Category Archives: Nicaragua Demonstrations

The Commandante…is staying?

This is the translation of an article that provides an analysis of the correlation of forces of the National Dialogue, just as this second Dialogue essentially ended. Both sides say they are taking a time to reflect.

The Commandante…is staying?

From El País/El Faro

By Carlos Dada, April 6, 2019

[see original Spanish at https://elpais.com/internacional/2019/04/04/america/1554400084_539740.html ]

El País and El Faro[1], are starting an alliance to expand the coverage and conversation on Central America. Every two weeks, on Saturday, a journalist from EL FARO will contribute a perspective in El País through analysis about the region that is dealing with one of its most troubled periods.

Some days ago, some creative person put on Twitter a photo of the Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega in a brief public event. The man looks sick, with a washed out face, nearly rictus half smile, and his body bent. The tweeter accompanied the photo with a great caption: “El Coma-andante” [play on words in Spanish between Comandante and “the walking coma”].

Two things stood out to me. I will explain the first: Ortega has been unavoidably compared in recent years to the Dictator Anastasio Somoza, the one who the Sandinistas overthrew in 1979. A few months after his fall, Somoza made a trip to Washington for some medical exams and rumors ran through the streets of Managua about his health, similar to the ones now running the streets about Ortega through the social media. The writer García Márquez registered the phrase from the dictator Somoza that the photo brought to my mind: “Those who speculate about my health, let them not be mistaken. Others are in worse shape.”

A second attempt at negotiations between the Orteguista Government and the so called Civic Alliance has failed in Nicaragua. Ortega refused to move up the elections and to investigate the crimes committed by his security forces. The other party decided to withdraw from the table. In reality they had no other option.

The Civic Alliance is a false construct. Included in it are not just representatives of students and social and citizen organizations, the sectors that since the start of the protests, a year ago, have put up the fight, the dead, the political prisoners and have taken the streets. They are the exiles, those who have lost their jobs or their land, those who still suffer daily the harassment of the police and paramilitaries around their homes.

But also on the same side of the table are seated the representatives of private enterprise groups who, in contrast to the former, have in their agenda an orderly solution, and above all, a peaceful way out of the crisis that would allow them to go back to a stable economy and their businesses. There is nothing bad in that (and I underline, in that), but obviously their interests and their conditions are of a different nature than those of the students and civil society organizations.

Ortega is a fox in politics, as his decades of conspiring to exercise power show. He still retains, above all outside of Nicaragua, an aura of the revolutionary strongman that resisted Yankee imperialism in the decade of the eighties, when Ronald Reagan armed and financed a counterrevolutionary army to do away with Sandinism.

The commandante seized the Sandinista flag and discourse. But in addition he controls the army, the bureaucratic apparatus, the police, the electoral tribunal, the the three branches of the State. Little is now left in his exercise of power of the revolution that inspired revolutionary movements of all of Latin America. Nothing further from the new man than this old man, based on a corrupt and repressive power, a neoliberal economic system assisted by Venezuela and an accomplice of voracious and corrupt big businessmen, who during the last decade dictated the economic policies and made themselves more wealthy in one of the poorest countries of the continent.

A negotiation between an Alliance of this nature, and a Government centralized in an old fox, was already doomed to fail before it got started.

Basic courses on negotiation teach the conditions for being seated at a table: know who needs an agreement more (that is, the power position) and arriving with a clear notion of what the ceiling is and the floor for achieving an agreement (the most one aspired to get and what one is willing to cede).

The commandante already accepted freeing the political prisoners, more than 300 according to human rights organizations, and in addition promised to respect the right to protest. As a sign of good faith, he ordered the liberation of some prisoners who did not represent any cost to him. Among them there is no political leader capable of becoming a pennant of the opposition or of convoking the masses on their departure from prison. The prisoners were seen as bargaining chips for the regime. Ortega jailed them to later turn them into a concession.

