The OAS Clock on Nicaragua is Ticking

Permanent Council approves “high-level commission” to negotiate solution to sociopolitical crisis

The OAS Permanent Council in session. File photo: OAS

Dictatorship rejects commission and insists on unilateral electoral reform with the OAS, something the General Secretariat does not envision

By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) has initiated a 75-day countdown for the Ortega-Murillo regime to negotiate a solution to Nicaragua’s sociopolitical crisis with the “high-level commission” approved on Wednesday, with 21 votes in favor, in Washington. If the effort fails, Nicaragua could be permanently expelled from the inter-American organization.

The plenary of the Permanent Council approved the composition of the “high-level commission” and its members after this diplomatic tool was mandated by the General Assembly of the OAS, last June in Medellin, Colombia.

The Permanent Council approved as members of the “high-level commission” five representatives from Argentina, Paraguay, Jamaica, Canada and the United States. Of these five members, only three names were confirmed during the vote. They are diplomats Leopoldo Francisco Sahores (Argentina), Elisa Ruiz Diaz (Ambassador of Paraguay to the OAS) and Carlos Trujillo (Ambassador of the United States to the OAS). The names of the representatives of Canada and Jamaica will be made official this week.

The high-level commission members.

“We have been very patient for the Ortega regime to comply with the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the promise of an effective dialogue,” Ambassador Trujillo said, referring to the fact that the Nicaraguan president has used dilatory tactics in the negotiations with the OAS.

“The Government of Nicaragua has refused to offer any cooperation. It’s only answer is rhetorical and a rejection of the Commission established in Medellin. There is no political cooperation,” he noted.

The “high-level commission” is the last opportunity for the regime to seek a negotiated solution to the sociopolitical crisis that Nicaragua has been going through since April 2018. If this stage fails, the OAS could proceed to apply article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which could include the expulsion of Nicaragua from the organization.

Although the expulsion ultimatum has already begun, the regime’s Ambassador to the OAS, Luis Alvarado, rejected the formation of the “high-level commission,” claiming that it is an act “harmful to our national sovereignty.”

“Nicaragua does not recognize any Working Group or Commission that we have not requested. We also disregard any attempt by other governments, or this organization, to assume the right to use the force of interfering threats, and to pretend to subjugate us, using and abusing media terrorism and the greed and whim that it sets upon the world,” Alvarado said.

Dictatorship insists on unilateral electoral reform

Instead, Alvarado insisted on the narrative dictated from the El Carmen presidential bunker: they will only discuss unilateral electoral reforms with the OAS General Secretariat, regardless of the demands of the Civic Alliance and the international community.

“We want to work with the OAS for peace, for life, the common good and the right to development of our countries and peoples, including when we agree, as we have sovereignly agreed, processes for strengthening electoral institutions and electoral processes,” Alvarado said.

Carlos Trujillo, the US ambassador to the OAS.

Before beginning the vote on the composition of the “high-level commission,” the witness and companion of the OAS General Secretariat in the dialogue in Managua, Luis Angel Rosadilla, gave a report on his efforts. Rosadilla revealed that on August 25 a delegation from the regime met with them to talk about the possible continuation of the unilateral electoral reforms proposed by the regime in an official statement on July 28, the same document in which they terminated the dialogue with the Civic Alliance.

“A meeting was held (…) for the purpose of exchanging views on what the criteria would be in the event that the OAS, as requested by the Nicaraguan government, will work in a political-electoral reform process,” Rosadilla said.

However, Rosadilla emphasized that any electoral reform process that the OAS General Secretariat carries out with the regime has to be agreed with the agenda items that were pending in the negotiation with the Civic Alliance. According to Rosadilla, the agenda items of the INCAE political dialogue “reflect the collective consciousness agreed by the parties of the challenges that Nicaragua has.”

“The OAS General Secretariat will respond in the coming days, taking special consideration of the pending elements of the agenda agreed at the negotiating table between the government and the Civic Alliance, so that the strengthening through electoral reforms will be absolutely compatible with the Democratic Charter and other inter-American instruments,” said Rosadilla.

This statement by Rosadilla is far from the claims of the Ortega-Murillo (regime) to impose a unilateral reform tailored with the collaboration of the puppet political parties, and bypassing the national and international opposition to a cosmetic reform.

Meanwhile the US Ambassador warned the plenary of the Permanent Council about the unilateral reform being sold by Ortega. “Nobody should be fooled by the Ortega regime’s maneuvers of unilaterally imposing cosmetic changes to the electoral system,” stressed Trujillo.

Almagro: “Resume Negotiations”

The OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, participated in the Permanent Council session. He emphasized that one of the achievements of the political dialogue between the dictatorship and the Civic Alliance was the release of the majority of political prisoners.

Although Almagro did not mention that there are still more than 100 political prisoners locked up, he did say that “important political agreements” at the negotiating table “were not fulfilled.” “To resume these agreements is today a moral imperative of the Nicaraguan political system,” Almagro recommended.

While the session was taking place, outside the OAS, about twenty Nicaraguans gathered with blue and white flags (converted into a symbol of the protest against Ortega), while sending a message to the diplomats inside the building: “Do your job!” “Almagro, listen, we are still in the struggle!”

Jorge Blas, 27, told EFE that he was “disappointed” because the OAS have been meeting for a year and making disapproving statements, but without taking “any forceful action.” “The people of Nicaragua cannot continue waiting. In Nicaragua things are not going to be solved only with words and without doing anything. What good does it do for us?”, asked Blas.

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