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China, Russia call for respecting Venezuela elections, condemn US intervention

Special Correspondent
 
President Nicolas Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential elections Sunday, gaining a second presidential term for six years with more than 5.8 million votes.
Nicolas Maduro has served in various senior posts during the various administrations of the late president Hugo Chavez, including among them as head of the National Assembly, Foreign Minister and Vice President.
The opposition candidate, former governor, Henri Falcón came second after Maduro - and the evangelical expiator Javier Bertucci have made accusations of irregularities. 
A day after the Venezuelan general elections, China and Russia called Monday for respecting the country’s democratic process and rejected attempts of interfence by the United States and other regional powers. 
“The parties involved must respect the decision of the Venezuelan people,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a press conference in Beijing, as he encouraged resolving any dispute through legal channels, EFE reported. 
Kang affirmed China’s policy of not interfering in internal affairs of other countries and was convinced that the Venezuelan government and citizens will be able to resolve the issues.  “China will address the relevant issues in accordance with diplomatic practice,” the spokesman added. 
Maduro’s win comes at a time when the United States and its right-wing regional allies as well as several European governments have made several attempts to intervene in Venezuela’s presidential elections through sanctions and boycott calls against the Venezuelan election saying they won’t recognize the results, policies that were rejected by the Russian Foreign Ministry Monday.  
“We regrettably have to note that in these elections, in addition to the two traditional participants, that is, the Venezuelan people, the electors, on the one hand, and on the other the candidates who presented their programs ... there was a third participant, the governments who openly called for a boycott of the vote,” said Alexánder Schetinin, director of the Latin American Department of the Foreign Ministry.  
Schetinin also added that Russia is often accused of meddling in other countries’ elections but in Venezuela’s case, some countries have meddled indiscriminately.
He added that some countries put obstacles “among others to hinder the voting in their territories of Venezuelans who are abroad.” 
“And even worse when a whole series of governments, including the one you are appointing (United States), a priori declared that they would not recognize the results,” he said during a press conference, the Interfax news agency reported. 
“The elections have been held and their results have an irreversible character: two-thirds of the votes went to the current president of the country, Nicolás Maduro,” he concluded. 
While many countries in Latin America have recognized the Venezuelan elections and congratulated President Maduro, such as Cuba, Bolivia and El Salvador, right-wing governments in the region have dismissed the vote as “illegtimate” echoing statements by the U.S. and Canada and some Western countries who had dismissed the vote and teh results before the election had even taken place.
The so-called Lima Group plus Canada issued a statement Monday saying it did not recognize the legitimacy of Venezuela’s presidential election. The statement said the countries would call their ambassadors back from Caracas for consultations and hold a meeting to coordinate a regional response to what they call “crisis” in Venezuela. They also said they would seek a new resolution on “the situation” in the South American country.
Such attempts of interference into Venezuela’s internal affairs have repeatedly been rejected over the past few months by the government in Caracas as well as left-wing governments in the region.
The Lima Group includes Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Santa Lucia, Canada, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
 
Maradona expressed his support
Meanwhile , Argentine former soccer player Diego Maradona expressed his support to Venezuelan people’s decision to reelect President Nicolas Maduro for another six-year term, after attending his campaign’s closing ceremony Thursday.
“Yesterday, Venezuela again gave its support to Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelans that don’t want to be invaded, the good Venezuelans, elected him again to continue the legacy of Commander Hugo Chavez. Today Venezuela is free forever,” wrote the soccer star in his Facebook account.
The former national Argentine team coach has been a long-time supporter of the Bolivarian revolution and a fierce critic of neoliberal policies in Latin America.
“I’m very glad Maduro didn’t lose, because the United States would have taken over everything, just like they’re doing in Argentina, as they’re doing in Brazil, and in every country that want to keep its head up.”
Despite critics from the opposition and other detractors, Maradona has remained firm in his support for the Venezuelan government and President Nicolas Maduro.
“And to those who criticize me, I thank you with my soul. They speak from their homes and have the plate full of food everyday. And we’re fighting in Venezuela so that plate can be full. I greet the singer, the actress and the ex-soccer player that woke up after a long time. I won’t vote for the ones they want,” said Maradona, referring to critics of singer Jose Luis Rodriguez “el Puma” and ex-soccer player Mario Kempes.
“My back is wide enough to hold everything they want to tell me. I send a big hug to all Venezuelans!” he concluded.
 
