which we will have to negotiate liberties. That would not be the best way to be in a negotiation,” Almagro said.
For its part, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomed the first day of dialogue. “The IACHR recalls the importance that access to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition for Nicaraguan society, especially, for victims, must have in this process,” the commission emphasized.
The government’s delegation
The delegation of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has maintained in total silence what would be its proposal of mediators, witnesses and guarantors. The governmental delegation was headed by the Foreign Minister Denis Moncada.
The other representatives of the delegation were deputies Edwin Castro, Jose Figueroa and, surprisingly, the turncoat legislator and one-time flatterer of the liberal caudillo Arnoldo Aleman, Wilfredo Navarro.
Other members of the official delegation were the magistrate Francisco Rosales, and the perennial student of the National Union of Universities (UNEN), Luis Andino.
The Government also had vetoed the participation of the Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Alvarez, one of the most belligerent against the official repression and who acted as moderator in the National Dialogue that was installed from May to July of 2018.