HAVANA TIMES – A new session of Nicaragua’s national dialogue concluded Monday without relevant agreements, following the government’s steadfast refusal to discuss early elections and the replacement of electoral and judicial authorities, said leaders of the opposition Civic Alliance, reported dpa news.
It appears that success in eliminating numerous roadblocks and taking over the streets of the capital and other cities with squads of heavily armed paramilitary forces has given renewed confidence to the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo that, like Maduro in Venezuela, they can weather the storm and continue in power for years to come.
Daisy George, member of the opposition Civic Alliance, told a press conference that the representatives of President Daniel Ortega “showed no political will to address the issue” of elections at the table where the electoral system was to be discussed.
“The Government demonstrated that it does not have the political will to speak about the issue of democratization, which is a fundamental issue because it is a cry of the people,” said George.
For his part, student leader Lesther Aleman, who is part of the table discussing the electoral system, revealed that they did not advance and blamed the Ortega’s delegates for a “lack of will”.
“We told them that if they said yes to the advance of elections, the second point would be the dismissal of the magistrates of the CSE (Supreme Electoral Council) and we did not receive a reply,” said Aleman.
He said that the negotiating team of the Government at that table is integrated, among others, by the current president of the CSE, Lumberto Campbell, and magistrate Mayra Salinas, both prominent militants of the ruling Sandinista Front.
Another student leader, Victor Cuadras, a member of the dialogue table to discuss the judicial system, affirmed that the Civic Alliance will also continue demanding “to install a transparent and legitimate Judicial Power”, for which it is necessary to “clean up the officials throughout the justice system.”
Cuadras noted that there was a total lack of will on the part of the government to advance in the discussion.
The third table in the dialogue is the one of verification and security. It reached a first agreement on Monday “to work on the subject of respect for life, which implies the cessation of the repression”, explained Azahalea Solis, of the Civic Alliance.
Solis pointed out that the Civic Alliance insisted on the need to dissolve the paramilitary groups, and carry out a verification of legal and clandestine prisons, and investigate allegations of illegal captures and torture.
“We are going to try to establish an atmosphere of peace for which it is urgent to stop the presence of armed groups outside the law. We must avoid a civil war,” said Solis.
She noted that the session of the Verification and Security table was attended by members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that arrived on Sunday to install the Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) and that they agreed to separate meetings on Tuesday with the Government and the opposition.
The representatives of the Government in the national dialogue did not offer statements at the end of the working day.
The session was held after a new wave of violence that began over the weekend, when police and paramilitary forces dissolved roadblocks and barricades in five cities in the country, resulting in numerous deaths and wounded among the population and also the death of a female police office.
Alvaro Leiva, director of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), told channel 15 TV that the presence of paramilitary groups, apparently coordinated by the police, is “a situation that does not allow for the immediate recovery of peace.”
In this regard, the vice president and first lady, Rosario Murillo disagrees. She confirmed that the government initiated a plan to dissolve the outbreaks of protest of those she called “vandalism groups, people with a heart full of hate and evil.”
Murillo said that Ortega “is committed to restoring peace and security” in the country. “The Constitution establishes the right to work and mobilization, it is an inalienable right and we have to enforce it,” she warned.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, president of the Episcopal Conference, mediator in the dialogue, announced that on Tuesday he will travel to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis and inform him about “the suffering situation” that Nicaragua is experiencing.
The deep political crisis began in mid-April with a peaceful student protest over a Social Security Law reform, and exploded when the Ortega government responded with deadly repression. Since then the protest demand is for the resignation of Ortega and his wife.
The IACHR has since recorded 212 dead and at least 1,377 injured. A Truth Commission formed by the Government mentions 173 deaths.