US, Allies Continue Interventionist Agenda
However, after incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro received an overwhelming majority of the votes in Sunday’s elections, the United States and its allies slammed the electoral process and called for further measures aimed at keeping up with the interventionist policies to topple the Bolivarian revolution in the name of “democracy” and “humanitarian intervention.”
The U.S. State Department had announced earlier Monday that President Donald Trump put in place new economic sanctions aimed at Venezuela in an executive order banning U.S. citizens from being involved in sales of that country’s accounts related to oil and other assets.
“Today’s executive order closes another avenue for corruption that we have observed being used: it denies corrupt Venezuelan officials the ability to improperly value and sell off public assets in return for kickbacks,” a senior administration official told reporters.
“Venezuela’s election was a sham – neither free nor fair,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said shortly before the sanctions order. “The United States will not sit idly by as Venezuela crumbles and the misery of their brave people continues ... The Maduro regime must allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela and must allow its people to be heard,” he said.
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States “will take swift economic and diplomatic actions to support the restoration of their democracy.” He did not elaborate.
And in a series of tweets written in English and Spanish, the infamous Senator Marco Rubio called the Venezuelan elections a “fraud” and even said there was no electoral exit while the Bolivarian revolution is in power, echoing previously declarations in which he directly called for a military coup. “The only mafia in Venezuela is its regime. Today is the beginning of its end,” tweeted Rubio.
Across the Atlantic, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson issued a statement Monday saying he was “disappointed” by a “neither free nor fair” electoral process that has “further eroded Venezuelan democracy.”
“The condemnation of the international community is loud and clear. We shall work closely with our EU and regional partners in the coming weeks to determine how we can continue to support a political resolution,” said Johnson.
The controversial foreign secretary claims he was “deeply concerned by the man-made humanitarian and economic crisis, which is growing worse by the day” and urged the Venezuelan government to take immediate action and let international humanitarian aid to deliver food and medicines, but didn’t mention anything about the increasing sanctions on the Bolivarian revolution that have hampered their efforts to stabilize the economy.
Also in Europe, the Spanish Prime Minister, who has led EU efforts against Venezuela, expressed his rejection to Sunday’s elections. “Venezuela’s electoral process has not respected the most basic democratic standards. Spain and its European partners will study appropriate measures,” tweeted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Meanwhile Venezuela’s neighbors led by right-wing governments issued a statement under the banner of the so-called Lima Group said it did not recognize the vote and would downgrade diplomatic relations with Venezuela.
The group deplored Venezuela’s “grave humanitarian situation” and vowed to help crack down on corruption and block loans to the government.

