After the dictator Daniel Ortega formalized the reinstatement of the national dialogue for Wednesday, February 27, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy announced the members of the commission that will sit down to negotiate with the regime a solution to the sociopolitical crisis, which has mourned families and broken the national economy.
However, none of the parties reported whether there are preconditions for engaging in talks, such as the release of political prisoners, the advancement of elections, the cessation of persecution and justice for the victims of the massacre.
The Civic Alliance reported in a brief statement that the members of the commission are Juan Sebastian Chamorro, director of Funides; Carlos Tünnermann, university professor and exrector; Max Jerez, of the university movement; Jose Adan Aguerri, president of the Private Employers Council, Cosep; Mario Arana, president of the American-Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce (AmCham); and Jose Pallais, a former Liberal Party legislator and a member of the Broad Front for Democracy.
The alternates of the aforementioned persons are respectively: Felipe Argüello, executive director of the UPANIC farm organization; Azahalea Solís, a constitutionalist attorney and feminist; Valeska Valle, university spokesperson; Michael Healey, president of Upanic; Diego Vargas, former president of AmCham; and Ernesto Medina, former director of the American University.
The Civic Alliance also explained that Alejandra Centeno, Justina Orozco, Ángel Rocha, Daysi George, Claudia Neira, Gerardo Baltodano and Álvaro Vargas will serve as advisers.
The initial statement of the Civic Alliance does not give more guidelines on the agenda to follow in the dialogue, and whether they will impose preconditions to dialogue with the dictatorship.
The main demand of the population is the “immediate and unconditional” release of the more than 760 political prisoners, a possibility that the Ortega-Murillo regime has repeatedly denied, arguing that they are all “common criminals.”
“We met with part of the Civic Alliance and we told them that a precondition to any dialogue is the release of political prisoners,” insisted Daniel Esquivel, member of the Committee for the Political Prisoners, and husband of the merchant Ireland Jerez, imprisoned in the women’s prison of La Esperanza.
“Unfortunately, it is not only what the Alliance and us think, but also what the dictator thinks. We are surprised by the situation that is taking place. We didn’t know that the dialogue was for next week,” said Esquivel.
The secrecy surrounding this restoration of dialogue has generated suspicions in the citizenry. Mistrust has been fueled even more because it was the big businessmen that opened the door of the dictatorship to seek a negotiated solution to the crisis amid the economic collapse. In his speech, the Sandinista leader did not refer to the political prisoners and, rather, insisted on the economic component to overcome the crisis when dealing with a political conflict.
“There is a deadline”
However, Confidential learned from different sources linked to the Civic Alliance, which will propose the release of all political prisoners as the number one item on the agenda on Wednesday, February 27.
“The release of political prisoners as a signal and first agenda item. Everyone was clear about it. In fact, there is a definite time to get a response from the government. That was also raised in the meetings held with the European Union and the US ambassador,” said the source linked to the Alliance.
When asked about it, Juan Sebastián Chamorro and Jose Adan Aguerri did not answer the questions.
“The Civic Alliance told us that they would take the release of political prisoners as their first point. Ortega has ignored that demand made by international organizations and MEPs,” said the chairman of the Committee Pro Freedom of Political Prisoners. “The Alliance carries that agenda, but we do not know the government’s agenda. The Alliance must be focused, and sharp in the release of political prisoners as a condition,” recommended Esquivel.
However, neither the sources nor the Civic Alliance revealed what plans they have if the dictatorship does not agree to the release of the political prisoners. Much less if Ortega refuses to stop the repression, the police state, dismantle the paramilitaries, restore the full freedom of expression and mobilization, as well as the return of international human rights organizations. For now, the regime has not announced who the members of its commission will be.
In an interview prior to the formalization of the dialogue, the president of the Financial Group Lafise, Roberto Zamora, assured that the economy of the country is deteriorating, and that foreign and national investment will not return to Nicaragua if there is no political solution to the crisis.
Zamora participated on February 16 with businessmen Carlos Pellas, Ramiro Ortiz, Jose Antonio Baltodano and Juan Bautista Sacasa, in a meeting with Ortega, to which the apostolic nuncio Waldermar Somertag and Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes were also invited.
Pallais: “there is no prenegotiation “
Jose Pallais told Confidencial that there has been “no prenegotiation” for the dialogue. He explained that this stage is when the conditions that are “considered appropriate to negotiate” arise.
“The first meeting that is going to take place has to be to define what are the agreements and conditions that give legitimacy to the dialogue. This is a personal position of mine, because those of us who have been selected by the Civic Alliance have not met yet to prepare that first meeting,” Pallais revealed.
Pallais said he intends to bring to the negotiating table the need to raise “appropriate conditions as a first point” before moving on to other agenda items without agreements.
“These conditions are the release of political prisoners, the suspension of repression, the return of human rights organizations, and the restitution of constitutional guarantees, such as freedom of the press and mobilization,” the ex-deputy said.
Pallais played down Ortega’s speech, in which he continued to insist on the coup d’etat and disclaimed any responsibility for the killings. “That speech is going to be maintained because it is aimed at keeping its bases cohesive. But the important thing is not the speech. Ortega is breaking his strategy in the face of the economic and social crisis. The country is bankrupt. The important thing is the agreements that can be achieved and the positions that the Civic Alliance can reach,” he said.