The streets are something else. They have been the principal challenge to his power, his territorial control. The demonstrators paralyzed the country and destabilized his government between April and June of last year. The economic losses were big. The streets made the opponents believe that they were carrying out their own unarmed revolution. Never was Ortega as weak as at that time, and as long as he can, he will prevent this from happening again. Last week, barely 24 hours after his commitment, gunmen shot at the first protest in Managua.

But what are they negotiating?

Ortega will not accept early elections, nor international arbiters, nor the investigation of the massacres that a commission of independent experts named by the OAS described as crimes against humanity. He will not do it until he has a reason to do so: in other words, as long as he finds other solutions that do not involve negotiating his surrender.

He has no political opposition, dismantled thanks to the corruption of the liberals, the cooptation of the electoral body, the repression and the lack of new leaders. The true opposition is in the social forces: the peasant and student movements, today on their knees due to the repression, and almost all in hiding, murdered, jailed or in exile. Disorganized, weakened, disarmed and without the streets, their moral force is enough to seat Ortega down to negotiate, but not enough to make him give in. They do not have that much weight, and their ceiling and floor are the same: Ortega´s departure. In the purest pragmatic exercise, what happens if Ortega does not accept this condition? Why then would he have to accept it?

The only member of the Alliance with real power is private enterprise. Ortega is negotiating with them. Affected by the economic crisis, the big businessmen asked for the negotiations. In contrast to a year ago, now with 400 dead and dozens of thousands in exile, they cannot go back to the golden days prior to April 18, 2018, the model that they had so much trusted: the political and social situation in the hands of the commandante, but the economy the businessmen would decide. For a decade they had walked together in this way.

Businessmen who have never been democratic today are seated at the negotiation table with a democratic discourse.

They want tranquility and order for their businesses, with Ortega or without him. With democracy or without it. They know that the project is no longer sustainable, but they are not willing to push to the conclusion. They have delayed it for an entire year: they invent pretexts to not hold a general strike, they feed negotiation tables, they play with God and with the devil. Politically they are hoping for some alternative to Ortega. But they still do not see one. The advantage to their position is in the economy: Ortega, without the Venezuelan support and with the losses from the crisis, is being left without funds. This, and international condemnation, are today the biggest fractures of the regime.

The students and civil society organization are in the worst of conditions: they do not have any more position of power than their credibility, their massive mobilization with the risks that it implies, and their proven disposition to take on the necessary consequences. Their paradoxical drama is that they cannot make this transition with the business owners, but nor can they do so without them. They know that the new Nicaragua will not happen without the end of the repression, the departure of Ortega and calling free and early elections. But Daniel Ortega has other plans.

I go back to the photo of “El Coma-andante” [walking coma]: the second thing I noticed is that, around Ortega, two bodyguards dressed in civilian clothes are observing. Faces alert. On their heads they are wearing a red hat with the following phrase: DANIEL 2021. Others, maybe Ortega thinks, are in worse shape.

[1] El País is a Spanish newspaper and El Faro one from El Salvador

Excerpt of Speech by Daniel Ortega on the last day of the National Dialogue April 3, 2019, on receiving the credentials of 13 Ambassadors

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

[see original full speech at https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:88884-presidente-daniel-y-vicepresidenta-rosario-reciben-cartas-credenciales-3-de-abril-de-2019, as usual, capitals reflect the original]

…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.

Welcome, in the name of Peace!

 

Agreement to Strengthen Citizen Rights and Guarantees

What follows is a translation of the agreement signed on March 29, 2019 between the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACJD) and the Government of National Reconciliation and Unity  (GRUN) within the context of the renewed National Dialogue. When sit-ins for the release of political prisoners were held the next day and were attacked by riot police, and a Sandinista Party member fired into the crowd wounding three, the ACJD accused the government of violating the accords the day after their signing. This shows the fragility of the situation in Nicaragua. 

