The OAS Votes to Isolate Ortega, Negotiations Unlikely

The regime’s path is to pretend it’s calling for internal dialogue, states political analyst Alberto Cortes.

By Octavio Enriquez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The OAS Permanent Council passed a resolution calling for the liberation of all the political prisoners in Nicaragua, and for integral reforms aimed towards holding new presidential and parliamentary elections. The resolution, passed with 25 votes, puts the regime of Daniel Ortega in a complex situation, warned political analyst Alberto Cortes Ramos, professor of Political Science at the University of Costa Rica.

Cortes compared the situation faced by Ortega and Rosario Murillo – his wife and vice president – with that of former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The Somoza regime was condemned in June 1979 by the OAS, which at that time called for his immediate resignation. This occurred one month before the Sandinista revolution triumphed.  Somoza Debayle was the third and last member of the dynasty that had ruled the country since 1937.

“Even though it seems that [the Nicaraguan government] has completely downplayed [the resolution], the great majority of the countries on the continent are accusing them of violating the Inter-American Charter. In addition, there was just one country that opposed this resolution – Nicaragua itself. The other eight countries that abstained declined to endorse Nicaragua’s position and their authoritarian drift,” noted Cortes during an interview on the online television news program Esta Noche.

The resolution was approved with 25 votes in favor, only Nicaragua voting against, and eight countries abstaining, among them Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia and Honduras. Among other things, the declaration demanded that the regime accept a meeting with a high-level OAS delegation, in view of the Central American country’s failure to comply with the commitments of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The document demands that the international human rights organizations be allowed to return to the country. These organizations documented the government repression in 2018, with violent reprisals that left 355 people killed and 2,000 wounded according to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, an outgrowth of the OAS. In addition, the resolution proposes that Daniel Ortega meet with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, who will officially relay the decision taken by the organization.

Almagro is to inform the OAS Permanent Council by December 17, 2021, on the results of their interactions with the Nicaraguan government.

Cortes emphasized that it would be a mistake for the Ortega regime to read the eight abstentions as support for their position. He noted the position of the Bolivian government, which – although it abstained – suggested that Ortega accept the OAS visit. The Costa Rican expert also pointed out that Argentina’s repeat abstention was due more to the internal situation in this South American country, with regards to Vice President Cristina Fernandez’ critical stance on Almagro.

Given the panorama of strong international criticism for his rule, it’s expected that Ortega’s next steps will seek to focus on internal matters.

Ortega will try to gain some maneuvering room

“The illegitimate government of Ortega and Murillo are going to embark on a path of (pretending) to call for internal dialogue to try and gain some maneuvering room. They’ll attempt to present themselves as a government that’s trying to stabilize itself and achieve reconciliation in their country while rejecting any kind of outside influence, or the participation of the OAS in internal affairs. I don’t see this [meeting with the inter-American organization’s goodwill mission] as viable in the short term,” added the political scientist.

Cortes was “skeptical” about the results of the high-levelmission’s attempts. Historically, what Ortega and Murillo have done is “react to the correlation of forces, and at this time, beyond the consensus of the international community that they’re violating human rights, there hasn’t been any such correlation of forces, nor sufficient pressure to get them to modify their posture.”

Up until now, the Ortega regime has accused the international community of intervening in their internal affairs, while they challenge the United States and fortify their alliance with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Nicaraguan opposition reacts

Alexa Zamora, a member of the Blue and White National Unity’s political council, views the resolution as “positive”. The group has insisted on greater participation from the international community, in order to advance a process that could result in a peaceful solution to the country’s crisis.

Zamora asserted that the reaction of the Nicaraguan strongman to the OAS position isn’t known, but that the first requirement is the liberation of the political prisoners. The dictatorship is currently holding over 160 political prisoners. Forty of them have been arbitrarily detained since last May, when Ortega closed off the electoral option by imprisoning his principal political rivals.

Berta Valle, wife of former presidential hopeful Felix Maradiaga who’s been in jail since June, thanked all the countries for their support of the Nicaraguan struggle to recover democracy and freedom. “For our part, we’ll continue working to construct the free and sovereign republic that we all yearn for, far distant from the authoritarian regime,” she declared.

A diplomatic source that asked to remain unnamed, also explained: “the resolution expresses the international community’s understanding of this situation and their profound rejection of events in Nicaragua. It would seem that they’re willing to sustain and increase pressure on Ortega in order to reach some kind of negotiated solution to the Nicaraguan crisis.”

Ortega left “friendless” in the OAS

Former deputy and current political analyst Eliseo Nuñez affirmed that the Nicaragua government feels “emboldened” by its economic data. Because of this, he has trouble imagining them entering into any sort of effective dialogue.

“I don’t see them giving in, mainly because they believe the international isolation is temporary. [The regime] is hoping that Lula will win in Brazil, and that the international panorama will reshuffle in a more favorable way. They’re betting on blockading off the country and sitting down to wait a while longer,” added Nuñez. He considered, however, that the OAS vote for the resolution demonstrates that Ortega has been left “friendless” in the OAS.

In Nuñez’ view, even if Ortega tries to sell the idea that there won’t be any economic consequences for his political actions, in real life Nicaragua’s largest trade partner is the United States, while Russia is a pipe dream.

Up until now, the only country issuing a statement in favor of Ortega has been Venezuela, whose president, Nicolas Maduro, remains a firm ally of Ortega. Under Maduro’s rule, Venezuela itself withdrew from the OAS in 2019. In a statement, Maduro denounced “the aggressions against Nicaragua perpetrated by the OAS and its secretary general Luis Almagro.”

“We stand before an unprecedented and highly dangerous event in the history of international relations, in which the foundations of the democratic system itself and the principles of self-determination and independence of each country are put under discussion,” stated Maduro.  He too has been questioned by the international community for human rights violations and the deterioration of Venezuelan democracy.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.