Friday 22 September 2023

Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister absent from the summit of Central American presidents

Nicaragua sent it its its ambassador to Costa Rica instead; the absence of a foreign minister from the neighboring country was notorious amid international condemnation for the arrest of political opponents of Daniel Ortega

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QCOSTARICA – The Daniel Ortega government sent its ambassador to Costa Rica, Duilio Hernández, as its representative to the summit of Central American presidents with the head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez.

Nicaraguan Ambassador Duilio Hernández, during his participation in this Thursday’s summit in San José. Hernández, who has been the Nicaraguan Ambassador to Costa Rica for the last three years, replaced the visibly absent from the meeting of presidents and foreign ministers of the region, Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister, Dennis Moncada. .Photo: Presidencia

Hernández, who has been in office for three years, was the highest-level Nicaraguan official to attend the extraordinary session of the Central American Integration System (SICA) with Spain in person.

The diplomat was seen at the table on Thursday.

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Officially, the highest Nicaraguan representative who registered was Orlando Solórzano, Nicaraguan Minister of Development, Industry and Commerce, but he participated virtually.

Daniel Ortega does not usually attend these types of activities and, on some occasions, sends Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, a retired brigadier general of the Nicaraguan Army and once in charge of a body responsible for judging the crimes of the military,  in his place.

But the summit held in San José was not attended by Moncada.

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, Costa Rica”s president Carlos Alvarado; and Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei, lead the table of a regional forum in San Jose on Thursday to address the problem of forced displacement in the region. Photo: Presidencia

Notorious absence

The absence of Foreign Minister Moncada at the summit held this Thursday at the Real Intercontinental Hotel in Escazú was notorious in view of the sensitive moment Nicaragua is going through.

The neighboring country is experiencing a new wave of political upheaval, due to the decision of the Managua government to arrest four opponents of Ortega who may take part in the next presidential elections in November.

Ortega has yet to announce his decision to run. If he does, it would be his fourth consecutive term.

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The arrest of presidential hopefuls in the last two weeks has unleashed strong international condemnation, including that from Spain and Costa Rica.

On Wednesday, the United States announced economic sanctions against four officials of the Sandinista regime, including Ortega’s daughter, Camila Ortega Murillo.

For his part, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, asked to suspend Nicaragua’s participation in the regional forum.

The meeting in San José served to strengthen political dialogue, economic integration and cooperation, with particular emphasis on the effects caused by COVID-19 and the subsequent recovery of the countries.

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The presidents or heads of Government attending the forum were Spain’s Sánchez; Carlos Alvarado, from Costa Rica; Juan Orlando Hernández, from Honduras; Alejandro Giammattei, from Guatemala; John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize; Félix Ulloa Garay, Vice President of El Salvador; Erika Mouynes, Foreign Minister of Panama; and Roberto Álvarez Gil, Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic.

Moncada did attend the meeting of Central American foreign ministers also held in San José, last week, with the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken.

On that occasion, according to a publication by, an official communication organ of the Government of Nicaragua, Moncada asked to stop all unilateral coercive measures.

He also advocated replacing these actions with respectful relations and solidarity cooperation with the countries, including Cuba and Venezuela.

At the bilateral level, according to El19Digital, Moncada conveyed to Blinken the position of the Ortega government “to maintain a friendly relationship, of respect and sovereign equality between the States, with all the countries of the world, including the United States”.

In an interview with the press, during his two-day visit to Costa Rica, Blinken accused the government of the Sandinista leader of moving “in the opposite direction.”

“In the Organization of American States (OAS), Nicaragua was called to take the necessary steps to have free and fair elections, and instead of doing that, instead of fulfilling its responsibilities, including the responsibilities with which it was committed by signing the American Charter 20 years ago, he is moving in the wrong direction,” criticized the Secretary of State.

Shortly before Blinken’s declarations, the Ortega regime arrested presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro, for an investigation into the handling of international cooperation funds.

Giammattei slams Nicaragua

The one who fired the strongest statements this Thursday on the situation in Nicaragua was the president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei.

The president of Guatemala, Alejandro Gianmattei during Thursday’s forum held at the Intercontinental hotel in Escazu

At the end of the summit, Giammattei and Carlos Alvarado referred to the crisis in Nicaragua.

Both agreed to wait for the convocation of the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council requested by Secretary Almagro, to evaluate the expulsion of Nicaragua from the organization.

“First, see if 24 votes are reached to suspend Nicaragua. If there is no magic number of 24, it could not be expelled,” explained Giammattei, who added by expelling Nicaragua from the OAS

However, the Guatemalan president considered that by expelling Nicaragua from the OAS “the problems” of that country will not be solved.

“We must make a call to the current government (of Ortega) to allow the free and sovereign participation of the Nicaraguan people, from aspiring to a position (of popular election) until the time to go to vote.

“The foreign ministers are going to work hard on this and make sure that international observation, after the release of those who have been detained, can translate into participation (in the elections) in November.

“That all the minimum standards of a real democratic process be carried out,” urged Giammattei.

For the Guatemalan president, Ortega’s actions not only undermine Nicaraguan constitutionality but considers that they also affect the region, mainly its neighbors, Costa Rica and Honduras, due to the eventual arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants that these countries could not assimilate.

“The recommendation to the Government of Nicaragua is to stop the persecution and release the people who have been detained for crimes that really seem to have no sustenance,” concluded Giammattei.

Last Wednesday, Carlos Alvarado described the persecution of Ortega against opponents as “regrettable, reprehensible” and “terrible”, and urged the international community to carry out coordinated actions within the OAS.

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