Consensus Appears Far Off

The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (ECN) on Friday tried to revive the national dialogue in an effort to bring a resolution to a crisis of almost two months that has left at least 165 dead. But there was no consensus.

In the morning, the bishops called for President Daniel Ortega to allow delegations from international human rights organizations into Nicaragua to carry out independent probes into the violence. Civic leaders supported the proposal, but the government insisted that before international observers would be allowed, protests would have to remove the barricades, ‘tranques” in Spanish.

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The tranques have been erected countrywide to fight off anti-riot police and paramilitaries forces accused of most of the killings.

“There should be no fear or hindrance” of rights activists entering, said Managua’s outspoken auxiliary bishop Silvio Jose Baez, saying their arrival would “restore justice by establishing the culprits of the massacre.”

“No to impunity.”

Expected in the afternoon session was Ortega’s long-awaited response to the proposal set forth by the bishops more than a week ago, in a one-on-one meeting with Ortega.

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However, the talks were stalled and it is not clear when they would resume.

The country has been in chaos since April 18 when a peaceful protest against the pension reforms, that was quickly overturned by Ortega within days of their announcement, turned into a mass uprising, with protestors demanding Ortega and his wife and vice-president, Rosario Murillo, resign and call new elections.

President Ortega has said he has no intention of stepping down.

On Friday, Nicaragua’s Center for Human Rights (CENIDH raised the death toll to 165.

Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, leading the government delegation in place of Ortega at the dialogue table, affirmed that Nicaragua was suffering “an unprecedented savagery; a wave of crimes that dismay, that frightens.”

The Foreign Minister accused the protestors for the insecurity of Nicaraguans, that they cannot go out after dark.

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Medardo Mairena, a leader of campesino movement, accused the Ortega administration of “wasting time” and “mocking the process” of dialogue.

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