Talks Called for Wednesday in Nicaragua Amid Continued Protests

Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes read the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference statement on the dialogue called to begin on Wednesday. Photo: el19digital.com

 

The arrival of an IACHR commission is awaited in the coming days.

By Gabriela Selser (dpa)

HAVANA TIMES – The Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN) announced today that the dialogue called to resolve the crisis in the country will begin on Wednesday, while the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) confirmed that it received an invitation from the Ortega government to travel to Managua.

The beginning of the dialogue was announced by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, archbishop of Managua and president of the Episcopal Conference (CEN), who warned that the process will begin “even when the circumstances are not the most suitable”, due to the persistence of social upheaval.

“We hope that the dialogue will structurally address the issue of the country’s institutions, with the aim of paving the way towards its democratization,” said the cardinal.

Although he noted that “the Church does not have solutions for all the particular issues,” he said: “We hope to reach important agreements that translate into concrete decisions.”

The CEN will mediate and witness the conversations between representatives of the Government of Daniel Ortega, university students and civil society organizations who have participated in constant protests for almost a month.

Student coalition press conference on Monday. Photo: elnuevodiario.com.ni

The CEN announcement came amid new protests and attacks by riot police on demonstrators in Sebaco, 100 kilometers north of Managua, which left two civilians dead, said Victor Cuadras, leader of the April 19th University Movement (M19A) which has led the protests. There was no pronouncement by the Government regarding these two deaths.

In a press conference, Cuadras and other leaders of civil society reiterated their willingness to attend a dialogue, but noted that “all the conditions for dialogue are not in place”.

“This does not mean that we will not go (to the dialogue) but we demand that these conditions be met: the immediate cessation of repression, harassment, persecution and assassinations in the country,” they indicated.

The students demanded the speedy arrival of a delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), whose presence in the country was authorized finally on Monday by Ortega after several weeks of resistance.

“The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua expresses its consent for the Commission to make the working visit as soon as possible, with the objective of observing ‘in situ’ the situation of Human Rights in Nicaragua,” said the Nicaraguan foreign miniter, Denis Moncada, in a letter sent to the executive secretary of the Commission, the Brazilian Paulo Abrao.

The date of the visit of the IACHR is not yet fixed, but it is expected to be soon. “Today and tomorrow we are going to meet and prepare,” Abrao told dpa.

The IACHR, based in Washington, is the autonomous organization of the Organization of American States (OAS) that is responsible for ensuring respect for human rights in the continent.

The Commission had twice requested entry into Nicaragua in the context of this crisis, without a positive response from the Government.

The permission to the IACHR was received with “joy” and hope by human rights organizations of the Central American country.

“They have to investigate all the bloody events (occurred) during the civic and peaceful protests, and also all the crimes that have remained in impunity, linked to other acts” of violence in the country, said Alvaro Leiva, director of the Association Pro Human Rights (ANPDH).

Leiva and Marcos Carmona, of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH), both non-governmental bodies, today presented an updated list of victims that counts 65 dead and more than 500 injured, of them 200 due to bullet wounds.

For her part, Mexican actress and theater director Lucero Millan, based in Nicaragua since 1979, revealed that she had to leave the country after receiving death threats and threats to destroy her theater in Managua.

“I received anonymous death threats and to burn the theater, which has forced me to leave the country for a while,” Millan wrote on her Facebook account, from Mexico City.

The name of Lucero Millan, founder of the well-known theater group “Justo Rufino Garay”, did not appear among artists in a letter of support for Ortega in the face of what the government considers “a plot to destabilize it.”

Another person who denounced death threats is Rodrigo Obregon, former deputy manager of the Albanisa oil company, who revealed alleged corruption in the Venezuelan-Nicaraguan firm since 2012.

Meanwhile, Vice President Rosario Murillo condemned the violence. “Enough is enough! Enough we all say and implore in the name of God that calm reign in our hearts and that Jesus reigns forever,” she told government television.

The crisis began on April 17 with a protest by students over a presidential decree reforming the Social Security law, which increased the contributions of workers and companies and put a tax on pensions. The situation turned into a wave of mass demonstrations after the government sent paramilitary groups and the riot police to attack the peaceful student protests.

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