The Nicaraguan State makes known to our People and the International Community:
That in the Session held on March 27 of this year 2019, through the Delegations present in the Negotiating Table, the Freedom was agreed of People involved in the violent events since April 20189, in accordance with agreed upon Lists.
That these agreed upon Lists were turned in and reviewed with the Representatives in Nicaragua of the International Committee of the Red Cross (CICR).
That the Apostolic Nuncio Mons. Waldemar Stanilaw Sommertag, Representative of His Holiness Pope Francis in Nicaragua, and Luis Angel Rosadilla, Special Adviser to the General Secretary of the OAS, were Witnesses of the Consensus around those Lists that were turned over to the CICR.
That on Saturday, June 8, the National Assembly discussed and approved a Amnesty Law that made possible the liberation of all these People, on Monday and Tuesday June 10 and 11 this month of June, with the Commitment of No Repetition.
That the Witnesses Luis Angel Rosadilla and Mons. Andrea Piccioni, in Representation of the Nuncio, as well as the Delegates of the CICR, participated, accompanying and verifying, as Observers of the liberation, in accordance with the agreed upon Lists. The CICR on Monday June 10, and all on Tuesday, June 11.
That on reaching the date committed to by the Nicaraguan State and the Government of National Unity and Reconciliation, all these People enjoy Freedom, with the Commitment of Non Repetition, according to what is stipulated in the Amnesty Law No. 996.
We the Nicaraguan State and the Government of National Unity and Reconciliation have complied with our People and the International Community, in accordance with the Commitments contracted that are explained in this Press Release.
This article published yesterday on the author´s blog, lays out the importance of the events of the coming days for the immediate future of the country. June 18th is the deadline the government agreed on for the release of all political prisoners, and June 21st is the date the Nica Act stipulated for Pompeo to report to Congress about whether the Nicaraguan government was progressing in respect for human rights and fighting corruption. Later this month there is also an important meeting of the representatives to the OAS that will also be looking at the government´s compliance with the agreements signed in the negotiations with the Civic Alliance.
Will Ortega be able to stop the international sanctions?
We are starting a week with two dates that can set the path for the coming months. First, June 18th. This is the date set in the commitments in the negotiation table for the definitive liberation of all the hostages by the regime. There are still 89 people imprisoned. In addition, other commitments that the government signed are yet to be fulfilled, among them the full re-establishment of citizen rights and freedoms, including the freedom of the press and freedom to demonstrate.
The other date is June 21st. The time frame set by the NICA ACT when the the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, certifies before the US Congress whether the Ortega regime is carrying out effective steps in the direction of the following objectives:
Trial of those responsible for acts of corruption and money laundering
Trial of those responsible for human rights violations and crimes against humanity
Re-establishment of the rule of law, respect for the law, the separation of powers
Institutional reforms for holding early, free, transparent elections with independent international and national observation
The protection of civil and political rights.
This is what the NICA ACT sets out. For everyone it is clear what the reality is, but it is not overdoing it to highlight the following points:
Ortega has not taken one step to fight corruption. It is natural, he would have to put himself at the head of the list of those to be tried. Rather, he has sought how to conceal BANCORP, a financial institution constituted with oil aid funds for the purpose of moving capital.
Ortega has not taken one step to try those responsible for human rights violations and crimes against humanity. This is natural, he would have to put himself at the top of the list of those to be tried. Rather, using his servants in the National Assembly, he imposed an amnesty law with the intention of covering himself with a mantle of impunity. It is obvious that the trial of those responsible will only be possible with Ortega out of power.
Ortega has not taken one step to re-establish the Rule of Law and the separation of powers. Rather, he violates the law at will. And let us not even mention the separation of powers. He turned judges and magistrates into executioners, and subjugates from the most lofty hierarchs of the powers of the state to the last council members of the smallest municipality. The only law in force is the will of the monarch.
Ortega has not taken one step to re-establish citizen rights and freedoms. Rather he maintains a de facto state of siege; his para military groups publicly move about committing abuses with complete impunity; he fortified a police state and an environment of generalized repression. He continues the closure of communications media, non governmental organizations, and the usurpation of property.
Ortega has not taken one step for electoral reforms that would make it possible for early, free, legitimate, transparent elections observed by credible international organizations.
On these points there is no mystery for anyone. Now we will see what the Secretary of State reports to the Congress. And what maneuvers Ortega will come up with in the coming days.
On the other hand, what happens this week will have an influence, without a doubt, on the deliberations of the foreign ministers of the continent within the framework of the General Assembly of the OAS, to be verified in Colombia, starting on June 26.
To finish, two considerations. The renewal of the Negotiating Table will only make sense if Ortega fully complies with the commitments that he assumed, beginning by the re-establishment of citizen rights and freedoms.
Second. The individual sanctions on hierarchs of the regime for corruption and human rights violations have nothing to do with sovereignty and self determination. Just the opposite. The violations of international law and agreements signed by the State of Nicaragua have consequences that the ringleaders of the regime are fully aware of.
