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Dialogue restarts facing internal and external challenges

News from Nicaragua | Monday, 4 March 2019 |

On 25 February President Daniel Ortega announced that a dialogue process would restart to ‘restore peace and security’ and to ‘open a new route to understanding’. In advance of the start of the process over 120 people accused of offences related to last year’s protests were freed.

Unlike the dialogue that collapsed in disarray last May, this process will take a very different form. It will be involve six government representatives led by Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, and six members of the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Peace headed by Carlos Tunnerman. Initially the Papal Nuncio Stanislav Sonnetag and Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes are acting as witnesses with no formal role.

According to a comunique, the first three days of the meeting approved a ‘roadmap for negotiation’. This consists of a framework to govern the negotiations to guarantee commitment of both parties to the process. It also includes a more detailed elaboration of how decisions will be taken, meeting schedules, communication and dissemination policy, the nature of the agreements and logistical aspects.

With Venezuela facing severe US sanctions and threats of US military action, Nicaragua needs to find a political and economic path out of the crisis or at least an agreement that that would forestall the implementation of further action by the US and avoid threatened EU sanctions.

The Civic Alliance is demanding the release of all those imprisoned because of offences committed during protests; the restoration of freedoms, rights and guarantees established in the Constitution that they believe are being denied; electoral reforms; and justice.

The dialogue process faces not only internal challenges but also the belligerence of the Trump administration that has chosen to label Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua the ‘troika of tyranny’ that must be removed.

To what extent will the US manipulate the process behind the scenes? If an internal agreement is reached that doesn’t satisfy the US – National Security Advisor John Bolton recently stated that Daniel Ortega is on his way out by whatever means- will the US continue their ideologically charged destabilisation attempts?

A poll published by M&R Consultores on 26 February indicated that what the overwhelming majority of Nicaraguans want is dialogue, peace and stability to guarantee the wellbeing of their families and communities. The current peace process is vital to achieving this.