OAS Creates Working Group to Seek Peace in Violence Torn Nicaragua

By Gabriela Selser (dpa)

HAVANA TIMES – The permanent council of the Organization of American States (OAS) decided today to create a “working group” to contribute to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Nicaragua, where hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded since April 19th.

The decision was taken by 20 votes in favor, four against and eight abstentions, during an special session convened at the proposal of eight countries and despite the rejection expressed by the government of Daniel Ortega and his closest allies.

The “working group” will be responsible for monitoring the situation in Nicaragua and contribute solutions for a peaceful and rapid resolution to the conflict, the most serious in the country in four decades. 

In presenting his “strong rejection” of the initiative, before the vote, the Nicaraguan foreign minister, Denis Moncada, warned that his country “will not receive in its territory any commission or working group organized by this permanent council.”

The four votes opposing the resolution came from Venezuela, Bolivia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Nicaragua, countries that called the OAS resolution “interventionist”.

“We have approved a mechanism that allows for rapprochement and the search for paths towards peace in Nicaragua,” said the Chilean ambassador, Hernan Salinas, one of the promoters of the initiative.

The diplomat called on the Government of Nicaragua to “put an end to the violence and initiate once and for all the avenues of dialogue that pave the way towards peace and respect for human rights.”

The Brazilian ambassador, Jose Luiz Machado e Costa, condemned the violence and the use of vigilante groups by the Government. A Brazilian medical student was murdered recently in Managua by an alleged paramilitary.

The representatives of Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela tried to prevent the session from being held and then to delay the vote. The Nicaraguan foreign minister accused the OAS of playing a “nefarious” role and of being “the spearhead of the US empire” in the hemisphere.

This is “an unfriendly and interventionist action”, an “attitude of harassment and political revenge against Nicaragua,” he said.

The representative of Colombia, Andres Gonzalez Diaz, who also voted in favor of the formation of the “working group”, assured that a “mechanism to help dialogue, peace, non-violence and justice has been created.”

The special session was requested by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the United States, Mexico and Peru. In the vote favorable to the “working group”, 12 other countries joined while eight abstained, mostly Caribbean and Central American states. Two representatives did not attend the session.

The initiative would be integrated by a representative of each regional group and other member states “committed” to the objectives of the body, which foresees the appointment of its members no later than August 10.

In Managua, the news was received with joy by the Catholic Church and by social sectors involved in the protests against Ortega. “One more victory in the OAS,” wrote Fernando Sanchez, a leader of the student movement.

“Thanks to the countries of the American continent that have supported, without detriment to national sovereignty, the creation of a working group formed by several countries to follow up and support a peaceful solution to the crisis in Nicaragua, wrote Managua’s bishop, Silvio Baez.

Protest against the Ortega government in Managua.

The crisis began in April and has left between 300 to 448 dead according to different national and international human rights organizations. Ortega recognizes 195 deaths.

This Thursday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) raised to 317 the number of victims in the country in that period and condemned the “intensification of repression.” The previous count of the Commission, on July 19, recorded 277 deaths.

The IACHR “verifies the persecution and criminalization by the State against protesters, opponents and persons who participated in various forms of protest (and) calls on the State to effectively comply with its international obligations in the area of human rights,” says the new report.

He IACHR also denounced the “numerous arbitrary arrests made with violence by hooded armed groups” and without a court order, such as those of the opposition figures Medardo Mairena, Pedro Mena, Irlanda Jerez, Christian Fajardo and Maria Adilia Peralta.

“The Inter-American Commission condemns all murders recorded and urges the State of Nicaragua to promptly and seriously investigate each of these crimes,” said country rapporteur Antonia Urrejola.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church of Costa Rica called Thursday for the cessation of violence in Nicaragua. Bishop Jose Manuel Garita made a vow for peace in the neighboring nation, during a homily in the city of Cartago.