Category Archives: Announcements

Govt Document: Letters from Daniel Ortega to Bishops Conference re National Dialogue

Managua, April 24, 2018

Your Most Reverend Eminence

Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes

Bishops of the Bishops Conference of Nicaragua

Your Eminence and Excellencies:

We have received your message to the Nicaraguan people with a lot of recognition and respect, expressing your decision to accompany the Dialogue Process that we are installing in our country, to take up the paths of Reconciliation and Work, those paths that Nicaraguan familias demand of all of us.

We profoundly thank Your Most Reverend Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and all the Bishops for continuing to contribute to the Encounter, to Tolerance and peaceful coexistence in our country.

We fully share your proposal of sectors who would be able to participate in the National Dialogue Sessions. And we would add others that we consider important.

Once again our gratitude, in the name of Nicaraguan families and the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity, for your disposition to participate as Mediators and Witnesses in these important events of the current history of Nicaragua.

We give thanks to God because in this Christian Nicaragua, with your presence, all of us will make the difference.

Daniel Ortega Saavadra

President of the Republic of Nicaragua

 

Managua, May 11, 2018

Your Most Reverend Eminence

Cardinal Leopoldo Josñé Brenes Solórzano

Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Managua

and President of the Bishops Conference of Nicaragua

Your Excellencies

Bishops of the Bishops Conference of Nicaragua

With respect and recognition we want to thank each one of you, and especially your most reverend Cardinal Leopoldo José, for the communication that we just received about the National Dialogue, so important and necessary to create the best possible conditions for Peace and Work in our Nicaragua.

We have read with a lot of attention, responsibility and care each one of your recommendations, and we recognize in them the constructive intention and evangelical spirit characteristic of your noble pastoral work.

We are in agreement with working on each one of the points proposed there, taking into account that in all of them your good will is shown as Mediators and Witnesses, expressed also in the third paragraph of your recent communication of April 24th:

“To facilitate the climate of dialogue we consider essential and imperative that the Government as well as each member of civil society: avoid all acts of violence, disrespect for public and private property, and that a serene climate prevail of absolute respect for the human lives of each and every Nicaraguan.”

We receive in that Spirit expressed by Your Eminence and Your Excellencies the proposals contained in points 1 through 4 of your letter today. We agree with your high religious authority on the need for the end to violence, intimidation and aggression against citizens, and we add our great concern on environments of terror created in the communities, where beyond the peaceful protests, that we respect absolutely, acts of violence are multiplying, that are destroying and affecting the quality of life of Nicaraguans of all ages, that cry out to God for the return to normality.

We can assure you that we are continuing and will continue working so that the Truth and responsibilities be established around the painful and tragic acts of recent weeks, and we commit to strengthen all Freedoms, as is incumbent on a responsible, serious government, respectful of all expressions of life, culture and humanity.

We reiterate before your High Authority, Your Most Reverend Leopoldo José, and Bishops of the Bishops Conference of our country, our commitment to dialogue, justice, safety and peace, and we remain open to hearing and incorporating all the contributions that represent the unity of purposes so that Nicaragua might be, in every sense, always better.

We assure Your Eminence and Your Excellencies that with humility and consideration we received your message and we write this response, understanding that we are all ready to go to your call for Dialogue at the soonest date possible for the tranquility of all Nicaraguans.

May Peace come!

May the Heart of Jesus be manifested and reign!

May Mary, Queen and Mother of Nicaragua protect us!

 

Daniel Ortega Saavadra

President of the Republic of Nicaragua

Bishops Conference of Nicaragua Statements on National Dialogue

PRESS RELEASE- BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF NICARAGUA 

April 24, 2018

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil 2)

“The love of Christ urges us” (II Cor 5,14)

The Bishops Conference of Nicaragua, after praying, listening and asking for the light of the Holy Spirit:

Accepts being “mediator and witness” to the dialogue convoked by the President of the Republic of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega Saavadra, on Sunday April 22 of this year, in the face of the very serious situations that the Nicaraguan nation have experienced and that have worsened in the last week.

In order to facilitate the climate for dialogue we think it is essential and imperative that the Government as well as each member of civil society: avoid all acts of violence, of disrespect for public and private property and that a serene climate prevail and one of absolute respect for the human lives of each and every Nicaraguan.

We hope that, with a sincere spirit and willingness to help the country and find the paths for the peace that rests on justice, equity and law, different brother and sister Nicaraguans painfully in conflict and civil society would accept us as mediators and witnesses. We leave ourselves awaiting your respective acceptances.

Putting our nation and hearts at the feet of the Lord and the maternal intercession and protection of the Most Holy Virgin May, and trusting ourselves to the prayers of the people of Nicaragua, we want to make our closeness and prayers as servants of the Lord reach each one of you, in the name of our priests, religious brothers and sisters, especially to the families of the dead, wounded and those affected by this conflict.

BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF NICARAGUA ON THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE:  MAY 3, 2018

…The Episcopal Conference last Tuesday April 24 in the afternoon issued a statement where it accepted to be the Mediator and Witness to the dialogue, proposing to the government the need to create an environment and basic and ideal conditions to establish said dialogue, among which would be the liberation of the youth; withdrawing the paramilitary forces, police and anti-riot police from the demonstrators; the freedom of expression and the press; the publication of a new presidential decree that would revoke the previous decree that had done reforms on the INSS and that hurt the Nicaraguan people; the search for the disappeared, for which the Government asked us for a list of names, and Human Rights groups have provided us with preliminary lists; an open agenda for sectors directly involved in the dialogue and an initial proposal from those sectors with some actors.

