While Weakening OAS Institutionality, US and Right-wing Opposition Fails to Achieve Objectives.

By Chuck Kaufman

(Original source material translated by Nan McCurdy)

Last week’s turbulent meeting of the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Medellin, Colombia, further weakened the regional body, virtually killed Secretary General Luis Almagro’s prospects for re-election, and dealt yet another devastating blow to the Nicaraguan opposition and the Trump administration.

Uruguay walked out of the meeting in protest of the seating of a delegation representing Venezuela’s US puppet, self-declared President Juan Guaidó. They were followed by Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Mexico. Uruguay did not return to the meeting although the other countries did. Almagro is from Uruguay. He has been expelled by his party over his unprofessional behavior with regard to Venezuela. Lack of support from his own country ought to deal a death blow to his re-election chances, although his current reign has so damaged the regional body’s institutionality that anything could happen.

Valdrack Jaentschke, head of Nicaragua’s OAS delegation said, “In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela there is a democratically elected constitutional government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros,” he said. He recalled that the government of President Maduro denounced the OAS Charter, complying with established procedures, and withdrew from this organization last April 27.

“It is clear that the legitimate government of Venezuela does not have legal representation in this 49th Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly,” he stressed. “To try to supplant that representation violates the OAS Charter which, in Articles 1 and 19, establishes the limits of the powers of this organization and the lack of authorization to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of the member states,” said the Nicaraguan representative. 

“In this 49th General Assembly, some countries intend to endorse and impose a representation that was not appointed by the legitimately constituted Government of Venezuela,” he insisted. He warned that this has produced an alteration of hemispheric institutionality, “unprecedented in the history of the OAS, attempting to legitimize governments by the de facto route, which constitutes a violation of the principle of legality that governs the inter-American system.

“Nicaragua does not agree with or endorse this manner of destroying and demolishing this organization. The Charter of the Organization of American States does not establish any power for the Permanent Council or the General Assembly to appoint the representatives of the States, ignore or supplant the governments of their member states, and therefore such actions are illegal, violating the OAS Charter and International Law,” he stressed.

“Every State has the right to choose its political, economic and social system without external interference. And to organize themselves in the way that suits them best,” he added. He said that any threat or use of force or coercive measures of an economic or political nature, such as against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, violates the UN Charter and Article 20 of the OAS Charter. “The Republic of Nicaragua requests that this presentation appear at the bottom of the page of this resolution,” concluded the Nicaraguan representative.

The Trump administration and the Nicaraguan opposition were also dealt another blow when the OAS General Assembly failed to invoke the Democratic Charter and kick Nicaragua out of the regional body.  The best they could do was get 20 votes for a nonbinding resolution, four votes short of what they needed. Manuel Espinoza, Director of the Regional Center for International Studies, said that what happened was that “expectations of the right-wing in Nicaragua were defeated” because “they expected a condemnation, but there was a simple non-binding resolution.” Although the United States strongly promoted the application of the Democratic Charter they did not have sufficient support.  A former Nicaraguan foreign minister on the opposition side had said that if the 24 votes were not obtained that would be a diplomatic defeat for the United States and for the opposition. 

Earlier in the week, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro undermined the US and opposition effort when he said that he sees progress in Nicaragua and that there is a government that governs, with President Daniel Ortega. The opposition had created great expectations that in June Nicaragua would be removed from the OAS and that they would presumably have the votes to do this, which did not happen. Almagro’s statement that he sees significant advances in Nicaragua with amnesty granted to all the coup-related prisoners, and that President Daniel Ortega governs in favor of the Nicaraguans, improving health and education, etc., was bitterly disappointing to the opposition and essentially cut the legs out from under the US strategy. The most radical sectors of the opposition in Nicaragua launched a ferocious attack on social networks against the Secretary General. On mass media and social networks the opposition accused Almagro of ingratiating himself with the Sandinista government and tried to discredit his statements to the newspaper El Colombiano. It is difficult to see a path for re-election for Almagro since he has alienated both the right and the left in the OAS.

Nicaraguan presidential advisor Valdrack Jaenstchke said the resolution sponsored by the United States, Canada and other countries “does not help strengthen peace and stability in Nicaragua, on the contrary it fuels confrontation and ignores the sovereignty and right of the Nicaraguan people to solve their own internal problems.” The government of Chile, seconded by Canada, proposed an amendment to the original draft. There were strong discussions among several delegations over the content of the resolution because it did not promote reconciliation among Nicaraguans but rather allowed foreign intervention in the country’s internal affairs. 

The resolution was passed with 20 votes in favor, 5 against, 8 abstentions and one absent.  It reflected the fact that the OAS was divided in the case of Nicaragua after the government fulfilled the commitments it made at the negotiating table to grant amnesty to prisoners prosecuted after last year’s acts of violence.