 Agreement to Strengthen Citizen Rights and Guarantees

[See original Spanish at: https://www.alianzacivicanicaragua.com/es/acuerdo-para-fortalecer-los-derechos-y-garantias-ciudadanas/(Note: could not find a copy on GRUN website)

We the parties aware that, within the Democratic State and the Rule of Law, the Governors as well as the Governed are subjected to the rule of Law.

The parties, recognizing that according to Article 27 of the Constitution, “The State respects and guarantees the rights recognized in the current Constitution of all people who are found within its territory and are subject to its jurisdiction.”

Likewise, based on Article 24 of the Constitution, “All people have obligations to the family, community, homeland and humanity…the rights of each person are limited by the rights of others, the security of all and the fair demands of the common good.”

In virtue of this, we the Members of the Negotiating Table, committed to Peace, Justice, Safety, Democracy, Stability and the Progress of Nicaragua, agree on the following points:

Due process and effective legal redress

  1. Urge compliance with due process and that effective judicial recourse be exercised, in administrative as well as judicial procedures, and ensure the fulfillment of the final verdicts. Urge that the corresponding authorities obey the constitutional mandate that establishes that every prisoner has rights. “To be placed in liberty or at the order of the competent authority with a 48 hour period after their detention.”

 

  1. The State ensures that no one can be subjected to arbitrary detention or prison, nor be deprived of their liberty, except by causes set by law and with arrangement for a legal proceeding. Detention will only be carried out by virtue of a written order of the competent judge or from authorities expressly empowered by the law, except in the case of a being caught in the act of a crime, all pursuant to what is set forth in Article 33 of the Constitution and the procedures of the law.

The State ensures that the home can only be searched by written order of a competent judge, must b e done between 6AM and 6PM, with the exceptions that the Constitution establishes and always under the existing legal procedures.

Economic Rights

  1. In accordance with the Constitutional mandate, ensure the unrestricted right to all forms of property, without discrimination for reasons of birth, nationality, political creed, race, sex, language, religion, opinion, origins, economic position or social condition.

Security and National Defense

  1. We urge the authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure the disarmament of those who bear arms without authorization, or of those who organize as armed groups outside of the constitutional and legal order. For the purpose of maintaining Public Order and Citizen Security, stop violent or aggressive actions of any person or authority.

 

  1. We urge the Army of Nicaragua and the National Police to comply with the registration and marking of arms used by each institution, in accordance with the law on this subject.

We urge the National Police to adjust their norms of behavior to their own Organic Law and the “Basic Principles of the United Nations on the use of force and firearms by officials responsible for the application of the law.”

It is especially  recalled that the confiscation or intervention of electronic mechanisms only can be done with the proper judicial order.

Rights of Nicaraguans outside the country

  1. All Nicaraguans outside the country, particularly those who left in the context of the events beginning on April 18, 2018, will be able to return with full personal and family guarantees and security, in accordance with the law, and enjoy the benefits that these laws grant them.

Political rights

  1. Ensure the right to concentration, demonstration and public mobilization, in fulfillment of the Constitution and the Laws on this subject. On meeting the requirements established by the law on this subject , the National Police will authorize the exercise of this right.

Likewise it is recognized that the right to peaceful meeting, that does not affect the free circulation of people or vehicles, and that does not alter the normal co-existence of the population, does not require prior permission.

The unrestricted right of all Nicaraguans to the respectful use of the National Flag is fully recognized, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws on the subject.

  1. Ensure the constitution of organizations of any nature, without any restrictions than those that the Constitution and the laws on the subject establish.

Review the decisions adopted in terms of the cancelation of the legal statuses of non profit associations that have been cancelled in the context of the events occurred since April 18, 2018, in order to achieve the restitution of their legal statuses and the return of their assets, when appropriate.

To this end the competent judicial authorities are urged to expedite the process proposed by the writ of judicial protection introduced against the decree of the National Assembly where the legal status was ordered cancelled of some non profit associations or NGOs in the same context.