We the Bishops of Nicaragua have believed it helpful that after one month of having started the National Dialogue we will call a halt to assess the willingness, the implementation and the serious and real fulfillment that the parties have shown. If we the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua evaluate that these steps are not being taken, we would inform the people of God who we are accompanying and would tell them that this cannot continue in this way, and that it was not able to be done. We also believe that the objective of this National Dialogue must be “reviewing the political system of Nicaragua from it roots, to achieve an authentic democracy.” We also believe that the topic of the painful deaths suffered during the university demonstrations must be thoroughly clarified. We make a call to the university students to finish organizing themselves as soon as possible and set their agenda and their representatives. Likewise to be attentive to groups outside the student movement who are acting aggressively, sowing confusion. The place of the National Dialogue, which we think should be installed as soon as possible, will be Our Lady of Fatima Interdiocesan Seminary . We ask all the sectors that are involved in this National Dialogue to make a public pronouncement providing their respective support to the people proposed to participate directly in the dialogue, choose their agenda to be proposed in the plenary session and open our hearts to good will so that “the questions opened might be peacefully resolved and with a sense of responsibility,” as Pope Francisco encouraged in the Angelus on Sunday Aprill 22, 2018.

PRESS RELEASE May 31, 2018

To the People of God and men and women of good will:

  1. We the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua have experienced with profound pain the violent events carried out last night by armed groups allied with the government against the civilian population. We energetically condemn all these violent acts against the exercise of peaceful free demonstrations and we absolutely reject this organized and systemic aggression against the people, which has left dozens of wounded and some people dead.
  2. We cannot continue allowing this inhumane violence “that destroys the lives of the innocent, that teaches to kill and equally disrupts the lives of those who kill, that leaves behind a trail of resentment and hate, and makes more difficult the just solution of the very problems that caused it” (Centesimus Annus, 52).
  3. We the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference condemn these acts of repression on the part of groups close to the government, and we want to leave clear that the National Dialogue cannot be renewed as long as the people of Nicaragua continue being denied the right to freely demonstrate and continue being repressed and murdered.
  4. At this moment in which the history of our country continues being stained with blood, we cry out to Jesus Crucified, who on resurrecting from the dead conquered evil and death with the strength of his infinite love. “Oh, Cross of Christ, we teach that the dawn of the sun is stronger than the darkness of night. Oh Cross of Christ, we teach that the apparent victory of evil fades in the face of the empty tomb and in the face of the certainty of the Resurrection and the love of God, which nothing can defeat or darken or weaken” (Pope Francis, Holy Friday 2016). That Mary, the grieving Virgin, whose heart was pierced by a sword in the face of the pain of her Son on the Cross (Lk 2:35), consoles so many Nicaraguan mothers who suffer over the murder of their sons and watch over all our people with maternal love.

Issued in the city of Managua on the thirty first day of the month of May of the the two thousand eighteenth year of the Lord.

PRESS RELEASE OF THE BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF NICARAGUA: June 6, 2018

We the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, as mediators and witnesses to the National Dialogue, inform the Nicaraguan people that after listening to several sectors of national and international society, we are asking the President of the Republic of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega Savaadrea, for a meeting to deal with the issues so indispensable and essential for our country, concerning justice and democracy, on which peace always depends, with the purpose of assessing in the plenary session of the Dialogue the helpfulness of carrying it forward.

This meeting has been accepted by the President, it will be tomorrow Thursday June 7 at 3:00pm in la Casa de los Pueblos.

After that meeting, we will be reporting to the national and international community about the dialogue. For that reason we are inviting the press to a conference at 7:00pm on that same day in the Our Lady of Fatima seminary.

We ask our faithful to intensify their prayers for the success of that conversation.

In our office, Wednesday June 6, 2018, Year of the Lord.

PRESS RELEASE OF THE BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF NICARAGUA: June 7, 2018

We the Bishops of the Bishop´s Conference of Nicaragua communicate to the Nicaraguan people, that we have finished our conversation with the President of the Republic.

We have done it as pastors of the people of God who have entrusted this to us seeking new horizons for our Country.

The dialogue with the President happened in an environment of serenity, frankness and sincerity, where we set out to the President the pain and anguish of the people in the face of the violence suffered in recent weeks, and the agenda agreed upon in the Plenary of the National Dialogue on the democratization of the country.

We have handed him the proposal that brings together the sentiments of many sectors of Nicaraguan society, and expresses the longing of the immense majority of the population. We are awaiting his response in writing as soon as possible.

Once the President of the Republic has responded to us formally, we will call for a meeting of the Plenary of the National Dialogue to assess that response and therefore the feasibility of continuing the National Dialogue.

In the Seminary of Our Lady of Fatima, on the 7th day of June of 2018, Year of the Lord.

[Bishops signatures follow]

PRESS RELEASE OF THE BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF NICARAGUA: June 13, 2018

We the Bishops of the Bishops Conference of Nicaragua wish all Nicaraguans grace and peace from God Our Father.

At the same time we want to inform you that yesterday on Tuesday we received the response of the President of the Republic to the proposals, that, bringing together the feeling of diverse sectors of society and the immense majority of the Nicaraguan people, we had presented to him in the encounter we had last Thursday June 7th.

Therefore we are convoking the Plenary Session of the National Dialogue for next Friday June 15th at 10am in the Our Lady of Fatima seminary. At that roundtable we will be revealing to the national and international community the proposal that we presented to the President, and the letter that he has sent us with his proposal, which we will submit to debate to seek a consensus that would respond to the desires for justice, democratization and peace for the people.

We thank the Nicaraguans who trust in the mediation that we are doing and the international community that has supported us in this work, that we do as pastors of the people of God, entrusted to us, and who we accompany in their sorrows, sufferings, hopes and desires to build a country im peace, justice and freedom.

We ask the faithful people to continue praying for us and for all of our country.

In our offices, on the thirteenth day of the month of June in 2018, year of the Lord.

[Signatures of the Bishops]

Statements of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, May 14-June 12, 2018

Release # 1 United to Dialogue Monday, May 14th, 2018

Together, representatives of students, the countrymen movement, the civil society and the Nicaraguan private sector, we reiterate our willingness to attend to the National Dialogue, although we agree with the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua that the circumstances for such dialogue are not ideal.

