The Nica-News Roundup: Eve of Negotiation Edition (UPDATED)

In this edition:

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post was updated to include OrMu administration statements, released after original posting.


OrMu Administration Mostly Tight Lipped About Negotiations, Except for Pleasantries.

OrMu and the Alianza begin negotiations tomorrow in Managua, and the stakes could not be higher. Yet on the eve of negotiations, the OrMu administration remains absolutely mum on the subject. As of this writing, we don’t even know who will be OrMu’s negotiators, or what the administration’s agenda might be. In fact, if you peruse any of the official propaganda outlets, you wouldn’t even know that there is anything important going on tomorrow at all. Just check out what some of the OrMu media outlets have chosen to pin.

Canal 4 and El19Digital pinned tweets published on Feb. 21, about the celebration of the 85th anniversary of Sandino’s assassination, while Viva Nicaragua 13 is hawking the official t-shirts for the Nicaragua vs. Puerto Rico baseball game.

“Commemorative act: 85th anniversary of General Sandino’s transit to immortality”

“Sandino: 85 years of Nicaraguan character, immense spirituality, heroic battles.”

pinned tweet, on the Nicaragua vs. Puerto Rico baseball game.

“Attention fans! Get your International Baseball Series official t-shirts: Nicaragua vs. Puerto Rico. Available at the store of the national stadium.

In other words, it was business as usual in propaganda land, that is, until this afternoon. First, the Comision de la Verdad, Justicia, y Paz (CVJP), an entity impanelled by the Nicaraguan National Assembly to investigate the events transpiring since April of last year, issued a statement. The CVJP reminded everyone that listening is a key part of any negotiation.

“The art of listening requires understanding the reasons and principles of the other side, particularly in regards to disagreements.

In addition, the CVPJ hinted at one of the points that the administration could bring to the table, namely mental health. According to the press release, “the negotiation must define lines or public policies that will allow us to deal with the issue of mental health, which was severely affected during the events that began in April of 2018, and that still negatively impact the psyche and behavior of most of our people.”

Shortly after the release of the CVPJ statement, the Consejo de Comunicación y Ciudadanía, the OrMu administration’s communication and propaganda arm, released another statement, written in the hallmark style of Rosario Murillo. The statement began by reminding everyone that today is the 41st anniversary of the “Heroic Stand at Monimbó”:

Our hearts, joined in brotherhood with the families of that Great Indigenous Community [Monimbo], remembers our fallen, and calls upon those Great Spirits to accompany from the heavens all efforts that Nicaraguans of Good Will are making, so that the Conversations and Encounters that will start tomorrow will unfold with the common good in mind.

In other words, the OrMu administration delivered pleasantries.


Alianza Hints OAS and UN as Guarantors for Negotiation.

The Alianza has been far more forthcoming with information that the OrMu administration. They have disclosed their team and negotiation agenda, and they even had Dr. Carlos Tunnermann, one of their principals, go on Esta Semana to reassure the Nicaraguan people that we’re not going to get screwed over, again. Dr. Tunnermann told journalist Cindy Regidor that, in his opinion, the Alianza had earned the trust of the people during the National Dialogue held last year. Now, he said, “I just ask for their confidence, because you can’t expect to solve all problems on the first day. Problems will be solved gradually, and we must be patient. Nevertheless, we don’t believe that this dialogue should drag on […] because a solution to the socio-political crisis is urgent.”

Later in the interview, Dr. Tunnermann said that the presence of “international guarantors” was essential for this new round of negotiations to succeed. According to Tunnermann, international organizations like the OAS and the UN can guarantee that any agreements reached through negotiation will be carried out.

Today, anonymous sources linked to the Alianza told La Prensa that the coalition would, in fact, propose the OAS and the UN as guarantors. However, when Wilfredo Miranda asked OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro about this possibility, Mr. Almagro avoided answering.

Whether OrMu accepts international guarantors remains to be seen.



OrMu Cops go After Jose Pallais, Because He’s a Coup Monger.

Jose Pallais, the former assemblyman for the Liberal Party, who is one of the principals in the Alianza’s negotiating team, had an unexpected visit yesterday, when Police Commissioner Fidel Dominguez came to his house to “arrest him for being a coup monger.”  Pallais described how Dominguez came to his home, in Leon, looking for him. When he didn’t find Pallais, Dominguez forcefully grabbed Pallais’ wife and hit her.

