Managua Catholic Leaders Warn about “Dubious Laws”

La Arquidiócesis de Managua emitió un comunicado alertando sobre el aumento de la violencia y las leyes que pretende aprobar el gobierno. Foto: Lázaro Gutiérrez.

Llaman a garantizar elecciones en “condiciones”, y muestran preocupación por incremento de la violencia en Nicaragua

Por Vladimir Vásquez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The Managua Archdiocese’s Justice Commission called this week for “necessary and adequate conditions” for holding the 2021 elections. In doing so, their voice joins that of many other sectors in the country. At the same time, they questioned the laws that the Ortega regime is pushing through the National Assembly. These laws are aimed at shutting down critical and opposition voices, and silencing the independent journalists.

The Catholic bishops began their statement by celebrating the “jubilant” return of the Catholic worshippers to their temples. The Catholic churches reopened on Sunday, October 4, following three months of closure. The Nicaraguan church authorities opted to close them due to the increased spread of COVID-19 in the country.

“This joy, however, is overshadowed by new threats to freedom and people’s physical integrity, generated by questionable proposed laws,” said the Bishops.

The laws they’re referring to are the two new proposals now before the National Assembly. One is the “Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents” and the other is the “Cybercrimes Law”. According to National Assembly President Gustavo Porras, approval could come as early as October 13th.  The Sandinista Party has overwhelming control in the National Assembly. Porras himself is under sanctioins by the US Treasury as “Daniel Ortega’s most important political operator.”

Election year around the corner

In addition to these considerations, the Managua Archdiocese noted: “We’re approaching an election year.  We share the people’s concern when they reflect on the celebration of elections. Beforehand, these must have the necessary and adequate conditions.”

The Archdiocese also revitalized the May 2019 message of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference. That message called for changing the magistrates on the Electoral Council before the elections. This same call was recently issued by the Group for the Promotion of Electoral Reforms, together with the opposition National Coalition. They asked for a series of electoral and constitutional reforms to be approved before 2021. The call received backing from the Private Enterprise Council (COSEP) and the American Chamber of Commerce of Nicaragua.

“In the case of electoral power, it must be renewed, according to the established norms. The renewal should take place in such a way as to be trustworthy and independent. Thus, a neutral, impartial electoral process can take place, observed nationally and internationally. Otherwise, free elections will not take place. The people are the true sovereign.” This message from May 2019 was taken up anew by the Archdiocese.

Statement warns of press censorship and increased violence

In the statement issued on October 5, the Archdiocese also warned against the increased violence in the country. They said the violence was affecting the most vulnerable sectors: “the elderly, children, and women.” They continued: “This is the fruit of the decades-long absence of an adequate education in family and civic values.”

In their last item, they warned of the growing wave of repression against independent journalists. According to human rights organizations, the laws the Ortega regime is rushing to approve will also affect journalists greatly.  In this point, the bishops stressed that the work of journalists is also necessary for the development of free elections.

“Citizen participation is unthinkable without the necessary information. Such information is provided by the independent media who find themselves ever more beleaguered,” the document affirms.

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