OAS Permanent Council Holds Special Session to Consider the Situation in Nicaragua

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), Washington, D.C.

Remarks by

Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States

Alexis F. Ludwig

April 5, 2019

Thank you Mr. Chairman for convening today’s special session of the Permanent Council to consider recent events in Nicaragua.

Thank you also to the panel of experts for your compelling presentations this afternoon. These presentations should spur us all to take appropriate, meaningful action.

Let me first underscore that the United States supports SYG Almagro’s January call for OAS action consistent with the spirit and terms of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The Ortega government has undermined the foundation of Nicaraguan democracy and displayed a clear pattern of wanton disregard for democratic practice, rule of law and human rights. It has

  • Manipulated the Supreme Electoral Council to weaken or decertify opposition political parties;
  • Repressed government critics and civil society representatives;
  • Incited violence against peaceful protestors and criminalized peaceful political dissent; and
  • Used the judiciary as a political tool to persecute opponents and cover up the regime’s crimes instead of investigating and prosecuting those responsible for killing protestors.

The above non-exhaustive list of government actions clearly constitute an infringement upon the “right and responsibility of all citizens to participate in decisions relating to their own development,” as articulated in the Democratic Charter.

If further evidence were necessary, last year the regime expelled the Inter-American Commission’s monitoring mechanisms – the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and the Special Monitoring Mechanism (MESENI). The Independent Groups of International experts’ December report credibly documents extensive, systematic abuses, clearly ordered by the regime, during the months of April and May 2018 alone.

One reason the United States supported the call for this special session of the PC relates to Nicaragua’s national dialogue. While the resumption of dialogue is positive, the Government has failed to show good faith in addressing the core concerns of Nicaraguans. It has not: released all political prisoners, restored all democratic guarantees and rights, provided real accountability for the gross human rights violations committed over the past year, or initiated needed electoral reform while laying out a timetable for early free, fair and credible elections.

By contrast, the government has continued to bar protests, to assault protesters and journalists, and to detain people arbitrarily. If one is searching for signs of good faith, such signs are difficult to find.

Instead, one finds a pattern to deceive and delay, to bait and switch, to feign and feint rather than take transparently concrete, decisive and credible steps toward genuine political agreement. The release of political prisoners this morning, following the stalemated dialogue and the convocation of this special session of the Permanent Council, is the latest example of this pattern.

Neither the Nicaraguan people nor the international community will tolerate such tactics of delay and deception. The time for reaching genuine political agreement is now.

The United States continues to support the proposal for early, free, fair, and transparent elections as a core component of the National Dialogue.

We call on the government to allow the return of GIEI and MESENI. The presence of these entities is essential if the OAS is to serve as a credible guarantor for the electoral reform needed for any credible election.

To these ends, the United States will continue to hold the Ortega government to account for its repression and violence. Mr. Chairman, governments and non-governmental organizations around the world have rung the alarm bell about the dismantling of Nicaraguan democracy.

The OAS, the organization most firmly committed to – and most fully responsible for — the defense of democracy in the Western Hemisphere, must join this call. But more than that, we must act.

The OAS must be prepared to use all the diplomatic tools and capacities we have to help restore democracy to Nicaragua.