After a year of gaining international attention for all the wrong reasons, Nicaraguan President Danny Ortega has announced the resumption of “talks” with the opposition. President Ortega is growing increasingly isolated as a result of his crackdown on the press and political dissidents, and the opposition is looking to air grievances that go far beyond their original objections to last year’s proposed social security reforms. Hopefully, more comes of the mediation attempts than a series of handshakes, smiles and soundbites in front of cameras.
“We are all going to meet in reconciliation and in affection,” [Vice President] Murillo said Monday in one of her frequent appearances on official television. The official website El 19 said the talks would be between the government and the private business sector.
Ortega, a 73-year-old former guerrilla, announced last week that negotiations would take place “to consolidate peace,” and the opposition group Civic Alliance said soon after that its delegation would comprise six businesspeople, two students, two academics, a politician and a feminist lawyer.
But that brought criticism from others in the opposition, in part because it did not include a farmworkers’ movement that supported the student protests last year. Three of its leaders were given lengthy prison sentences related to their rural protests the same day Ortega announced the talks.