US Secretary of State arrives in Costa Rica and meets with the Nicaraguan opposition
By Juan Carlos Bow (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – On Tuesday, January 21, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Nicaraguan ruler Daniel Ortega to end the repression and human rights violations. He also emphasized the need to organize free and fair elections in the country.
“Very few authoritarian regimes remain in the region, and Nicaragua is one of them. The United States urges the Ortega regime to end the repression, and to restore the fundamental civil liberties and support free and fair elections,” declared Pompeo in a press conference, following his meeting with Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado.
Pompeo, whose quick visit this past Tuesday to Costa Rica was part of a regional tour, assured that the United States is exerting pressure on the Ortega government. He recalled that last year they leveled sanctions against some high functionaries of the government and their families. He also asserted that the United States has awarded humanitarian assistance to Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who have fled their countries due to repression and human rights violations.
Specifically, Pompeo stated that the United States has given Costa Rica $13 million dollars since 2018 to assist vulnerable populations. Costa Rica has offered asylum to tens of thousands of Nicaraguans that have fled their country since April 2018 as a result of the socio-political crisis.
Secretary Pompeo affirmed that his government, together with friendly countries, will continue to encourage diplomatic solutions for the Nicaraguan crisis. “The Nicaraguan regime can’t be allowed to continue violating human rights,” he stated.
For his part, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado reaffirmed to Pompeo his commitment to democratic values and institutions, and the need to restore democracy in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
“In the case of Nicaragua, as in that of Venezuela, we’ve demonstrated our commitment to supporting democratic solutions in those countries where they don’t enjoy a democratic government, but instead oppressive regimes that harm their citizens,” President Alvarado expressed.
Since April 2018, Nicaragua has been engulfed in a socio-political crisis that has left at least 328 deaths stemming from protests against the Ortega government. Costa Rica has received at least 70,000 Nicaraguans since the beginning of the crisis in Nicaragua. These Nicaraguans have had to flee into exile, and Costa Rica has repeatedly advocated in international forums for aid to deal with the situation.
Both the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights holds the Nicaraguan government responsible for the violence; in the past 20 months, hundreds have been jailed or are missing, thousands have been wounded and tens of thousands have gone into exile.
Opposition leaders speak with Pompeo
A delegation of Nicaraguans who oppose Ortega met on Tuesday, January 21, in San Jose, Costa Rica with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, following the latter’s encounter with Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado. During the meeting with Alvarado, Pompeo affirmed that the United States would act with its “allies to put pressure on the regime” of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
Representatives of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, the National Blue and White Unity and the Farmer’s Movement attended the meeting with Pompeo along with representatives of other sectors.
In a joint communique, the two main opposition groupings indicated that they informed Pompeo “of the advances in the conformation of a National Coalition as a united effort of the Nicaraguan opposition. We explained that the Coalition is inclusive, and we are inviting all the forces that oppose the dictatorship to unite.”
The Blue and White Unity and the Civic Alliance had presented on January 17, the idea of such a Coalition that could compete against the Ortega machine in future elections. They set February 25th as a political deadline for the consolidation of this great unity.
“We explained the will to achieve a democratic transition through peaceful, civic means. In that sense, we transmitted the importance of deep electoral reforms that would permit free, transparent, secure, observed and early elections,” read the statement.
It adds: “We emphasize the fact that the reforms should be done within the context of a sincere and open negotiation, as is stipulated in the June 28 resolution from the OAS General Assembly in Medellin, Colombia.”
The communique continues: “We made the case for the need to coordinate the civic struggle within Nicaragua with pressure from the international community, with the objective of achieving freedom for all the political prisoners, the secure return of those exiled, and the reestablishment of the citizens’ constitutional rights and guarantees.” These agreements were signed by the regime last March, during a second failed attempt to hold a national dialogue.
“We reiterate the urgency of exerting national and international pressure on the regime, in order to achieve the full reestablishment of constitutional rights and individual liberties, especially the freedom of all the political prisoners,” the communique states.