Let us hope then that the outcomes of the current week mark a step forward in the struggle for freedom, justice and democracy.
This pastoral letter, a theological reflection on the Easter mystery in the current context in Nicaragua, also has clear political consequences. It was issued by the Nicaraguan Catholic Bishop´s Conference on May 1, 2019
Message of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua to Priests, Religious, Lay Christian Faithful and all People of Good Will
“Easter joy: key for reading the current country history”
“In this you will know that you are my disciples: if you love one another”
These words of Jesus Christ, that show the path that all those who want to be his disciples should follow, St. John Paul II used to say, are far too accurate to try to minimize their scope. Many things will be necessary for the historical path of the church in our time, but, if charity is missing, everything will be useless (cf. 1 Cor 13:2; cf NMI 42).
Our faith in Jesus Christ dead and resurrected for our salvation does not allow us to remain outside the events of the world, and for us, the cultural, political, economic, family and social situation of the country. Closing oneself selfishly in ones own comfort and, even worse, stoking feelings of hate among brothers and sisters, is not evangelical.
The Second Vatican Council teaches that the Christian message should not separate us from the construction of the world, nor lead us to be unconcerned about the common good; rather it obliges us to undertake all this as an obligation (cf. GS 34).
For this reason we note with pain how the suffering of the Nicaraguan family continues. Political prisoners, lack of respect for constitutional rights, exiles, refugees, people seeking asylum, poverty, unemployment, insecurity, conflict over land and their corresponding consequences for the displacement of families from the west to the Caribbean Coast of the country, invading fertile lands that historically the indigenous peoples have possessed, and those natural reserves like Indio Maíz and Bosawas, show that without the Presence of the God who has placed his tent among us, we do not have a future.
The Easter that we celebrate offers us the key for living the joy of hope, and teaches us how to inspire it in others. Forming and being formed for joy and hope is, without a doubt, an aspiration of all Nicaraguans. This hope is seen darkened by the sin from which Christ has come to free us with his death and resurrection. It is an arduous task to discover the path of easter joy and leading people and communities to produce the fruit of the Spirit which is joy according to the Gospel. The task is very demanding, because it implies taking the focus off oneself and placing the interests of others and the nation over ones own.
Moved by this joy of the hope which is embodied in the Risen One, we exhort all Nicaraguans to build:
A Nicaragua where all of us are capable of achieving a vision of change that would lead to a qualitative transformation.
We are called to build a holistic concept of peace, and in this sense, construct a society where peace is lasting, just and coherent with the interests of all. The peace that flows from the Crucified-Resurrected One that remains in the face of the test of time and is not the object of short term arrangements. It is the peace that our country needs in order to not repeat a history of suffering, death, pain and agony. Only in this way will Nicaragua begin a new history without the burdens nor pacts of the past.
A Nicaragua where the centrality of the human person and their dignity as children of God is assumed.
“…you have not received a spirit of slavery to go back again to fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as children” (Rm 8:15). This spirit creates the joy of freedom.
The exercise of freedom and the dignity of the human being is prior to the State. A modern and functional, ethical and moral State, has the obligation to protect, respect, promote and defend these rights, that are also prior to any social agreement. The State should be completely and holistically at the service of the human person, so that acts are never carried out that would affect this nucleus of values. It is then an imperative that in a society actions of repression and persecution should not exist, promoting rather a climate of unrestricted freedom and trust.
For this reason every person should be able to exercise their fundamental rights and public freedoms under the protection of the political constitution, laws and international treaties ratified in a sovereign way by Nicaragua. The freedom of people does not allow for timetables, nor conditions or bureaucratic excuses.
A Nicaragua where we respect and strengthen democracy and its institution structure.
The life of the human being has meaning within the framework of democratic values, principles and institutions. We should not forget that respect for democracy should be inspired by the idea of strengthening the institutions and principles that are the basis for the rule of law: the supremacy of the law, division of powers and respect for human rights. This implies that the government structures are not an arbitrary power, nor the opportunity for apportionment of titles, perks and privileges.
We Nicaraguans must work to achieve a politics with ethical principles and at the service of the common good. Easter joy urges us to work for the construction of this historic project in order to steer us to the encounter with God. In this sense, this challenge becomes morally urgent, inescapable, without the delays that over time will be the causes of new and repeated vices. The dynamic of the process requires avoiding impasses that would be fatal for the country.
The independence of the branches of government provide stability in the exercise of power and the defense of the citizens. For no reason can only one branch of the State prevail over the rest.
In the case of the electoral branch it is important that in accordance with established norms, it be revamped in such a way that it be trustworthy and independent, so that a neutral, impartial and nationally and internationally observed electoral process might take place. Otherwise, free elections will not happen. The people are the true sovereign.
In the case of the administration of justice, it must be absolutely independent, impartial, professional and ethically imparted, outside of political, partisan and ideological designs. Without independent justice there is no freedom.
A Nicaragua where the freedom of expression is exercised without restrictions.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (cf. John 1:14). Every principle of freedom of expression has its origins in the highest expression of God, who freely showed his love for humanity through the Word incarnate.