“My wife opened the door and asked for an explanation. She asked Dominguez what his problem was. He answered that he was looking for me, because I took part in the coup. Then, he grabbed her forcefully, and he hit her violently. That is an act of cowardice, to hit a woman,” said Pallais to La Prensa.

The Alianza condemned the aggression against Pallais’ wife, stating that it would report it to the Nicaraguan Church and the Papal Nuncio. The aggression was characterized as “an attempt at intimidation, prior to the start of the first negotiation session between our alliance and the government.”

In OrMu land, that is considered an auspicious start.


Bryan Aburto Murdered in Managua; OrMu Police Describes Him as a Criminal

Bryan Aburto, an 18-year-old student who was active in the protests against Ortega, was found murdered on Monday. Mr. Aburto was beaten to death with a blunt object. Aburto had fled to Costa Rica after receiving death threats because of his involvement in the protests at the Polytechnic University (UPOLI), but decided to return to Nicaragua.

Today, the OrMu police issued a press release, declaring that the murder had been solved. The same press release suggested that Aburto was involved in some kind of criminal activity gone awry, at the time of his death. According to the police, Mr. Aburto had a criminal record “for robbery and drug possession.”

The police in Nicaragua lost all credibility through its active participation in repressive acts against the Nicaragua people. These acts have been, and continue to be, amply documented through testimonies and videos, such as the one’s compiled by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) (for GIEI’s analysis of police actions, refer to their report, which is available here)

In other words, buyer beware. Many Nicaraguans will never believe the OrMu police again, no matter what it says.


Political Prisoners Shouldn’t be Pawns. Could Some be Released?

According to the Comite Pro Liberación de Presos Políticos, there are at least 777 political prisoners held in OrMu’s jails. Today, Confidencial broke down the data from the Comite into very useful info graphs. The data show that most prisoners are male. In addition, only 138 prisoners have been sentenced, whereas 407 are currently being tried, and 232 are detained, pending legal action. Here is one of the infographics, posted by journalist Yader Luna.

The conditions inside OrMu’s prison system are dismal, and have been reported as such by anyone who is not associated with the OrMu dictatorship. For example, European Parlimentarian Jose Inacio Faria told Confidencial that the cells in El Chipote as not even fit for pigs:

In El Chipote, the conditions are subhuman… you wouldn’t even raise hogs in those conditions. The pigs in my country are kept in better places than in those cells. It is inadmissible. It is an embarrassment.

Faria was one of the EU Parliament delegates who met with Miguel Mora. earlier this month. At the time, Mr. Faria described Mora as being nearly blind, due to prolonged captivity in a windowless cell. Mora began a hunger strike seven days ago, and his wife, Veronica Chavez, has repeatedly been denied access to her husband, in spite of multiple requests.

Political prisoners are at the top of the list of priorities for the Alianza. However, as Vilma Nuñez explained, human rights are non-negotiable. Nuñez is the president of the Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH), which is one of the non-gubernental organizations that OrMu’s Assembly shut down in December of last year. Nuñez said that imprisoning people without just cause is a human rights violation, and she warned the Alianza that negotiating while so many political prisoners were still in confinement was unwise:

“To unjustly deprive someone of their freedom is to violate their human rights. Torture, harassment, persecution in the streets; the impossibility of demonstrating publicly… the representatives of the Alliance can’t hold a dialogue that way, with what’s essentially a gun held to their temple. They’re running a tremendous risk, on the one hand of failing the people and on the other of having Ortega take action against them,”

Unfortunately, the Alianza does not agree with this position, and negotiations will move forward without any preconditions. However, news broke this afternoon, via Julio Montenegro‘s twitter feed. According to Mr. Montenegro, OrMu could release around 100 prisoners tomorrow.

We can only hope that they actually do it.



FIDH Plans to Picket Nicaraguan Embassies

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH, by its French acronym), announced its intention to picket Nicaraguan embassies and consulates abroad today. The organization estimates that there are at least 762 political prisoners in the country, in addition to other “grave human rights violations.” In addition, the organization launched a social media campaign, demanding the restoration of human rights in Nicaragua.

And that’s a wrap…