Belinda Peña didn’t sleep on Saturday night. At two in the morning she left from the State of New Jersey for Washington D.C. Before leaving her house, she made sure to mount the placard she had prepared in the vehicle.
“Stop Genocide in Nicaragua,” says the white cardboard sign that Sunday morning rose in front of the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), on the eve of the inauguration of the 48th General Assembly of this hemispheric body.
Peña joined the caravan of compatriots that left from New York City, whose destination was 17th Street, Constitution Avenue of the US capital. More than thirty Nicaraguans stood outside the main entrance of the OAS to demand that the massacre perpetrated by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo be included on the agenda to be discussed by the General Assembly which sessions on Monday.
“From 2:00 a.m. we are traveling to make a representation of the Nicaraguan people before the OAS, so that we are included on the agenda,” said Peña, at nine in the morning Washington time. “We want the Ortega government to be recognized as a dictatorial government, which is killing people every day as happens in Venezuela,” added the woman who has lived in the United States for 25 years.
The persistent downpour that soaked Washington this Sunday didn’t matter. The Nicaraguan Diaspora remained for several hours outside the building “Casa de las Americas” shouting slogans: “They were students, they were not criminals”, “Ortega and (Luis) Almagro are the same thing”. [Almagro is the OAS secretary general who thus far supports Ortega staying in office.]
— Wilfredo Miranda Aburto (@PiruloAr) 4 de junio de 2018
“We ask the OAS to denounce the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. We demand that the Latin American foreign ministers deplore the repression and ask for their resignation. Leave the people in peace! “exclaimed Eduardo Salgado, a Nicaraguan emigrant.
While the Nicaraguans held their protest in the rain outside of the OAS building, the “Dialogue of civil society organizations and other actors” was held with representatives of the member states of the organization. An activity prior to the inauguration of the General Assembly that will be installed on Monday.
The issue of Nicaragua is not included on the agenda pre-approved by the OAS. Diplomatic sources assured Confidential that the Nicaraguan massacre did not come up in the previous working groups held by the members of the organization, but did not rule out that it could be included at the last minute due to the “worsening of the situation.”
Other diplomatic sources believe that Canada could move to include the issue of Nicaragua prior to the vote on the agenda, and that Brazil could second the motion. This Sunday, during the meeting with civil society organizations, Costa Rica was the first country to refer to the April massacre. The Venezuelan crisis will clearly be the main topic of the General Assembly discussions.
Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States
Not all the representatives of the countries took the floor at the meeting with Civil Society. Among those who did refer to the Nicaraguan massacre were representatives from Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States.
Parte de la intervención de la doctora Vilma Núñez, presidenta del @cenidh, en la reunión de la sociedad civil y representantes de los estados en la @OEA_oficial #SOSNicaragua. pic.twitter.com/qm4TX4iJEa
— Wilfredo Miranda Aburto (@PiruloAr) 3 de junio de 2018
“Costa Rica reiterates its commitment to the hemispheric institutions on Human Rights and expresses its concern about the challenges in this area in the region, particularly the victims of violence in Nicaragua,” said Epsy Campbell, vice president and foreign minister.
The Mexican representative, Jorge Lompnaco, said at the meeting that we will have to “work together to enforce what we promised on the Inter-American Charter: That they be values, not rhetoric.”
Carlos Trujillo, US ambassador to the OAS, recommended the Ortega government comply with the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). He said that Nicaragua needs “democratic reforms”, “accountability” and to “seek justice”.
On the other hand, the organizations of Civil Society mentioned in the meeting the massacre in Nicaragua. “We call attention to the escalation of violence and repression in Nicaragua. In this country, the police forces, as well as groups tied to the government, are violating the rights of Nicaraguans,” said the International Coalition for Human Rights of the Americas.
The human rights organizations of the continent are grouped in coalitions to participate in this meeting at the OAS. The Coalition on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in America emphasized that “there are serious crimes against humanity that cannot go unpunished in a dialogue that only aspires to pass the storm to maintain power.”
La masacre #SOSNicaragua ya comienza a ser mencionada por miembros de la Sociedad Civil de las Américas en la reunión con los representantes estados en la @OEA_oficial. Delegación nica mantiene pancartas #SOSNicaragua pic.twitter.com/DknujwhhRU
— Wilfredo Miranda Aburto (@PiruloAr) 3 de junio de 2018
For the Nicaraguan civic organizations attending the meeting was the president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), Vilma Nuñez, and the ‘Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy’, composed of university students, business people and members of civil society.
“With firmness and courage we call attention to the escalation of violence and repression in my country, Nicaragua, where the police forces, whose supreme leader is Daniel Ortega, along with shock groups organized by his government, are violating the rights of Nicaraguans,”, said Nunez.
She added that in light of more than a hundred deaths, and more than a thousand wounded, “this grave situation” cannot be ignored on the agenda of this General Assembly. According to her, they must analyze it and demand that the State of Nicaragua immediately cease the repression and comply with the recommendations of the IACHR in its preliminary report.
The Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, was on the central podium of the event. Not only Nunez referred directly to the Uruguayan, who has announced a process of negotiating electoral reforms with Ortega.
“We see with deep concern the complacent performance of the OAS. Its time frame and the reading of what happens in the country do not correspond to the seriousness of the situation we are living, “said Guillermo Incer, director of the Institute of Social Research and Management (INGES).
“In that sense, we have come to this Forum not to give a vote of confidence to the OAS, but to the contrary, we have come to tell you that we will be attentive to every step you take, because we will not allow agreements be made behind the backs of the Nicaraguan people after so much blood has been spilled, “added Incer.
The organization Human Rights Watch issued a statement urging the foreign ministers of the OAS to discuss the Nicaraguan situation. The request was channeled through the Costa Rican Vice President and Foreign Minister, Epsy Campbell.