The author of this editorial ran as the Presidential Candidate for the MRS in the 2006 elections, and was a close collaborator of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, the editor of La Prensa murdered by Somoza now nearly 41 years ago. He held a number of posts in the first Sandinista government (1979-1990). He makes an important contribution to the debate about the legitimacy of the OAS´s recent call to convene the Permanent Council of the OAS.
A small but big difference
Editorial by Edmundo Jarquín in La Prensa, January 5, 2019
The Democratic Charter was not intended for traditional coups, the typical conspiracy of the military to depose legitimately elected governments, but to prevent elected governments, once in power, from beginning to dismantle the democratic institutional structure, as has occurred in Nicaragua.
On January 1st the Foreign Minister of the Ortega dictatorship sent a letter to the ministers of Foreign Relations of the continent, protesting and arguing against the communication that the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, had sent, requesting the Permanent Council of the organization to hear the situation of Nicaragua, based on article 20 of the Interamerican Democratic Charter.
In order to evaluate both communications, we should above all become familiar with article 20. What does this article say? In the case “that an alteration of the constitutional order is produced in a Member State that would seriously affect its democratic order, any Member State or the secretary general can request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to carry out a collective assessment of the situation and adopt the decisions that it deems appropriate”. What did the Foreign Minister of Ortega say to refute Almagro? That his request “is inappropriate, illegal, without legal basis and contravenes the Interamerican Democratic Charter itself…”, because, he adds, “we should remember that the Democratic Charter was conceived as a mean to restore democratically elected governments and a mechanism against coup d´états and removal by force…”
The origins of the Democratic Charter are the exact opposite of those argued by the Foreign Minister of Ortega, and therefore if anything lacks legality it is his refutation, and that it why it was not addressed and the Permanent Council was called. The Democratic Charter was not intended for traditional coup d´états, the typical conspiracy of the military to depose legally elected governments, but to prevent elected governments, once in power, from beginning to dismantle the democratic institutional structures, as has occurred in Nicaragua.
Diego García Sayán, who was the Foreign Minister of Peru when the Charter was approved on September 11, 2001, points out that “the origins and conceptual content of the Charter of 2001 was essentially linked to a “democratic crisis”, and not the classic coup that resolution 1080 of 1991 (of the OAS) already addressed. This conceptualization has its immediate precedent in the Peruvian “democratic crisis” of the year 2000, and in response it was created to process it” (El País, June 6, 2016). Indeed, the Peruvian “democratic crisis” had its origins in President Fujimori in that country, who after being elected in 1990, and re-elected in 1995, after dissolving the Congress, attempted a third period through fraud.
Doesn´t the case of Fujimori sound familiar to Nicaraguans, with the re-electionist and dynastic ambition of Ortega, the dependency of all the branches of government, and the “democratic crisis” to which he has led it? It is worth saying, in addition, that article 20 of the Democratic Charter provided for dialogue and good diplomatic skills prior to any sanctions, but this terrifies a government whose only support is bloody repression.
The author was a candidate to the Presidency of Nicaragua