The Dialogue between the Government and the Civic Alliance was restarted on Feb 27 with daily meetings, so far just to set the framework and the agenda. It was reported that a key issue in dispute was the fact that the Civic Alliance wanted the Nicaraguan Bishop´s Conference to act as witness and accompanier, and the OAS and the UN to act as guarantors of the process. It was reported that the Government was opposed to both, as Daniel Ortega has accused the Bishops of being coup supporters and had expelled the OAS´s mission in Nicaragua a day before they issued their report on the crisis. The Bishop´s conference said they would only consider playing that role if they got an invitation from both sides. The Bishops confirmed the reception of an invitation on March 4th. They responded on March 8th with the following press release:
Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua
Press release 3-8 19
[See original Spanish at : https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D1Kgh5qXcAAtQ1u.jpg:large]
To our priests, religious, the people of God who have trusted in us, and all Nicaraguans of good will.
We, the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, meeting in an extraordinary session today, after praying and reflecting on the invitation received by Cardinal Archbishop Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano as President of this Conference, on the part of the Government of Nicaragua and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, to participate as National Witness and Accompanier in the conversations of the Negotiation Roundtable installed in INCAE, being accompanied by two advisors, have concluded the following:
- As we have stated in our press release last Monday March 4, we think that “ in this historical moment our greatest contribution as Pastors of this Church on pilgrimage in Nicaragua will continue being accompanying the people in their suffering and pain, in their hopes and joys, and raising our prayers of intercession so that Nicaragua might find civilized and just paths for a peaceful solution in view of the common good.”
- We reiterate our gratefulness because at some moment in this process we have been taken into account, and we recall with the Holy Father that it is important to “know how to devise a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society.”. (CF. Evangelii Guadium, 239). We hope that these negotiations might have that spirit of the search for truth and justice.
- We are convinced with St,. John Paul II, who on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Lay Apostolate in Rome (November 26, 2000) stated that “the hour of the laity has sounded”. Therefore, we feel that it should be the laypeople who directly take on the responsibility of managing in this moment the temporal affairs of the Nation.
- Consequently, we desire that this effort attain a good goal, and we report that we have responded to the received letter, communicating to the participants that we will not be present physically in the forum of the negotiations, but we will accompany as pastors these crucial moments of our Country, exercising our prophetic mission and dedicating ourselves “to prayer and the ministry of the Word” (Acts 7:4).
Once more “we exhort the believing people to intensify, particularly in this time of Lent, their prayers and fasting for our Country. That the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, obtain for us from her Son the capacity to be builders of true peace”.
Issued in the Offices of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua on the fifth day of the month of March of two thousand nineteen, Year of the Lord.
Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara, sdb
Bishop of Estelí
Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua
There were some press reports revealing a division within the Episcopal Conference, with some bishops insisting that the Government had not shown a willingness to dialogue by continuing to hold political prisoners and not allowing freedom of assembly or press.
The Government followed the next day with the following press release:
Saturday, March 9, 2019
Government of National Unity and Reconciliation
United Nicaragua Triumphs
Committed to the strengthening of democracy and respect for the Constitutional order of Nicaragua, and taking into account that Presidential and Legislative Elections are set for 2021, the Government of Nicaragua, through its representation in the Negotiation Table, has presented the following agenda points:
- Strengthening the Electoral Institutions of Nicaragua through the implementation of the recommendations of the electoral accompaniment mission of the the OAS and electoral reform proposals which would improve free, fair and transparent electoral processes.
- Justice and reparations to continue establishing peace, security and stability in Nicaragua.
- Liberation of prisoners within the context of criminal acts that occurred starting in April 2018 against the State of Nicaragua, that still have not been tried, and those tried. Their records will be reviewed, a situation that should not lead to impunity.
Continue strengthening freedoms, rights and guarantees established in the Constitution of the Republic.
- Carry out international negotiations to obtain support for the implementation of the final accords of the negotiations, and make a call to the International Community to suspend all sanctions against the Nicaraguan people, to facilitate the right to human, economic and social development of Nicaragua, benefitting the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
- Implementation and fulfillment of the accords.
The Government of National Unity and Reconciliation reiterates a complete commitment to Reconciliation, Understanding and Peace for all Nicaraguans.
Ministry of Foreign Relations
Government of National Unity and Reconciliation
Republic of Nicaragua
March 9, 2019
This was followed by a press release from the Blue and White National Unity:
Press Release #21
Press Release on the Announcement of the Absence of the Nicaraguan Bishop´s Conference (CEN) in the Negotiations
The Blue and White National Unity evaluates the announcement of the absence of the CEN in the negotiations as an act of seriousness and dignity of those who have shown a clear commitment to the demands of the citizenry, before and during the heroic deeds of April.
The regime called for negotiations, showing a false intent, after 8 sessions it has not complied with any of the demands expressed through the Civic Alliance. Very much to the contrary, it continues leading one of the biggest massacres in the history of the country against a completely unarmed people.
It is using the dialogue table as a smoke screen to continue dismantling the country, just as it did with the tax reform and the trafficking of the money of BanCorp, making the citizenry pay for the money that the Ortega Murillo family and their allies embezzled from the Venezuelan aid.
We echo the demand of the political prisoners on a hunger strike, that they “are not bargaining chips” nor “objects for exchange”, all are innocent, and demanding rights does not constitute a crime.
We demand a peaceful solution, preceded by the immediate liberation of all the political prisoners, the end of the repression, freedom of mobilization, association, freedom of the press and the return of exiles with guarantees.
A solution to the crisis is urgent, but not any solution. It should incorporate the return of fundamental rights, early elections after the reform of the electoral system, and justice for the victims without amnesty.
A dialogue can only be credible with the CEN as mediator, the presence from the beginning of international guarantors, and the return of the IACHR, MESENI, GIEI and the OHCHR.
We call on the international community to immediately proceed with the Democratic Charter of the OAS, in the face of the repeated non compliance with the commitments signed by the State of Nicaragua within the framework of human rights.
The Blue and White National Unity redoubles its efforts to raise the citizen claims, demanding freedom of the political prisoners and democracy with justice.
Blue and White National Unity
March 9, 2019