The freedom of the press and expression is a fundamental requirement for building a democratic order in Nicaragua, a modern and pluralistic state. Without freedom of expression all the other freedoms wither and end up perishing. It incarnates the power of the people to make pronouncements, denounce, access information and nourish themselves from the infinite exchange of ideas, opinions and positions. Freedom of expression, that sinks its roots in the Word made flesh, is a natural principle for the new order of freedoms and development to which the country aspires, shunning disinformation, slander, defamation and the love of scandals.
A Nicaragua where peace is the fruit of justice.
“Love and righteousness meet together; justice and peace kiss each other. Truth springs from the earth, justice looks down from heaven” (Psalm 85:11-12). For the Psalmist justice is like the rain that sprinkles the earth, and the fruit that emerges from it is truth. Truth will always be the path of justice.
In this moment of crisis we Nicaraguans are called to establish agreements on matters of justice that are lasting and respected, in such a way that we support every initiative of dialogue that is done with good will, and particularly the effort that the Holy See has been doing through the different messages that Pope Francis has sent us, and the presence of the Nuncio as International Witness and Accompanier. These agreements have to be laden with a profound ethical and moral sense, capable of revealing the story of the tragedy and pain of the victims. We must not forget that truth and justice kiss one another. This is the certainty that should guide our searches for new horizons in Nicaragua, which demand contemplating the truth about the facts, no impunity for the guilty, reparation and reinsertion of the victims and their families, as well as guarantees of no repetition. It is the only thing that can provide true security to the citizens. Only in this way can a country be morally constructed.
The exhortation of joy happens in the heart of a dramatic existence of Nicaragua which is experiencing a crucial moment in which it will have to define the bases of its future as a country, and its destiny as a nation. Rejoicing in the Lord or being joyful in the Lord entails a way of situating oneself in life, in the drama of existence. This has to be a constant of Christian character. Joy has to be the fruit of being rooted in Christ, in the dynamic of his humiliation and glorification. Because in spite of the contrary signs that we are experiencing, the Lord is at the door, close and active. It is not a matter of looking for routes of evasion in the face of the current situation, but addressing them from communion with Christ. In the same way that the resurrection is rooted in the night of the cross, so the energy and joy of the Christian will spring from communion with the sufferings of the Lord.
Let the Queen of Heaven, who rejoiced with the resurrection of her Son, while participating in his painful passion, intercede for us and make us participants in her joy.
Issued in the Offices of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, May 1, 2019 on the feast of St Joseph the Worker.
SEAL OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE
Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, President
Mons. Pablo Schmitz, OFM Cap., Bishop of the Diocese of Bluefields, Vice President
Mons. Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara, Bishop of the Diocese of Estelí, Secretary General
Mons. Roland José Álvarez Lagos, Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, General Treasurer
Mons. Bosco Vivas Robelo, Bishop of the Diocese of León
Mons. David Zywiec Sidor OFM Cap., Bishop of the Diocese of Siuna
Mons. Sócrates René Sándigo Jirón, Bishop of the Diocese of Juigalpa
Mons. Jorge Solórzano Pérez, Bishop of the Diocese of Granada
Mons. Carlos Enrique Herrera Gutiérrez, Bishop of Jinotega
In the agreement reached between the Government and the Civic Alliance on March 29 as part of the second National Dialogue, the government agreed to “ensure the right to concentration, demonstration and public mobilization”. This article shows how difficult it still is to practice these basic rights, and also the creativity of the people in exercising them during the events of Holy Week. The Nicaraguan public were surprised to learn right before the start of Holy Week – on April 10th – that the most eloquent bishop in critiquing the government response to the demonstrations – Mons. Silvio Báez – was suddenly called to Rome.
Police Attack the Most Crowded Way of the Cross in Nicaragua in a Holy Week Turned into Protest
April 20, 2019 by Wilfredo Mirando Aburto and Carlos Herrera,
Holy Week has coincided with the first anniversary of the social and political crisis in Nicaragua. Citizens have taken advantage of the religious traditions to protest and circumvent the prohibition against political demonstrations. Nazarenes dressed in blue and white have been seen in the processions, crosses with the names of the victims of the repression, and children dressed as political prisoners. “A crucified people will always resurrect”, warned Bishop Silvio Báez.
Managua, Nicaragua.- The penitential way of the cross of Managua, one of the most popular in Semana Santa in Nicaragua, ended with a violent episode: the police attacked the faithful who attended the solemn procession not just to pray, but to protest against the government of Daniel Ortega and his repressive policies. The attack with pellets and flash bombs left at least two people wounded.
Holy Week has coincided with the first anniversary of the Nicaraguan social and political crisis that started April 18, 2018, when the citizenry took to the streets to protest against some failed reforms to social security. The traditions for the passion of Christ this year have been a syncretism of religious devotion and demands for justice and democracy.
