A mission of European Parliament members (MEPs) concluded their fact-finding visit to Nicaragua on Saturday afternoon by holding a press conference. They ruled out the Ortega government’s central argument that a coup attempt had occurred,, declaring that thesis “speculative and partisan,” as well as “not supported by any evidence.”
Instead, they asked that the dialogue be resumed to resolve the crisis that began last April. To make this possible, they asked for “three gestures” as minimum conditions for this initiative to prosper.
First, that the regime grant “provisional freedom for the demonstrators in prison, at least under the modality of house arrest. Second, that they cease the limitations on freedoms and the harassment of social leaders who are exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms. Thirdly, that they allow the return to the country of the international organizations that defend human rights.”
“The Government and its officials insist on the thesis of a violent coup d’état, terrorist acts, violence, and above all an external aggression. We do not believe in this hypothesis,” Ramon Jauregui, a Spaniard, told the press conference on behalf of the 11 MEPs who visited Nicaragua for three days to assess the crisis.
The MEPs were convinced that the crisis in Nicaragua is a consequence of “repression” and insisted that the dialogue “between Nicaraguans” is the only way out.
They noted that “freedom of movement, of meetings, of expression, is a sine qua non condition for a democratic negotiation process.” They considered “inadmissible” scenes such as that on Friday, when several social leaders were retained by the Police after meeting with the European mission.
Jauregui pointed out that “the Government made a mistake” by expelling the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (Meseni), both organizations under the protection of the Organization of American States (OAS).
He said it was also an “error” of the Executive to expel the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from the country, as well as to strip the local human rights organizations of their legal status.
Call to peace
The MEPs recommended to the Nicaraguan opposition that they “reiterate their message of peace, and their commitment to seek access to political power only through words and with votes..”
“It may be unnecessary, but it is essential to repeat: ‘Never again violence in Nicaragua’,” stressed the deputies of the European Parliament. They also urged the opposition to develop a more cohesive structure, in order “to make dialogue more feasible” to resolve the crisis.
The MEPs did not say whether they would be willing to participate as mediators in a dialogue in Nicaragua, but reiterated their support for the process.
In their report presented today in Managua, the delegation of MEPs noted that the protests have been legitimate, and that in a democracy the parties should be willing to lose.
They also warned that the European Union could pursue legal decisions, regarding the agreements they have with Nicaragua, because “the current situation in Nicaragua in terms of human rights and democracy is not compatible with the Association Agreement” with Central America and with the country.
Improper legal processes
“The judicial proceedings do not enjoy sufficient procedural and criminal guarantees,” stated the MEPs at the press conference.
In addition, they criticized the fact that in Nicaragua there are a number of journalists imprisoned and others in exile, while several media outlets have been closed or attacked.
They referred to their meeting with Miguel Mora, director of 100% Noticias, who is being held in “inadequate” prison conditions.
“Miguel Mora has been in a cell for 35 days without being able to see the sun. He asked us for light and a Bible… this is not admissible,” said the Parliament members.