Peace talks between President Ortega’s administration and the nation’s political opposition are making exciting progress in Nicaragua. Hopefully, the crisis will be resolved before the arrival of the first anniversary of the regime’s violent, systematic repression of political dissent.
Government talks resumed with the opposition last month after a first attempt at agreement fell apart, but have foundered so far on opposition demands that imprisoned protesters be freed and electoral reforms implemented. The Catholic Church, which had been acting as mediator, pulled out of the discussions Friday.
The opposition Civic Alliance had said it would consult with its popular bases over the weekend on whether it should continue with the talks. It did not give any immediate reaction to Saturday’s government announcement.
In a statement, the government announced a series of agenda points it said it would take to the opposition representatives.
It said it was committed to the “release of prisoners in the context of criminal acts that occurred as of April 2018 against the state of Nicaragua, who have not yet been tried.”
100 freed last month
The government freed 100 prisoners last month, just before the start of the new talks. Rights groups responded by calling for the release of an additional 566 people they said were still incarcerated for their alleged role in the protests, including several prominent journalists and rights activists.
The impoverished Central American country is suffering its bloodiest crisis since an 11-year civil war ended in 1990, badly damaging the economy and sending at least 30,000 people into exile.
Critics of Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla who first ruled between 1979 and 1990, say his government has steadily eroded legitimate opposition, allowing him to consolidate power in his latest stint as president since 2007.
Saturday’s statement said that the government would implement electoral reforms ahead of a 2021 presidential vote, as recommended by the Organization of American States (OAS). It also called for the “international community to suspend all sanctions against the Nicaraguan people.”