Several member nations of the U.N., including Russia and China, tried Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, to block an effort by the Trump administration to push the U.N. Security Council to confront the deadly violence that has consumed Nicaragua and left more than 300 dead.
The governments of Bolivia, China and Russia are leading the opposition against U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is seeking to use her first meeting as this month’s president of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council to warn the international community that the region could face economic, immigration and security consequences if steps are not taken to stop Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
Haley opened to the public a normally closed meeting at which the Security Council sets the agenda for the next day’s full meeting.
Bolivia’s representative to the U.N., Sacha Llorenti and other members questioned the role of the Security Council in Nicaragua’s sovereign affairs. Llorenti, who was also joined by five other members, said the Security Council should restrict its work to “cases that threaten international peace and security.”
Haley cited the crisis in Venezuela and argued that all the explanations against having the meeting on Nicaragua, such as peace and security, being a regional issue, and more an issue for the human rights council, are the “exact same responses” that were given in opposition to holding a meeting on Venezuela.
“How many people have to die before it becomes a matter of peace and security,” Haley told the Security Council on Tuesday when scheduling the full session for Wednesday. “I think we’ve already reached that point. It’s why the United States felt it was very important to have this meeting on Nicaragua. Because we don’t want another Syria. We don’t want another Venezuela.”
The issue of whether to hold a full Security Council meeting on Nicaragua now comes up for a vote. Haley will need nine members of the council to support the agenda item for the full meeting to continue Wednesday. If all the countries who expressed some concerns, including Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Kuwait, vote against the agenda item it won’t occur.
“Although we deplore the internal situation in that Latin American country and we call on the government of Nicaragua to do its utmost to arrive at a solution to this domestic problem, our government is of the view that this is a situation that is not yet ripe for debate in the Security Council,” said Anatolio Ndong Mba, Equatorial Guinea’s U.N. ambassador.
But U.S. Mission officials said they’re confident they’ll have the nine votes and the meeting will continue.
This is the first time the U.N. Security Council will publicly address the Nicaragua crisis since peaceful demonstrations turned violent in April.
If Nicaragua attends the Security Council session today (Wednesday), it would be the first time Haley has publicly confronted the Ortega government. But she is coming before the council with no specific requests for action.
Hundreds of people have been killed since the Ortega government responded to student demonstrations over cuts to pension benefits with military forces and police who indiscriminately fired tear gas and rubber bullets to dissolve demonstrations.
Last week, Ortega expelled a United Nations human rights team after the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report blaming his government for the violent repression of opposition protests.
Ortega also accused the U.N. team of fueling the violence.
Nicaragua has long been seen as one of the safest countries in the region, drawing American tourists.
But now flights going to Nicaragua are largely empty as sweeping protests have shattered the image of a peaceful country. The U.S. State Department has warned Americans against visiting Nicaragua and pulled the families of embassy staff from the country.
If today’s session is approved by the council, Gonzalo Koncke, chief of staff for the OAS secretary-general, will provide an update on the OAS work for the U.N. Security Council. And political activist and opposition leader Felix Maradiaga, one of the best-known leaders of the anti-Ortega movement, will share insight about conditions on the ground in Nicaragua.
Haley has not been shy about using her platform at the United Nations to push the international community to confront uncomfortable subjects.
With files from the Tribune News Service