Saturday 25 September 2021

Carlos Alvarado and Antony Blinken call on countries in the region to respect democracy and freedom of the press

The US Secretary of State met with the President of Costa Rica and attended a meeting to the Sistema de Integración Centroamericana (SICA) and México while in Costa Rica

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QCOSTARICA – President Carlos Alvarado and  Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, in Costa Rica, demanded on Tuesday that the countries of the region renew their commitment to the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (Carta Democrática Interamericana).

Antony Bliken and Carlos Alvarado. Photo: Presidencia

Blinken and Alvarado made the call after meeting for more than two hours at the Casa Presidencial in Zapote, San José.

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Photo: Presidencia

In the evening, Blinken attended the annual meeting of the Sistema de Integración Centroamericana (SICA), held in San Jose, and spoke with the Foreign Ministers of Central America, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Foreign Ministers of the member countries of the Central American Integration System (SICA) and Mexico held a meeting on Tuesday with their American counterpart Antony Blinken, at the Real Intercontinental Hotel in Escazú. The discussion focused on issues of governance, the fight against corruption, migration, and security. Photo: Presidencia

“What we would like to see (at the meeting of foreign ministers) is the renewal of the commitment on the part of all the countries that subscribe to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, to re-commit to its principles, to commit effectively because they are commitments that each it has also done with its own peoples, about the strength of democratic institutions, about respecting the rule of law, in order to guarantee that we have freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom to criticize,” asked the US secretary.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Carlos Alvarado held a press conference at the Casa Presidencial in San Jose, on Tuesday. Photo: Presidencia

For his part, President Alvarado, on current conditions in the region, mentioned Costa Rica’s interest in collaborating with the strengthening of institutions, democracy, respect for human rights, and freedom of the press.

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Photo: Presidencia

“We also want to make a positive contribution in finding solutions, working together. We believe that Costa Rica can be a part and can be useful in achieving solutions for Central America. Starting now is a good starting point,” added Alvarado.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter is a democratic instrument accepted by the 35 countries of the Americas within the Organization of American States (OAS) in 2001.

Elbow bump has replaced the handshake in this time of coronavirus. Photo: Presidencia

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It recognizes representative democracy, the strengthening of constitutionality, respect for human rights, political participation, freedom of the press and development, to mention some of its principles.

Central America’s problems

In the region, Nicaragua still has not overcome the socio-political crisis that began in April 2018 due to the police repression of the protests against the government of Daniel Ortega that left 328 dead and 88,000 exiles (most of them in Costa Rica), according to a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the year 2019.

The situation continues despite calls from inside and outside Nicaragua to comply with the mandate of this democratic instrument.

In recent weeks, prior to the start of the campaign for the presidential and legislative elections next November, the electoral Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) of Nicaragua, dominated by the ruling party, the FSLN, eliminated the legal status of two political parties.

At the same time, days ago, the Public Ministry controlled by the Daniel Ortega government opened a criminal investigation against the former director of the defunct Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, Cristiana Chamorro, for handling international cooperation to promote press freedom.

“We are meeting at a time when democracy and human rights are undermined in many parts of the region. We see this in the erosion of judicial independence, repressive measures on independent media and NGOs, the prohibition of political opposition and political parties, and the stifling of anti-corruption efforts,” Blinken said.

Further north in Central America, the United States two weeks ago identified several legislators, as well as Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s chief of staff and a former minister, among other senior politicians, as “corrupt officials” from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

At the beginning of May, the United States questioned the removal by the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, dominated by the ruling party, the attorney general and constitutional magistrates.

Against this background, Blinken pointed to “lack of governance, corruption, insecurity and lack of opportunities” as the root causes that promote migration.

Those evils, he insisted, are the ones that must be addressed, for which he reiterated the commitment of the Joe Biden administration to allocate US$4 billion to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, also referred to as the Northern Triangle of Central America, to combat the migration crisis.

“That people can have confidence to put food on the table, livelihood and a better life in the future. And that requires some very basic things like jobs, and those jobs often come from investment.

“And investment requires countries and governments to take certain measures to ensure that there is an investment context, attract companies and investors. Again they are the rule of law, transparency, an (independent) judiciary, fighting corruption and not encouraging it; all these things are essential,” he concluded on the immigration issue.

Sanctions would be lifted if they restore democracy

Finally, Blinken referred to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States, mainly by the Donald Trump administration, on officials, institutions or companies related to the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

These would only rise, he warned, whenever there is a change in behavior in favor of democracy in those governments, officials or individuals named, or who denounce the abuses of those governments.

“The sanctions have a purpose and this is to promote accountability for those who commit abuses, human rights violations, undermine democracy or commit corrupt acts and that is what we see in Nicaragua.

Blinken’s statement was also directed at Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

“It has always been clear and we have always said that the sanctions are not permanent; They aim to generate positive changes in the behaviors and actions of the government or of individuals in particular. The removal of sanctions is available as long as they take considerable measures to restore democratic order, for those who speak out against abuses committed by the authorities,” he concluded.

While the Secretary of State made those strong statements, outside Casa Presidencial, a small group of Nicaraguans tried to attract attention with a protest against the Ortega government. They asked for more sanctions against Ortega’s circle.

Some time later, in Managua, the Nicaraguan Prosecutor’s Office reported that it had presented the criminal accusation against presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro.

Blinken visit

The U.S. Secretary of State arrived at the Juan Santamaria international airport in San Jose Tuesday afternoon, where he direct to Casa Presidencial in Zapote.

Blinken arrival in Costa Rica on Tuesday, Wednesday, June 1

Blinken is expected to leave Costa Rica sometime around noon today, Wednesday, June 2.

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