All posts by Winds of Peace

It is “hour zero” to talk about justice in Nicaragua

This is an article about a  new initiative of young people around transitional justice designed to ensure the the voices of victims are heard in the National Dialogue process. 

It is “hour zero” to talk about justice in Nicaragua

by Franklin Villavicencio, March 16, 2019

in Niú.com.ni

[Original article in Spanish: https://niu.com.ni/llego-la-hora-cero-para-hablar-de-justicia-en-nicaragua/]

A group of youth are starting a campaign to reflect on the lack of justice in the recent history of the country.

A group of young Nicaraguans in exile decided to undertake a communications project where they will address the issue of transitional justice in the current social and political scenario of Nicaragua. The objective of this group of youth that make up Hour Zero, a nascent informational platform, is to bring up the importance of “clarifying the truth” about the crimes occurred in the last months of civic protests, where governmental repression was imposed and has left 325 dead, nearly 800 political prisoners and more than 40,000 exiled.

“It is important to talk about transitional justice in Nicaragua because, in its last century, the country has experienced war after war, amnesty laws and pacts between leaders”, mentions Ludwing Moncada, project collaborator. The team of Hour Zero wants to address this topic through a series of videos, infographs and interviews with relatives of the victims of the repression. In fact, in one of their next editions they will publish an interview with professor Álvaro Gómez, the father of a 23 year old young man who was murdered by paramilitaries in Monimbó.

“We do not want to just inform, but put on the table the relevance of the issue so that the people who are making decisions might hear the victims and can take them into account in the negotiations, we do not want the historical mistakes of the past to be repeated”, added the presenter of the series.

But this “other truth” that has been documented in the social networks, verified by different human rights organizations, and denied by the Government of Daniel Ortega, is what the team of Hour Zero wants to bring up, currently composed of nine graduates from different university majors, who were forced into exile because of the repression.

“It has been a pretty difficult process, because we are not jurists. We are a group of young people who form an interdisciplinary team, as such, the issue of transitional justice is very dense and we are trying to present it in the best way and adapt it for daily society, which is not precisely immersed in the social sciences, “ he added.

On March 4th Hour Zero launched the first video of the campaign, where they reflect on the lack of justice in the recent history of Nicaragua, and pose the “uncomfortable questions” that define the line of the content. The campaign will last three months and has coincided with the start of the negotiations between the regime and the Civic Alliance, whose headlines have stated that one of the focuses of their roadmap is the topic of justice.

“We have to demand and present everything that transitional justice means, as such it is our duty to not just question, but present the need that the victims are on the front page of this negotiation process. In other words, the reparation of the victims and the right to truth should be ensured”, stated Ludwing.

In the last decades this mechanism has been carried out in different scenarios to clarify the facts of crimes against humanity. The International Tribunal of Nuremberg is one of the most iconic cases in the world. It was established for the purpose of judging the crimes committed by the Nazis in the Second World War. Also in Chile and Argentina processes have been established of justice and reparation for the victims of dictatorships and military regimes.

A platform for debate

Hour Zero is a project that was conceived in the end of 2017, but became a reality in July 2018, in the midst of the protests that demanded the end to the repression and the departure of Ortega and Murillo. Currently they have engaged in addressing issues in depth through their YouTube channel and their social networks.

“If we have been able to do something it is because there have been people who have provided us spaces to record, or lent us certain equipment, but we do not have enough resources. We worked on the force of our will,” explained their producers.

Press Release of Blue and White National Unity, March 18, 2019

This post and the press release by the Nicaraguan Government which follows, shows the difference in perspectives between  The Blue and White National Unity, a participant in the National Dialogue under the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, and the government. The government, through the actions of the National Police, has not allowed civil society to peacefully demonstrate since September 2018, in effect alleging that demonstrations by nature are a violation of public order. While the Blue and White National Unity see the right to demonstrate as something that cannot be subject to negotiation, as it is enshrined in the constitution.

[for original Spanish see: https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=%23SOSNicaragua&src=hash]

Press Release

NATIONAL UNITY

On Saturday March 16, 2019 the citizenry was preparing to civically and peacefully demonstrate in response to the call made by the Blue and White National Unity, the University Coalition and the Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners. The Ortega regime responded criminally, deploying their police, paramilitaries, and political operators, who with a inordinate use of force, abducted and beat minors, women, adults and journalists.

Shots and tear gas were received, leaving a balance of 6 people wounded by rubber bullets and pellets, in addition to several people wounded and more than 195 detained (among them members of the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White National Unity) a situation that was manifested in other provinces of the country.

