Juan Sebastian Chamorro, CALI Class IV, is the executive director of FUNIDES, the leading economic think tank in Nicaragua. As an expert on both the importance of rule of law and the long- term economic health of Nicaragua, he was approached to be a lead voice for peace after the crisis broke out. He joined the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, a large group of civilians (including many CALI Fellows) from across the county working in both the private sector and non-profit community that aimed to bring about a radical new approach to restoring order to the country: dialogue.
The goal of the Civic Alliance was twofold: to bring democracy back to Nicaragua and to seek justice for the violations of human rights crimes committed by the regime. The process has not been easy. The first round of negotiations was suspended after only a month. However, thanks to the pressure imposed on the Nicaraguan government by the international community, the Ortega regime opened itself up to have further dialogue and formal negotiations. Juan Sebastian was selected in early 2019 as one of six members to sit at the table with government officials and attempt to negotiate peace.
He and the Nicaraguan people recently celebrated a major victory when 620 political prisoners were freed by the regime. Once these prisoners were freed, Juan Sebastian began working with them to ease their transition back into society. Though the dialogue is currently suspended, he remains poised to return to the negotiation table if the talks resume and will continue to work to bring relief to those affected in the interim.
Nicaragua does not have a culture of negotiations. It’s a culture of imposing one over the other–our history is a sequence of civil wars, coup d’états, revolutions, armed conflicts, and violence. So the whole idea of trying to reach a peaceful agreement… it’s the first time in the history of our country. The opposition has been extremely peaceful despite facing such heavy repression for a year. I’m proud to see my country trying to find a peaceful solution and engaging in dialogue like I did in CALI.
—JUAN SEBASTIAN CHAMORRO