Forty-eight hours after the dialogue between the Daniel Ortega regime and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy began on Wednesday morning, and when the underlying agenda had not even been fully debated, the negotiation is “blocked” in the definition of procedures. Establishing a roadmap depends on the selection of witnesses, observers and international guarantors, of a possible national agreement.
At the end of the second round of negotiations on Thursday, the regime persisted in its close-mindedness. The “arm-wrestling” takes place over the subject of guarantors and mediators. The Government maintains that the crisis is a problem of Nicaraguans and that we must resolve it without international guarantors,” said sources close to the process.
The Government delegates strongly oppose the participation of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN) as witnesses and facilitators of the Dialogue, together 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 support of Pope Francis to be represented with the bishops collectively.
A source linked to the negotiation predicted that Cardinal Brenes will have a key role in the third day of negotiation on Friday. “He could tip the scales to one side or the other,” the source explained, because he has the backing of the Pope and the bishops, so as not to submit to governmental pressure.”
According to the source, if the Government persists in vetoing the other two members of the CEN, Brenes could choose not to participate in the Dialogue, and without a doubt would have the full support of the Civic Alliance, calling into question the lack of political will of the Government in the dialogue.
“For those in 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,”
The other discrepancy that has stalled the negotiations revolves around the selection of the international guarantors. While the Alliance proposes the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations (UN), the Government does not want any international guarantor. “They allege that this is a problem among nationals, and therefore, should be resolved exclusively among Nicaraguans,” revealed the source.
The Alliance members, on the other hand, invoke their distrust that the Government will comply with any agreement, and mention the commitments with international treaties that Ortega has violated, beginning with the massive violation of human rights.
“For the Civic Alliance is a condition “sine-qua-non” to have international guarantors, in order to advance to the next step that is the demand for release of all political prisoners,” said the source.
On this issue, the Civic Alliance already has the full support of the OAS, its candidate as international guarantor. The OAS has proclaimed through its Secretary General, Luis Almagro, that the freedom of all the prisoners is a matter of human rights and not a matter of negotiation.
The Civic Alliance reiterated that the negotiations have not entered into substantive issues. “We consider it crucial that the rules of the negotiations be clear and well agreed upon with regards to the adoption and respect of possible agreements,” they insisted in their statement.
Despite the clear distancing that exists between the parties, in terms of facilitators and international guarantors, the spokesperson of the Alliance, Carlos Tunnermann, was unusually optimistic at the end of the day on Thursday, which ended without agreement or presentations to the press.
The educator and former diplomat, when leaving the meeting place in Managua said, through his car window, that “a drafted text already exists,” which is in the hands of the Government to settle differences and he trusted that it could be approved by noon on Friday. If this happens, the Apostolic Nuncio would read the agreement of the “roadmap,” so that the parties immediately begin discussing the agenda and the underlying issues.
In case Tunnermann’s prediction is not met and the Government maintains its intransigence, the decision adopted by Cardinal Briones, on the one hand, and that of the Civic Alliance itself, on the other, will determine whether they have the capacity to exert substantive pressure and make the official position more flexible, or if the Government will impose opening an impasse that puts the negotiation on the verge of crisis.
National Unity coalition demands full freedom and without restrictions
The Blue and White National Unity coalition expressed on Thursday its “concern” for the continued “repression” by the Government of Nicaragua, although it is in negotiations with the Civic Alliance.
“We note with concern that, far from creating a suitable climate for the good outcome of the negotiations, the regime is committed to continuing the repression and violence against citizens,” declared the coalition, in its statement.
The Blue and White National Unity complained that the Government has not given full freedom to 100 prisoners who were released from prison yesterday, and only granted house arrest, without guaranteeing the fulfillment of their human rights and “putting their integrity at risk by publishing their addresses.”
In addition to holding the Government accountable for what happens to their prisoners and their families, the coalition rejected the fiscal reforms approved in general on Wednesday, as they exacerbated the “humanitarian crisis and try to divert attention from the political and human rights crisis in which the regime has plunged us.”
In the statement, the coalition insisted that the negotiations need guarantees, such as “the prior and unrestricted release” of the imprisoned protesters and the annulment of their trials, the return of the exiles and the reestablishment of the fundamental freedoms of Nicaraguans.
The Blue and White National Unity also called for early elections, the participation of multinational organizations as guarantors in the Government’s negotiations with the Civic Alliance, the return of legal status to non-profit and human right defenders NGOs, as well as “fluid and timely” communication of the agreements.