Comment

Special Correspondent
 
President Nicolas Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential elections Sunday, gaining a second presidential term for six years with more than 5.8 million votes.
Nicolas Maduro has served in various senior posts during the various administrations of the late president Hugo Chavez, including among them as head of the National Assembly, Foreign Minister and Vice President.
The opposition candidate, former governor, Henri Falcón came second after Maduro - and the evangelical expiator Javier Bertucci have made accusations of irregularities. 
A day after the Venezuelan general elections, China and Russia called Monday for respecting the country’s democratic process and rejected attempts of interfence by the United States and other regional powers. 
“The parties involved must respect the decision of the Venezuelan people,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a press conference in Beijing, as he encouraged resolving any dispute through legal channels, EFE reported. 
Kang affirmed China’s policy of not interfering in internal affairs of other countries and was convinced that the Venezuelan government and citizens will be able to resolve the issues.  “China will address the relevant issues in accordance with diplomatic practice,” the spokesman added. 
Maduro’s win comes at a time when the United States and its right-wing regional allies as well as several European governments have made several attempts to intervene in Venezuela’s presidential elections through sanctions and boycott calls against the Venezuelan election saying they won’t recognize the results, policies that were rejected by the Russian Foreign Ministry Monday.  
“We regrettably have to note that in these elections, in addition to the two traditional participants, that is, the Venezuelan people, the electors, on the one hand, and on the other the candidates who presented their programs ... there was a third participant, the governments who openly called for a boycott of the vote,” said Alexánder Schetinin, director of the Latin American Department of the Foreign Ministry.  
Schetinin also added that Russia is often accused of meddling in other countries’ elections but in Venezuela’s case, some countries have meddled indiscriminately.
He added that some countries put obstacles “among others to hinder the voting in their territories of Venezuelans who are abroad.” 
“And even worse when a whole series of governments, including the one you are appointing (United States), a priori declared that they would not recognize the results,” he said during a press conference, the Interfax news agency reported. 
“The elections have been held and their results have an irreversible character: two-thirds of the votes went to the current president of the country, Nicolás Maduro,” he concluded. 
While many countries in Latin America have recognized the Venezuelan elections and congratulated President Maduro, such as Cuba, Bolivia and El Salvador, right-wing governments in the region have dismissed the vote as “illegtimate” echoing statements by the U.S. and Canada and some Western countries who had dismissed the vote and teh results before the election had even taken place.
The so-called Lima Group plus Canada issued a statement Monday saying it did not recognize the legitimacy of Venezuela’s presidential election. The statement said the countries would call their ambassadors back from Caracas for consultations and hold a meeting to coordinate a regional response to what they call “crisis” in Venezuela. They also said they would seek a new resolution on “the situation” in the South American country.
Such attempts of interference into Venezuela’s internal affairs have repeatedly been rejected over the past few months by the government in Caracas as well as left-wing governments in the region.
The Lima Group includes Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Santa Lucia, Canada, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
 
Maradona expressed his support
Meanwhile , Argentine former soccer player Diego Maradona expressed his support to Venezuelan people’s decision to reelect President Nicolas Maduro for another six-year term, after attending his campaign’s closing ceremony Thursday.
“Yesterday, Venezuela again gave its support to Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelans that don’t want to be invaded, the good Venezuelans, elected him again to continue the legacy of Commander Hugo Chavez. Today Venezuela is free forever,” wrote the soccer star in his Facebook account.
The former national Argentine team coach has been a long-time supporter of the Bolivarian revolution and a fierce critic of neoliberal policies in Latin America.
“I’m very glad Maduro didn’t lose, because the United States would have taken over everything, just like they’re doing in Argentina, as they’re doing in Brazil, and in every country that want to keep its head up.”
Despite critics from the opposition and other detractors, Maradona has remained firm in his support for the Venezuelan government and President Nicolas Maduro.
“And to those who criticize me, I thank you with my soul. They speak from their homes and have the plate full of food everyday. And we’re fighting in Venezuela so that plate can be full. I greet the singer, the actress and the ex-soccer player that woke up after a long time. I won’t vote for the ones they want,” said Maradona, referring to critics of singer Jose Luis Rodriguez “el Puma” and ex-soccer player Mario Kempes.
“My back is wide enough to hold everything they want to tell me. I send a big hug to all Venezuelans!” he concluded.
 