The penitential way of the cross of Managua was one of the clearest scenarios of this convergence: thousands of people were carrying flags of Nicaragua and the Catholic Church, and alternated between shouts for libertarian slogans and the Lenten responsorials.
The Way of the Cross started at eight in the morning this Holy Friday. It went down the Carretera Masaya, the same avenue in Managua where many anti-governmental protests were held in 2018. During the entire trajectory mothers of political prisoners demanded freedom. Meanwhile the relatives of the youth murdered by the paramilitary and police repression carried on their backs wooden crosses, like Jesus in the procession, in representation of the impunity: of the 325 people murdered that human rights organizations documented, nearly 95% do not have judicial processes to investigate them.
The procession – that was presided by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes – took place normally until reaching the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua. After the Nazarene entered the Church, dozens of youth decided to continue protesting on the grounds of the church. A group went out to the platform of the Cathedral with wooden crosses and were immediately attacked by a police contingent.
Witnesses told UNIVISION news that the officers shot firearms in the air to chase them away, and immediately discharged metal and rubber pellets at them, as well as flash grenades. Two people were reported lightly wounded and some people fainted.
Hours after the incidents, the Police apportioned responsibilities for the aggression: “A group of hooded people, armed with stones, mortars and some firearms, tried to manipulate the way of the cross of the Cathedral”, they said in a press release disseminated by the spokesperson for the Sandinista government.
As of the publication of this article, more than a hundred of demonstrators and faithful continued trapped in the Cathedral of Managua. The police kept the area closed off. Members of the Civic Alliance (the opposition that is negotiating with the government) and people from the Catholic Church were trying to mediate to evacuate the people trapped in a safe way using buses. Another episode that recalls April 19, 2018, a year ago, when the police indiscriminately attacked young people entrenched in the Cathedral.
“Christ encountered Nicaragua with 500 people murdered”
Since Palm Sunday that starts Holy Week, Nicaraguans have taken advantage of the Catholic processions and traditions to protest against the government in the light of the lack of public spaces to do so. The Sandinista administration since September 2018 has maintained a zealous police state that violently dismantles any attempt at citizen protest. In the last month more than 150 people have been detained in street protests.
Citizens have taken advantage of the Holy Week processions to persevere in their demand for justice and democracy, because they feel protected with the Catholic Church. The demonstration this Holy Friday in Managua has been one of the largest in months.
Th Catholic Church, that has provided support “to the people in their demands” since April 2018, has opened the doors of their churches and allowed the traditions of the passion of Christ to be adorned with blue and white colors instead of the traditional Lenten purple.
Father Edwin Román, one of the emblematic figures of Catholicism during the protests while trying to mediate in the conflict, placed a flag of Nicaragua on the principal altar of the Church of San Miguel in Masaya. This parish commemorated Holy Week recalling the names of the 35 people killed from that city. Some of those demonstrators were killed in the parish itself and its surroundings. The bullet-ridden walls of the church are stony witnesses to the brutal repression suffered by Masaya for months in 2018.
“We are not experiencing a Holy Week the same as previous years,” pointed out Fr. Román to Univision news. “This Holy Week Christ encountered Nicaragua with 500 people murdered by this dictatorship, more than 800 political prisoners, hundreds of brothers and sisters in exile, families divided, more hunger and less jobs,” assured the pastor, who Sandinista sympathizers have physically attacked and accused of alcoholism to discredit him.
Mothers of those killed in Masaya joined the religious activities of San Miguel. Dozens of children were dressed in jail uniforms in the procession of the captives to demand the liberation of the political prisoners. And this Holy Friday in the penitential way of the cross, Fr. Román read every one of the names of the fatal victims of Masaya, while the faithful responded, “Present, present!”
“I pointed out this reality that we are experiencing and the struggle that we Nicaraguans have with this cross, but also the hope that afterwards Nicaragua is going to resurrect,” said the priest Román.
Nazarenes dressed in blue and white
In dozens of Nicaraguan cities the faithful and citizens also found other ways to express their protest. The most common was dressing Jesus of Nazareth in blue and white tunics, the color of the civic protest. It happened in parishes in Managua, colonial Granada, León and in the city of Tipitapa, where the adolescent Richard Pavón Bermúdez was murdered at the beginning of the protests in 2018.
In the diocese of Matagalpa, led by Bishop Rolando Álvarez, dozens of altar boys in their white and red tunics recalled young Sandor Dolmus, an altar boy of the diocese of León, who was killed by a paramilitary in June of 2018.
“In this historic moment we want to say with the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua: our greatest contribution as pastors of this church that is in pilgrimage in Nicaragua will continue being accompanying the people in their sufferings and grief, in their hopes and joys, and raising our prayers of intercession so that Nicaragua might find civilized and just paths toward a peaceful solution in light of the common good”, said Bishop Álvarez on Holy Thursday.
Another one of the expressions of protest in processions happened in the municipality of San Juan de la Concepción. The actors in the traditional Judea (representation of the Passion of Christ) dressed in blue and white. In the Judea of Masatepe, one of the participants painted on their dress the name of political prisoner Christian Porras. The night before, in the same city of Masatepe, during the silent procession they lit “600 candles for those who were killed” in the atrium of the church.
