In an OP-ED “Nicaragua volverá a ser libre” published in El Pais, former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Oscar Arias Sanchez says, “Freedom must be rescued from the populist threat and authoritarian delusions. We are still in time to denounce the constant abuses of the democratic system and human rights perpetrated by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.”

Following is a translation by QCostarica of the article.

The Legislative Assembly of my country declared August 7 as a Day of Firm and Lasting Peace (Día de la Paz Firme y Duradera). For the generation that lived that time, which supported our efforts to achieve (in 1987) the signing of the Peace Plan (Plan de Paz), this date will be a warning that will forever mark those years of pain and dreams.

But this declaration is perhaps more important for the new generations. Because no Costa Rican over 40 needs to be reminded of the horrors of war. No one needs to be described the parades of coffins, because they saw them in the news. No one needs to be told about the waves of migrants and displaced people, because they met them in person. No one needs to be told of the sound of a machine gun, the smoke after a shooting, the faces of mothers looking for their children among the dead lined on the ground, decomposing in the open air.

We are still in time to denounce the constant abuses of the democratic system and human rights perpetrated by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Oscar Arias Sanchez

Tragically, today a new generation of Nicaraguan brothers has looked into these abysses. To those young people who today are in the sights of snipers and on the route of the paramilitary caravans, I send them all my strength and my support.

Do not doubt, the young of Nicaragua: Central America is on your side. And on your side is also history. There is a better future for Nicaragua. It is not an automatic future. It is a future that is worked with the mind, with the spirit and with the hands.

The sad retreat of Nicaragua reminds us that peace cannot be taken for granted. That freedom must be constantly rescued from the threat of populism and authoritarian delusions. In the defense of democracy, rest is not possible. We must watch over it and guard it; because what is built during the day can easily be destroyed at night. What our eyes see at sunset, may not be there at the first break of dawn.

The lack of consolidation of democracy in Central America became more evident when Daniel Ortega won (in 2016) his third consecutive term as head of the Government of Nicaragua with the favor of the Electoral Tribunal and the disqualification of the opposition.

I witnessed the triumph of the Sandinista revolution and the deluge of hope that it unleashed in Nicaragua.

A few years later, I led the negotiation process that culminated in the signing of peace in Central America. And my eyes cannot believe that all that has led to today’s pantomime.

It was not for this that Sandino died.

It was not for this that the coffins were paraded in Jinotepe, Leon, Masaya, and Managua. We have an outstanding debt with the Nicaraguan people, to whom we promised a better life with the transition to democracy.

Because democracy, to be effective, must be an exercise in reciprocity. It is at the moment of the threat where you have to raise your voice. Later, it may be too late.

We are still in time to raise our voices and denounce the constant abuses of the democratic system and human rights currently perpetrated by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

We still have time to support the Nicaraguan people who have taken to the streets to demand a change by a Government that has been systematically undermining the foundations of democracy; a corrupt and murderous government that amasses power and wealth in front of a people that continues to suffer the scourge of misery.

I do not know how the demonstrations of dissatisfaction of the Nicaraguan people with the Ortega government will end. The first thing that must end is the repression. The release of all detainees during the demonstrations should occur and the dialogue should be resumed as soon as possible.

In Nicaragua, a very powerful popular force has emerged, made up of university students. They are young Nicaraguans, boys 15, 18 and 20 years old, who are giving the world a moving sample of sacrifice, commitment, and love of freedom.

I hold the hope that the dialogue will allow finding a peaceful solution to the terrible situation in Nicaragua. Thirty-one years ago, when we fought for peace in Central America, it was the students who first came out to defend our cause and fight for it.

I have full confidence that, at the end of the road, Nicaraguan students will once again raise the flag of their country in peace and democracy.

Free once more.

View the original (in Spanish).

Óscar Arias Sánchez was president of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2010; and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for the pacification of Central America.