US, Allies Continue Interventionist Agenda
However, after incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro received an overwhelming majority of the votes in Sunday’s elections, the United States and its allies slammed the electoral process and called for further measures aimed at keeping up with the interventionist policies to topple the Bolivarian revolution in the name of “democracy” and “humanitarian intervention.”
The U.S. State Department had announced earlier Monday that President Donald Trump put in place new economic sanctions aimed at Venezuela in an executive order banning U.S. citizens from being involved in sales of that country’s accounts related to oil and other assets.
“Today’s executive order closes another avenue for corruption that we have observed being used: it denies corrupt Venezuelan officials the ability to improperly value and sell off public assets in return for kickbacks,” a senior administration official told reporters.
“Venezuela’s election was a sham – neither free nor fair,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said shortly before the sanctions order. “The United States will not sit idly by as Venezuela crumbles and the misery of their brave people continues ... The Maduro regime must allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela and must allow its people to be heard,” he said.
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States “will take swift economic and diplomatic actions to support the restoration of their democracy.” He did not elaborate.
And in a series of tweets written in English and Spanish, the infamous Senator Marco Rubio called the Venezuelan elections a “fraud” and even said there was no electoral exit while the Bolivarian revolution is in power, echoing previously declarations in which he directly called for a military coup. “The only mafia in Venezuela is its regime. Today is the beginning of its end,” tweeted Rubio.
Across the Atlantic, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson issued a statement Monday saying he was “disappointed” by a “neither free nor fair” electoral process that has “further eroded Venezuelan democracy.”
“The condemnation of the international community is loud and clear. We shall work closely with our EU and regional partners in the coming weeks to determine how we can continue to support a political resolution,” said Johnson.
The controversial foreign secretary claims he was “deeply concerned by the man-made humanitarian and economic crisis, which is growing worse by the day” and urged the Venezuelan government to take immediate action and let international humanitarian aid to deliver food and medicines, but didn’t mention anything about the increasing sanctions on the Bolivarian revolution that have hampered their efforts to stabilize the economy.
Also in Europe, the Spanish Prime Minister, who has led EU efforts against Venezuela, expressed his rejection to Sunday’s elections. “Venezuela’s electoral process has not respected the most basic democratic standards. Spain and its European partners will study appropriate measures,” tweeted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Meanwhile Venezuela’s neighbors led by right-wing governments issued a statement under the banner of the so-called Lima Group said it did not recognize the vote and would downgrade diplomatic relations with Venezuela.
The group deplored Venezuela’s “grave humanitarian situation” and vowed to help crack down on corruption and block loans to the government.

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Nicaragua: Extortion, dialogue and a longing for peace

Tortilla Con Sal
 
Recent experience confirms that the Latin American and the Caribbean right-wing, like the U.S. government, cannot be trusted to comply with agreements. That has been true for Cuba’s revolutionary government in its direct talks with the U.S. authorities; for Colombia’s FARC former guerrillas over government implementation of the peace agreement, and for Venezuela’s government in the national dialogue with the political opposition. Likewise, misgivings prevail about the integrity of the National Dialogue for Peace in Nicaragua mediated by the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church as witness of the process.
Ever since April 23, violent right-wing extremists have murdered government supporters and bystanders; continued to attack municipal offices and police installations; vandalized and looted commercial property – as well as buses, taxis and private vehicles – and have shot and wounded numerous police officers. But the Episcopal Conference openly sides with the opposition, falsely suggesting that the violent opposition are victims. The dialogue process has only been kept on track thanks to the dour patience of the Nicaraguan authorities, led by President Daniel Ortega, and their determination not to allow provocations to sabotage the chance for peace.
 
Dialogue Without Conditions
On April 22, President Ortega asked the Catholic bishops to mediate a dialogue without conditions. The bishops, led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, accepted. But they took almost three weeks to agree the dialogue with an opposition made up of business organizations, students and opposition politicians. Everything suggested the opposition simply did not want dialogue. That was confirmed on May 11, when – after originally agreeing to mediate without preconditions – the bishops set out four aggressive preconditions involving a fundamental contradiction. Claiming to defend the rights of all Nicaraguans, the bishops insisted that the police be taken off the streets, implicitly leaving the violent opposition gangs free to continue their attacks.
President Ortega accepted the four preconditions of the bishops’ provocative ultimatum, self-contradiction and all, noting diplomatically his government’s agreement about the need to stop all violence, intimidation and aggression. He also expressed “our great concern about climates of fear in communities, where – far beyond peaceful protests, which we absolutely respect – acts of violence proliferate that destroy and damage the quality of life of Nicaraguans of all ages, who cry out to God for a return to normality.” All through that same weekend, armed gangs attacked and intimidated people across Nicaragua, burning down a famous craft market in Masaya and setting up road blocks, the majority operated by masked thugs preventing freedom of movement.
Between the events of May 11 up to and including the day the dialogue finally began on May 16, the armed gangs attacked police installations and municipal offices in Matagalpa, Masaya and Jinotega. In Matagalpa, they shot dead two government supporters and a one-year-old girl. They also shot and wounded three police officers. In Masaya, they shot dead a government supporter. In Jinotega, they wounded two police officers. At one of the roadblocks, a female patient in an ambulance held up for hours went into convulsions and died before she could be stabilized.
These were the most serious of innumerable incidents of violence and intimidation by the right-wing opposition gangs. In response to these events, on May 12 Cardinal Brenes issued a general appeal calling for an end to all violence, omitting any explicit call on the political opposition to stop their violent provocations. The bishops’ extraordinarily cynical statements, biased in favor of the opposition, falsely suggest that primary responsibility for the violence lies with the government.
 