Labor rights

  1. Ensure  workers the right to participate in the management of enterprises through their organizations and in accordance with the law.

Ensure that no worker in the public or private sector be fired for reasons of their political preferences, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws on the subject. We urge both sectors to contribute to the generation of new employment opportunities.

Freedom of expression and accurate information

  1. The State ensure the unrestricted right to freedom of expression, the right to inform cannot be subject to censorship, nor can the communications media be the object of prior censorship, nor the use of mechanisms that can violate what is established in the Constitution and the Law, or that can limit the right to accurate and timely information.

The right should be guaranteed by the State to import paper, machinery, equipment, and spare parts for the social, written, radio and television communications media, all in accordance with the Constitution and the Tax Laws of the Nation.

The communications media should contribute to the development of the Nation.

Review the decisions adopted by the State in terms of the assets: installations, assets, equipment, documents, licenses and any other type of material and non material assets belonging to the communications media affected in the context of the events occurred starting on April 18, 2018, in order to achieve the return of those assets when relevant, in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

Consequently the competent judicial authorities are urged to expedite the processes for the purposes of returning to their legitimate owners what legally belongs to them.

Personal Guarantees

  1. We recommend that the competent authorities proceed to processing and expediting the processes for Habeas Corpus, Habeas Data and Constitutional Protection, whose resolutions require unconditional compliance.

University Autonomy

  1. Strengthen the full exercise of University Autonomy.

Right of the Original and Afro-descendent Peoples of the Caribbean Coast

  1. The original and Afro-descendent peoples of the Caribbean Coast, as an inseparable part of the Nicaraguan people, enjoy the same rights and guarantees to which the current accord refers.

Definition of Terrorism and Terrorism Financing

  1. The Delegation of the Civic Alliance asks the GRUN to review the antimony that might exist between the definition of terrorism and terrorism financing in Law 977, the Penal Code and the international instruments signed by the Republic of Nicaragua. The GRUN commits to reviewing the antimony.

Implementation

  1. The parties recognize that the Nicaraguan State, its powers and the rest of its institutions are the principal organs for the implementation of this accord, and that they promise, as it is their constitutional duty according to its article 6, to carry out this implementation in strict compliance with established constitutional principals, and being completely faithful to the spirit of this accord, under the supervision of monitoring of the Follow up Roundtable for the Implementation. If the agreements approved by the negotiation table enter into conflict with existing legislation, the table will take the necessary steps with the authorities for the reform of the legislation concerned, in order to reconcile it with constitutional principles.

 

  1. This accord expresses the political will of the delegations to find the path for reconciliation, peace, security and stability. Its development and impact on the lives of Nicaraguans will be an essential basis to achieve these objectives. Its application will be an integral part of the process that is promoted from the sphere of this negotiation table. We the sectors represented here commit to promoting them with the best disposition. It will be society that appropriates the spirit of this accord and will make it a reality.

 

  1. The parties agree and ensure that the points of this accord that require it will be applied through specific protocols, in accordance with the law. The application will be supervised and monitored by the Followup Table with the accompaniment of National and/or International Guarantors.

 

  1. The implementation of this accord will begin with its signing.

Issued in the city of Managua on the 29th day of March of 2019.

[Signatures by GRUN and by ACJD and witnesses and accompaniers]

 

 

 

One More Reflection on the National Dialogue: Electoral Issues by Rafael Solís

This letter was made public the on March 28th, the day after the chief negotiator for the Sandinista Government, Denis Moncada, gave an interview to a local TV station explaining why it would take time for prisoners to be released, and basic freedoms could not be restored as requested. Rafael Solís, the former top FSLN operative in the Supreme Court, witness at the wedding of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, and who in January 2019 left the government in protest of the  repression of the demonstrations, wrote this public letter that refutes many of the points in that interview. He specifically points out what legal steps the government needs to take to facilitate the release of political prisoners, restore basic freedoms, disarm paramilitary groups and remove military weapons from the arsenal of the police, reform the Supreme Court and Supreme Electoral Council, and hold early elections, all within a Constitutional framework.

