OAS Conditions Role in Nicaragua to Release of Political Prisoners

After Saturday’s repression, Ortega lost the little capacity for maneuver that he had left at the international level, said former legislator.

"A casi 80 años de la cárcel

20 de marzo 2019


The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, expressed to the Foreign Ministry of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship that he conditions the participation of the organization as “witness and international companion” in negotiations in Managua with the Civic Alliance opposition to the release of all political prisoners.

“As you know, for this General Secretariat the release of political prisoners is a priority,” Almagro wrote in a letter dated March 15. “It is therefore essential to ensure the presence of the General Secretariat in the dialogue, the release of all the people that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has identified as political prisoners.”

With this official communication, addressed to Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, the position of the OAS is clear regarding the release of political prisoners. Although Almagro himself had already expressed this condition verbally in Washington a few weeks ago, until now an official document in this regard is made public.

The letter was sent to the Foreign Ministry on Friday, a day before the violent repression unleashed by the Police against protestors. However, it wasn’t leaked until Monday in the midst of multiple criticism from the international community to the Ortega-Murillo regime for their decision to attack the citizen’s demonstration.

Eliseo Nunez, a former liberal party deputy and political analyst, said that with Saturday’s police repression the dictatorship lost the little capacity to maneuver it had before the international community.

“Before Saturday it tried to show a friendly face; that it was in a position to dialogue, that it was gradually releasing prisoners in the face of the incomprehension of the opposition. This is what it was selling, that is why the Alliance had to return to the table,” argued Nunez. “However, after Saturday’s repression the space was closed. The regime no longer has the capacity to maneuver before the international community.”

Sources familiar with the negotiation assured Confidencial that after the publication of Almagro’s letter the “OAS will tighten hard the screws” if the government “does not demonstrate real will and does not commit to dialogue and its progress,” which depends on the release of 760 political prisoners.

According to Nunez, the OAS is trying to accelerate the approval of the calendar for the gradual release of the political prisoners. “Daniel Ortega has to define his game and soon. It will be key. He has to make it clear if at the end he gives in to the demands to create a favorable environment for dialogue, and if he will comply with the demands of the population,” the former deputy states.

In the case of remaining closed to those options, Nunez believes that citizens could turn again to the streets, because society is “reaching a level of being fed up with the political-economic situation and the persecution.”

“If you review Ortega’s strengths and weaknesses, the only solid strength he has is to have people in their homes. The economy is falling, he is isolated, and he controls the state, the state payroll and the police which is designed to patrol the streets,” says Nunez. “If he allows people to return to the streets, Ortega loses his main negotiation lever: that the country is under control, according to him. It is the last real card that he has from the point of governance,” he added.

Almagro reported in the letter that he appointed Luis Angel Rosadilla as “witness and international companion” at the negotiating table between the dictatorship and the Civic Alliance. Rosadilla has been active in formal and informal meetings between the parties. Last Friday, when the dialogue entered a new “impasse” due to the government’s refusal to release more prisoners of conscience. Rosadilla got “upset” because of the lack of will of the regime, according to sources close to the negotiation.

The OAS proposes a phased release plan for the political prisoners to be discussed at the INCAE table. However, until now, no progress has been made in this regard. Sources close to the negotiations affirm that the Civic Alliance’s proposal is to first free all political prisoners who have not been condemned by Ortega’s justice, and those condemned would be released through this gradual release timetable.

So far, the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has only released 160 people, who legally remain deprived of their freedom, because the regime only changed the prison regime to house arrest or family coexistence.

The relatives of the political prisoners, as well as the Civic Alliance, demand the total freedom of the 760 political prisoners. However, the government claimed last Friday that having released 50 people was a “gesture” that says a lot about its will.

Since his arrival in the country on March 11, Rosadilla has met with the government, the opposition and different political parties to also seek an agreement for early elections.

He told reporters that this time his stay in Nicaragua will be quite long, and that on previous occasions he has traveled in a flash and in secret to meet with the government.

“I come to observe, to assess, if there is any space, if it is possible for the OAS to participate in this initiative that is of Nicaraguans,” says Rosadilla in reference to the negotiations.

“The dialogue must produce results”

The Civic Alliance issued a statement on Monday condemning Saturday’s repression, and demanding the regime that the dialogue “must produce results.”

“Dialogue and negotiation is the inescapable commitment of the Civic Alliance with the Nicaraguan people to peacefully resolve the serious crisis that our country is going through. Unfortunately, until today the national dialogue has not produced the results that the great majority of our fellow citizens legitimately expect. Their frustration is ours. We understand and share it fully,” the Alliance stated.

However, they insisted “that the only effective dialogue is the one that produces results. The one that embraces the population, because it sees that it responds to its yearning and anguish.”

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Wilfredo Miranda Aburto

Periodista. Destaca en cobertura a violaciones de derechos humanos: desplazamiento forzado, tráfico ilegal en territorios indígenas, medio ambiente, conflictos mineros y ejecuciones extrajudiciales. Premio Iberoamericano Rey de España 2018.


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