We demand the immediate cessation of repression, attack and siege by the government through their paramilitary groups against the population and we categorically affirm that we do not accept their blackmail or the intentions that soften our positions.

We reiterate our solidarity with the population and with all the sectors that continue to peacefully express their rights and that are being violently repressed, accumulating the balance of the dead and wounded.

Rest assured that we are going to defend our rights and we exhort to continue in the peaceful fight, until we see the demands of the Nicaraguan people fulfilled.—-

Release # 2 The National Dialogue is the way for a just and democratic Nicaragua- Managua, May 25th, 2018

We, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, reiterate our trustfulness in the National Dialogue and in the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as mediators and witnesses. The National Dialogue is the path towards democratization and justice, with economic dignity, but with rights. It is also the way to achieve justice for the victims of repression.

With that said, we consider:

1. The National Dialogue is the path; a sign of this is the agreement between the government and the civic alliance to make the recommendations of the preliminary report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as their own. From this agreement on, the government committed to a follow-up mechanism with the IACHR to verify the implementation of the recommendations on a concrete calendar of new visits. We consider indispensable the formation of this follow-up commission.

2. The IACHR adopted a precautionary measure to protect the rights of members of the student’s movement and their families in Nicaragua, so we demand that the State of Nicaragua adopts the necessary measures for its immediate implementation.

3. We ask all the actors of the National Dialogue for their good faith so that in the mixed commission of six people, three for each party, it will be able to reach the agenda agreement to achieve the objective of a dialogue to review the political system of Nicaragua from its roots to achieve an authentic democracy

4. We support and will continue to participate in civic and peaceful protests, acknowledging them as a legitimate right of the Nicaraguan society. We reiterate in the importance of immediate cessation to repression of the protesters and the arbitrary detention of those who participate in the protests. This dialogue, result of a fight led by the people of Nicaragua and that unfortunately left the loss of several dozen lives, is the path to be able to reach the Nicaragua that we want and in which we must all live.

University and Civil Society Coalition

AmCham, Funides, Faganic, Caribbean Coast, National Council in Defense of Our Land, Lake and Sovereignty – Country Movement, COSEP, Upanic, Civil society— Managua, May 25th, 2018

Release # 3 Committed to the dialogue for the Democratization of Nicaragua– Managua, May 27th, 2018

The members of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy we reiterate that dialogue is the path towards democratization and justice in Nicaragua and that it is important to contribute to a propitious climate to return to the dialogue. Until now, the government has not complied with two basic conditions for dialogue, such as the cessation of repression and the dismantling of the para-police forces.

The Government has tried to block the National Dialogue through a dilatory strategy, criminalizing the protests, and ignoring the deep causes that provoke them.

We reiterate our solidarity with the Nicaraguan people whom continue to express themselves peacefully in defense of their rights. We invite all sectors to join the different peaceful demonstrations of protest. On Wednesday, May 30th, we will join the tribute to the Mothers of April; we will participate in the march that will depart at 2:00 p.m. from the Jean Paul Genie roundabout. This march, like the rest of the departmental expressions, should be a strong demonstration of unity against repression and injustice.

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, reiterates the trustfulness in the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as mediator and witness, and repudiates the threats against its members and the Church in general.

We reaffirm our commitment to join efforts to make more flexible the road blockages, organized by Nicaraguan citizens, as an expression of civic protest, as long as the Government commits to resume the dialogue in a genuine manner about the country’s democratization agenda.

The National Dialogue is the path towards democratization and justice, with economic dignity, but with rights. It is also the way to achieve justice for the victims of state repression. We must look after and return to the dialogue, which is the result of a struggle led by the people of Nicaragua that has unfortunately has left and continues to leave the lost of several dozen lives. The Dialogue is the way to reach the Nicaragua we want and in which we must all live.

University and Civil Society Coalition: AmCham, Funides, Faganic, Caribbean Coast, National Council in Defense of Our Land, Lake and Sovereignty – Country Movement, COSEP, Upanic, Civil society –Managua, May 27th, 2018

Release # 4 They will not move us–Managua, May 31st, 2018

Throughout the last few days we have shown our determination to seek a peaceful solution to the serious crisis in which the intransigence of the Ortega Murillo regime has plunged the country in. At the time, we agreed to go to a National Dialogue despite the fact that there were no conditions or political will of the regime, which is expressed in time lost in sterile discussions without entering into the main themes of the dialogue: Justice and Democratization.

From the last April, Nicaragua and the Nicaraguans have changed irreversibly. Until then we were made to believe that we lived in a country of peace, security and progress. But in one single night of violence and rampant repression, arise the country that was hiding from us and that had been silenced by repression and the use of the National Police and para-police forces

These protests arose and its sole objective is to build a real country, with peace, democracy, justice. No lies, no cheating, no manipulation and no repression. As has been evidenced in multitudinous manifestations, this is a genuine desire of the immense majority of the Nicaraguan people.

The regime’s attempt to delegitimize and criminalize this protest is a clear violation of the rights of freedom of expression, free mobilization and we hold the government responsible for any act of repression that has its origin in these threats. They have threatened not only members of this alliance, but also members of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua.

This desire for change and to build a democratic country by peaceful means and through dialogue, have had as response from the regime, the worst massacre in times of peace, massacre that has left more than 100 dead, more than a thousand injured, thousands of detainees, hundreds of tortured and disappeared, censorship of the media and other acts of intimidation and harassment that resulted in numerous violations of human rights, confirm in strong reports issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and by Amnesty International (AI).

We continue to believe that the National Dialogue it still is a way to find a peaceful way out to the current crisis. However, after the last events, it will only be possible to continue dialoguing if the conditions set by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua are fulfilled and if there are independent international guarantors.

