After three sessions of negotiations between the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, there is still no white smoke around the consensus of a “roadmap” to start a dialogue on substantive issues of the sociopolitical crisis, such as early elections.
The refusal of the government to accept international organizations as guarantors and mediators of the process has stalled the negotiation held at the INCAE campus in Managua.
The third meeting ended on Friday afternoon, with another statement which continues to put on hold the approval of the so-called roadmap. “Among other issues, we have agreed on how decisions will be made, the schedule of the meetings, communication and dissemination policy, the nature of the agreements to be reached and logistical aspects,” reads the statement.
According to the Civic Alliance, the “roadmap” contains the rules or guidelines that will govern the negotiations. “From the drafting of clear and defined prior rules, will depend in great measure the smooth functioning and results of the negotiations. This roadmap also reflects the level of commitment of the parties with the process,” they explained.
The Civic Alliance notes that the parties agreed to continue meeting Monday through Friday, “with the goal that the negotiation culminates in the shortest possible time.” The meetings will be resumed on Monday, March 4.
However, Confidencial learned from sources close to the negotiation that the point that has prevented the white smoke is the refusal of the dictatorship to accept the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations (UN) as guarantors and mediators, as proposed by the opposition’s delegation. It is also known that the Catholic Church, which now is only a witness at the table, is in agreement with the need for international accompaniment.
Putting on hold the approval of the “roadmap” has begun to generate mistrust among citizens. Veteran human rights defender, Vilma Nunez, criticized that if the “points” were to define “who is going to sing the anthem, to pray and how they are going to sit down,” that could be “discussed in half a minute.”
The feminist and constitutional lawyer Azahalea Solis, who is part of the Civic Alliance negotiation delegation, said that they had already foreseen this possible “scenario.”
“Guarantors and mediators is the arm-wrestling. The Government maintains that the crisis is a Nicaraguan problem and that we should resolve it without international guarantors,” agreed the sources consulted by Confidencial.
OAS is ready, according to Almagro
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, affirmed that the organization could act as a “guarantor” of the dialogue in Nicaragua and reiterated that, for it, the release of the “political prisoners,” is necessary.
“We are in agreement with a process of dialogue, not exactly as mediators, but as guarantors of that process,” Almagro explained in statements to the press at OAS headquarters in Washington.
“I believe that the path of freedom for political prisoners clears up, let’s say, the obstacles and lead us to the institutional and democratic solutions that the country needs,” said Almagro.
Prior to the call for resumption of the dialogue, a delegation from the OAS General Secretariat met in mid-February in Nicaragua with representatives of the Ortega government to request the release of political prisoners and actions to improve the electoral system.
In response, the Sandinista Executive announced its intention to strengthen the electoral system ahead of the elections of 2021, but ruled out earlier elections, as had been requested by several sectors of Nicaraguan society and members of the international community, such as the United States.
“That is what we have requested, the release of all political prisoners because we cannot enter into a negotiation in which we will have to negotiate liberties. That would not be the best way to be in a negotiation,” Almagro said.
The Church as guarantor?
Government delegates strongly oppose the participation of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN) as witnesses and facilitators of the Dialogue, together with the Apostolic Nuncio, and intend to individualize this responsibility in the President of the Episcopal Conference, Leopoldo Brenes. However, Cardinal Brenes has a CEN mandate to integrate a three-member delegation with bishops Rolando Alvarez and Bosco Vivas and has the backing of Pope Francis to be represented with the bishops collectively.
According to the source, if the Government persists in vetoing the other two bishops of the CEN, Brenes could choose not to participate in the Dialogue, and without a doubt will have the full support of the Civic Alliance, calling into question the lack of political will of the Government in the dialogue. “For those of the Alliance it is clear that there is no Dialogue without the bishops and the CEN as witnesses and facilitators,” the source said, “because they are the most credible institution in the country.”
Restoration of liberties
Various social actors have demanded the Civic Alliance not “negotiate liberties.” That is to say, that the Government release all political prisoners and cease the repression of the civic mobilizations. However, for the time being, police repression persists. A student protest at the Central American University (UCA) was attacked by police officers.
“We do not even know if there are preconditions, and if they have maintained within those preconditions the immediate release of political prisoners. I would not agree that the political prisoners be a point of the agenda to be discussed, because it implies entering into a negotiation. As we have said, human rights are not negotiable,” said Vilma Nunez.
The official delegation
The delegation of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has maintained complete silence on what would be its proposal of mediators, witnesses and guarantors. The governmental delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Denis Moncada. The other representatives of the dictatorship delegation are the deputies Edwin Castro, Jose Figueroa, and surprisingly, Wilfredo Navarro, the turncoat legislator and former flatterer of liberal caudillo Arnoldo Aleman.
“That they had to include Wilfredo Navarro shows the decadence and deterioration of the regime. They do not have any authoritative figures,” affirmed Ana Margarita Vigil, member of the Sandinista Renovation Movement. “The FSLN is empty. Daniel Ortega is isolated even among his own people. In the “Infiernillo” (little hell), in La Modelo (prison), there are people more representative of the Front, such as the ex-coronel Carlos Brenes”, [who dared to oppose Ortega], she commented.