Jaentschke, urged the member states to stop the interfering and provocative practices that fuel the country’s internal destabilization. This is “yet another exercise in interference by a group of countries that forced this vote throughout this day. [It was] interference in the internal affairs of Nicaragua, which is nothing more than the modern version of what the Nicaraguan people have had to face throughout our history,” Valdrack said after the vote.

“Irrefutable proof of this interference against the people of Nicaragua is the judgment of the International Court of Justice in The Hague on June 27 1986, exactly 33 years ago yesterday, which found the United States government guilty of multiple violations of customary international law and humanitarian law to the detriment of Nicaragua, and also established reparations for the damages and suffering caused to the people of Nicaragua. Reparations that to date have not been honored,” recalled Jaentschke.  

“This new form of foreign interference extends to the use of a multilateral forum such as the OAS to promote internal destabilization and the threatening of impositions and sanctions with the sole purpose of helping internal sectors linked to the attempt to break the constitutional order through the direct overthrow of the legitimate government of Nicaragua.”  He urged “the member states of the OAS to stop once and for all the interfering and provocative practices that feed instability and that respond to the interests of a small group of countries that lack the moral authority to try to protect democracy and development in Nicaragua.”

Finally, he insisted that “the Government of Nicaragua remains firm in its commitment to continue working towards national unity, reconciliation and peace, defending the Constitution and creating the necessary conditions to deepen the democratic, economic, social and cultural conquests reached.”

 

BRIEFS 

By Nan McCurdy

Nicaraguan Resistance Reiterates Their Support for the Government
On June 27, members of the Nicaraguan Resistance (former contras) met and reaffirmed their commitment to an alliance with the Government, saying that it is the only Government that has looked after the people. “We commemorate this anniversary to demonstrate to all those gentlemen who want war that those of us who were at war do not want to have anything to do with war. Those who want war have never had to fire a shot, but those of us who lived the war do not want war. This government we have is the best that we Nicaraguans have ever had.” said Elia Maria Galeano (Commander Chaparra). “This government has worried about our people, about the mothers of the fallen, about the highways, about education, about health and has made the country beautiful. The government of Nicaragua has done this by working for peace and reconciliation,” added Galeano.

“In the midst of this coup attempt, we reaffirm that true reconciliation, true peace is in this alliance we have,” said Edwin Castro, head of the Sandinista Caucus in the National Assembly. “The Nicaraguan government has carried out social projects for the benefit of the people like Zero Usury, Zero Hunger, scholarships for studying at universities and technology centers, and Peace Commissions that have been developed in different communities. Commander Chaparra continued, “Thanks to this government we have received land which we cultivate and by which our children get ahead. We are loyal allies of the government because we know Daniel Ortega cares about his people.” Alexis David Cornejo, another Nicaraguan Resistance leader said, “During the 16 years of neoliberal governments we were never taken into account, whereas now we have diverse social projects that only with this government we have achieved. The most important thing is that our rights have been restored.” (Radiolaprimerisima, 6/28/19)

Nicaragua among Top Renewable Energy Generating Countries in the World
Nicaragua is among the top ten countries that continue to switch to electricity generation from renewable projects, according to the report entitled “Renewables 2019 Global Status Report.” According to data from the Nicaraguan Energy Institute (INE), at the end of 2018 wind energy constituted a nominal installed capacity of 186.20 megawatts (MW). Solar energy nominal capacity was 13.96 MW. Wind energy represents 13% of the nominal installed capacity while solar energy has a share of 1%, according to official INE data. The nominal installed capacity of the National Interconnected System (SIN) in 2006 was 746.20 MW, but reached 1,482.37 MW at the end of 2018, showing an increase in installed capacity of 98% in twelve years, according to INE data. Plans for expansion include the construction of four new wind projects ranging from 40 MW to 64 MW. Additionally, there are seven photovoltaic projects, including one under construction (El Velero, 12 MW); the rest are projects of 30 MW each. (Informe Pastran, 7/1/19)

Change of Bishop in Nicaragua’s Second Largest Catholic Population

On June 27 Pope Francis accepted the retirement of Leon Bishop César Bosco Vivas Robelo at age 75, and in his place assigned Bishop Sócrates René Sándigo Jirón who was previously in charge of the Diocese of Juigalpa. Leon is the second largest diocese in Nicaragua. Bishop Sándigo was born in Diriá, department of Granada, on April 19, 1965. He completed his studies of philosophy at the Inter-Diocesan Seminary of Managua and of theology at the Major Seminary of Medellín (Colombia). He obtained a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellín (Colombia) and a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome. He was ordained a priest on July 11, 1992 for the diocese of Granada. He was appointed bishop of Juigalpa on October 28, 2004, and was ordained bishop on January 22, 2005. (Radiolaprimerisima, 6/29/19)