Perverse Propaganda
That perverse propaganda line persists and also characterized the dialogue’s opening session on May 16. Aggressive opposition students tried unsuccessfully to shout down President Ortega during his statement, while the mediating bishops themselves attacked the government for not withdrawing the police from the streets. In response, President Ortega pointed out that the opposition were responsible for the violence, and that the police had orders not to use their firearms and had indeed refrained from taking action.
He noted, however: “We cannot be in a country where one part of Nicaraguans has the right to terrorize and the other part has no alternative but to be terrorized, as currently thousands of families are.” That opening session of the dialogue, with the bishops mediating entirely in favor of the opposition, was a triumph of resilient patience on the part of the government representatives in an atmosphere designed to provoke them. Subsequently, on May 18, the first session of direct talks ended with an agreement from both sides to work for peace and develop proposals covering the various issues to be negotiated. The day before, on May 17, a delegation from the OAS Inter-American Commission for Human Rights arrived to begin their investigation of the violent events from April 18 onward.
 
Nicaragua Gov’t, Opposition Begin Peace Dialogue to End Unrest
Even OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has conceded that dialogue in Nicaragua has worked in terms of promoting peace. For the moment, the government has defused the opposition violence and intimidation ordinary Nicaraguans have experienced for over three weeks now, while opposition forces absurdly pretend they are victims. Apart from the intimidation they have suffered, tens of thousands of workers and small businesses and farmers have been unable to work normally, and the cost to the economy currently runs to over US$200 million. As for the opposition, as usual, they are divided. Most of the business sector and their associated politicians are anxious to get the economy back to normal.
By contrast, the extremist political opposition led by ex-Sandinistas are not, This is logical enough, because the income for the NGO network they depend on is guaranteed by funding from the United States and Europe. Similarly, many of the students regret the damaging results of the violence, but others are more intransigent. The bishops, too, are divided. The most right-wing bishops continue to cynically exploit their mediation role in favor of the opposition, while others do not. Priests at grassroots level have played an important role, genuinely mediating, often in very difficult conditions and at some risk to themselves.
 
Divisions and Disadvantage
These divisions put the opposition and their supporters among the bishops at a disadvantage, up against a solidly united government team with vast experience and negotiating skills accumulated over more than 30 years. Some opposition leaders – such as Violeta Granera, a perennial client of U.S. government funding – are now so frustrated they have even accused Luis Almagro of treachery for not facilitating their extremist agenda as they had expected. The problem for the government in the negotiations is that whenever these opposition extremists feel they are losing ground, they can reactivate their violent terrorist gangs and plunge the country into chaos again.
Against that constant extortionist threat, the government is likely to sit tight, waiting for public opinion to force the extremists to back down. If the extremists withdraw from the talks, it will be very hard for the bishops to continue to insist – as they have done implicitly for weeks now – that the government allows violent opposition extremists to destroy public order when a clear majority in the country craves normality. While talks on issues such as institutional changes or social security and tax reform take their course, above all, people in Nicaragua want to be able to live, work and study in peace.

