Thursday, May 26

Nicaraguan employers are willing to negotiate with Ortega the release of imprisoned businessmen | International

Objects with the image of Daniel Ortega are for sale on an avenue in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.
Objects with the image of Daniel Ortega are for sale on an avenue in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.OSWALDO RIVAS (AFP)

Representatives of Nicaragua’s main business chamber have expressed their willingness to negotiate with the Daniel Ortega regime. The board of directors of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) has affirmed in an internal document leaked by the press that it is willing to start a dialogue to achieve the release of the businessmen imprisoned last year, during the strong repression against critical voices that the Government unleashed prior to the presidential elections in which Ortega declared himself the winner. These are José Adán Aguerri and Michael Healy, former presidents of the chamber and the banker Álvaro Vargas. “Today we have to talk about a negotiation, dialogue, meeting, all due to three friends who are desperate and we owe it to them,” said César Zamora, current president of COSEP, according to the document. leaked thursday in the middle Divergent.

This week, a group of relatives of political prisoners have called for the unconditional release of those detained by the regime, which include seven presidential hopefuls, feminists, human rights defenders, political activists, former diplomats, university students and three former guerrillas. Sandinistas, who were Ortega’s companions in the guerrilla struggle against the Somocista dictatorship. “The freedom of our prisoners is not a matter of partisan preferences, nor is it a maneuver in a struggle for power. His release, rather, can be seen as the initial step in a process that leads to a greater degree of serenity for Nicaraguan homes, inside and outside our borders; and that it gradually helps reduce cracks in our society,” the relatives said in a letter made public last Tuesday.

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The leaking of the businessmen’s statement has generated discomfort not only among the relatives of the political prisoners, but also among other opposition organizations whose leaders have also been imprisoned by the regime. In fact, Zamora himself has expressed that “there is a strong environment against the private sector, there is very little willingness to engage in dialogue.” The business leader is aware that any rapprochement with the Ortega Executive will be viewed with disfavour in a country where 73% of the population considers the detention of critical voices unfair, according to a survey released in December by the firm Cid Gallup.

José Adán Aguerri had stated in 2018 in an interview with this newspaper that President Daniel Ortega should leave the Government “as soon as possible”. The affirmation was evidence of the rupture in the “relationship of consensus” that the country’s big businessmen maintained with Ortega for more than a decade, in which the great negotiations on economic issues were carried out between these two sides, without interlocutors. The president allowed them to do business, guaranteeing sustained stability with an iron fist, while he took over all the political power in this Central American country. “We businessmen were wrong with Daniel Ortega,” the now political prisoner admitted then.

After the criticism unleashed by the statement issued on Thursday, the employers have had to moderate their position and have affirmed that if there is a rapprochement with the regime, this must be without preconditions and with an eye toward freeing all detainees and not just to their employers. COSEP joined the statement from the relatives and in a press release reported: “We join this call full of hope, with the confidence that it supports a process that unifies all Nicaraguan citizens.” The businessmen added that they are committed “frankly to the search for viable solutions, prompt and without preconditions, that prioritize solving the crossroads that the nation is going through.”

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Political analyst Óscar René Vargas warns that if the businessmen finally negotiate with the president “they will play the dictator’s game.” “No one knows for sure what Ortega’s next move will be. It is part of his power. His ability to keep his next moves hidden, to mislead locals and strangers, to deceive big capital and the powers that be. After 15 years in power, politicians still have not figured out the dictator. The will to stay in power is still in his mind”, he explains.

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The news of the businessmen’s rapprochement comes while the regime is going through its worst legitimacy crisis after the November election results. Most countries on the continent rejected these results and have demanded that the elections be repeated, but with democratic guarantees and without political prisoners. Ortega is increasingly isolated, which is why he has had to turn to new allies in search of legitimacy and economic oxygen to maintain his authoritarian model. Recently, the Government has announced agreements with Iran, Russia and China, after breaking relations with Taiwan, an island that was the regime’s main donor. “Everything seems to indicate that Ortega is willing to continue pulling the rope (increasing repression, seeking the umbrella of his new strategic partners Russia and China, resigning from the OAS, issuing statements against Colombia, considering the US a systemic problem , etc.), which indicates that it promotes a strategy heavy metal to obtain international concessions that, from their perspective, guarantee their permanence in power and their role on the Central American political board,” says analyst Vargas.

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