Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann

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Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann

Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann2.jpg
President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
September 16, 2008 – September, 2009
Preceded bySrgjan Asan Kerim
Succeeded byAli Abdussalam Treki
Ambassador of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the United Nations
In office
29 March 2011 – 2011
Preceded byAbdel Rahman Shalgham
Succeeded byPost Abolished
Foreign Minister of Nicaragua
In office
19 July 1979 – 25 April 1990
Preceded byHarry Bodán Shields
Succeeded byEnrique Dreyfus
Personal details
Born(1933-02-05)February 5, 1933
Los Angeles, California,
United States
DiedJune 8, 2017(2017-06-08) (aged 84)
Managua, Nicaragua

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann M.M. (February 5, 1933 – June 8, 2017) was an American-born Nicaraguan diplomat, politician and Catholic priest of the Maryknoll Missionary Society. As the President of the United Nations General Assembly from September 2008 to September 2009, he presided over the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.[1][2] He was also nominated as Libyan Representative to the UN in March 2011.[3][4] He died on 8 June 2017, having suffered a stroke several months earlier.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

D'Escoto was born in Los Angeles, California.[7] on February 5, 1933. His father was Miguel Escoto Muñoz, a Nicaraguan diplomat.[8] His mother was Margarita Brockmann Meléndez. Through his father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann was descended from Nazario Escoto, acting president of Nicaragua in 1855. He was then raised in Nicaragua but was sent back to the United States to begin his high school studies in 1947.[citation needed]


D'Escoto felt called to serve as priest and entered the seminary of the Maryknoll Missionary Society in 1953. He was ordained a priest of the Society in 1961 before becoming engaged in politics. He earned a Master of Science degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism the following year, and was a key figure in the founding of the Maryknoll publishing house, Orbis Books, in 1970. He served as an official of the World Council of Churches. As an adherent of liberation theology, he secretly joined the Sandinistas. D'Escoto formed the Nicaraguan Foundation for Integral Community Development (FUNDECI) in January 1973 to promote a nongovernmental response to the displacement of thousands in the December 1972 Managua earthquake.[9] He continued on as President of FUNDECI, which operates in several departments in Nicaragua until his death in 2017.[10][11]

On August 5, 2014, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had reinstated D'Escoto as a priest after he had been suspended for thirty years for taking up office in Nicaragua's left-wing Sandinista government. D'Escoto had been banned from celebrating Mass by Pope John Paul II for defying a church ban on priests holding political office. D'Escoto served as Nicaragua's foreign minister from 1979 to 1990. He welcomed the news and said his punishment had been unfair. D'Escoto, 81, had written to Pope Francis asking to be allowed to celebrate Mass before he died.[12]

Nicaraguan Revolution[edit]

D'Escoto first publicly expressed support for the FSLN as one of Los Doce, in October 1977, and was appointed foreign minister after the Sandinista triumph in 1979. He served as foreign minister in Daniel Ortega's FSLN government from 1979 to 1990.[4] During a visit to Central America, Pope John Paul II publicly admonished him for his political activity.[13]

In 1985, the pope denounced him and two other priests, the brothers Ernesto and Fernando Cardenal. All three served in the Nicaraguan government but did not resign from office and so in violation of canon law. D'Escoto was suspended by the Holy See in 1985, together with the two other priests. The suspension stayed in place until August 2014, when Pope Francis lifted it.[14]

Early in the war, the Reagan administration perceived D'Escoto as a relative moderate who might break with the regime. As foreign minister, D'Escoto received the Lenin Peace Prize in 1985 and 1986 and the Thomas Merton Award in 1987.[15] In 1999, then Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, criticized the priests who became involved with the Sandinistas and abandoned their priestly ministry for politics. He said the priests never denounced the injustices that took place at the time.[16]

Political activity[edit]

On March 3, 1986, D'Escoto gave a speech on Nicaraguan television publicly insulting and condemning Cardinal Obando for not siding with the Sandinista regime against the Contras: "There is no word uttered by human mouth, no adjective that we could use to truly describe the horror produced by this brother of ours."[citation needed]

