By John Waters
Nicaragua’s Cardinal was present at a meeting between President Daniel Ortega and Nicaraguan business executives on Saturday 16th February, where they discussed the impact of the country’s current political crisis.
Cardinal Leopold Brenes, who is Archbishop of the capital city Managua, was accompanied to the meeting by Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, the Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua.
The Nicaraguan crisis began in April 2018, when protests erupted after the government announced proposals to reform the social services of the country, in particular the proposal to raise income taxes and cut state pensions. Demonstrations across the country in response to these proposed reforms, left at least 26 people dead. Repeated efforts to negotiate an end to the crisis have been frustrated by further demonstrations, rioting, censorship of TV news stations and the resignation of at least one head of the National Police force.
Cardinal Brenes described the meeting with the President as “positive”, and confirmed that concerns raised by himself and the business leaders, were addressed. The Cardinal said the
Nicaraguan Government needs to comply with the regulations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
After the meeting, Bishop Silvio Baez, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, explained to journalists that this first meeting represents an opportunity to further explore the way ahead for future discussions.
Bishop Báez said: “It is important not to forget the requirements of a true dialogue, we must be people of hope and appreciate the small steps. Not everything is achieved at one time, but it must be a dialogue where the whole society is represented”. The Bishop added how the democratization of Nicaragua is the primary objective, and that the first of all the requisites is the liberation of political prisoners, including students and journalists.