PARIS – Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado called Wednesday for a multinational effort to help end the political crisis gripping neighbouring Nicaragua, a conflict which risks destabilizing other Latin American nations.
“For things to change we need to get involved, and this involvement needs to come from OAS [Organization of American States] countries and include the European community,” Alvarado said in an interview with AFP in Paris.
Nicaragua has spiraled into deadly chaos since April as President Daniel Ortega has cracked down on opponents. Human rights groups say that more than 300 people have been killed.
The violence has prompted a surge of people fleeing the country, with more than 20,000 crossing the southern border to seek refuge in Costa Rica in recent months.
“There is irrefutable evidence of human rights violations in this country,” said the 38-year-old Alvarado, who attended this week’s Paris Peace Forum hosted by President Emmanuel Macron.
“Clearly this worries us, from the humanitarian perspective but also the commercial perspective,” he said, citing the impact on exports as well as trade throughout Central America. “For those of us who believe in democracy, in human rights and democratic institutions, we have to not only speak out but also find ways to help this democracy [Nicaragua] provide security and confidence to its people.”
“There has been resistance from some parts of Nicaragua’s government, but we need to be persistent,” he said.
‘To help change things’
Alvarado called for similar global pressure on Venezuela, where Nicolas Maduro has presided over an economic disaster that has also prompted a wave of people to leave.
An estimated 2.3 million have fled Venezuela since 2015 as runaway inflation puts even basic foodstuffs and other necessities out of reach.
“We have to keep insisting [on this] in international forums to help change things,” he said, reiterating that Costa Rica backed an initiative by six South American nations to have the International Criminal Court investigate Maduro for crimes against humanity.
“Some have called on us to disengage from our regional responsibilities, but it’s essential to bolster multilateralism, because without dialogue how are we going to solve our problems?” he said.
Alvarado also urged cooperation on fighting global warming, calling on more countries to “set an example if they can.”
The center-left leader has pledged to wean his country from fossil fuels in the medium term.
“Just as we abolished the army 70 years ago, abolishing the use of fossil fuels is the ethical obligation of our generation,” he said. “One country alone cannot solve climate change on its own. Everybody needs to be involved.”