After the Sandinistas lost the 1990 Nicaraguan general election, D'Escoto led the Communal Movement but resigned that post in December 1991 after his support within the organization waned.[17] He supported Daniel Ortega against the Sandinista Renovation Movement dissidents.[18]

United Nations[edit]

President of the General Assembly[edit]

The Latin American and Caribbean Group selected him as their candidate to become the president of the UN General Assembly. On June 4, 2008, he was elected by acclamation to preside over 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly from September 2008 to September 2009.[19]

Shortly after his election, D'Escoto stated during a press conference:

They elected a priest. And I hope no one is offended if I say that love is what is most needed in this world. And that selfishness is what has gotten us into the terrible quagmire in which the world is sinking, almost irreversibly, unless something big happens. This may sound like a sermon. Well, OK.[20]

D'Escoto stated that addressing rising energy and food prices around the world would be priorities.[19] His other priorities would include hunger, poverty, climate change, terrorism, human rights, disarmament, nuclear control, cultural diversity, the rights of women and children and the protection of biodiversity.[21] He designated[22] 16 senior advisers: Brother David Andrews, C.S.C. (USA), Maude Barlow (Canada), Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria), Leonardo Boff (Brazil), Kevin Cahill (USA), François Houtart (Belgium), Noam Chomsky (USA), Ramsey Clark (USA), Richard Falk (USA), Michael Kennedy (USA), Eleonora Kennedy (USA), Olivier De Schutter (Belgium), Joseph Stiglitz (USA), Sir John E. Sulston (UK), Francisco Lacayo Parajón (Nicaragua) and Howard Zinn (USA).[citation needed]

In June 2010, D'Escoto was elected by acclamation to the Council Advisory Committee to the United Nations Human Rights Council.[23]

Reform of the United Nations[edit]

D'Escoto criticised the veto power wielded by the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Therein he said "I hope my presidency will address what has become a universal clamour all over the world for the democratisation of the United Nations. I promise to give full support to the working group on the revitalisation of the General Assembly."[19]

Relations with the United States[edit]

Described by Reuters as "a fierce critic of the foreign relations of the United States (he referred to Ronald Reagan in 2004 as "the butcher of my people"[7]): "Because of Reagan and his spiritual heir George W. Bush, the world today is far less safe and secure than it has ever been."[4]

Following his election to the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly, he offered a statement interpreted[by whom?] as renewed criticism aimed at the United States: "The behavior of some member states has caused the United Nations to lose credibility as an organisation capable of putting an end to war and eradicating extreme poverty from our planet."[4] He denounced what he called "acts of aggression, such as those occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan."[24] However, he expressed his "love" for "the United States as a country" and added: "I do not want to turn this General Assembly presidency into a place to take it out on the United States."[4] Reacting to those comments, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad responded: "We have been assured that a page has been turned and that he understands his new responsibilities.... We will wait and see."[4] Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, added: "The president of the General Assembly is supposed to be a uniter. We have made it clear that these crazy comments are not acceptable, and we hope he refrains from this talk and gets to work on General Assembly business."[20] However, Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the United States Mission to the United Nations, said:[when?] "It's hard to make sense of Mr. D'Escoto's increasingly bizarre statements."[25]

Relations with Israel and Iran[edit]

On September 17, 2008, Israel's Ambassador to the U.N Gabriela Shalev called D'Escoto an "Israel-hater"[26] because D'Escoto "hugged" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Ahmedinedjad's strongly anti-Israel and anti-Zionist September 2008 speech to the UN General Assembly. She expressed anger over the UN reception of Ahmedinedjad, saying to an Israeli newspaper: "I heard that the Iranian president's address was followed by loud applause, and that d'Escoto warmly embraced him."[27] D'Escoto's spokesman responded by saying: "He cannot respond to each and every speech made by the leaders of these states."[27] The Israeli ambassador also criticised D'Escoto for attending a dinner marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan with a number of Middle Eastern leaders, including Ahmadinejad.[27] D'Escoto's spokesman responded by saying: "[D'Escoto] will join the dinner because he believes in dialogue, an issue which he had highlighted, and thinks that he should deal with all member states."[27]

Libyan ambassador[edit]

