Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 9, 2019 / 02:19 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Managua asked Sunday that the Organization of American States dialogue with the victims of Nicaragua’s sociopolitical crisis.
The continental organization adopted a resolution last month that it will make diplomatic efforst ot resolve the Nicaraguan crisis. It also emphasized the importance of resuming dialogue between the government and opposition, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and called for human rights inspectors to be admitted.
Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solorzano said that “I hope that the people who are going to be sent, can speak not only with the great leaders, but that they come down to the grassroots,” following a July 7 Mass at Managua’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
He urged in particular that OAS officials speak to the poor.
“That would be my request, that they talk with everyone, especially with those of us who are always here,” Cardinal Brenes stated.
“We all speak about peace, but everyone has a very different concept. We have to discover what is the peace that the Lord proposes to us: a peace that leads you to concord, breaks with enmities, leads you to the truth. It is based on love,” he said.
He also pointed out that the Church has always considered that demonstrations must be peaceful, civil, without violence or attacks. “What’s important is to express our ideas with strong arguments. Protests are accepted by the Church as long as they are peaceful,” Cardinal Brenes said.
Anti-government protests in Nicaragua began in April 2018. They have resulted in more than 320 deaths, and the country’s bishops mediated on-again, off-again peace talks until they broke down that June.
A new round of dialogue began in February, but the opposition has made the timely release of all protesters a condition of its resumption.
Nicaragua’s crisis began last year after president Daniel Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces.
The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega’s authoritarian bent.
Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.
The Church had suggested that elections, which are not scheduled until 2021, be held this year, but Ortega has ruled this out.
Ortega was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.