Comment

Tortilla Con Sal
 
Recent experience confirms that the Latin American and the Caribbean right-wing, like the U.S. government, cannot be trusted to comply with agreements. That has been true for Cuba’s revolutionary government in its direct talks with the U.S. authorities; for Colombia’s FARC former guerrillas over government implementation of the peace agreement, and for Venezuela’s government in the national dialogue with the political opposition. Likewise, misgivings prevail about the integrity of the National Dialogue for Peace in Nicaragua mediated by the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church as witness of the process.
Ever since April 23, violent right-wing extremists have murdered government supporters and bystanders; continued to attack municipal offices and police installations; vandalized and looted commercial property – as well as buses, taxis and private vehicles – and have shot and wounded numerous police officers. But the Episcopal Conference openly sides with the opposition, falsely suggesting that the violent opposition are victims. The dialogue process has only been kept on track thanks to the dour patience of the Nicaraguan authorities, led by President Daniel Ortega, and their determination not to allow provocations to sabotage the chance for peace.
 
Dialogue Without Conditions
On April 22, President Ortega asked the Catholic bishops to mediate a dialogue without conditions. The bishops, led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, accepted. But they took almost three weeks to agree the dialogue with an opposition made up of business organizations, students and opposition politicians. Everything suggested the opposition simply did not want dialogue. That was confirmed on May 11, when – after originally agreeing to mediate without preconditions – the bishops set out four aggressive preconditions involving a fundamental contradiction. Claiming to defend the rights of all Nicaraguans, the bishops insisted that the police be taken off the streets, implicitly leaving the violent opposition gangs free to continue their attacks.
President Ortega accepted the four preconditions of the bishops’ provocative ultimatum, self-contradiction and all, noting diplomatically his government’s agreement about the need to stop all violence, intimidation and aggression. He also expressed “our great concern about climates of fear in communities, where – far beyond peaceful protests, which we absolutely respect – acts of violence proliferate that destroy and damage the quality of life of Nicaraguans of all ages, who cry out to God for a return to normality.” All through that same weekend, armed gangs attacked and intimidated people across Nicaragua, burning down a famous craft market in Masaya and setting up road blocks, the majority operated by masked thugs preventing freedom of movement.
Between the events of May 11 up to and including the day the dialogue finally began on May 16, the armed gangs attacked police installations and municipal offices in Matagalpa, Masaya and Jinotega. In Matagalpa, they shot dead two government supporters and a one-year-old girl. They also shot and wounded three police officers. In Masaya, they shot dead a government supporter. In Jinotega, they wounded two police officers. At one of the roadblocks, a female patient in an ambulance held up for hours went into convulsions and died before she could be stabilized.
These were the most serious of innumerable incidents of violence and intimidation by the right-wing opposition gangs. In response to these events, on May 12 Cardinal Brenes issued a general appeal calling for an end to all violence, omitting any explicit call on the political opposition to stop their violent provocations. The bishops’ extraordinarily cynical statements, biased in favor of the opposition, falsely suggest that primary responsibility for the violence lies with the government.
 
Perverse Propaganda
That perverse propaganda line persists and also characterized the dialogue’s opening session on May 16. Aggressive opposition students tried unsuccessfully to shout down President Ortega during his statement, while the mediating bishops themselves attacked the government for not withdrawing the police from the streets. In response, President Ortega pointed out that the opposition were responsible for the violence, and that the police had orders not to use their firearms and had indeed refrained from taking action.
He noted, however: “We cannot be in a country where one part of Nicaraguans has the right to terrorize and the other part has no alternative but to be terrorized, as currently thousands of families are.” That opening session of the dialogue, with the bishops mediating entirely in favor of the opposition, was a triumph of resilient patience on the part of the government representatives in an atmosphere designed to provoke them. Subsequently, on May 18, the first session of direct talks ended with an agreement from both sides to work for peace and develop proposals covering the various issues to be negotiated. The day before, on May 17, a delegation from the OAS Inter-American Commission for Human Rights arrived to begin their investigation of the violent events from April 18 onward.
 