Sandinistas Honor Bismarck Martinez on the One-Year Anniversary of his Kidnapping
Members of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) honored Bismarck Martinez on the first anniversary of his kidnapping and murder during the failed coup. Martinez worked for the Managua municipality. Martínez was kidnapped on June 29 at a roadblock in Jinotepe. Before killing him, his captors subjected him to torture, which they recorded and then broadcast on social networks. Martinez’ body was disappeared and it took the National Police eleven months of investigations to find his remains in a site near the Jinotepe baseball stadium, thanks to the statement of one of the criminals, who appears in a recent documentary narrating what happened. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQVSvxAMnj8  (Radiolaprimerisima, 6/29/19)

Nicaragua and United Kingdom Establish an Association
President Ortega granted powers to the Minister of Development, Industry and Trade (MIFIC), Orlando Salvador Solórzano Delgadillo, to sign the “Agreement for the Establishment of an Association between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Central America.” (Nicaragua News, 6/27/19)

Suspected ISIS Members Entered from Costa Rica and Deported to Costa Rica
On June 25th, during a routine border patrol, members of the Nicaragua Army detained four individuals entering Nicaragua illegally from Costa Rica. The individuals are suspected of having links to the terrorist organization ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Two of the detainees are Iraqi nationals and two are Egyptians. All four were deported to Costa Rica after the Nicaragua Police discovered they were carrying temporary entry and transitory permits issued by the Office of Immigration Authorities of that country. (Nicaragua News, 6/26/19)

Tax Concertation Law is Necessary Because of the Attempted Coup
Bayardo Arce, the government’s advisor on economic affairs, announced on June 26 that “The Tax Concertation Law is being reviewed: Business groups and companies are being invited to consult on how they are doing and what experiences they have gained and what contributions they can make to the law.” Arce stressed the need for tax reform. “We need to collect taxes so that someone who has been unfairly aggressive with us, such as the Secretary General of the OAS, will say, as he just said in Colombia, that we govern well, that we have education programs, health programs, and infrastructure programs that are advancing amid the difficulties,” he said. Arce said that after making adjustments to the tax policy Nicaragua will be able to advance.  

“As for the unilateral, arbitrary and illegal sanctions imposed by the U.S. empire on some public officials and activities to block loans to Nicaragua,” Arce said that “the Nica Act is already being applied.” He explained that this law blocks disbursements to Nicaragua from international financial organizations. Arce argued that the U.S. does not need a law to impose a blockade. “Unfortunately our world is full of very confused people, after having the example of Sandino, after living Independence, I don’t understand how some people consider as normal the policy of sanctions,” said the presidential advisor. “We were forced to reform taxes in order to collect money and fill the gap created by those blockades; those blockades that were requested by many bad Nicaraguans in order to block us more, because it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Arce. (Radiolaprimerisima, 6/26/19)

Nicaragua Presents Human Development Achievements at the FAO.
On June 25, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Edward Centeno presented the achievements of the government in the fight against hunger and poverty with programs that provide access to health, education, work, housing, food, basic services, citizen security and peace at the 41st session of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He highlighted the implementation of the National Human Development Plan which “puts people at the heart of its actions,” expressed through sustainable development policies, plans, and strategies, while prioritizing the participation of women and youth, with the aim that peasant families are protagonists of socio-economic development and have tools to combat poverty and inequality. He also highlighted the alternative production model that is based on the family and a creative and entrepreneurial economy that provides 80% of the nation’s food, more than 70% of employment and 40% of GDP. “The FAO has recognized that Nicaragua is one of the countries in the world with the best performance in reducing hunger and poverty, of which we Nicaraguans feel very proud. Although we are aware that there is still much work to be done, we are firmly committed to more welfare and prosperity for all,” Centeno said. (Radiolaprimerisima, 6/26/19)

23% Increase in Tourism
The first 5 months of 2019 shows a 23% increase in the arrival of international tourists compared to the similar period in 2018, according to the organization of Tour Operators — Nicatrama.  “In these last two months tourism has taken off,” said Channel 8 journalist Oscar Morales. Antonio Armas, president of this organization, said most tourists arrive on their own and are not brought by tour operators. “This encourages us because behind these tourists come those who seek packages with tour operators and a more organized tourism.” He also noted that national tourists have increased their frequency level in restaurants, bars, discotheques and other entertainment centers due to promotions and discounts.  Armas said they have optimistic projections for this year because travel alerts for Nicaragua as a result of last year’s violence have been cancelled in several countries. In 2017, Nicaragua received 1.7 million tourists from the US, Canada, Costa Rica, Europe and others which provided more than US$800 million. (Informe Pastran, 6/26/19)