Nicaragua: Impasse between Ortega and the OAS sends a “bad signal”

The government restricted the OAS mission to only meeting with “parties inscribed in the municipal elections.”

By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto  (Confidencial)

Gonzalo Koncke (C) led the OAS mission that visited Managua.

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaragua’s abrupt exit from talks with the Organization of American States (OAS) last Wednesday has generated a wave of political uncertainty in Managua and Washington.

Secretary General Luis Almagro’s delegates arrived in the country on Monday, May 22 with the expectation of remaining until Saturday the 27.

However, they actually departed on Wednesday, without any explanation. Diplomatic sources based in Managua attributed the interruption of the political dialogue to a conflict with Comandante Daniel Ortega’s government over the scope of the mission.

The OAS mission, headed by Gonzalo Koncke, had planned to meet with different political parties – both the legal and the proscribed ones – plus organizations from civil society to hear their opinion regarding the electoral and political system.  The meetings had been agreed upon prior to the mission’s arrival in Managua, but were suddenly cancelled, alleging “unforeseen events unrelated to the mission.”

Only one representative remained: Luis Angel Rosadilla, specific affairs advisor for Luis Almagro, OAS Secretary General.  Nonetheless, on Thursday, May 25, one day later, Foreign Minister Denis Moncada picked him up at his Managua hotel and took him to the airport.

Rosadilla did not explain the reasons for his departure and limited himself to saying that there would be an “official” response from the OAS.

The mission’s plans consisted in meeting with the government, the ambassadors and with other social and political sectors. On Tuesday there was a gathering at the Ministry of Foreign Relations with the diplomatic corps accredited in Nicaragua.  Diplomatic sources confirmed that the schedule presented by the OEA included meetings with the political parties and organizations of civil society. These had been established in Item 3.5 of Article III in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the OAS and the government on February 28, 2017.

According to two diplomatic sources consulted by Confidencial, a conflict emerged when the government decided to confine the OAS to working only with the legally inscribed political parties, the ones scheduled to participate in the municipal elections, among them the parties known as “collaborators.”

Conversely, the OAS had the intention of meeting and working with all political sectors in the country, including the political forces that are excluded from the electoral process, and organizations of civil society.

Several months ago, while negotiating the Memorandum of Understanding, the OAS advocated for having the Government convene a national dialogue, but Foreign Minister Moncada refused. The second option was to promote a national consultation, but the government refused that option as well.  Nevertheless, the OAS came to Nicaragua on the premise that the mission would have absolute scope and freedom to meet with all the country’s political and social forces.

Faced with the new refusal of the government, the OAS office in Managua cancelled the scheduled meetings.

Leaving a message of uncertainty

“It was a surprise.  They sent us a communiqué informing that our meeting with Luis Angel Rosadilla, the Secretary General’s specific affairs advisor, was cancelled.  That is, it was not even rescheduled,” stated Dr. Vilma Nunez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), who had a scheduled appointment.

Nunez said that their meeting was agreed upon in December 2016, when Secretary Luis Almagro visited the country.  From that time on, the CENIDH had been in “constant communication” with the mission head, Gonzalo Koncke, who landed Monday night.

According to Nunez, on May 22, Koncke’s office confirmed the meeting via e-mail and established it for nine in the morning on May 24.

This same notification was received by the Broad Democratic Front (FAD), the Movement for Nicaragua and political parties such as Citizens for Liberty and the Alliance for the Republic, the latter party considered a puppet of Comandante Ortega’s regime.

“We arranged the meeting last week with Mr. Koncke, and the headquarters of the OAS confirmed it via telephone.  The strange thing is that three hours later they were canceling us,” noted Sergio Boffeli,, a leader of the Movement for Nicaragua.

Eliseo Nunez, former deputy and member of the Broad Democratic Front, also confirmed that their meeting was cancelled.

Confidencial attempted to make contact with mission head Gonzalo Koncke and with Sergio Jelinek, OAS spokesperson, but as of the closing of today’s edition we have received no response, nor has the OAS issued any commentary.