Pilar María Terrén Lalana: Daniel Ortega receives the new ambassador of Spain in Managua | International

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The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, greets the new ambassador of Spain in Nicaragua Pilar María Terrén Lalana.Nicaraguan Presidency (EFE)

The turbulent diplomatic relations between Spain and Nicaragua have apparently subsided: President Daniel Ortega received on Monday the credentials of the Madrid representative in Managua, Pilar María Terrén Lalana, in a private event that Rosario Murillo did not attend, the co-chair de facto who directs the bizarre foreign relations of the Central American country. The confirmation of the Spanish ambassador occurs 17 months after the start of a diplomatic clash that led both countries to withdraw their ambassadors.

On August 11, 2021, the Government of Pedro Sánchez called the then ambassador, María del Mar Fernández-Palacios, for consultations, in response to a statement from the Sandinista Foreign Ministry that poured out a series of attacks against Spain that, on repeated occasions, criticized the violations of human rights in Nicaragua. In the words of the Spanish authorities, the Managua statement contained "gross falsehoods about judicial and electoral processes."

When Fernández-Palacios wanted to return to Nicaragua, the immigration authorities denied him entry without further reasons. In March 2022, "after a warning of reciprocity" from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ortega-Murillos withdrew their ambassador Carlos Antonio Midence from Madrid. The Sandinista regime maintained that its decision responded "to the continuous pressure and threats of intervention on our ambassador by Spain, which make it impossible to carry out diplomatic work."

So both countries were left without ambassadors until, at the end of July 2022, Terrén Lalana handed over the copies of the Style of Credentials to the Sandinista Foreign Minister, Denis Moncada. Later, in November, Ortega appointed Maurizio Carlo Alberto Gelli—an Italian nationalized Nicaraguan—as the new ambassador to Spain.

Gelli's accreditation in Madrid happened less than a month after his appointment. In contrast, Terrén Lalana's occurred almost five and a half months later. The Spanish ambassador was accredited on Monday night along with 13 other diplomats at the Olof Palme convention center. The great absentee was Vice President Murillo, whom diplomatic sources point to as the manager of "troubled" and "visceral" relations when the ambassadors accredited to Managua criticize the excesses of her regime.

The reception of the ambassadors' credentials coincided with the anniversary of the death of Nicaragua's greatest poet and precursor of modernism, Rubén Darío, who was one of the first diplomats of this country. Ortega made a dissertation on the poet's career and his time in Spain, but this time he was calm and did not attack Madrid.

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“Dario had an enormous sensitivity, which, how much did he not write about what is the dignity of the human being, what is dignity, what is shame, what is terrible to be subject to slavery, to domination, of impotence”, maintained the Sandinista caudillo, and then questioned the United States, in his usual anti-imperialist tone.

They maintain rejection of the US ambassador

In fact, apart from the absence of Vice President Murillo who accompanies him at all public events, and the acceptance of the Spanish ambassador, the other most striking aspect was that Ortega continues to not welcome the new US ambassador, Hugo Rodríguez.

Rodríguez was ratified by the Senate in Washington in July 2022. In his ratification speech, then-appointed Ambassador Rodríguez criticized the repression in Nicaragua. “Unfortunately, Nicaraguans now face a similar situation since last November's elections. [2021], when Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo deprived Nicaraguans of any real option, and Nicaraguans' hopes for democracy and prosperity were dashed,” Rodríguez said. “More than 180 political prisoners on unfounded charges, including political opposition figures, human rights defenders, student leaders, journalists, and civil society representatives, remain deprived of their human rights.”

Rodríguez's statement fell like a cold bucket in Managua, especially when he suggested that getting Nicaragua out of the DR-Cafta free trade agreement "is a very powerful tool and something that should be seriously considered." Almost immediately the Ortega-Murillos canceled their approval.

The Nicaraguan foreign minister said in the official response that every diplomat has the duty to contribute to "respect and understanding between peoples and governments." "Based on diplomacy and in compliance with the postulates of the Vienna Convention, the ambassador or candidate for ambassador, Hugo Rodríguez, cannot get involved in national issues that are typical of Nicaraguans, much less disrespect, offend, humiliate, threaten, lead or be a factor of interference or interventionism in the internal affairs of our country”, he settled.

In September 2022, the US Senate maintained Rodríguez's appointment (the same one that is maintained until today), while the current ambassador Kevin Sullivan continues in Managua. It was Vice President Murillo who responded to Washington on that occasion: "Mr. Hugo Rodríguez will not be admitted to Nicaragua under any circumstances, much less as an exponent of the worst forms of relations between States." A decision that, for now, remains unchanged in a context in which the Sandinista regime has unsuccessfully sought rapprochement with the US government in exchange for easing or lifting international sanctions against it. The talks have run aground because the Joe Biden government has made all negotiations subject to the unconditional release of all political prisoners, something to which Ortega and Murillo have flatly refused.

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