European Parliament Mission begins tour in Nicaragua
Leader of the delegation of EU parliament members, Ramon Jauregui Atondo, said that they come “in defense of democracy and the rule of law”
By Juan Carlos Bow (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The Ortega regime filled the roundabouts and main avenues of Managua with police and riot police, fearing that citizens would take advantage of the presence of a delegation from the European Parliament to show their repudiation of the dictatorship. The mission will be in Nicaragua until Saturday, to evaluate the Nicaraguan sociopolitical crisis and support a process of dialogue.
The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) arrived on Wednesday and on Thursday they start a series of meetings with various sectors. They are expected to meet with President Daniel Ortega and other government officials, as well as with representatives of opposition parties, civil society organizations, church authorities and the media.
The European Union (EU) Ambassador in Nicaragua, Kenny Bell, has indicated to national media that “the parliamentarians come with their own freedom of opinion, of expression; it is difficult to say in advance what is going to happen. I know that some are very well informed, prepared. I cannot predict what they are going to say, what they are will find.”
The Spaniard Ramon Jauregui Atondo, who heads the delegation, posted on his Tweeter account that the MEPs are “a team of friends of the Nicaraguan people eager to help dialogue and freedom. In defense of democracy and the rule of law.”
They put pressure to come
The delegation consists of the Spaniards Jauregui, Gabriel Mato, Javier Nart and Jose Ignacio Salafranca; the Greeks Stelios Kouloglou and Nikos Androulakis; the French Joëlle Bergeron and Mireille D’Ornano; the Portuguese Jose Inacio Faria and Ana Gomez; and the Belgian Mark Demesmaeker.
The objective of the mission is to learn firsthand what happened in the country since last April, when the sociopolitical crisis began, which has left at least 325 citizens killed, more than 3,000 injured, more than 600 political prisoners and around 60,000 exiled due to political persecution.
The regime suspended the visit by the MEPs last Friday, but on Monday it retracted, after representatives of the European Union (EU) hardened their language against the Ortega dictatorship and threatened sanctions against the Government of Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
Gathered in their monthly Council, the EU foreign ministers approved conclusions on Monday in which they lamented and condemned the “brutal repression” by the Ortega regime against peaceful demonstrations.
EU willing to take actions
The ministers denounced that the recent measures against civil society organizations and independent media outlets represent “a new blow for democracy, human rights and civil liberties that aggravates the political and social crisis.”
“The EU will continue to monitor the situation carefully and underlines its readiness to make use of all the policy instruments available to it in order to help find a peaceful and negotiated solution to the current crisis and respond to any new further deterioration of human rights and the state of law,” the minister specified.
Prior to the meeting of foreign ministers and after hearing the veto on the mission of the MEPs, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, warned in a public ceremony that “soon” will come “sanctions against the dictatorship in Nicaragua.”.
“There is another dictator in Nicaragua, Mr. Ortega who is also on the wrong track (…) We are not going to be silent and we are going to react,” said Tajani, during the national convention of the Popular Party (right) that was held last weekend in Madrid, Spain
Movement at the Managua Airport
Before the arrival of the Europeans, messages began circulating on social networks inviting citizens to demonstrate in the streets. The regime militarized the International Airport of Managua, since one of the sit-ins was summoned in that place. However, there were no protests.
Someone who was at the airport was the US Ambassador to Nicaragua, Kevin Sullivan, who received two high level officials from the State Department. The diplomat was accompanied with a heavy security measure, according to the national media.
The senior officials are P. Michael McKinley, a senior advisor to the Secretary of State, and Julie J. Chung, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau. The reason for their visit is unknown.
Both officials have a broad knowledge of Latin American politics. McKinley has been the US ambassador to Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Born in Venezuela, the diplomat has also served in Bolivia, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Uganda, Belgium and England, according to the website of the State Department.
Chung “served as deputy political counsellor in Bogota, Colombia, where she led the largest extradition program of the United States Government, including the cases of paramilitaries and drug trafficking,” according to the State Department.