MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaragua says it welcomes a visit by the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and Catholic bishops announced Monday that a dialogue with the government will start this week.
The Nicaraguan Council of Bishops said talks between civic groups and the administration of President Daniel Ortega will start Wednesday morning, following weeks of anti-government protests in which an estimated 65 people have been killed.
OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro published Nicaragua’s acceptance letter in his Twitter account Monday.
The Nicaraguan bishops had demanded an international observation mission as a condition for dialogue, amid a crackdown on protesters by police and supporters of Ortega’s government. The government initially had rejected an offer by the OAS’s human rights observers.
The rights commission said in a statement Monday that during its visit it plans to meet with government, civil society and other representatives. It did not say when the visit would occur.
Cardenal Leopoldo Brenes said that while the conditions were not the best for starting the dialogue Ortega had offered, the country had to find some way out of the crisis.
Brenes expressed hope the talks could lead to increased democracy in a country tightly dominated by Ortega. He also called for an end to the violence and looting.
Demonstrators in the town of Sebaco, about 60 miles northeast of Managua, said Monday that several people were injured when police attacked a roadblock there.
The nonprofit Permanent Commission on Human Rights now estimates 65 people have been killed and 500 injured since the protests broke out in April.
On Saturday, Nicaragua’s military called for a halt to violence.
The protests forced Ortega to withdraw cuts to social security payments, and demonstrators are now demanding justice for the dead and greater democracy.