The mass mobilizations in Managua and other cities of the country on Mother’s Day are a reflection of the feelings of thousands of Nicaraguans who cry for the restoration of justice and democracy and a sign of the spirit that we must keep alive to redouble efforts in all the fronts. First, to unmask the true nature of this regime, and second, to reaffirm that it is we, the people of Nicaragua, who have in our hands the construction of the Nicaragua that we all desire without exclusion and with dignity.

From this Alliance, which unites students, farmers, workers, civil society, the private sector and the Caribbean Coast, we call on intensifying the different forms of peaceful protest:

• Intensify and organize the fight for university autonomy.

• Reinforce and organize the road blocks and plantings, as well as denounce the road blocks organized by the regime.

• Strengthen centers for the collection of medicines, donations of blood and food.

• Reinforce the different expressions of solidarity and support that never cease to amaze us.

We acknowledge as a very positive step the pronouncement of the main representatives of the private sector that join the demand for a quick, just and democratic exit from the Ortega Murillo regime.

We raise our demands to the international instances so that all the legal mechanisms are activated to protect and save Nicaragua from the repressive government that we have. We welcome the joint resolution of the European Parliament condemning the acts of repression, as well as the communication from the Congress of Deputies of Costa Rica, among other expressions of solidarity.

We demand that the regime permit the presence in Nicaragua of the United Nations High Commissioner for the Office of the Rapporteur for Human Rights and compliance with recommendation 15 of the Preliminary Observations of the Working Visit of the IACHR to Nicaragua, which states: “Commit to a follow-up mechanism with the IACHR to verify the implementation of the recommendations issued in the framework of this visit, and the report thereof. Schedule a concrete calendar with the IACHR for new visits ”

We demand from President Ortega the immediate cessation of the actions of the para-police forces, organized by the regime, to stop the violence that every day stains Nicaragua with blood. We are not for speeches, nor for beautiful words, we do demand concrete actions that shown that they want a peaceful solution to the crisis, as well as respect for life and the end to repression.

University and Civil Society Coalition: AmCham, Funides, Faganic, Caribbean Coast, National Council in Defense of Our Land, Lake and Sovereignty – Countrymen Movement, COSEP, Upanic, Civil society –Managua, May 31st, 2018

Release # 5 No to the criminalization of civic protest–Managua, June 6th, 2018

Tie together a civic protest with criminal and terrorist networks is condemnable and regrettable. This criminalization comes from the State of Nicaragua, which, according to the preliminary observations of the work visit of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) “According with hundreds of testimonies, the repression was carried out by the National Police, its anti-riot forces and para-police groups, which would have acted with the support of state agents” The same report has repeatedly urged to the cease of the repression against the civic protest that began in Nicaragua last April.

These serious violations of Human Rights, reflected in the preliminary observations of the work visit of the IACHR, have been “characterized by the excessive use of force by state security forces and armed third parties.”

This fight, led by the students, to which the people of Nicaragua have joined and has left a balance – to date – of more than 127 dead, 1000 wounded and an undetermined number of disappeared and tortured.

Given this, we condemn the criminalization of civic protest among them the cases of Felix Maradiaga, Aníbal Toruño of Radio Darío, Brandon Cristhofer Lovo Taylor and Glen Slate, unjustly prosecuted for the murder of the journalist Ángel Gahona. We urge the State of Nicaragua not to make the criminalization of protest a state policy that threatens hundreds of young Nicaraguan citizens, students and countrymen, among others.

Today more than ever it is important that the State of Nicaragua full fills the recommendations of the IACHR, and in this specific case with recommendation number four: “Guarantee the life, integrity and security of all the people who are demonstrating and exercising their rights and public freedoms and suffering the consequences of the atmosphere of repression, especially the students, girls, boys and adolescents “.

This Alliance will continue to give voice to the demands of Nicaraguans who demand justice and democracy for the nation. The Democratization will happen by guaranteeing as quickly as possible the installation of a transparent, inclusive and independent electoral system, independence of the State Powers and recovery of the country’s institutions. Democratization is not only built through free elections.

University and Civil Society Coalition: AmCham, Funides, Faganic, Caribbean Coast, National Council in Defense of Our Land, Lake and Sovereignty – Countrymen Movement, COSEP, Upanic, Civil society

Release # 6 Pronouncement on the National Dialogue–Managua, June 8th, 2018

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy reaffirms that the National Dialogue is part of the integral fight of the Nicaraguan people and we will continue to peacefully self- convocate in defense of our rights.

It reiterates its full confidence in the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as mediator and witness of the National Dialogue. We will continue participating in the National Dialogue for being the civic road towards democratization and justice and achieving the Nicaragua we want and in which we must all live together.

It considers that the Democratization agenda, elaborated with the contributions sent to the Mediation Commission by the parts of this Alliance present in the National Dialogue, points the way to the recovery of democratic institutionality, the Rule of Law and the respect for Humans Rights that we, all sectors of the Nicaraguan people, claim.

It expresses its willingness to return to the plenary session of the dialogue table as long as the brutal repression against the people by the Ortega Murillo regime ceases .immediately and definitively. The protests and civic demonstrations are the exercise of rights guaranteed by our own Political Constitution.

The Alliance expresses its full support to the measures of self-defense adopted by those of us whom participate in civic protests to protect ourselves from the aggressions to which we are subjected off by police, para-police and mobs agreeing with the government, keeping us within the framework of respect to Human Rights and private property.

University and Civil Society Coalition : AmCham,  Funides,  Faganic, Caribbean Coast Civil society,  National Council in Defense of Our Land, Lake and Sovereignty – Countrymen Movement,  COSEP, Upanic

Release #7 A National Strike for our future- Managua, June 12, 2018

First of all we want to express our condolences to the Nicaraguan family. We embrace each citizen, each mother, each father, son daughter. Each sister and each brother. Each member of the families of the heroes of this national civic protest. We recognize the effort of each person in this civic struggle. The women who have stopped the riot police with pots, flags and their courage.

