San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Opposition Parties Ask OAS to Help Save Nicaragua

Four opposition political parties banded together last week to send a letter to the Organization of American States (OAS) asking the regional body to take action to help save representative democracy in Nicaragua.

The petition, sent April 30, asks the OAS to help “prevent the establishment of dictatorship” under President Daniel Ortega. Though the political violence that gripped Managua late last month has temporarily quieted, the issue at the root of the crisis – President Ortega’s controversial executive order to extend the terms of 25 top judges and magistrates – has not been resolved.

Liberal Constitutional Party lawmaker Francisco Aguirre, who spearheaded the petition, told the local press he thinks the OAS has not taken a stronger position on the crisis because it’s under the false impression that Ortega is in talks with the opposition to find a solution. No such dialogue exists, Aguirre stressed.

Opposition leader Eduardo Montealegre, meanwhile, admitted last week that he met privately with Ortega April 18, but says he refused to support the president’s request to support the reelection of Sandinista judges and electoral authorities. Two days after the frustrated meeting between the two politicos, Sandinista mobs took to the streets, attacking the Holiday Inn, burning vehicles and breaking the windows of Montealegre’s party headquarters (TT, April 23).

Ex-Foreign Minister Emilio Alvarez said he thinks the United States would like the OAS to play a more preventive role in the region following last year’s coup in Honduras. But he says there’s no indication that’s happening so far.

Alvarez said he doubts the opposition parties’ petition will have much echo, since the OAS is “a state-to-state organization” that could not get involved in the crisis here without the permission or invitation of the Sandinista government.

In addition, Alvarez said, he thinks Ortega would actually benefit if Nicaragua became an issue of debate in the OAS. He said it would give the Sandinista leader more ammunition to support his propaganda about the U.S. and other governments conspiring against him.

–Tim Rogers

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