The masses in many churches this Holy Week have been impregnated with messages that have further heightened the courage of the faithful and citizens to continue demanding justice and democracy. The most emotional ceremonies have been those that the auxiliary bishop of Managua has officiated, Mons. Silvio Báez, who after the Easter celebrations will be transferred to Rome.
The transfer of Báez to Rome has been interpreted by believers and non believers as a “forced exile” due to his incisive critiques of the Sandinista regime over the massacre and lack of democracy. “He (Báez) is a stone in the shoe of the government”, assured the bishop of Estelí, Abelardo Mata. This Holy Week has been the send off for Monseñor Báez, one of the most popular and respected bishops. In one of his last masses, Báez left a phrase that was taken as prophetic by Nicaragua: “A crucified people will always resurrect.”
When the National Dialogue was renewed on Feb 27 of this year, a deadline of March 28th was set for agreements to be reached, in light of the criticism that the government would only use the negotiations to buy time to prevent the implementation of sanctions from the OAS, European Union and the US due to serious human rights violations. By mutual agreement the deadline got extended to April 3, when agreements were still not reached on key issues, e.g. the Guarantors of the implementation of the Accords, and on moving up the elections. This speech was given by Daniel Ortega on the last day of the extended negotiations. We have only translated the last part of the speech where he refers to the national situation.
Excerpt of Speech by Daniel Ortega on the last day of the National Dialogue April 3, 2019, on receiving the credentials of 13 Ambassadors
…Well, we are committed to Peace. In all fields we are committed to Peace. We want Peace with Security, with Stability and free from the threat of the use of force. Because, what Country can develop in Peace if it is under the threat of the use of force? It is true, the United Nations has a very clear Article which is a commitment of all of us Countries who are part of the United Nations, where we promise to not use force and to not threaten to use force either. We are all committed, but up to what point is this Principle followed?
All Nations, all Peoples need Peace to be able to confront the big challenges that we have. To be able to confront the damages from Climate Change, to be able to reforest, to be able to improve the conditions in our Countries, Peace is needed. If there is no Peace, it is simply not possible to build a Highway, to plant trees, or strengthen the Hydrographic Basins. It is not possible! In a situation of confrontation, of violence, of war, there are no conditions for that. There is more destruction.
If we go Country by Country we are going to find all over the need for Peace. Because even those countries that are not directly involved in acts of war, in acts of violence, in acts of aggression also suffer the impact of an environment that also threatens Stability: Terrorism. What is more terrible than Terrorism! And in our Region, Drug trafficking, Organized Crime, which is another form of Terrorism that threatens Security, the Stability of our Nations.
Then, the pressure that generates migrants, migrants even risk their Lives, not because they want to go to enjoy, but because they want to survive, and do not find in their space, in their places, in their Countries the conditions to be able to survive. And migration is nothing more than the search, with complete logic, with complete Justice, to improve their Life conditions of Families who find themselves closed up in zones where they are easily victims of Terrorism, of the different forms of Terrorism that exist in the World, and they have the Right, in desperation, to find these Paths.
Before there was the big immigration that arrived in America from Europe, but not to benefit the Original Peoples who were the owners of those Lands; it was a big immigration that arrived in search of Wealth. With so much more reason we should understand the behavior, the attitude of the Peoples who in Africa and here in Latin America and the Caribbean, and above all in the Region of Central America, Mexico, in this Mesoamerican Zone, seek the path to the North, with the Hope of improving their Life conditions.
A Solution to this problem exists, of course it exists! Just as also a solution exists to what is a Policy of Contention to stop the advance of Global Warming. They exist and are well marked, the decisions, commitments, investments that need to be done, because investments need to be made to save Life on the Planet.
Likewise, migration demands investments. Why? So that the Peoples that find themselves in conditions of greater exclusion, greater poverty, can insert themselves, can culturally strengthen themselves, can have the tools to fight Poverty, but this demands investment.
And this is not a matter of- take note here- aid, it is not aid! It is simply an investment, because if we do not want currents, rivers of People going to Europe, going to North America, then you have to invest so that current is stopped, taking into account that these Peoples come from Continents, Zones that have been historically excluded, that have been historically dispossessed, expropriated, their Wealth, their Resources confiscated, and it is nothing more than a small compensation, that in this case is not simply a matter of compensation or restitution, but also stopping the flow of immigration that they feel threatens them.
And you know, Dear Brother and Sister Ambassadors, that here in Central America, in Mesoamerica, from Colombia to the United States, there is a path of horror and terror that has to do with the fact that there is a large market of consumers of drugs in North America, and this encourages and feeds the production of drugs in South America, and makes we the Peoples victims who are on the path where this drug is transported from South to North.
It makes us victims of Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, Gangs, all of which is multiplying, simply to satisfy the demand of drug consumers in the First World, in the North; and moving also part of those drugs to other Regions of the Planet. But in particular we have the problem here, and we have to invest from our limited resources to fight Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime, keep the Gangs from being installed here.