56 days have gone by since this civic struggle began and in which more than 147 lives have been lost, hundreds of people wounded, arrested, and disappeared. We, as members of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, given the extreme conditions that Nicaragua is experiencing, in solidarity with the victims and recognizing the right to legitimate forms of defense, we have decided:

  • To call a 24 hour National Strike starting at zero hour Thursday June 14 and ending at 11:59pm at night that same day. We urge all owners of businesses, small and medium business people, independent professionals and self owned businesses to close their establishments and cease activities.

This is a civic, national and peaceful strike that includes the entire country and all economic activities, except those related to the preservation of life and the coverage of basic services for the population.

We urge employers to respect the decision of the workers to join this national and peaceful civic strike.

We urge public employees, whose dignity has been trampled by a repressive government that massively do not show up for their work placements. If all of you do it together, they will not be able to take reprisals against you.

  • We demand of the President of the Republic an immediate response to the Bishop´s Conference of Nicaragua about the renewal of the National Dialogue. As we have said repeatedly, the dialogue is the path to review the political system of Nicaragua from its roots in order to achieve authentic democracy and justice. Dialogue within the framework of respect for life and the rights of Nicaraguans to express themselves civically. Once again, we reiterate support to the Nicaraguan Bishops Conference in their role as mediators and witnesses.
  • Likewise, we reiterate the importance of remaining in the streets civically and peacefully.
  • We are against any type of repression and abuse of life. We reiterate the importance of life, preservation of Human Rights, and respect for personal integrity and human dignity.

Only the concerted civic action of everyone will ensure the success of this legitimate action aimed at pointing out and stopping the violence and repression. The objective of this national strike is to support the National Dialogue mediated by the Bishop´s Conference of Nicaragua and demanding the immediate end to the violence and repression.

University and Civil Society Coalition : AmCham,  Funides,  Faganic, Caribbean Coast,  National Council in Defense of Our Land, Lake and Sovereignty – Countrymen Movement,  COSEP, Upanic

 

 

How Did We Get Here?

A number of people have asked me about the sequence and timing of events since April that have led Nicaragua to this moment in time.  With that question in mind, please click on this link for a pretty good timeline synopsis of events to the present.  It may not transport you into the thick of the confrontations, but close enough to smell gunpowder.  It also presents some good resources for reading more about any of the daily events.  The timeline leaves us asking, “Where does it end?  How?  And when?”

Adding Nica Update

With the ongoing demonstrations and attacks occurring in Nicaragua, and our periodic attempts to summarize some of the most important events, we have initiated this extra blog column.  Nica Update won’t take the place of daily news, but it will provide some information from sources which might not be readily available elsewhere.  This column will not carry opinion or speculation, unless it is clearly labeled as such.

How long we will make entries here is unknown, of course, as it will depend entirely on the shape of things to come in Nicaragua.  So we hope that the need for the reports is short-lived….

The power of a shared vision in peasant-indigenous cultures

The power of a shared vision in peasant-indigenous cultures

René Mendoza Vidaurre[1]

In the film “Spartacus” on the slave rebellion in 71 BC we recognize the strength of a shared vision. After twice defeating the Roman legions, the gladiators/slaves fell before the legion of Marcus Crassus, who says to thousands of survivors: “you were slaves and you will be slaves again, but you can save yourself from crucifixion if you turn Spartacus over to me.” So Spartacus takes a step forward and shouts, “I am Spartacus”. The man by his side also steps forward, “I am Spartacus”. Within a minute all shout that they are Spartacus. Each gladiator/slave choses death. Why? Following Peter Senge (1990, the Fifth Disciplne) they are not expressing loyalty to Sparacus, but to a shared vision of being free in such a profound way that they prefer dying to being slaves again. “A shared vision – says Senge – is not a idea, not even an important idea like freedom. It is a force in the hearts of people.” In this article we lay out some long term visions, show their importance for lasting change, and we take note of the role of organizations related to the peasantry of our millennium.

Millenary Visions

That vision of being free emerged as a profound human aspiration in the face of the slavery system, a fire that neither the cross nor death were able to extinguish. In the movie the lover of Spartacus comes up to him and reveals to him that his vision will be realized, “Your son will be born free!” 2089 years later that powerful vision continues present in the foundation of our societies.

Another vision, one of democracy, emerged even before in the years of 500 BC. Even though it excluded 75% of the population (slaves, women and foreigners), that vision arose based on assemblies, building institutions under the power (cracia) of the people (demo). 2500 years later, in spite of the fact that the elites flipped that vision to where democracy exists only under the control of a minority, that Greek vision based on assemblies continues moving millions of hearts.

The vision of the reign of God was sketched out by Jesus of Nazareth, son of a peasant woman and a carpenter, in 30 AD. In a hierarchical and despotic patriarchal world, Jesus envisions the possibility of a “kingdom” for those who are looked down upon – who might be like children, destitute and who would build peace, a reign that is small and becomes big like the mustard seed. Since then, that vision of the kingdom, in spite of being androcentric (king-dom), has mobilized millions of people. It is a vision that made Luther in the 1500s challenge the institutional church and translate the Bible into vernacular languages so that people might have access to God without religious intermediaries.

In the XVIII century the encyclopedists (1751-1772), living at a time with a minority of educated people, envisioned “putting up a wall against barbarism.” That vision of making “papers speak” has moved humanity with revolutions and fights against racism and extreme poverty. It is enough to see the movie “The Power of One” filmed in 1992, based on Africa in the 1930s, to recognize the vision of the encyclopedists, that learning to read made a difference. It is also the advice that we heard from our grandmothers in the countryside, “study, a pencil weighs less than a shovel.”