On March 29, 2011, during the 2011 Libyan civil war, Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa wrote to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, nominating d'Escoto as Libya’s new ambassador to the UN. The letter stated that he was nominated, as Ali Treki, also a former General Assembly president who was Libya's first choice, was denied a visa to enter the United States under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.[28] US ambassador Susan Rice claimed that he did not possess the proper diplomatic visa to represent Libya and suggested Mussa Kussa's recommendation might be void because of his resignation on March 30 from the Libyan government.[29][30]


On June 8, 2017, Brockmann died at the age of 84 after suffering a stroke several months earlier.[31] Arrangements for his funeral were still pending by June 13, 2017.[32] Eventually, he was buried in the Cementerio General in Managua.[33]


  1. ^ "General Assembly Elects, by Acclamation, President for Sixty-Third Session", United Nations General Assembly official website
  2. ^ "Nicaraguan elected to head next session of General Assembly", United Nations General Assembly official website
  3. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (March 30, 2011). "Ex-Nicaraguan Official to Represent Libya at United Nations". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Nicaraguan U.S. critic made U.N. assembly president", Reuters, June 4, 2008.
  5. ^ "Nicaragua: ex-diplomat Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann dies at 84". ABC News. June 8, 2017.
  6. ^ "Muere el excanciller y sacerdote Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann" (in Spanish). La Prensa. June 8, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "FACTBOX-Facts on new UN assembly head D'Escoto", Reuters, June 4, 2008
  8. ^ ":::Bolsa de Noticias::: ***Managua, Nicaragua***". www.bolsadenoticias.com.ni.
  9. ^ "Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua: FUNDECI: Nicaraguan Foundation for Integral Community Development".
  10. ^ "Excmo. Sr. Padre Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, M.M. Presidente del sexagésimo tercer período de sesiones de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas" Archived 2013-09-14 at the Wayback Machine, cinu.org.mx; accessed August 11, 2018.(in Spanish)
  11. ^ Gaia. "Gaia". www.gaianicaragua.org.
  12. ^ "Pope reinstates Nicaraguan priest". 5 August 2014 – via www.bbc.com.
  13. ^ Pope John Paul II criticizes clerical political activity, catholicnewsagency.com; accessed August 11, 2018.
  14. ^ Pope lifts suspension of Father D'Escoto, former Sandinista official; accessed 11 August 2018.
  15. ^ "The Thomas Merton Award 2006 will honor Angela Y. Davis!" Archived 2006-12-31 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Suspended Nicaraguan priest elected president of U.N. General Assembly".
  17. ^ "The Popular Organizations in Nicaragua Yesterday and Today".
  18. ^ Revista Envío - "We’re Independent Leftists", envio.org.ni; accessed August 11, 2018.(in Spanish)
  19. ^ a b c "UN Elects Ex-Sandinista as Assembly President" Archived 2008-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ a b ""Priest elected UN General Assembly president"". Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-05.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), Associated Press, June 5, 2008
  21. ^ "Roundup: former Nicaraguan FM elected head of UN General Assembly", Xinhua, June 5, 2008
  22. ^ "D'Escoto designates senior advisers" (PDF).
  23. ^ The U.N.'s war on Israel continues and the U.S. is silent, nydailynews.com, June 18, 2010.
  24. ^ "Former Nicaraguan Official Wins U.N. Assembly Presidency", New York Times, June 5, 2008
  25. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,509596,00.html U.N. Official Accuses U.S. of Demonizing Ahmadinejad
  26. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1024552.html Israel ambassador to UN: General Assembly chief is an Israel hater
  27. ^ a b c d "Ynetnews - News - sorry page".
  28. ^ Bill Varner and Blake Schmidt (March 29, 2011). "Former Nicaragua Sandinista Leader Named Libya's UN Envoy". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
  29. ^ AP (March 30, 2011). "Nicaraguan Asked to Represent Libya at UN". Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
  30. ^ "Fallece Miguel D'Escoto, Canciller de la Dignidad Nacional". June 9, 2017.
  31. ^ https://apnews.com/e79a23fcd08e46e0ba3bcbe58fdd7453/Nicaragua:-ex-diplomat-Miguel-D'Escoto-Brockmann-dies-at-84
  32. ^ https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/fr-miguel-descoto-put-his-priestly-life-service-poor
  33. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/180425697/felix-miguel-d_escoto/photo

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