We have the smallest Budget in the Region. We have the smallest Budget of all of Latin America and the Caribbean here in Nicaragua, but with a great effort we have been able to stop here what could be the presence, the control of Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime.
We have been able to defend the Safety Record of the Nicaraguan People. We have achieved Economic Growth that is the envy of all of Latin America and the Caribbean until the month of April last year, where, well, there was an explosion of Terror, Terrorism, which was manifested with complete clarity after an action aimed at overthrowing the Government, and this brought as a logical consequence a threat to Security, Stability, Peace and Well being, to the levels that Nicaragua had achieved in the fight against Poverty. A conspiracy!
And, always seeking the Path of Dialogue, seeking the Path of Dialogue, once more seeking the Path of Dialogue to achieve Security, Stability, Peace. We tried it once. It was frustrated. We are trying it again. Progress is being achieved, Agreements are being achieved, but there are always the forces that do not want Peace, that do not want Stability for Nicaragua.
Those forces are always there. It is normal, in all parts of the World these forces exist, extremist forces that burst in, threatening Well Being, Stability, and not just Countries like Nicaragua, but that also are threatening the Stability and Security of Developed Countries.
Extremist, radical attitudes are taking positions with terrorist, fascist discourse, and we are in that Fight, seeking Peace, seeking Stability, without ignoring that in our Region we are not the only ones who are in this Fight, Brother Peoples find themselves also confronting what this aggression is, what this destabilization is.
Cuba, an already blockaded Country, and a blockade that is intensified against Cuba in these Times, in spite of the fact that in the General Assembly of the United Nations there is now 1 vote left, 2 votes, in favor of the blockade. The immense majority of Nations, the States vote there that the blockage against Cuba be lifted.
Against Venezuela it is an aggression against a Country, a State that has not done any damage to any State, any Latin American People, much less the US People.
What was the sin of Venezuela, the sin of Commandante Chavez and now of Nicolas to provide continuity? Simply carrying out Programs to benefit Countries with greater difficulties, with more Economic-Social fragility in our Region, opening their hand to all.
Even taking free Energy to North American Families, so that they could provide themselves with a little heat in cold times, that they would not die from the cold. Because in the United States there are people who die from the cold because they are in Poverty. What Darío saw when he went through New York still exists, and which led him to write: “50 story homes…” seeing the enormous buildings of that time, and along with that he said: Under the bridges and in the streets there are people, my God, that are dying from the cold, and what is even sadder, my God, from pain, pain, pain…! That is what Darío saw when he traveled.
And to these Families, who the US Government itself did not provide coverage, Venezuela brought them programs; and let us not even mention the amount of Programs here in the Caribbean Region, in exchange for what? In exchange for nothing! Unconditionally!
There are situations that really cause also a lot of pain, when they are examples that should be taken, should be followed. And we recognize that on the part of the International Community that has this Sensibility, this Responsibility, there are Programs, and there continue to be Programs toward Countries that find themselves in very fragile conditions. Programs, for what purpose? To provide tools to these Countries to get out of Poverty.
Alongside them are those who think rather that all type of Aid has to be withdrawn, and this simply is what is going to make the problem even larger, the problems bigger.
Today that we have received you, Dear Ambassadors, we have given you a welcome in the name of our People, recognizing the Good Will of all of you. We had the opportunity, I would say the privilege of knowing many of your Leaders, your Governors, of visiting your Countries, Developed Countries in Europe as well as Developing Countries in Asia and other Regions of our Planet, and there we always found the Principle of Solidarity, which is a determining factor to be able to work for Peace.
And well, I now tell you, here we are making one more effort for Peace, Agreements have now been able to be made, always a Negotiation is complex; the terms of this Negotiation really are a true challenge because it is a short term which was established for this Negotiation to arrive at Agreements. We hope that the disposition, the Will might exist, as has been demonstrated in this Negotiation Table, that also that same Willingness might exist of the external factors who really need that Nicaragua completely re-establish Stability, Security, Peace, that Democracy be strengthened. And there are those who do not want this to happen.
But I am sure that, taking into account the Will of our People, of the immense majority of Nicaraguans, is Peace, beyond the Political, Ideological Positions and Religious Creeds. I am sure that we are achieving it and I am sure that you, with your Peoples, with your Governments, you are also accompanying this effort for Peace in Nicaragua.
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).
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.
This commentary has become very long. I invite you to read tomorrow.
This article appeared in La Prensa on Oct 26th. It puts the denouncement of Rafael Valdez of the St Paul Christian Community within the context of an ongoing campaign by the government to discredit the bishops, and one of the most outspoken, Silvio Báez. Here is the other side to the previous post.
Ortega Dictatorship behind the threats against bishop Silvio Báez
Brother of bishop Silvio Báez declares the Ortega Murillo family the “intellectual authors” of the threats against the religious who denounced harassment in his home.
