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Abstention on OAS-Nicaragua resolution earns Belize chiding from U.S. top diplomat

Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2021. 5:05 pm CST.

By Aaron Hume: Belize was one of five countries to abstain from a resolution by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) to, in its words, “unequivocally condemn the arrest, harassment and arbitrary restrictions placed on presidential candidates, political parties and independent media and to call for the immediate release of presidential candidates and all political prisoners.”

That decision was met with rare public chiding from no less than charge d’affaires at the United States Embassy in Belmopan, Keith Gilges, who tweeted, “Disappointing to see Belize did not support the joint OAS resolution to hold Nicaragua accountable for the deteriorating human rights situation in that country, and hope that Belize will work with CARICOM and SICA partners to urge [Nicaraguan President Daniel] Ortega and [Vice-President Rosario] Murillo to change course. ~KG”

Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM, Lawrence Sylvestre, responded to Gilges saying that “Perhaps it would be more persuasive if we conduct our diplomacy a little more discretely and refrain from berating each other in the conduct of our public diplomacy.”

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson reached for comment today stated that the Embassy believes the tweet speaks for itself and that it had nothing further to add.

We were unable to reach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belmopan for comment as of this writing.

The OAS on Tuesday expressed general alarm at what it says is “the deterioration of the political climate and human rights situation in Nicaragua, condemning the jailing of opposition candidates and demanding guarantees for free and fair elections later this year.”

According to CNN, “At least 13 opposition leaders have been arrested and charged with vague, so-called “national security” violations, which human rights groups say is a clear sign that the country’s strong-man leader is doing his best to eliminate dissent and crush any competition ahead of upcoming general elections on November 7, a vote where he hopes to secure his fourth consecutive term as president. Four of the detained opposition figures are presidential candidates, charged with crimes that will likely disqualify them from running against Ortega.”

These include independent Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro who defeated Ortega in elections held in 1990; her cousin Juan Sebastian Chamorro Garcia, running for another party; and even some former allies now in opposition.

The OAS resolution was supported by 27 countries. Two countries – Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – voted against the measure, while Mexico, Argentina, Honduras, and Dominica joined Belize in abstaining.


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