Member of European Parliament (MEP) on sanctions: “We are not going to ease up; this is not the time to back off”.
Continued demand for the “immediate and unconditional liberation of all political prisoners,” said MEP Jose Ignacio Salafranca.
By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The European Parliament opened its new session on July 2, in Brussels, following elections on May 26. Despite the fact that this is a new parliament, the sociopolitical crisis in Nicaragua and the possibility of imposing sanctions on the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo is still on the MEPs’ table.
Spanish MEP, Jose Ignacio Salafranca Sanchez-Neyra, told Confidencial that the situation in Nicaragua is on their radar and one of their priorities. He emphasized that MEPs are demanding “the immediate and unconditional liberation of all political prisoners, as well as the dropping of all charges.”
“We are in a difficult calendar moment following the European elections. We’re going to elect a new president, fill top posts and set up our legislative bodies, but we are still following the situation in Nicaragua very closely. We are in constant contact with civil society and our counterparts, which is why we are not going to back off from our commitment to monitor Nicaragua by even a millimeter,” Salafranca said.
Last week this MEP participated in a panel on the prevention of crimes against humanity, organized within the framework of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Medellín, Colombia.
Sanctions and Association Agreement
Salafranca referred specifically to Nicaragua because he knows the situation firsthand after visiting Managua last January. During this work trip, MEPs visited the dictatorship’s prisons and confirmed deteriorating conditions for political prisoners.
The MEP insisted that the European Parliament is waiting for the reestablishment of respect for human rights, fundamental liberties, the freeing of political prisoners and an end to police and paramilitary harassment.
“As we told President Ortega, and as we stated in the last resolution approved in the European Parliament, if no progress is made, we’ve not only asked that the European Union impose sanctions against those responsible for serious human rights violations, but that Nicaragua also be suspended from the association agreement with Central America,” Salafranca stated.
The recent imposition of sanctions by the United States and Canada due to the government’s incompliance with agreements made with the Nicaraguan opposition have put pressure on the European Parliament to apply international sanctions.
In a letter sent to the High Representative of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, and to the foreign ministers of all 28 member states, Human Rights Watch recommended ramping up the pressure on the Ortega government to end human rights violations carried out by the National Police. According to the human rights group, the European Union should impose individual sanctions against high-ranking Nicaraguan officials implicated in serious human rights violations as well as make any economic support for the National Police conditional.
The regime is not complying with the agreement made during the dialogue to free all political prisoners. The Civic Alliance denounced that there are more than 80 prisoners of conscience still locked up, despite the government’s insistence that it has liberated everyone.
“We are following these events very closely. But our proposal to President Ortega was very clear: the immediate and unconditional liberation of all political prisoners, the dropping of all charges in legal proceedings that lacked even minimal democratic procedures…and to come up with a roadmap so that the people of Nicaragua can have their say,” Salafranca warned.
Although Salafranca did not set dates or deadlines for the imposition of European sanctions, diplomatic sources in Medellín assured CONFIDENCIAL that the European Parliament may wait 75 days–the deadline that OAS ministers gave Ortega to prove that he has the political will to resolve the crisis.
“We are not going to ease up. This is not the time to back off but to pay attention to how this situation evolves,” insisted Salafranca.