Given the interview on the previous day, it was a surprise when the Civic Alliance and the Government announced significant agreements on many of these issues on March 29, making the following letter by Solís all that more important.

The very next day, Saturday March 30, when groups of Blue and White supporters held sit ins in some of the malls, they were attacked by riot police, some protestors were arrested, an armed member of the FSLN shot 3 people in the mall and was subdued by demonstrators, calling into question the seriousness of the government in allowing freedom of association and expression.

One More Reflection on the National Dialogue: Electoral Issues

Translation of a public letter by Rafael Solís, released through social media, March 27, 2019

[Original Spanish: https://twitter.com/giolealnica/status/1111385651360854016 y https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D2xvUbtX4AEeu3W.jpg]

Even though the National Dialogue is still in the process of scheduling the release of political prisoners and the issue of strengthening constitutional rights, guarantees and freedoms; before getting into the topic of elections I want to make a brief comment on both issues.

In the case of the liberation of the political prisoners, the 90 day term is very long and should be reduced to 30 days, even though it seems very good to me the intervention of the International Red Cross, which should be the Guarantor along with the IACHR of the fulfillment of this Agreement. I have insisted that the quickest way is that all the trials be declared invalid because they are invalid: there is a large amount of invalidities, such as:

  1. The right to due process and effective legal defense
  2. The right to be detained by way of a judicial mandate, and not by the police or paramilitaries without a judicial order.
  3. The right to defense from the beginning of detention.
  4. The right to be considered innocent until your culpability has been proven
  5. The right to compliance with the time periods established by the law from the moment of detention.
  6. The right to be judged by your natural judge and the one in your jurisdiction
  7. The right to present evidence that your lawyers provide, and that the judges have rejected without any legal basis.
  8. The right for the trials to be public and not completely behind closed doors as has happened in all the cases.
  9. The right to your fundamental human rights while in prison: visits from your lawyers, relatives, health care, etc.
  10. The right to not be subject to abuse and torture in jail.

Articles 33 and 34 of the Constitution point out 16 constitutional rights of those detained and processed, which without exception have been completely violated in these processes, even though I have only mentioned ten of them, they are enough reason to declare invalid all these trials for violations of the Constitution.

In short, in addition there is a large amount of invalidities that every judge in each one of the processes can certify even today, and order the freedom of the prisoners, but in addition if you want to consider the possibility of acquittals, I am not against them, but it would take more time and you would have to wait until each process concludes to be declared innocent, and this could take more than 30 days.

What cannot be accepted are pardons, because they imply that these prisoners have committed crimes, and afterwards were pardoned, or a General Amnesty Law that would take the country to total impunity, and has been done so many times in Nicaragua without it ever having worked.

Now those political prisoners who are not under a court order who could be some 200, should be immediately freed by order of the police, since they do not require any additional process.

On the other point that was begun to be discussed on Monday March 25th, about the fundamental rights, guarantees and freedoms established in the Constitution, I reiterate what I already expressed in my previous article on the right to demonstrate and hold public meetings, the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom to organize in associations of any nature, which are fundamental inalienable rights.

In the case of the “right to demonstrate and hold public meetings”, it should be established by Presidential Decree or Executive Decree, and even a Reform to the Law of the National Police (Law 872), that the National Police must grant the permits requested, and strict compliance by the National Police, and that these marches or meetings cannot be repressed by the police or any paramilitary group that may be left after the National Dialogue, because in the National Dialogue paramilitary groups must be left completely prohibited. Even more, the UNAB or the Civic Alliance must hold the next marches in the coming days of April, in order to test the good faith of the government in this negotiation. This Presidential Decree or Executive Decree on the right to protest and public meeting must also be ratified by the members of the National Dialogue and of course that the OAS be the Guarantor of its compliance.

