Nicaraguan dialogue to end crisis falls apart

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Another attempt at church-mediated talks to end a deadly political crisis in Nicaragua fell apart on Monday, June 18, a clergy statement said.

With the death toll from almost daily street violence now at 180, opposition groups and Catholic bishops walked out of the discussions, accusing the government of failing to make good on a promise Friday, June 15, to invite international organizations to come to Nicaragua and help probe the violence.

"When the government sends us a copy of those invitations and the international organizations confirm to us they have received them", working groups and a plenary session of the government-opposition dialogue will be convened again, the Nicaraguan Bishops Conference said in a statement.

Nicaragua's descent into chaos was triggered on April 18 when relatively small protests against now-scrapped social security reforms were met with a government crackdown.

Those demonstrations mushroomed into a popular uprising, with anti-government protesters facing off against police and paramilitaries supporting President Daniel Ortega, whom critics accuse of acting like a dictator.

Under an agreement reached Friday, the government was supposed to invite representatives of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – an autonomous branch of the Organization of American States – the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the European Union.

At a session Monday, Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, head of the government delegation, cited "bureaucratic" reasons for the invitations not having been issued, said Carlos Tunnerman, a member of the opposition delegation.

"Go to your office, write the letters, send the invitations and a bring a copy of those letters to the plenary session on Tuesday, June 19," Tunnerman said he told the minister. That session has now been called off. –