MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — The Vatican’s diplomatic envoy to Nicaragua said Thursday he has received a letter from President Daniel Ortega’s government apparently saying talks with the opposition on resolving the country’s more than year-old political standoff are over.
Apostolic Nuncio Waldemar Somertag told The Associated Press that this week’s letter said the government’s position is that the dialogue “concluded with the definitive absence of the other side.”
Sommertag declined to share the letter’s full contents, but said it was dated July 30 and addressed to the Vatican. He added that his understanding was a similar letter was sent to the Organization of American States. The nuncio and OAS representative Luis Rosadilla had served as witnesses and observers to the February-May negotiations.
Asked if he interpreted the letter from Foreign Minister Denis Moncada as a definitive end to dialogue, Somertag said: “Regrettably, I have that impression. … I would very much like to be wrong.”
There was no immediate comment from Ortega officials on the letter, which was also reported in Nicaraguan media.
The Central American nation’s crisis erupted in April 2018 with protests that grew to demand Ortega’s exit from office and early elections, with demonstrators accusing him of consolidating power and ruling in an authoritarian manner.
Officials have said the protests were tantamount to an attempted coup and have repeatedly accused government opponents of “terrorism.”
A crackdown on the demonstrations resulted in at least 325 dead, over 2,000 wounded, hundreds imprisoned and tens of thousands fleeing to exile, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The opposition walked away from talks in May to pressure authorities to free about 700 people it considered political prisoners, the last of whom were released June 11.
José Pallais, a negotiator for the Civic Alliance opposition group, said the government is trying to project a position of strength when it has not lived up to commitments made at the earlier negotiations.