Even though the idea of organization and the construction of the State emerged with capitalism in the XVI century, societies envisioned alternative forms of organization to the control and rule of capitalism and the State. Thus the cooperative emerged in England against the textile industry and in Germany against usury, under the conviction of joining forces in line with the ideas of associativity of Saint-Simon, Fourier, Cabet and Owen. Along these lines the agrarian cooperative movement in the United States from 1870-1910 made explicit the cooperative vision of democratizing the economy (L.Goodwin, 1978, The Populist Movement). This alternative vision, of joining forces –“elbow to elbow we are much more than two”, as Mario Benedetti would say – to democratize the economy continues moving millions of people who are organizing.

Finally the non violent vision of M. Gandhi (1869-1948) in order to achieve the independence of India from the British empire, and improve the well being of both. That pacifist movement saw that “humanity cannot free itself from violence except through non violence”, that “eye for an eye will leave everyone blind” and that “there is no path for peace, peace is the way”. His methods in accordance with that vision were the use of hunger strikes, the “salt march” (salt satia graha) that affected the principal source of taxes for England, and being coherent in his actions and ideas (he made his own clothes and was a vegetarian). That movement inspired Martin Luther King in the United States and his vision of a society where people were treated equally, regardless of their race. And Domitila Barrios of Bolivia walked the same route in 1978 with a vision of a country without fear overthrowing the dictatorship of Banzer peacefully, in the words of Eduard Galeano:

I was seated in the principal plaza with 4 other women and a poster that said: “We come from the mines, we are on a hunger strike until the military dictatorship falls.” People made fun of them as they went by. “So just like that 5 women are going to overthrow a military dictatorship! Hahaha, what a great joke!” And the women, unmoved, in solemn silence…After the 5 women they were 50, then 500, then 5,000, then 50,000 and then half a million Bolivians that came together and overthrew the military dictatorship. Why? Because those women were not wrong, fear was what was mistaken.

All these shared visions connect hearts by common aspirations. Yuval Noah Harari (2011, Sapiens: A brief History of humankind) tells that in human evolution homo sapiens differentiated themselves from other species like chimpanzees by their ability to invent myths capable of mobilizing millions of people to cooperate. Visions belong to that genre, they are real, palpable and move incredible forces born from human hearts.

Peasant and indigenous visions

In our days we hear visions that, like those quoted, are mobilizing a good part of humanity. Scrutinizing them, we understand that they are both new and connected to millennial flames. Let us start with the oldest. Our ancestors that lived close to 2 million years ago as hunters and gatherers envisioned human survival based on agriculture, which led them to domesticate plants and animals between 9500 and 3500 BC. Since those years in our DNA is that tense vision of humans subjugating nature or plants like soy beans, wheat, sugar cane and sunflowers multiplying at the cost of “domesticating” humans (Yuval Noah Harari).

Following that vein, the vision of peasant families has been to have land. In the 1970s in Honduras (Azomada, Lempira), the peasants saw idle land taken away from their ancestors and recognizing that fire that came from their grandparents to “recover a piece of land to produce on it”, took those lands as thousands of peasants have done on the face of the earth. In 1985 when the war was raging in Nicaragua, the State moved 74 indigenous families from Cusmapa and San Lucas to Samarcanda (San Juan del Rio Coco), organized them into cooperatives to confront the Nicaraguan Resistance, as had happened in so many places in the country; one of the leaders, Claudio Hernández recalls, “to get land with coffee we risked our lives, and we accepted being treated as fieldhands and soldiers”; the paradox was that many of those involved in the Nicaraguan Resistance also were fighting for land.

In the 1980s Ricardo Falla S.J. put that vision into words: “a peasant without land is like a being without a soul.” In 1993 I went to La Primavera in Ixcan, Guatemala where hundreds of families that returned from Mexico with the signing of the peace agreements were working the land collectively; at one dinner that a woman shared with me, she whispered: “help us, my husband was killed by the military, I want a piece of land to leave to my children, that his death not be in vain!”; it was a vision shared by families of Mesoamerica and beyond.

Being a farmer is more than having land. In Nicaragua Marchetti and Maldidier (1996, El campesino-Finquero y el Potencial Económico del Campesinado Nicaraguense) detected that peasant vision: “I dream of that day in which my friends visit me and say, what a beautiful farm you have!” The land would not just be a plot with annual crops on it, but a diversified farm with permanent crops. In Honduras, Carlos Cantoral from Terreritos (Nueva Frontera) in the 2000s, sketched out what food sovereignty and peasant autonomy is, echoing our ancestors thousands of years ago:”being a peasant is producing what my family eats, without depending on anyone” – without a debt with the usurer, without giving in to the intermediary, and without lowering your head in the presence of the politician and religious leader. And again in Honduras Porfirio Hernández de Trascerros (Nueva Frontera) in 2018 describes those who lose that vision: “even having cattle they walk around money in hand looking for their corn grinder,” unfortunate is that family that does not first ensure their food. These are the families that resist being a clone of mono-cropping, families that grow their corn and produce their food on more and more diversified farms, which gives them the freedom to generate their own thinking and experiments.

Being a farmer and processing what is produced to ensure food “in green and mature times” has been a vision for thousands of years. Humanity learned to dry meat under the sun in its era of hunting and gathering, and in the years of 3000 BC made bread, and the Incas stored potatoes as starch, exposing potatoes to the sun during the day and to the cold at night. In this vein we find the peasantry of the XVII and XVIII centuries envisioning agro industrializing raw material in their communities. That vision, in spite of being squashed by capitalist industry and later by the socialism of Preobrazhensky and Stalin, persisted within Europe itself. That is why there are around 1100 flavors (brands) of beer in Belgium today, or vineyards and wine in Trentino, Italy. And it persists in Latin America. In Honduras in 2008 (Laguna de La Capa, Yoro), in the face of the “vocation” of the agricultural frontier to receive a peasantry whose grandchildren migrated with sugar cane and sugar mills defeated by the slavish rule that “only the rich make sugar”, the COMAL Network and peasant families started to process granulated sugar in the community itself. Cirilo George from the APROCATY Associative Enterprise put that fire into words, “we will not go back”, referring to the fact that individually they fell with their sugar cane into that destiny and that slavish rule, but organizing themselves, they made that vision of agro-industrialization palpable, as the Manduvirá Cooperative of Paraguay has done.