By Emiliano Chamorro Mendieta in La Prensa, Oct 26, 2018
While the US State Department this Thursday warned the regime of Daniel Ortega that “the Church should be protected, not the target of shots”, Mons. Silvio Báez denounced this Thursday that he was being harassed in his home by people on motorcycles in the framework of a campaign of repression, disparagement and harassment that the dictatorship is promoting against him.
Javier Báez, the brother of the Carmelite, blamed “the Ortega Murillo family and their circle of followers for all the death threats” against Silvio Báez.
“I publicly denounce that my brother Mons. Silvio Báez is being harassed by sympathizers of the Ortega dictatorship, motivated by the manipulation of the convictions of Mons. Báez. Now I declare them the intellectual authors of these threats”, denounced the brother of the religious.
For his part, the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, said in his Twitter account: “I denounce that I am the victim of a campaign of repression, disparagement and harassment that is made evident not just by manipulated audio recordings, but also by hundreds of messages to my Whatsapp with insults and threats, in addition to people on motorcycles surrounding my home. I will continue committed to my episcopal ministry.”
The presence of motorcycle drivers in the home of Báez is the same tactic of repression and harassment that the dictatorship has been employing to persecute any Nicaraguan who tries to raise their voice against his power and that demands democracy in Nicaragua.
Mons. Silvio Báez, with a doctorate in Sacred Scriptures, who so far has not offered declarations to the communications media, expressed in one of his tweets that he is not responsible for any crime nor conspiracy as the Ortega dictatorship wants to make him seem to be, and stated that very soon he will present the proof and will share it in his social networks and with the communications media.
The threats against the Carmelite religious emerged after the Ortega regime on Tuesday published through their state propaganda apparatus an audio recording for the purpose of framing him in a supposed coup attempt and pressuring him to go into exile or be tried. This action was rejected by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, that expressed their complete support for the religious leader, a critic of the abuses of the dictatorship.
Báez has responded that he will continue in Nicaragua, and will continue being faithful to the ministry that he has been entrusted. “My conscience does not reproach me for anything before God”, stated Báez.
In spite of the fact that the bishops are mediators and witnesses to the National Dialogue, they also have been victims of the Ortega repression. Last July 9th, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, bishop Báez along with the Apostolic Nuncio and several priests, were physically attacked by mobs and paramilitaries in the San Sebastian Basilica in Diriamba. In that violent scene, Báez ended up wounded in his left arm. In addition to the aggression, the Ortega hordes took his episcopal insignia from him.
In the face of the escalation of violence against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, the ambassador for Religious Freedom of the US State Department demanded from Ortega protection for the Church. “The Church should be protected, not the target of shots”, said the US official Samuel D Brownback. Brownback made these statements in a press conference where he took a position on the situation of religion in Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. “This is not an acceptable situation for religious freedom or religious tolerance. It seems that there are people, a number of individuals, shooting at churches, persecuting the churches,” stated Borwnback. “We do not agree with this treatment, the church should be protected, not the target of shots,” added the official from the State Department.
Brownback said that the United States feels “deeply concerned” about the situation in Nicaragua and stated that his government has detected an “increase in persecution” in that country and in Venezuela against the Church.
Concerning the audio recording where the regime tried to incriminate Báez as “coup monger, murderer” as Laureano Ortega, the son of the dictator, called him, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes said to Channel 100% Noticias that indeed an audio recording had been made of a private conversation, but that its authenticity has still not been verified.
The ruling party this Thursday once again manipulated the statements of Brenes, by just publicizing the part where the religious admitted that there was a meeting where Báez had participated, but did not put the part where Brenes clarified that they were verifying the authenticity of the recording disseminated by the regime.
In Spain a sound engineer stated to a digital daily that that recording had been manipulated. He pointed out that it was an audio file edited with “important technical errors” that showed the “union and editing of several different recordings” of the voice of the Catholic prelate.
The ex-president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, also spoke out in favor of Báez in her Twitter account. “Let us not allow a tragic action to be done against @silviojbaez, the voice that is most heard denouncing the abuses of the regime of #Nicaragua. Let´s call the attention of the international community”, she said in support.
According to a document that the Saint Paul base community released, where they accused Mons. Báez of promoting hate, the audio was recorded in an encounter that the religious man had with peasants from the Anti-canal Peasant Movement.
Lesner Fonseca, one of the peasant leaders in the area of El Tule, confirmed that indeed they met with Báez and that someone recorded the meeting, but he did not venture to identify the person responsible for the recording and leaking. “I am deeply sad, hurt and sorry for Mons. Báez, with this situation that has happened,” stated Fonseca to La Prensa.
The peasant explained that seven people accompanied him in the entourage, but that the author of the recording was still not investigated.
“For now we cannot reveal the name, it is assumed that we are trustworthy people who met with Mons. But yes, we are investigating, and when the person responsible is found, we are going to expel him from the movement, and we will make his name public,” clarified the peasant.
