Talks to resolve socio-political crisis resume in Nicaragua


Talks aimed at resolving Nicaragua’s deadly socio-political crisis resumed Wednesday between government and opposition representatives but without the participation of leftist President Daniel Ortega.

The Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua, Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag; and Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, the archbishop of Managua, are serving as observers to the negotiations, which have resumed after a national dialogue that began in mid-May 2018 was indefinitely suspended.

Sommertag conveyed the greetings of Pope Francis and his prayers and desire that Nicaragua’s socio-political crisis can be resolved responsibly and for the good of everyone.

He also read some remarks contained in a May 11, 2018, letter to Ortega from the pontiff, who said “humble and sincere dialogue is a good means of promoting peace and finding just and compassionate solutions to social and political problems.”

The negotiations are taking place behind closed doors at the Managua campus of the INCAE Business School.

The government’s delegation is led by Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, ruling-party lawmakers Edwin Castro, Jose Figueroa and Wilfredo Navarro, Judge Francisco Rosales and student leader Luis Andino.

The delegation of the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy is led by a former ambassador to the United States, Carlos Tunnermann, and the presidents of Nicaragua’s two main business federations, Jose Adan Aguerri and Mario Arana, respectively.

It also includes the executive director of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides), Juan Sebastian Chamorro; an opposition politician and former deputy foreign minister, Jose Pallais; and student leader Max Jerez.

Tunnermann told reporters that the agenda for the talks and methodology to be followed will be defined on Wednesday and that afterward the delegates will start discussing the issues in detail.

The Civic Alliance reiterated that it will call for the release of people detained during anti-government protests last year and the restoration of rights, freedoms and guarantees enshrined in Nicaragua’s constitution.

It also is demanding electoral reforms that guarantee fair, free and transparent elections and justice for the victims of the violent protests that began on April 18, 2018.

In the lead-up to the resumption of talks, Nicaragua’s unicameral legislature (controlled by Ortega’s allies) approved a controversial tax overhaul aimed at boosting the government’s coffers and addressing that Central American nation’s severe economic woes.

Those problems stem from the violent socio-political crisis that erupted last April after Ortega’s administration announced cuts to Nicaragua’s social security program.

Nicaragua’s severe crisis has left 325 dead since April, according to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, although some local humanitarian groups put the number killed since the anti-government demonstrations began at 561.

The government, for its part, only recognizes 199 deaths and says it is the target of a coup attempt by right-wing opponents.