In the case of the other rights, like freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of organization, the procedure should be the same as in the previous case, through Presidential or Executive Decrees that would restore these rights, and not just in a general way, but particularly all the organizations who were affected in terms of their assets and even in the cancelation of their legal statuses that must be re-established.

In addition as I already expressed previously, the “disarming of all the paramilitary groups should be established; this obligation should even be given to the Nicaraguan Army, if the Police does not do it (by law both have this obligation), and that the OAS certify that the disarmament was complete and that in Nicaragua there are no more armed forces than the Army and the Police. In the case of the National Police it should be established that they cannot use weapons of war, but handguns for police use, like is common in the rest of the world, including the use of tear gas, water cannons, etc., but that under no circumstances can they shoot at the population. We should not leave the door open for there to be more deaths in the country.”

It is very clear that the fundamental issue of the National Dialogue is the electoral issue, and even though there may exist a roadmap between the government and the OAS to reform the entire electoral system, including a new Electoral Law and a new Supreme Electoral Council, whose terms expire in January 2020, because a 3 year term was signed in January 2017; all this also should be discussed again in the National Dialogue, and in any case expand the Bilateral Commission of the Government and the OAS with the participation of members of the Civic Alliance in the preparation of the new Electoral Law and the choosing of the new magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Council. But the most important thing is moving up the elections, for which the date must be moved up for the conclusion of included work, in addition to the legal work, logistical in nature, for September 30 of this year 2019, and carry out the elections in February or March of 2020 at the latest, with the participation of at least all the national and international observers who were at the elections of 1990. I am clear that National Dialogue must create a Special Commission that will present to the Dialogue Table the new proposed Electoral Law and the new composition of the Supreme [Electoral] Council, to then take it to the National Assembly. This Commission must work throughout the month of April and probably a good part of the month of May to be able to conclude their work.

In all likelihood the Final Agreement of the National Dialogue can be signed at the end of April or mid May, which will have a sufficient time frame of 6 months to do all the legal and logistical tasks, including the new electoral roll, identification cards of all Nicaraguan citizens without exception, the possible vote of Nicaraguans outside the country, the composition of the provincial, municipal electoral councils and polling boards, without excluding the most important element, which is the granting of legal status to all the political parties or movements that want to participate in these elections, without any exclusions. For the electoral campaign itself, it is enough that it take place in a 4 month period, which is why there is no problem at all that the elections would be in February or March in 2020, and that presidential, legislative and municipal council elections be included; including mayors and vice mayors. This new National Assembly should be granted the faculties of a Constituent National Assembly to write a new Constitution in the terms of 1 year.

Moving up the elections, that would imply a Constitutional reform be done in two legislative periods, but this very year, reforming the Organic Law of the National Assembly [can be done] so that the first legislative period would end this July 15th and the second conclude the 15th of December, so that everything be done in accordance with the Constitution and existing law.

It is important to note that since the expiration of the terms of the magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Council as well as those of the Supreme Court happens on April 10th, their current periods should be extended, as the Constitution establishes, until the Final Agreement is achieved in the National Dialogue about their new members and this Accord. After it is made effective in the National Assembly in June of this year at the latest, it should be the people approved in the National Dialogue who are elected by the deputies of the National Assembly.

The second possibility that seems very difficult at this point but that should not be discarded, because the blue and white organizations have proposed it, that is to say the UNAB and other social organizations, is that the resignation of the President and Vice president of the Republic would happen, and the Presidency be assumed by a deputy elected by consensus in the National Assembly, or in fact a Transitional Government Junta, and the elections are done before, maybe in November of this year, under that President of that Government Junta, which also requires its corresponding Constitutional Reform.

On the issue of justice and the other topics pending in the Dialogue about the implementation of the Accords and the Guarantors, as well as the issue of the suspension of the sanctions, they are topics so important that if is preferible to make reflections about them in the next article.

Rafael Solís Cerda

March 27, 2019

San José, Costa Rica

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

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: