TEHRAN, Jun. 14 (Press Shia Agency) – Some media and social networks are having a feast of lies or fake news about what is happening in Nicaragua, putting the protests almost at the same level of events as in Syria, said Nicaraguan Ambassador to Tehran, Mario Barquero Baltadano.
He made the remarks in a press conference held on Wednesday at the embassy of Nicaragua in Tehran. The meeting was organized to clarify recent protests in that country which started on April 18. Some 130 citizens and policemen have been reported dead during these six weeks.
The session started with Baltadano’s describing the origins of protests and then highlighting the actions that the government has pursued to control the situation and finally he answered some questions raised by the attending press.
During the liberal government of 1990s until 2007, the Nicaraguan Institute for Social Security (INNS) had experienced some financial problems, the envoy said.
Accordingly, President Dainel Ortega has been having meetings with officials of international bodies such as International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) to solve these problems, he added.
He went on to say that Nicaraguan government seriously and thoroughly analyzed each of those organizations’ proposals for INSS to the point that IMF recognized authorities’ efforts to alleviate the financing needs in a report published in February 2018.
The government of President Ortega had the “honesty and courage” to present a proposal of reforms to solve the budget deficit of INSS, he said, noting that the proposals were announced on April 16 and published on April 18.
According to the reforms, employees and employers would face 0.75% and 2% increase in their contribution to INSS while retirement pensions would decrease by 5%, the envoy highlighted.
National Workers Front (FNT) and National Union of Employees accepted the reforms while the employers’ organization COSEP rejected it, he added.
IMF had proposed to increase the age of dedicating retirement pension from 60 to 65, however, the government didn’t include this in new reforms, he stressed.
Employers stimulated students to hold demonstrations and what began as a social protest, soon turned violent and claimed lives from both protesters and national police, the envoy regretted.
After a few days, no one spoke of INSS issue anymore and protesters demanded the end of President Ortega government since the protests had abandoned their social character and became eminently political, he said.
Day by day, the protests became more violent which have resulted in increase of death tolls, destruction of public property, attacks on police stations, looting, kidnapping and a significant increase in crimes, he deplored.
Describing the situation as “a great pity and a great loss,” the diplomat highlighted that Nicaragua was known to be the most secure country of Central America and one of the most secure in the American Continent.
The first measure adopted by the government to address the issue was annulling INSS reforms, Baltadano added.
And then, President Ortega called for a national dialogue while inviting Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church to play the role of mediator in the talks, he highlighted.
He went on to say that the government believed that any issue could be debated in talks without exclusions and preconditions, however the opposition did demand some prior conditions, including the release of all imprisoned protesters (even those who have committed crimes), the formation of a truth commission (which was rejected by the opposition upon being formed claiming that it is not consisted of suitable individuals), the invitation of Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and limiting police activities (which the government knew would lead to more chaos).
All these preconditions were accepted and implemented by the government, although they knew that absence of police would lead to chaos, the envoy stressed.
The dialogue kicked off on May 16 with President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo in attendance, he noted.
In spite of establishing the dialogue, the violence has continued and crime has proliferated, he regretted, adding that the opposition claims that the violence is to exert further pressure on the government.
Accordingly, he added, many policemen have lost their lives, the daily life of Nicaraguan people have been disrupted; universities are taken by students; many citizens cannot go to their jobs and are afraid to leave their homes; some criminals have blocked streets and ask for toll; children cannot go to school, markets cannot be resupplied which causes an artificial shortage of food; industrialists cannot transport their productions nor they can be supplied with the inputs to produce; tourism which was proliferating in recent years has drastically fallen; farmers cannot sow.
The government will continue to be totally committed to dialogue, even though some mediators are clearly biased in favor of the opposition, he emphasized.
The Episcopal Conference has stopped the talks from May 29 with this excuse that necessary conditions for talks isn’t available, he said, adding that the dialogue would lead to establishing better conditions, not vice versa.
This incident prompted Nicaraguan government to refer the issue to Organization of American States which then published a report on June 1.
It is a timetable of the project named “Strengthening Democratic Institutions in Nicaragua through the Implementation of the Recommendations of the EAM/OAS Nicaragua 2017,” which can be accessed from the official website of OAS.
“The Government of Nicaragua expressed its willingness to continue working together with the OAS General Secretariat on the improvement of the Nicaraguan electoral system, strengthening its institutions and its representative, inclusive, participative and direct democracy for the benefit of all Nicaraguans,” part of this report notes.
The General Assembly of the Organization of American States issued a declaration on June 5 with the title of “Declaration of Support for the People of Nicaragua,” the ambassador added.
This declaration which is approved by all member states including US, doesn’t condemn Nicaraguan government and generally condemns violence and invites people to have peaceful demonstrations, he said.
In spite of all these, there is still violence, regretted the envoy, adding that unfortunately 2 policemen who were returning home were killed on Tuesday.
“Despite all these problems that the opposition has created, we are still optimistic. As Sandinista won the revolution on 1979, we will win again. We are sure that Nicaragua will soon and once again become a secure and peaceful country,” he highlighted.
When Mehr News correspondent asked about the truth of reports claiming that 130 individuals have been killed during these unrests, the ambassador said, “Unfortunately it is true.”
He also touched on the case of the murdered journalist, saying that police has arrested 2 people in this regard. This journalist was not anti-government, he said, adding that the opposition demands the release of these two prisoners with this claim that the government is arresting innocent individuals.
Another reporter asked whether these demonstrations are led by other political wings or not.
Answering the question, Baltadano reiterated that these demonstrations were started for a social cause but soon protestors demanded political reforms. Some groups demanded the resignation of President Ortega and even some others believed that he should leave the country, he added.
However, as OAS and the United States, which doesn’t have friendly relations with Nicaragua, emphasize, every measure should be in line with the country’s law and constitution, he noted.
He hoped that all tensions would soon be solved through democracy.
Finally, Mehr News correspondent asked whether holding early elections can be a solution to end these unrests or not.
“The issue is not holding early election, rather solutions have to be based on the country’s constitution,” the envoy answered.
He again referred to the report published by OAS on June 1 regarding elections, adding, “democracy is not violence, rather it means reaching agreement through peaceful approaches.”
Nicaraguan government has honestly expressed readiness to talk about every possible issue during national dialogue, but the opposition doesn’t want to solve this issue peacefully, he added.
If it is determined in the dialogue that there is need to hold early election, Nicaraguan government will accept it, he concluded.