HAVANA TIMES – The Nicaraguan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CEN) called on the government of Daniel Ortega today to adopt four “concrete steps” that would “pave the way for the realization of a dialogue.” The bishops set a deadline of noon on Monday for the Sandinista Executive to respond and then put a start date on the dialogue to find an exit to the crisis that affects the country.
“It would be positive” for the government to take concrete steps to be able to set a date for the dialogue, said Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, president of CEN. The first is “to invite the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to clarify the deaths and disappearance of Nicaraguans.”
Secondly, is should “suppress paramilitary bodies and shock forces” that assault university students and citizens, “and not use the National Police” in repressive actions against the population.
The bishops demand an immediate end to “all repression against civc groups that peacefully protest and ensure the physical integrity of the university students” and the people that will take part in the National Dialogue.
The bishops also called on the government to respect “the dignity and freedom” of government employees, and stop forcing them to attend Sandinista Party activities. Likewise, that it stop using public transport buses to transport their supporters, leaving the rest of the country it is on foot.
Previously, the university students had taken the step that was missing, by electing their representatives and defining their agenda topics, so they declared themselves ready to begin the national dialogue. They called on the bishops of the Episcopal Conference, to indicate “the date and the time for the opening of the dialogue.”
IACHR: first agenda item of the dialogue
Up until the press conference, the selection of agenda items and representatives was joined by the demand to stop the repression, and to invite the IACHR to the country as preconditions to start the talks.
Although the Ortega regime continues to attack the students who protest in the universities, and has not invited the IACHR, both the students and civil society, and the private sector employers, agreed that they will go to the national dialogue.
“Despite the pain and emotional trauma that the loss and disappearance of at least 66 Nicaraguans has meant, we firmly believe in a peaceful solution through national dialogue,” says a statement signed by “students, representatives of civil society and the private sector “, in a press conference in which the students were given prominence, while the other sectors formed behind them as a sign of agreement.
In addition to maintaining the demand for the end of the repression, which in the last 24 hours already caused 3 more deaths, the group insisted on demanding that the IACHR be allowed to come to the country, with the addition of also inviting the United Nations rapporteurs for Human Rights issues. This will be, according to the participants, the first item on the agenda of the National Dialogue.
“We know that for two years that this government has not allowed the IACHR to enter the country, but we insist that it must be allowed to come, because we will only accept human rights organizations that have experience and capacity, and that issue is not subject to negotiation. We do not accept the ‘truth commission’ created by the National Assembly, because in Nicaragua there is no division of powers and that commission will not try to learn the truth,” said Azahalea Solis, of the Autonomous Women’s Movement.
Although the idea of a national strike is still valid in peoples’ minds, and there are already partial stoppages of taxis in Managua, as well as road blocks in several cities, the students, private sector and civil society are betting on first exhausting preliminary stages, aware of the high economic cost of a work stoppage.
“We see dialogue as the only option, whatever happens. We all see it that way … we want to seek in the national dialogue, the mechanisms that guarantee the safekeeping of all,” said Juan Sebastian Chamorro, director of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides).
“We must give time and space to a dialogue,” a process that we hope “will be addressed in a sincere manner. If that does not work, you will see other options at that time,” said Chamorro.
The feminist leader Solis believes that “the government does not have the will to dialogue. The night of terror lived last night [the early hours of this Friday], shows that the regime does not have the political will to find a peaceful solution. ”
In reference to the veto of Ernesto Medina Sandino, rector of the American University (UAM) to take part in the dialogue, student representative Victor Cuadras said that they supported the professor, while rejecting the interference of the government, “that doesn’t have the right to say who represents us or not.”