San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

OAS Mission Fails,Promises To Return

MANAGUA – Down but not despondent, theSecretary General of the Organization of AmericanStates (OAS) has promised to return to Nicaragua totake another crack at restarting the stalled NationalDialogue, after four days of intense negotiations lastweek failed to bring all sides to the table.OAS head José Miguel Insulza returned toWashington, D.C. last Sunday after spending four tirelessdays trekking around Managua meeting with variouspolitical leaders in an attempt to restart the tripartitedialogue between the Executive Branch and the twomain political parties: the Sandinista NationalLiberation Front and the Liberal Constitutional Party.Although he failed to get the talks started again, Insulzaclaims progress was made. He said a top-level OAS delegation– perhaps again headed by himself – would return toNicaragua this week in a continued attempt to get all partiestalking.Failure to restart the dialogue could be very destabilizingfor Nicaragua and the region, he warned.INSULZA shied from describing the situation inNicaragua as a crisis, but admitted “there is reason for worry.”“There is a profound political division here that canbecome an inter-institutional crisis if there is no dialogue,” theOAS leader told the press Sunday.Most Nicaraguan politicians and analysts, meanwhile,have been describing the situation here in terms of crisis formonths now.PRESIDENT Enrique Bolaños, who pulled out of theNational Dialogue in April because he thinks the political partiesare not negotiating in good faith, has called for a broader baseddialogue that involves civil society – a proposal theSandinistas have rejected (NT, June 17).This week, the Casa Presidential took the proposal a stepfurther and called for a national referendum on the controversialconstitutional reforms that wrest powers away from theExecutive Branch. Civil society group Pro Nicaragua hasbeen demanding a referendum since the reforms were passedin January (NT, Feb. 11).The presidency is also, for the first time, talking about thepossibility of holding a Constitutional Convention, if in factNicaraguans decide they want a new Magna Carta.Sandinista secretary general Daniel Ortega, meanwhile, isarguing that Bolaños is incapable of governing and unwilling to dialogue with the parties. The formerrevolutionary President this week calledfor the 2006 presidential elections to beheld a year early, next November.INSULZA, who went before the OASPermanent Council Tuesday to report onthe situation in Nicaragua, said he is confidentthat the dialogue still can be saved.But, he warned, this has to happen in thenext several days, or things could startfalling apart quickly.“There is the will to dialogue here, butwhat is lacking is the disposition to takethe next step and actually sit down togetherat the table,” Insulza said last Sunday.“We are much closer to dialogue than wewere three days ago, but there is still a lotof work to do.“Getting this dialogue restarted ismuch more difficult than you can imagine,”he added.INSULZA is not alone in his exasperationwith Nicaragua’s government.On June 16, some 60,000 Nicaraguansof all ages and party colors took to streetsof downtown Managua to protest the country’stired politics-as-usual.The protest, the largest civically convokedmarch in Nicaragua’s recent history,was organized by The Network ForNicaragua.Although the march was under the banner“For the Love of Nicaragua, Unitedagainst the Pacto” (referring to the Liberal-Sandinista power-sharing pact that controlsCongress and most state institutions),many of the demonstrators also carriedanti-Bolaños signs. Some even threw formerArchbishop Miguel Obando into themix, for good measure.WITH the exception of several dozenOrtega-sympathizing student-goons, whoattempted to block the march with mortarsand were subsequently arrested,the event was peaceful, bringing togetherNicaraguans from all walks of life.“This march means everything to me.It is what my father fought and died for:a democratic Nicaragua,” said ClaudiaBermúdez, daughter of former Contramilitary leader Enrique Bermúdez.“This is the beginning of the end ofthe pacto,” said former revolutionarypoet/priest Father Ernesto Cardenal.“This is about standing up to authoritarianism,”said Monserat Fernández, afeminist leader with the Women’s Networkagainst Violence.Presidential candidate José AntonioAlvarado, one of several presidentialhopefuls to participate in the march, toldThe Nica Times the march would not betwisted into a campaign stunt by any ofthe candidates.WITH the fate and ultimate success ofthe National Dialogue still uncertain,Nicaraguans are starting to organize to takeback their government.Their message is clear: open up spacefor popular participation, or we’ll makeour own.The last time that happened here, therewas a revolution.

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