By Gabriela Selser (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Between revolutionary songs and supplications to God, President Daniel Ortega affirmed today that he will support a “dialogue for peace” in Nicaragua, but warned that he will investigate those who promoted violence and who, he said, are the same ones who confronted his first government in the 1980s.
“Those who incited war before, now incite violence, and in the middle (are) again the victims,” said Ortega before thousands of supporters of the Government gathered in the Plaza de las Victorias, in a downtown area of Managua.
He recalled that almost 50,000 people died in the armed conflict between Sandinistas and “contras” supported by the United States, during almost 10 years of revolution (1979-1990).
The president said that his main goal is to achieve “a dialogue for peace,” with the mediation of the Catholic Church, after the rebellion of students and other civic sectors that his Government faced the week before.
“Let’s ask for strength from God saying: give us, sir, the strength to be an instrument of peace … wherever there is hatred, let’s sow love,” the 72-year-old former leftist guerrilla cried out, paraphrasing San Francisco de Asis, while his followers shouted “We want peace “and” Not a step back “.
“No to death, no to destruction, no to violence, no to barbarism, yes to life, yes to dialogue, yes to work, yes to peace!” Ortega exclaimed again in front of the crowd that waved flags of Nicaragua and the ruling Sandinista Front.
The president spoke from a stage next to his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, both surrounded by a strong security apparatus. Unlike his last appearances, this time he was not accompanied by the heads of the Police or the Army.
Many participants were transported to the site from different parts of the country in caravans of buses and trucks, carrying posters with legends such as “Work and peace” and “Love of Nicaragua”, well-known government slogans.
This was the first rally of support for Ortega after five days of protests violently dissolved by the police, with a balance of ten deaths according to the authorities and 63 according to the non-governmental Human Rights Permanent Commission (CPDH).
The conflict began with the opposition by university students of a Social Security reform announced on April 16, considered detrimental to workers and pensioners. As a result of the violent police action and government shock forces against the demonstrators, the protests spread to 14 cities in the country.
“The sowers of hatred have caused a deep wound in the heart of the country, and the country is mourning,” Ortega said referring to the civic rebellion, the first he faces in 11 years of government. Then, well into his speech, he asked for a minute of silence for the dead youth and their families.
He also said that those responsible for the violence will be investigated. “Not to throw us full of hatred against them, with the knife in our hands against them, but to make them understand once and for all, that Nicaragua chose the path of peace, stability and security,” he said.
Civil society figures opposed to the government have supported the student protests and have expressed doubts about the success of a dialogue, as they believe that it will only give Comandante Ortega time to calm the political crisis.
In an interview with dpa, the well-known poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal (Granada, 1925) said that “there should be no dialogue”, but that “another government, a democratic republic” should be elected.
“Dialogue does not make sense because dialogue is to promote understanding,” something he said could not be achieved. The author of “The Gospel of Solentiname”, says he has been “persecuted” by Ortega and Murillo, after accusing them of directing “a dictatorship” in the country.
Minister of Culture during the revolution and then divorced from the Sandinista party, Cardenal criticized the “madness and arrogance” of the Ortega/Murillo Government and said he is happy because young people have reclaimed their rights in the streets. “Nicaragua has been resurrected,” he said.