Remembering Father D’Escoto, former Nicaraguan foreign minister and president of the UN
News from Nicaragua | Friday, 9 June 2017 |
In memory of Father Miguel D’Escoto, former Nicaragua foreign minister and president of the United Nations
Nicaraguan vice president, Rosario Murillo, has announced the death of Father Miguel D’Escoto at the age of 84, describing him as a ‘priest, friend, comrade, supporter of just causes, [who] we will miss forever.’
The son of a Nicaraguan diplomat under the Somoza regime, Father Miguel spent his early years in the US.
In the 1970s after being ordained he became committed to socialism and liberation theology and supported the FSLN in the period of armed struggle to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship.
From 1979 – 1990 he served as foreign minister in the Sandinista government. Throughout this period a government committed to radical social and economic transformation faced intense military, diplomatic and economic destabilisation by the Reagan administration bent on overthrowing the Sandinistas.
During his tenure as minister, Nicaragua sued the US in the International Court of Justice for committing acts of terrorism against Nicaragua in violation of international treaties. After being found guilty the US announced its refusal to accept the verdict of the Court or pay reparations.
Along with two other priests – Fernando and Ernesto Cardenal – who also served as ministers in the Sandinista government, Father D’Escoto was suspended from the priesthood by Pope John Paul II for defying a papal ban on priests holding government posts.
All three priests suffered ferocious opprobrium for daring to suggest that the church should be engaged on the side of the poor in the struggle for social and economic justice.
In 1983 a CIA plot to assassinate Father Miguel was uncovered and prevented.
In 2008-9, Father D’Escoto was appointed president of the UN General Assembly, the first priest to occupy the UN presidency. His main priorities during his term of office were hunger, poverty, climate change, human rights, disarmament and the rights of women and children.
He commented: "The behaviour of some member states has caused the UN to lose credibility as an organisation capable of putting an end to war and eradicating extreme poverty from our planet." The spokesperson for the US mission to the UN, Mark Kornblau commented on this and other statements: "It's hard to make sense of Mr. D'Escoto's increasingly bizarre statements."
Father D’Escoto was also committed to UN reform, in particular removing the veto powers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: "I hope my presidency will address what has become a universal clamour for the democratisation of the UN.”
Above all, Father Miguel will be remembered for dedicating his life nationally and internationally to the cause of peace and social and economic justice.