Having land, being a farmer, processing food…and selling! What a chain of visions! Even though the peasantry sees itself at odds with commerce, their aspirations include commercializing in order to cooperate. Within this perspective, in Honduras (Encinos, Intibucá) in the midst of intimidating polices under the Alliance for Progress of the 1960s and 1970s, women and men who would walk for days through mud to buy what they were not producing, envisioned “bringing in a store managed by us the Lenca peasant ourselves, right here.” That community, like the members of the La Unión Store (Taulabé, Honduras), Maquita Cosunchej of Ecuador, or the Hope of the Peasants Cooperative in Panama, overcame the old rule that “peasants and indigenous are no good at selling, only at planting.” Maybe individually it is difficult for a peasant family to sell, they say that it is a “betrayal of a promise” (buying oneself in order to later sell), but organized, it is another story, because “the market is really relationships of people coming together, getting to know one another and trusting one another”– Peter Druckers would say to Peter Schwartz (1996, The Art of the Long View). In the 1990s again in Honduras a dozen leaders of several organizations, among them Auristela Argueta, saw a vision that continues to light up deep Mesoamerica: “we now have land, we are producing our food and something more, a market for selling and exchanging our products.” That aspiration that markets can connect organized people to one another, was the seed that gave rise to the Comal Network of Honduras.

What is distinctive about these visions and the imperative to see them

These visions, far from the current ones that businesses tend to express to generate capital or the blueprint of organizations to find donations and “to put a patch on the problem”, move human determination through time and are like flames that do not go out, in search of a greater good. What distinguishes them? They are born out of crises, when that which should die, does not, and what should sprout, does not, as A. Einstein used to say: “creativity is born from anguish as day from night.” Adversity is overcome by “swimming against the current” and connecting oneself with centennial and millennial human aspirations that, like tectonic plates, shake even the most solid land, like that outrageous belief that a divine being or the market writes your destiny. They are understood by people discontent with the status quo, that question their worlds, see other possible realities, expand their mental horizons and really believe in their capacity to create the future because they experience it daily. They are shared visions that emerge from personal visions, and not from adhering to visions prepared by managers or consultants; they derive their energy and commitment precisely from the fact that they come from personal visions.

These shared visions reorder life. If your vision is that your family eats what you produce, that makes you reorder your farm, the work of your family and your relationships with your neighbors, and if that vision is shared by other people of an organization, this reorients the organization toward that vision. They are concrete visions, here and now, visions that make them encounter the stranger and discover themselves. They are visions that cause changes day to day, brick to brick, seed after seed, the drop of water that breaks stone.

In the face of these visions of future frameworks that we want to create, the challenge for peasant and indigenous organizations is to encourage their members to express their visions, understand them, and embody them in agreements and new rules to support the peasantry, the basis for food and assurance of environmental sustainability for humanity. For that purpose, the more an organization opens itself to learning, the more it tunes its ear to hear the visions, the more it takes out a pencil to take notes and ruminate on them, the more it reinvents itself, breaking rules like “the older one gets, the less one changes”, “the more one studies, the more one forgets about where they came from”, and “the more power one gets, the more farther they get from the people”. A peasantry that organizes itself and awakens to the fact that they can create their future, is more connected to the vision of Jesus, feels more the vision of the gladiators/slaves, seeks to have more democratic assemblies, aspires more the path of non-violence, makes agriculture an art, and weaves more of their own thinking. Shared visions, in the midst of the tensions and adversities of all times, move human mountains and help us to be generators of long term changes that started just yesterday.

[1] René has a PhD in development studies, is an associate researcher of IOB-University of Antwerp (Belgium), collaborator of the Winds of Peace Foundation (http://peacewinds.org/research/) and member of the COSERPROSS Cooperative RL. rmvidaurre@gmail.com

Can Bishops Avoid A Stalemate?

In the game of chess that is being lived out within Nicaragua right now, the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church has been visible and active as a mediator between the demonstrators and President Daniel Ortega.  That role has persisted this week, even as the violence continues and, with time, both sides seem to have become even more intractable.

The country at large has become less navigable as increasing numbers of roadblocks have cut off nearly all travel, even through the most roundabout means.  (You can see the map of blockades as of June 7 here.)  Aside from the inconvenience created within a country where travel between points A and B is already a challenge, the roadblocks hinder the delivery of harvests to markets.  That’s a significant economic threat to rural producers and to commerce in general.  Of course, if the harvests cannot be sold at market, borrowers will face defaults on loans they may have taken to plant and grow the crop.  Default with an organization like WPF may result in a renovation of terms; default with a commercial lender may result in the loss of property or other pledged assets, the country-in-crisis notwithstanding.  So any thoughts about the demonstrations and disruptions being limited in impact to Managua or the universities are simply incorrect: this is a dangerous national matter.

The Bishops have sought to be intermediaries, to neutralize the rhetoric and to seek common ground as a starting point for discussion and resolution.  But that has proven to be far more difficult than simply occupying a referee’s chair.  The initial national dialogue which has sought traction under their guidance featured an angry interruption of Daniel Ortega’s opening comments by student leaders.  Mr. Ortega himself has been absent from subsequent efforts at dialogue.  The violence around the country has continued and grieving is once again a national pastime.

Most recently, the Bishops have sought to meet with President Ortega to formally make request on the most pressing matters fueling the demonstrations, as follows:

We the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, as mediators and witnesses to the National Dialogue, inform the Nicaraguan people that after listening to several sectors of national and international society, we are asking the President of the Republic of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega Savaadrea, for a meeting to deal with the issues so indispensable and essential for our country, concerning justice and democracy, on which peace always depends,  with the purpose of assessing in the plenary session of the Dialogue the helpfulness of carrying it forward.

