Costa Rica rejected the statements of the Nicaraguan Foreign Minister, Denis Moncada, who described as illegal the process that could suspend his country from the Organization of American States (OAS).

The Secretary-General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, and the Chair of the Permanent Council, Montserrat Solano, in Washington, on December 27. 

“It is not the Nicaraguan Chancellor who determines the legality or otherwise of the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” Costa Rica’s interim Foreign Minister, Lorena Aguilar, said on Wednesday.

She added that the government of Carlos Alvarado “maintains its support for the application of Article 20 of the Democratic Charter”, which would lead to a thorough review of the fulfillment of democratic mandates by the government of Daniel Ortega and, eventually, a suspension of Nicaragua as a member of the OAS.

If there is a rupture of the democratic order, the Ortega regime would be exposed to a freezing of the loans granted by multilateral financial institutions of the Inter-American region, as well as a suspension of diplomatic relations with the rest of the countries and the banishment of the political forums.

Aguilar added that the country is holding consultations within the Working Group of the Permanent Council on Nicaragua, which is also composed of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, United States, Guyana, Mexico, Panama and Peru.

“The (OAS) States are holding talks with each other, particularly the members of the Working Group from the moment the Secretary General sent the note and it was informed to the States. These conversations seek to define the next steps to be taken in the face of the letter sent by the Secretary General,” said Aguilar.

On December 29, OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, asked Costa Rica to activate the process.

In response, on January 1, in a note addressed to the foreign ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean, Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Moncada said that the invocation of the Democratic Charter is an act “unlawful, illegal, without legal basis.”

He alleged that Almagro does not have the authority to invoke said mechanism, in compliance with Article 20.

Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, established in 2001, empowers the general secretary or any member state to request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to make a collective assessment of the situation and adopt the decisions it deems appropriate.

However, Nicaragua’s interpretation of the article is that it is the responsibility of the general secretary or a member state to invoke the Democratic Charter only when the affected State can not do so because there has been an alteration in the constitutional order, which has not occurred in Nicaragua, according to Moncada.

Almagro announced the application of this mechanism after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) revealed that in the neighboring country, behaviors have been recorded that should be considered as “crimes against humanity.”

In his rejection, Moncada argued that the Democratic Charter was constituted to restore the democratic governments or when there is a coup d’etat, which is not the situation in Nicaragua, he argued.

He accused Almagro of supporting coup groups and terrorist forces in his country, “intending to drag the member states to their irresponsible and illegal actions against Nicaragua.”

“I kindly request the support of your governments so that the requests of the Secretary General, related to the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, are not approved by the OAS,” concluded the Chancellor.

How is the Democratic Charter activated?

The Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS applies when there is an alteration or a breakdown of the democratic order. The process can lead to its suspension from the regional body.

In the first instance, it is necessary for the Permanent Council of the body to declare by simple majority (with 18 votes) of its members that there is an alteration of the constitutional and democratic order. If this is endorsed, the OAS should undertake diplomatic efforts to try to resolve the crisis through dialogue and mediation.

In the event that the suspension process fails to obtain the required votes, with the vote of two thirds of the members (24 votes) it is possible to call an extraordinary session of the General Assembly of the organization.

Once again, the diplomatic channel would be tried and, if it failed, the vote of 24 countries would be necessary again to suspend Nicaragua from the entity, which would stop participating in the programs and activities of the OAS.