The dictatorship wants to naturalize the violence, and use negotiations as an instrument to wash its face before the international community. Negotiate and kidnap, speak about “peace and reconciliation” and repress and instill terror throughout the national territory. This dictatorship is not willing to respect human rights, and does not show the political will to find a peaceful solution to the crisis that the country is experiencing.

It is urgent to stop this wave of repression and kidnapping, and disarm the paramilitaries and political operators who are threatening and intimidating the citizenry.

We request of the OAS the immediate application of the Interamerican Democratic Charter, the governments of the world must repudiate this dictatorship. We ask the UN to act accordingly to prevent more massacres.

We continue believing that dialogue is the only path for the solution to the social and political crisis of the country, but with the prior conditions that we have manifested many times, above all, the liberation of all political prisoners, the end to the repression and the return of the international human rights organizations.

The streets belong to the people, we will remain there until this regime leaves. In commemoration of the 11 months of struggle, we make the call for this Wednesday March 20 to travel with our vehicles to the closest traffic circle and join in a NATIONAL BLAST OF HORNS at 6pm.

We reiterate the call to the general population to continue demonstrating where ever you are in favor of the liberation of our political prisoners and the freedom of Nicaragua.

Issued in the city of Managua on the eighteenth day of the month of March of two thousand nineteen.

BLUE AND WHITE NATIONAL UNITY

Email: unidadnacional@riseup.net

Nicaragua, CA

NICARAGUAN GOVERNMENT CRACKS DOWN ON PEACEFUL PROTESTORS AND ARBITRARILY DETAINS OVER 80 CITIZENS

There was a strong presence of heavily armed police and riot police all along the Carretera Masaya, and the route of the march announced by the Civic Alliance. Social media is full of photos and videos as the police picked up over 100 people gathering for the demonstration, mostly in the Centroamerica rotunda, La Fise building, Metrocentro and other parts of the country. This is a statement about the police reaction by the Articulation of Social Movements:

Statement on Nicaraguan Government Crackdown March 16. 2019

Press Release of the National Police of Nicaragua, March 15, 2019

Last Wednesday, March 13, the Civic Alliance announced that they would rejoin the talks with the Nicaraguan government, after the government had announced that on Friday it would release a “significant nucleus” of the some 650 people detained during the crisis. The Civic Alliance also called for a march for the release of all political prisoners for this Saturday, March 15th. This same week the European Parlament approved a resolution calling for sanctions against the Nicaraguan government in spite of the news of the renewed talks, because they claimed the release of prisoners and the right to peaceful protest should not be subject to negotiation.

In response to the Civic Alliance´s announcement of a march, the National Police issued the following press release:

 

Three posts on the National Dialogue: CEN, Government of Nicaragua and Civic Alliance

The Dialogue between the Government and the Civic Alliance was restarted on Feb 27 with daily meetings, so far just to set the framework and the agenda. It was reported that a key issue in dispute was the fact that the Civic Alliance wanted the Nicaraguan Bishop´s Conference to act as witness and accompanier, and the OAS and the UN to act as guarantors of the process. It was reported that the Government was opposed to both, as Daniel Ortega has accused the Bishops of being coup supporters and had expelled the OAS´s mission in Nicaragua a day before they issued their report on the crisis. The Bishop´s conference said they would only consider playing that role if they got an invitation from both sides. The Bishops confirmed the reception of an invitation on March 4th.  They responded on March 8th with the following press release:

Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua

Press release 3-8 19

[See original Spanish at : https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D1Kgh5qXcAAtQ1u.jpg:large]

To our priests, religious, the people of God who have trusted in us, and all Nicaraguans of good will.

We, the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, meeting in an extraordinary session today, after praying and reflecting on the invitation received by Cardinal Archbishop Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano as President of this Conference, on the part of the Government of Nicaragua and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, to participate as National Witness and Accompanier in the conversations of the Negotiation Roundtable installed in INCAE, being accompanied by two advisors, have concluded the following:

  1. As we have stated in our press release last Monday March 4, we think that “ in this historical moment our greatest contribution as Pastors of this Church on pilgrimage in Nicaragua will continue being accompanying the people in their suffering and pain, in their hopes and joys, and raising our prayers of intercession so that Nicaragua might find civilized and just paths for a peaceful solution in view of the common good.”
  2. We reiterate our gratefulness because at some moment in this process we have been taken into account, and we recall with the Holy Father that it is important to “know how to devise a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society.”. (CF. Evangelii Guadium, 239). We hope that these negotiations might have that spirit of the search for truth and justice.
  3. We are convinced with St,. John Paul II, who on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Lay Apostolate in Rome (November 26, 2000) stated that “the hour of the laity has sounded”. Therefore, we feel that it should be the laypeople who directly take on the responsibility of managing in this moment the temporal affairs of the Nation.
  4. Consequently, we desire that this effort attain a good goal, and we report that we have responded to the received letter, communicating to the participants that we will not be present physically in the forum of the negotiations, but we will accompany as pastors these crucial moments of our Country, exercising our prophetic mission and dedicating ourselves “to prayer and the ministry of the Word” (Acts 7:4).