Mons. Silvio José Báez stated in one of his tweets this Thursday that very soon he will make public the truth of the audio recordings where the regime of Daniel Ortega and his communication media present him as a coup supporter. “Very soon I will present the proof of all this in my social networks and in the communications media,” clarified the Carmelite religious and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua since 2009, after his return to Nicaragua.
This week an audio was released by Rafael Valdez, a leader of the Base Christian Community of St Paul the Apostle, where the voice of Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Báez is heard, which Valdez claims prove that the bishops have been conspiring against the regime, and are therefore biased and thus can no longer serve as mediators. Since the first session of the national dialogue on May 16, when a student from the UCA called Ortega to step down because of the 55 students who had been killed since April 18th, the government has called the students and their supporters “coup mongers”. Since the bishops in the dialogue asked Ortega to hold early elections, it has been clear to everyone in Nicaragua that Ortega has wanted to replace the bishops as mediators. This incident falls within this context.
Catholics of Nicaragua ask Pope Francis to remove Silvio Báez from Nicaragua
Silvio Báez is an obstacle for Peace and Reconciliation
Wednesday, October 14, 2018 In El 19 Digital (official media of FSLN)
The bishop, Silvio Báez, a member of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, is an obstacle for Peace and reconciliation, stated Rafael Valdez, a member of the Saint Paul the Apostle Christian Community, who released an audio where the official of the Catholic Church spoke about the destabilization plan for the country, to remove the government of President Daniel Ortega Saavedra. In declarations to the EN VIVO magazine, Valdez insisted in that the request to Pope Francis is that he remove the bishop from Nicaragua who is corrupted by hate and a thirst for power.
“What we are asking is that he leave because he is doing damage to the Catholic Church, because the Catholic Church is not the Curia, nor the hierarchy, the Catholic Church is the believing people. That is the Catholic Church. And he is doing damage to this believing people, because with his actions he has been able to divide the flock,” explained Valdez.
“Now it ends up that there are some Catholic Christians who are on one side and other Christians who are another side, because he has divided them, or they (the bishops) have divided them, because they have taken biased positions, and they have not been really who they should be, pastors who love peace, reconciliation, who strive for people to understand one another, dialoguing and not killing one another; and they have been doing just the opposite. So, this is a detrimental man for the church itself and is doing it damage. He should leave this country for the good of everyone, the people, the church itself. The church would feel better with people like this outside, let them go and teach, be professors,” he added.
Valdez stated that Silvio Báez “is not someone who is going to contribute to peace and reconciliation.”
“On the contrary, this man promotes hate, because he is full of hate. His expressions that come out in the video are expressions of hate. Saying that it does not matter who he is going to ally with, whether with the devil, evildoers, criminals, drug traffickers, as long as the objective is achieved that he wants, which is to remove the current government, is an expression of hate. Or saying: we are not going to kill him, even though I would like to, he says…so that is an expression that shows the depth of his hate, because the Word of God itself says that out of the mouth comes what one has in their heart. And if he said that, it is because he has it deep within himself. So a person like this is not going to contribute ever to that there be peace and reconciliation, he is an obstacle for peace and reconciliation,” he said.
The member of the Christian community said that Báez is a politician in a cassock.
“He is promoting continuity, when he talks about new barricades as an ingenious invention that they have had in order to do damage, to destroy the country, to cause death. They are opting once again for violence, so that cannot be a path for peace, ever,” he pointed out.
With these attitudes, explained Valdez, what the hierarchy are going is burying the Catholic church.
“These bishops and priests who have been doing damage for many years, they are burying it, they are the ones who are burying the Catholic Church. And that is why there is a large desertion of people who used to call themselves Catholics and now opt for another type of religiosity, but it is because they are disillusioned because those people are not teaching the true Gospel, but what they have done is something else. There is an estimate that 40 million Catholics in Latin America have abandoned the Catholic church and have become evangelicals,” he emphasized.
He added to this the fact that the bishops lie in such a brazen way, and it seems that they are saying the truth. “It is evident to me that they are big liars, they lie without mercy and they are not ashamed of lying,” he stated.
Likewise, he said that the church can no longer be the mediator of any dialogue, because it is automatically left disqualified.
“No one can be a mediator who clearly has a bias toward one side. I cannot sit down at a table and be the mediator and be telling the other side, “continue with your struggle, do not stop”. This is not mediation,” he said.
He also described as unfortunate and conspiratorial the attitude of Cardinal Brenes on the matter that involves Báez in a conspiratorial coup.
“It is unfortunate because he (Brenes) with that attitude is backing what this man has done, and so he is making himself an accomplice and participant in these actions, and he cannot now claim ignorance, unless you tell me that what there is there is not true, but it is clear, it is obvious it is him, there is not the slightest doubt,” he assured.
“The [Bishops] Conference disqualified itself by supporting that attitude. It is impossible to be a mediator in this way, there cannot be more dialogue, nor anything of that,” he indicated.
The Christian community of Saint Paul the Apostle, who revealed the audios of Silvio Báez where he confirmed his role of organizer of the destabilization and destruction of Nicaragua, has more than 53 years of existing as a Base Ecclesial Community.