By Ivan Olivares (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES — On Thursday, bishops from Nicaragua’s Episcopal Conference (CEN) stated that the objective of the national dialogue process should be “to examine Nicaragua’s political system as its roots, in order to bring about a real democracy.”
Their statement comes three days after Daniel Ortega’s political speech where he highlighted the need to deal with socio-economic issues in the national dialogue process, but left out the political crisis his Government is facing.
Ever since Ortega accepted the request to publicly invite the Catholic Church to act as mediators and witnesses of this dialogue, bishops have been meeting with their priests (who they claim have firsthand accounts about what is happening anywhere in the country) as well as with different public figures who they continue to talk to about the structure and content of the dialogue process.
Even so, the Conference reminded us that in their capacity as mediators, it’s not up to them to impose the issues to be discussed, but rather hope that participants “will define their agendas. We will listen to them and take note,” Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, president of the CEN, said.
This is why the definition of the dialogue needs to be “to examine the political system…”, “it’s something that we want to sow among those taking part in the dialogue,” they explained, insisting that working with an open agenda, where no issue was left out, would be the ideal thing.
The CEN, which accepted on April 24th the invitation to be a mediator and witness of the national dialogue process, also insisted on the need to “investigate and give details about the painful deaths suffered during the university protests.”
Until now, there have been 46 confirmed fatalities as a result of the massacre orchestrated by the President of the Republic, a list which continues to grow slowly, as some of those who were injured during these skirmishes are now dying as a result.
While there are still doubts surrounding the dialogue’s real usefulness, these clergymen specified that this isn’t a process which will remain ongoing forever, wasting time without reaching any conclusions, and they issued a warning.
“A month after commencing this dialogue, we will take a break to assess the participating parties’ willingness, implementation and real and serious compliance to what is agreed. If the bishops of Nicaragua’s Episcopal Conference (10) come to the conclusion that steps aren’t being made forward, we will inform God’s people, who we stand with, and tell them that this can’t go on and that it didn’t work.”
Nothing about political issues
In his speech to a rally of his supporters on April 30th, Daniel Ortega implicitly outlined the issues that will be discussed in the dialogue process, which, according to him, should talk about “social and economic justice”, as well as “safety of the Nicaraguan people”, and the need to look for “justice with regard to the condemnable acts that have taken place.”
Not a single word was said about the demand for him to relinquish power sooner rather than later and to retract his decision to shed the blood of citizens who exercise their right to protest.
Even though no starting date has been set for the dialogue process, which should be “established as soon as possible” at the “Our Lady of Fatima” Interdiocesan Seminary, the bishops have urged the protesting students to “finish organizing themselves as soon as possible and make their agenda and representatives known.”
In the same vein, they asked the rest of the country’s sectors “to publicly declare support for their representatives” so no doubts are left when it comes to the legitimacy of calls for a dialogue. “We want different sectors to introduce their representatives,” Brenes insisted.
Suspecting the presence of infiltrated groups within the student movement, he also warned university students to be “on the alert for people from outside the student movement and who are acting aggressively, sowing confusion.”
Finally, Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, the CEN’s treasurer, said that the Conference of Bishops will define “the mechanisms, shape and form of the dialogue so that issues find their corresponding course for discussion.”