Once more “we exhort the believing people to intensify, particularly in this time of Lent, their prayers and fasting for our Country. That the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, obtain for us from her Son the capacity to be builders of true peace”.

Issued in the Offices of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua on the fifth day of the month of March of two thousand nineteen, Year of the Lord.

I testify,

[Signature Illegible]

Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara, sdb

Bishop of Estelí

Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua

There were some press reports revealing a division within the Episcopal Conference, with some bishops insisting that the Government had not shown a willingness to dialogue by continuing to hold political prisoners and not allowing freedom of assembly or press.

The Government followed the next day with the following press release: 

[See original Spanish at: https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:88135-comunicado-del-gobierno-de-reconciliacion-y-unidad-nacional-sobre-los-puntos-de-agenda-para-la-mesa-de-negociacion]

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Government of National Unity and Reconciliation

United Nicaragua Triumphs

MINISTRY

OF

FOREIGN RELATIONS

_____________

Managua, Nicaragua

PRESS RELEASE

Committed to the strengthening of democracy and respect for the Constitutional order of Nicaragua, and taking into account that Presidential and Legislative Elections are set for 2021, the Government of Nicaragua, through its representation in the Negotiation Table, has presented the following agenda points:

  1. Strengthening the Electoral Institutions of Nicaragua through the implementation of the recommendations of the electoral accompaniment mission of the the OAS and electoral reform proposals which would improve free, fair and transparent electoral processes.
  2. Justice and reparations to continue establishing peace, security and stability in Nicaragua.
  3. Liberation of prisoners within the context of criminal acts that occurred starting in April 2018 against the State of Nicaragua, that still have not been tried, and those tried. Their records will be reviewed, a situation that should not lead to impunity.

Continue strengthening freedoms, rights and guarantees established in the Constitution of the Republic.

  1. Carry out international negotiations to obtain support for the implementation of the final accords of the negotiations, and make a call to the International Community to suspend all sanctions against the Nicaraguan people, to facilitate the right to human, economic and social development of Nicaragua, benefitting the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
  2. Implementation and fulfillment of the accords.

The Government of National Unity and Reconciliation reiterates a complete commitment to Reconciliation, Understanding and Peace for all Nicaraguans.

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Government of National Unity and Reconciliation

Republic of Nicaragua

March 9, 2019

This was followed by a press release from the Blue and White National Unity: 

NATIONAL

UNITY 

Press Release #21

Press Release on the Announcement of the Absence of the Nicaraguan Bishop´s Conference (CEN) in the Negotiations

[see Spanish at https://www.facebook.com/UnidadNic/photos/pcb.2227397640807635/2227397540807645/?type=3&theater

The Blue and White National Unity evaluates the announcement of the absence of the CEN in the negotiations as an act of seriousness and dignity of those who have shown a clear commitment to the demands of the citizenry, before and during the heroic deeds of April.

The regime called for negotiations, showing a false intent, after 8 sessions it has not complied with any of the demands expressed through the Civic Alliance. Very much to the contrary, it continues leading one of the biggest massacres in the history of the country against a completely unarmed people.

It is using the dialogue table as a smoke screen to continue dismantling the country, just as it did with the tax reform and the trafficking of the money of BanCorp, making the citizenry pay for the money that the Ortega Murillo family and their allies embezzled from the Venezuelan aid.

We echo the demand of the political prisoners on a hunger strike, that they “are not bargaining chips” nor “objects for exchange”, all are innocent, and demanding rights does not constitute a crime.

We demand a peaceful solution, preceded by the immediate liberation of all the political prisoners, the end of the repression, freedom of mobilization, association, freedom of the press and the return of exiles with guarantees.

A solution to the crisis is urgent, but not any solution. It should incorporate the return of fundamental rights, early elections after the reform of the electoral system, and justice for the victims without amnesty.

A dialogue can only be credible with the CEN as mediator, the presence from the beginning of international guarantors, and the return of the IACHR, MESENI, GIEI and the OHCHR.

We call on the international community to immediately proceed with the Democratic Charter of the OAS, in the face of the repeated non compliance with the commitments signed by the State of Nicaragua within the framework of human rights.

