San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Business leaders call for true national dialogue in Nicaragua

In an urgent call to save Nicaragua from its grinding crisis of ungovernability and slide toward economic ruin, the Nicaraguan-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Wednesday called for an authentic and inclusive national dialogue aimed at getting Nicaragua back on track to becoming “a country that is viable for investment and economic development.”

At the root of Nicaragua´s current economic and political crisis, according to AMCHAM President Róger Arteaga, is the issue of last year´s electoral controversy, in which the ruling Sandinista Front is accused of having stolen more than 40 mayoral seats.

The United States last week gave the Sandinista government 90 days to sort out the electoral mess or risk a permanent suspension of $62 million in Millennium Challenge development aid. Ortega responded angrily, saying the elections will not be “negotiated.”

Arteaga says he fears that if the U.S. cuts off aid, other European nations and international lending institutions could follow suit, spelling disaster for Nicaragua.

“The cause of the problem needs to be resolved,” Arteaga told The Nica Times.

That position was repeated yesterday by AMCHAM, which released a statement reiterating its demand for a vote recount and a mediated national dialogue to find a “minimal consensus for governability.”

AMCHAM urged the Ortega government to allow Managua Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes to mediate the dialogue, as he offered to do during last Sunday´s Mass.

Arteaga also criticized Ortega´s politically staged attempt last week to start a national dialogue by talking at a group of business leaders for several hours. Critics were quick to note that Ortega´s idea of a national dialogue was not much different than his customary monologues.

A true national dialogue, AMCHAM insisted, has to be mediated and be representative of all sectors of society if the country is going to arrive at any meaningful accord to “overcome the crisis of governability that we suffer and recover the confidence of the international community.”

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