Nicaragua Gov’t, Opposition Begin Peace Dialogue to End Unrest
Even OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has conceded that dialogue in Nicaragua has worked in terms of promoting peace. For the moment, the government has defused the opposition violence and intimidation ordinary Nicaraguans have experienced for over three weeks now, while opposition forces absurdly pretend they are victims. Apart from the intimidation they have suffered, tens of thousands of workers and small businesses and farmers have been unable to work normally, and the cost to the economy currently runs to over US$200 million. As for the opposition, as usual, they are divided. Most of the business sector and their associated politicians are anxious to get the economy back to normal.
By contrast, the extremist political opposition led by ex-Sandinistas are not, This is logical enough, because the income for the NGO network they depend on is guaranteed by funding from the United States and Europe. Similarly, many of the students regret the damaging results of the violence, but others are more intransigent. The bishops, too, are divided. The most right-wing bishops continue to cynically exploit their mediation role in favor of the opposition, while others do not. Priests at grassroots level have played an important role, genuinely mediating, often in very difficult conditions and at some risk to themselves.
 
Divisions and Disadvantage
These divisions put the opposition and their supporters among the bishops at a disadvantage, up against a solidly united government team with vast experience and negotiating skills accumulated over more than 30 years. Some opposition leaders – such as Violeta Granera, a perennial client of U.S. government funding – are now so frustrated they have even accused Luis Almagro of treachery for not facilitating their extremist agenda as they had expected. The problem for the government in the negotiations is that whenever these opposition extremists feel they are losing ground, they can reactivate their violent terrorist gangs and plunge the country into chaos again.
Against that constant extortionist threat, the government is likely to sit tight, waiting for public opinion to force the extremists to back down. If the extremists withdraw from the talks, it will be very hard for the bishops to continue to insist – as they have done implicitly for weeks now – that the government allows violent opposition extremists to destroy public order when a clear majority in the country craves normality. While talks on issues such as institutional changes or social security and tax reform take their course, above all, people in Nicaragua want to be able to live, work and study in peace.

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Indian Army fired bullets during Ramadan ceasefire in Kahsmir
Special Correspondent
 
Days after the Indian authorities announced a conditional ceasefire in Kashmir by halting operations against separatist militants during the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan, Army troops opened fire on protesters in southern Shopian district late Monday evening injuring four girls –two of them siblings- 
According to reports, Army had invited the local elders and other prominent villagers to an Iftar party but the village Auquaf committee had advised it not to hold any such event in view of the anger among the local residents over the recent killings in the security forces action. 
However, the Army ignored the advice and went ahead with hosting the Iftar party at a local mosque. Meanwhile, the Army said that keeping up with the spirit of the holy month of Ramazan, it organised an Iftaar party for the locals of Bijbehera, Bunera and Arizal in south Kashmir which was attended by the local youth, prominent businessmen, surrendered militants and leaders of the region. “Namaz was offered collectively by the locals and the Army personnel which was followed by an interactive session with the awaam (masses). 
As the word about it spread, groups of youth took to the streets chanting pro-freedom slogans and then allegedly hurled stones at soldiers.
A report from Shopian said that the angry mob also ransacked a stall set up by the Army outside the main mosque in Dreed Kalipora for the Iftar party.
The police also said that while withdrawing from the area the Army jawans fired some rifles shots in the air during which four girls were hit.

Comment

Special Correspondent
 
Days after the Indian authorities announced a conditional ceasefire in Kashmir by halting operations against separatist militants during the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan, Army troops opened fire on protesters in southern Shopian district late Monday evening injuring four girls –two of them siblings- 
According to reports, Army had invited the local elders and other prominent villagers to an Iftar party but the village Auquaf committee had advised it not to hold any such event in view of the anger among the local residents over the recent killings in the security forces action. 
However, the Army ignored the advice and went ahead with hosting the Iftar party at a local mosque. Meanwhile, the Army said that keeping up with the spirit of the holy month of Ramazan, it organised an Iftaar party for the locals of Bijbehera, Bunera and Arizal in south Kashmir which was attended by the local youth, prominent businessmen, surrendered militants and leaders of the region. “Namaz was offered collectively by the locals and the Army personnel which was followed by an interactive session with the awaam (masses). 
As the word about it spread, groups of youth took to the streets chanting pro-freedom slogans and then allegedly hurled stones at soldiers.
A report from Shopian said that the angry mob also ransacked a stall set up by the Army outside the main mosque in Dreed Kalipora for the Iftar party.
The police also said that while withdrawing from the area the Army jawans fired some rifles shots in the air during which four girls were hit.

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