The Blue and White National Unity redoubles its efforts to raise the citizen claims, demanding freedom of the political prisoners and democracy with justice.

Blue and White National Unity

March 9, 2019

Ortega´s Motives

This appeared on Enrique´s blog yesterday, and is a critical analysis of the negotiations set to begin today between Ortega and the Blue and White Alliance. The author is a founding member of the Movement for Sandinista Renovation (MRS).

Ortega´s Motives

By Enrique Saenz, Feb 26, 2019

https://enriquesaenz.com

We are on the brink of the negotiations between representatives of the Civic Alliance and Daniel Ortega. It is no longer called a dialogue. It is important that we analyze well the starting point, to help us to see where it can go.

As usual, let´s start at the beginning.

Why is Ortega starting these negotiations? Why now and not before?

For a very simple reason. All his life he has specialized in negotiating on the edge of a cliff. And he now felt that the water was up to his neck. On the one hand is the process of the application of the Democratic Charter, begun within the framework of the OAS. On the other hand is the threat of sanctions by the European Union. And also the unsheathed sword of the Nica Act with the threat of stronger sanctions on the part of the United States. Meanwhile, the economic and social crisis is getting worse, and Ortega does not have the means to contain it.

But above all is Venezuela. Ortega is looking at himself in the mirror and knows that a departure of Maduro, by whatever path, will leave him in the middle of the street, puny and with the spotlights of the international community lined up in front of him.

If these are the reasons, does it mean that Ortega is attending the negotiations in good faith and with the spirit of finding a solution that is beneficial to the country?

In no way!

We would be very gullible if we thought that. Rather, we would be reckless, irresponsible. Ortega would have to be born again to act in a different way than he has acted in the last forty years.

So what does he want?

The same as always. Stay in power. Absolute power. This is his primary objective. And if he could, re-establish the conditions that existed before April. But if the internal and external pressure keeps him from remaining as such, his objective would be to remain as a factor of power, in other words, retain levers of domination, like the judicial apparatus, the police, the army, to get back in the game, like in the 90s, to “govern from below.”

But there is more. Ortega has been accused of crimes against humanity by the highest international and interamerican organizations on issues of human rights. So what does he want? He wants impunity, for himself, his family and the perpetrators of the massacre. Even though he would not have the least scruples in sacrificing some.

Also Ortega is now an economic tycoon. He has accumulated wealth of at least 2.5 billion dollars. Of course, he is determined to retain that wealth,.

Remaining in power, retaining his apparatus of domination, ensuring himself impunity and retaining his wealth. These are the objectives of Ortega. There are no secrets.

To achieve them he has unleashed an entire strategy that includes international negotiations, propaganda, disinformation tactics, bribery, intimidation and above all repression. One of the principal pivots of his strategy is to paralyze and subjugate out of fear.

The negotiations are part of his strategy, and he will attempt to turn in his favor the current harassment of the international community.

What will Ortega look for in the negotiations?

Above all, confuse and distract the international community and Nicaraguans. He will push and pull with wheedling and dilatory tactics and will try to sell a discourse and agenda to the gringos; another agenda to the Europeans; another agenda to the Secretary General of the OAS; another agenda with the internal negotiators and another to Nicaraguans.

He will attempt to sell marginal concessions like a show of flexibility, and since it is a negotiation, he will demand concessions in exchange.

With these ploys he seeks to freeze the application of the Democratic Charter and the threats of sanctions, and he will use the argument that we Nicaraguans are reaching an understanding in a negotiation process.

What else is Ortega pursuing?

Wear down the Civic Alliance. Plant discord, divisions and antagonisms among the opposing forces. And he has already begun. It is enough to look at the social media to confirm it.

He also seeks to plant the distrust of the population in the opposing leaders and organizations, inject discouragement and demoralization: “You cannot trust anyone”. “There is no solution.” “We do not have any recourse.” Ortega wants to make us believe this. And that campaign has already begun.

He already said it clearly in the speech on February 21st. Let us remember: the negotiations, according to him, are to consolidate peace, stability and security.

What peace? The peace of the graveyard. The peace of the dungeons that the paramilitary groups have sown.

Stability and security for whom? Stability and security for his regime. Because the people are living in continual distress, continual insecurity, without rights, without freedom, without guarantees.

He did not mention at all the word democracy.

If this is the starting point, and knowing the insolence and lack of scruples of Ortega, does it make sense to participate in the negotiations?

Definitely yes. We need to use this stage.

Ortega has advantages, but he also presents great disadvantages and fragility. The wisdom and skill will be in exploiting these disadvantages of Ortega to the benefit of freedom, justice and democracy.

How?

This commentary has become very long. I invite you to read tomorrow.