Bishops Meet Thursday with Nicaragua’s Ortega

They will discuss issues relating to justice and democracy in order to assess whether there are grounds for resuming the National Dialogue process. Photo: Carlos Herrera /confidencial


Former OAS Ambassador proposes a UN-EU-OAS consortium as an international guarantor.

By Ivan Olivares  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES — Nicaragua’s Episcopal Conference (CEN) has announced that it will meet with President Daniel Ortega today at Casa de los Pueblos, the old presidential palace, in Managua, in order to discuss issues relating to “justice and democracy”, so as to assess whether the National Dialogue process can be resumed or not.

This National Dialogue seeks to a find a solution to the severe crisis the country has been suffering since April 18th when protests broke out against the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

Today’s meeting is marked by symbolic meanings. First of all because the bishops managed to get Ortega to meet them outside of El Carmen, the presidential compound, the Sandinista Front’s stronghold, Ortega’s home and the Communication Council which is controlled by his wife vice-president Rosario Murillo. Plus, the meeting is taking place eight days after the Mothers’ Day massacre, when Sandinista Front mobs and paramilitary groups shot at hundreds of thousands of protesters who had marched in Managua paying tribute to the mothers of victims of repression in April and May and demanding the president’s resignation.

Ortega hasn’t kept his word about ending repression, the bishops’ main requirement, and one of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) recommendations, for Dialogue talks to continue. The bishops first suspended talks because of the Government’s intransigence to discuss reforms at the Dialogue’s plenary session which would allow for the democratization of Nicaragua. Days later they decided to suspend it indefinitely because of the violence unleashed on Nicaraguans who were protesting peacefully.

The Episcopal Conferences also announced Wednesday that the bishops will give a press conference at 7 PM to inform the population about what they have discussed with Ortega.

The UN, EU and OAS could be guarantors

While the bishops are getting ready to meet with President Ortega today, an economy on the brink of collapsing and a population who are demanding Ortega and Murillo’s removal from power, the macabre death toll now approaches 130.   

The national dialogue process, which brings together national demands for justice and democracy, has come to a standstill because of the regime’s violent repression and the Government’s lack of political willingness. When the dialogue was suspended, the Civic Alliance (made up of university students, farmers, business people and civil society) demanded that repression end and that they needed international guarantors to join the bishops in their work as witnesses and mediators, so as to ensure Daniel Ortega complies with what he signs.

According to former OAS ambassador, Jose Luis Velazquez, this international guarantor could be made up of a consortium of organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the OAS and the European Union.

“They could form a consortium perfectly well, because we are improvising. Everything is unprecedented right now. It all depends on how we can make the right combinations to find a real solution in Nicaragua,” he said, when he was interviewed on TV program Esta noche, which is broadcast on Canal 12.

The diplomat thinks that “articulating a guarantee mechanism from these agreements” is perfectly viable “because we already have a mediator and witness, but we need a guarantor because we know that Ortega doesn’t keep his promises. It’s crucial we have an international guarantor in order to find a solution to the crisis we are experiencing.”

Former ambassador Francisco Aguirre Sacasa remembered that a few weeks ago, when there were talks about the OAS taking part in the National Dialogue process, the bishops said that they wouldn’t have any problem as long as Mr. Almagro came to the Dialogue.

While this is still being settled, they’ll have to define his role, especially given the number of “antibodies” Secretary-General Luis Almagro gives rise to.

The former ambassador recalled that even though he has said on different occasions that he doesn’t have any confidence in the OAS, he recognizes that this continental body “can change, can adjust its position.” Therefore, we can only hope that now, “the OAS acts differently with our country,” warning that “we’ll have to keep a sharp eye on them!”

Aguirre says that “good faith from El Carmen (where the presidential residence is found) is the key to resolving the problem. While this doesn’t exist, we will continue to slide down a slippery slope.” Secondly, a majority agreement needs to be reached about this crisis not going on until 2021. “There must be early elections,” he said.

Thirdly, the Supreme Electoral Council has to be completely transformed, not only changing judges but those who are “in the belly of the Council, who are the ones who commit fraud.”

Jose Luis Velasquez believes that Ortega and Murillo should leave power and dismisses the idea of them staying around to hand over the presidential sash to the successor the Nicaraguan people elect in free, fair and transparent elections.

“The problem is that every day that passes instead of restraining and giving room for dialogue to take place, these people are turning up repression and in doing so generate a great rejection from the population and the doors to finding a peaceful solution are being closed,” the diplomat observed.