This meeting has been accepted by the President, it will be tomorrow Thursday June 7 at 3:00pm in la Casa de los Pueblos.

After that meeting, we will be reporting to the national and international community about the dialogue. For that reason we are inviting the press to a conference at 7:00pm on that same day in the Our Lady of Fatima seminary.

We ask our faithful to intensify their prayers for the success of that conversation.

In our office, Wednesday June 6, 2018, Year of the Lord.

THE BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF NICARAGUA

The meeting was held, and a second communique from the Bishops was issued yesterday:

We the Bishops of the Bishop´s Conference of Nicaragua communicate to the Nicaraguan people, that we have finished our conversation with the President of the Republic.

We have done it as pastors of the people of God who have entrusted this to us seeking new horizons for our Country.

The dialogue with the President happened in an environment of serenity, frankness and sincerity, where we set out to the President the pain and anguish of the people in the face of the violence suffered in recent weeks, and the agenda agreed upon in the Plenary of the National Dialogue on the democratization of the country.

We have handed him the proposal that brings together the sentiments of many sectors of Nicaraguan society, and expresses the longing of the immense majority of the population. We are awaiting his response in writing as soon as possible.

Once the President of the Republic has responded to us formally, we will call for a meeting of the Plenary of the National Dialogue to assess that response and therefore the feasibility of continuing the National Dialogue.

In the Seminary of Our Lady of Fatima, on the 7th day of June of 2018, Year of the Lord.

[Bishops signatures follow]

What the Bishops have succeeded in doing is to have tried again to formally focus the issues requiring address.  Amidst the chaos and the shouting and the allegations and realties of the past weeks, at some point the process of address must begin.  The Bishops have presented the President with the issues and an opportunity.   The chessboard presents a lot of moves by both sides.  The Bishops hope not to be used as mere pawns….

Deja Vu

Conditions in the country we serve, Nicaragua, continue to hearken back to a generation ago, when the administration in power faced enormous protests and demands for a new government.  The confrontations continue today, just as they did all those years ago,  leading to violence and deaths, denials, accusations, reprisals and lots of pain.  It’s tough to watch in a country of such charm and character.

Two recent documents, written by The University of Central America and the Episcopal Church, provide both a news update as well as perspectives about how at least part of the population places its support.  The following is a statement provided by the UCA following a Wednesday night demonstration:

The University of Central America (UCA) reports that this Wednesday, May 30, at around 4:30 PM, there was an attack by the “shock troops” against the defenseless population participating in a civic march that had the UCA as its final destination.

The attacks took place in the vicinity of the gate closest to the National University of Engineering (UNI). In support of the people, the UCA security guards opened the gates so that the protesters could take refuge in the campus. Fleeing the attacks, more than 5,000 people managed to enter, while many fled in other directions. Countless injured people were treated by volunteers immediately on campus and ambulances took all of the injured to medical centers.

After 8:30 PM, volunteers and drivers from the UCA had managed to evacuate the majority of the refugees to different parts of the capital and, at the time of publication of this message, continue in this process. Despite the shooting, the refugees did not want to stay on campus because of threats received about attacks on the university.

The UCA, which stands on the side of the people in their struggle for justice, denounces this new criminal attack and demands from the authorities the immediate cessation of the repression that uses shock troops to assassinate with impunity, protected by the current misrule.

We urge human rights organizations, national and foreign, to take note of this situation that seriously affects the lives of citizens and to use mechanisms for the protection of human rights such as the Inter-American Human Rights System and the United Nations.

We urge the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and to apply mechanisms which can help resolve this crisis, which has reached the level of a massacre against a defenseless population.”

The document quoted below was generated by the Bishops Conference of the Episcopal Church in Nicaragua:

PRESS RELEASE

To the People of God and men and women of good will:

  1. We the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua have experienced with profound pain the violent events carried out last night by armed groups allied with the government against the civilian population. We energetically condemn all these violent acts against the exercise of peaceful free demonstrations and we absolutely reject this organized and systemic aggression against the people, which has left dozens of wounded and some people dead.
  2. We cannot continue allowig this inhumane violence “that destroys the lives of the innocent, that teaches to kill and equally disrupts the lives of those who kill, that leaves behind a trail of resentment and hate, and makes more difficult the just solution of the very problems that caused it” (Centesimus Annus, 52).
  3. We the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference condemn these acts of repression on the part of groups close to the government, and we want to leave clear that the National Dialogue cannot be renewed as long as the people of Nicaragua continue being denied the right to freely demonstrate and continue being repressed and murdered.
  4. At this moment in which the history of our country continues being stained with blood, we cry out to Jesus Crucified, who on resurrecting from the dead conquered evil and death with the strength of his infinite love. “Oh, Cross of Christ, we teach that the dawn of the sun is stronger than the darkness of night. Oh Cross of Christ, we teach that the apparent victory of evil fades in the face of the empty tomb and in the face of the certainty of the Resurrection and the love of God, which nothing can defeat or darken or weaken” (Pope Francis, Holy Friday 2016). That Mary, the grieving Virgin, whose heart was pierced by a sword in the face of the pain of her Son on the Cross (Lk 2:35), consoles so many Nicaraguan mothers who suffer over the murder of their sons and watch over all our people with maternal love.

Issued in the city of Managua on the thirty first day of the month of May of the the two thousand eighteenth year of the Lord.

 Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua

This communique was signed by the ten bishops of the conference.

(For those interested in tracking developments in Nicaragua, one source is La Prensa.  The daily newspaper provides very current coverage of events in Nicaragua, as well as perspective on events elsewhere in the world.)

For those who know and love Nicaragua and the people there, this is a painful and sad time.  It’s made even more so by how little the U.S. news media writes about it.  Their lack of attention does not diminish the anguish and tragedy of what is occurring in the land of our neighbor to the south….