The failure of the negotiations in Managua, given the lack of political will of the Ortega Murillo dictatorship, could accelerate international diplomatic sanctions, which until now are on standby in the face of expectations of the results of the political dialogue.
The refusal of the regime to advance the elections and favor a project of justice without impunity for the victims of the massacre, could set in motion the Nica Act, as well as the application of new sanctions of the European Union, and the application of the Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the coming weeks and months.
The Civic Alliance, as well as political and economic analysts, warn of the fulminating effect that these sanctions would have for the convalescent economy of the country, whose lifeline—all agree—is to reach a political agreement.
However a political agreement is remote: the Civic Alliance decided to “close” a negotiation that has not generated agreements on justice and democracy, while Ortega refuses to accept international guarantors.
Jose Adan Aguerri, President of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) and a negotiator of the Civic Alliance, points out that the fact of having signed two agreements with the government in INCAE will not succeed in stopping international sanctions.
To make matters worse, the two agreements signed on the total release of political prisoners and the restitution of freedoms have not been fulfilled by the government: they have barely released 200 political prisoners, and only to house arrest, and the police and paramilitary repression persists.
“If we do not reach agreements on justice and democracy, if we do not achieve a complete agreement, we will not avoid the economic downfall, much less the decision of the international community to sanction,” said Aguerri. “There are three instruments on the table: the Nica Act, that the European Union takes us out of the Association Agreement, and the application of the Inter-American Charter. Without agreements, you cannot stop any of that,” he warned.
The President of COSEP said that “society has a crisis of confidence,” which end up pushing the economy to the abyss: “tourism, investment, reserves, the balance of deposits in banks, consumption drops…that crisis of confidence does not stop if there is no political agreement,” Aguerri noted.
Although the government managed to sneak in the dialogue agenda “a call to the international community to suspend sanctions once agreements have been reached at the negotiating table,” the Civic Alliance distanced itself from “that call” claiming that complete results could not be obtained in the negotiation, especially for leaving out one of the issues that they consider “essential:” early elections.
“We said in the framework of the agreement that we were going to advocate for these sanctions not to affect the country, because we are not interested in worsening the situation. But, without agreements we cannot make that call,” insisted Mario Arana, one of the main negotiators of the Civic Alliance.
CAFTA directly affected
The OAS Permanent Council held a special session this Friday on Nicaragua. On the agenda of the day, the delegate of Luis Almagro in the dialogue, Luis Angel Rosadilla, presented a report on the failure of the dialogue.
Although at this session of the Permanent Council no resolution was to be voted, former foreign minister Francisco Aguirre Sacasa does not rule out that in the upcoming meetings the Inter-American Democratic Charter will be applied to the Ortega-Murillo government. Aguirre Sacasa foresees “a change in the correlation of forces” within the OAS.
“An interim representative of Juan Guaido will sit in the chair of Venezuela. The representative of El Salvador’s incoming president, Nayib Bukele, will no longer abstain…so the application of the Charter is possible,” Aguirre Sacasa says. “I do not know it this is important to Daniel Ortega, because I am no longer seeing a Daniel who understood the geopolitical game. If the Democratic Charter is applied, a lot of negative things will happen to our country,” warned the former foreign minister.
One of “those things” would be for the United States to expel Nicaragua from the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic (DR-CAFTA), according to Aguirre.
“That will have a disastrous impact on the free trade zones of Nicaragua, which depend of privileged access to the US market,” the former foreign minister said. “Another effect is that the suspension of aid from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) will be made permanent or persist.”
Aguirre said he has had contact with officials of the three multilateral organizations, who have confided that since January 1, 2018, they have not approved a single loan to Nicaragua. “Those contacts told me they were ready to send a rescue mission to Nicaragua; to rescue the economy before it falls into the precipice. But, if this dialogue does not prosper, if it is suspended, these institutions will not support Nicaragua,” he said.
“Ortega cannot re-start the economy”
Former deputy Eliseo Nunez said that with the failure of the dialogue, the financial system will feel the effects first, because the institutions will no longer bear the levels of default, while unemployment grows, credit is scarce and imports plummet.
“There is a huge reduction of consumption and that will affect the ability to maintain jobs and in the commercial area. Afterwards will come the fall of the free trade agreements and more sanctions of the United States, and there will begin a massive unemployment with the closure of free trade zones,” Nunez warns.
For the former legislator, Ortega “has not realized that he is defeated.” Nunez says that because, in his opinion, the dictator “can no longer generate confidence to get the economy back on track.”
Nunez does not see any logic in the political estimates of the dictatorship, but he is sure that Ortega is ready “to sail among rubble and hold on with rifles,” as Nicolas Maduro has done in Venezuela. Although Maduro has oil and gold, the Venezuelan devastation is rampant. Nunez doubts that Ortega will last years like “chavismo” following that premise.
“What Ortega is going to have is economic debris,” insisted Nunez. “It is a bad choice, because he had the opportunity to solve the crisis through dialogue. The population does not lose, he loses. In addition, Ortega pulverizes the Sandinista Front’s ability to move forward. He is doing to it the same thing that Somoza did to his PLN.”
“Something dissuaded Ortega from the dialogue”
Former foreign minister Aguirre said that “something” dissuaded Ortega from seeing as “an imperative” the dialogue at INCAE, just as he did at the beginning when he called for big capital to negotiate.
That “something” that made Ortega entrench himself in his lack of political will is related to the United States, according to Aguirre.
“Daniel Ortega is watching and learning about what is happening in Venezuela and happened in Cuba. He believes that the United States has no willingness to move from rhetoric to action. He sees that there is a rhetoric of the troika of tyranny, that in Washington they are angry with Russian and Chinese military presence in Venezuela; he sees that they have recognized the government of Guaido, but that has not forced Maduro to abandon power,” notes the former foreign minister, who added that that is “a myopic analysis on the part of Ortega.”
Although the United States has promised to “advance” in the application of measures against Ortega in the OAS and other spaces, Aguirre Sacasa believes that Washington will toughen the action against Managua, when “the first Nicaraguans begin to appear in the caravans of migrants” of the northern triangle of Central America that crowd in the US borders.
“Obliged by the economic crisis, Nicaraguans will sooner or later join those caravans. That will provoke what Ortega believes will never happen: a strong US reaction. The United States is accustomed to perceiving in Nicaraguan a retaining wall and an island of security in the middle of the Central American limbo, but that will no longer be the case,” said Aguirre.