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Weekly Report - 21 February 2019 (WR-19-07)

NICARAGUA: Ortega’s dialogue offer rings hollow

“An important effort to open a door that has been closed for a long time.” This was the response by José Adán Aguerri, the head of the leading private sector lobby Cosep, to a meeting held last week by President Daniel Ortega and private sector representatives, along with Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Archbishop of Managua, and Bishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua. This was the first attempt at dialogue since the Catholic Church-mediated process (aimed at addressing the political crisis which began in April) broke down in June. Ortega’s commitment to dialogue has since been called into question, however, by a 216-year prison sentence handed down to a leading opposition figure: a key demand by the opposition and the Organization of American States (OAS) for dialogue to take place was the release of political prisoners (who number 777 on reports from human rights groups).

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