The Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference (CEN) revealed on Monday – when the fourth day of negotiations between the dictatorship and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy took place in Managua – that they have not received an invitation from either side to participate in the National Dialogue.
According to sources linked to the negotiations, in the Civic Alliance there is consensus to involve the bishops in the process, but the government delegation continues to veto certain bishops like Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, as well as previously vetoed Monsignor Silvio Baez, auxiliary bishop of Managua.
The CEN said that Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes participated in the first session of the negotiations, held last Wednesday, as “a gesture and act of goodwill.” In their statement the Bishops Conference said: “The cardinal informed the participants that if they needed any service from CEN, both parties should send their respective letters of invitation; and up until now we have not received any correspondence in this regard.”
Carlos Tünnermann, member of the delegation of the Civic Alliance, said in an impromptu press conference at the end of the day that the delegation of the dictatorship could bring a position on Tuesday regarding the participation of the CEN.
“The day today was to define the role of witnesses, companions and advisors. The guarantors were talked about and the role of the guarantors was put forward,” Tünnermann said. “The presence of CEN, in the way it is determined, is of vital importance (…) We are discussing this point. We do not see that there is resistance on the part of the Government, we are discussing modalities.”.
However, a source close to the negotiation said that the CEN’s participation could not be completely agreed because the government continues to veto certain bishops, considered uncomfortable by the Ortega regime, such as Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, Silvio Baez and Abelardo Mata, for example.
“There are pending details to resolve in order to ensure their presence (of the bishops) as required by the Alliance,” the source said, adding that they will demand the presence of the vetoed bishops.
Tünnermann told the media that the Civic Alliance proposes the bishops as “witnesses, companions and advisors.”
“The cardinal came as witness and companion the first day. The category is witness and companion. But he would be accompanied by two more advisors that he would have to appoint after consulting the Episcopal Conference,” said Tünnermann. “The detail (problem) has been another,” Tünnermann added without giving further details.
Both the Civic Alliance and the dictatorship issued statements regarding the workday which occurred Monday. The opposition delegation remarked “the important role of CEN at key moments in the history of the country.”
“Today more than ever we reiterate the importance of their role in the current context, and we support that they can continue accompanying the processes in search of justice and democracy for Nicaragua,” said the Civic Alliance.
While the dictatorship informed that the “negotiation table communicates that the talks continue on the definition of the witnesses and companions of the negotiation.”
“Today’s session was attended by the Apostolic Nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, representative of His Holiness Pope Francis in Nicaragua as a witness. Once the Roadmap has been approved, the negotiation agenda will be discussed,” reads the dictatorship’s communique.
Azahálea Solís, member of the delegation of the Civic Alliance, said that the presence of international organizations as guarantors of the negotiations are key for them.
The approval of the “road map” had been delayed because the regime opposed the Organization of American States (OAS) serving as guarantor. That refusal generated criticism of the government. However, the source consulted by Confidential said that the regime already gave in this particular point but did not provide further details.
Carlos Tünnermann told reporters that he expects the so-called “roadmap” to be finalized and presented to the public on Tuesday.
“The roadmap is like the constitution. That there are consensual rules. These are standards that both parties must comply with. We hope that tomorrow we can present it,” said Tünnermann.
When asked if the government is not stalling with the negotiation, Tünnermann said that among the rules it would be contemplated the negotiations conclude on March 28.