New Peace Talks in Nicaragua Raise Hopes, But Many Skeptical

February 26, 2019 5:06 PM

Associated Press

A resumption of talks over Nicaragua’s political standoff has raised hopes among those who believe it could help resolve the nearly year-old crisis and also caused some division among opponents to Daniel Ortega, with some saying they fear it could give “oxygen” to the embattled president.

The Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference has said it will participate as an observer in the talks that open Wednesday, while the government has yet to say whether Ortega or his wife, the powerful Vice President Rosario Murillo, will take part.

Nor has a time or location been made public, though speculation has centered on the headquarters of the Central American Institute for the Administration of Businesses, about 10 miles (15 kilometers) south of the capital, Managua. It’s a school where young people receive business training, and student leaders sought refuge from police there during 2018’s deadly protests.

“We are all going to meet in reconciliation and in affection,” Murillo said Monday in one of her frequent appearances on official television. The official website El 19 said the talks would be between the government and the private business sector.

Ortega, a 73-year-old former guerrilla, announced last week that negotiations would take place “to consolidate peace,” and the opposition group Civic Alliance said soon after that its delegation would comprise six businesspeople, two students, two academics, a politician and a feminist lawyer.

But that brought criticism from others in the opposition, in part because it did not include a farmworkers’ movement that supported the student protests last year. Three of its leaders were given lengthy prison sentences related to their rural protests the same day Ortega announced the talks.

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