After silencing the opposition, Daniel Ortega claimed victory for the fourth time in a row.
In the months leading up to the polls, seven opposition candidates have been jailed and secretly detained in the run-up to the November 7 presidential election in Nicaragua. Results of the presidential election. The election was unprecedented. After the vote, the government announced that Ortega had received 75 percent of the vote and 65 percent of the electorate. Urnas Abiertas, an independent suffrage body, said about 80 percent abstained, and there were reports of irregularities in polling stations across the country.
Voting took place in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, and there was no complete protection against fraud. Completely violating the rule of law, Ortega staged a wave of repression from May to October, prompting the opposition to issue a joint statement calling for a boycott of the October 7 election. Dozens of presidential candidates, farmers, workers, student leaders, journalists, and environmentalists were arrested and detained without trial, while hundreds were deported or forced underground.
Among the exiles was Sergio Ramirez, a famous writer who served as Ortega’s vice president during the 1980s revolution. While the government has accused Ramirez of “conspiring to undermine national integrity,” his crimes have angered the regime by publishing his latest novel, Tongele No Sabia Baylar, a fictional 2018 novel about public protests that began the current political struggle. that is. crisis and regime oppression and degradation. The book was immediately banned in the country, and customs officials ordered the shipment to be closed at the border.
The crackdown, in particular, destroyed the left-wing opposition Democratic Reform Alliance (UNAMOS), formerly known as the Sandinista Reform Movement (MRS). The MRS was founded in 1995 by Ortega’s former armed comrades and was ousted after leaving the FSLN or protesting against Ortega’s party leadership after failed attempts to democratize. Legendary guerrilla commanders Dora Maria Telles and Hugo Torres, as well as 1980s Deputy Foreign Minister Victor Hugo Tinoco and party president Ana Margarita Vigil, were among those arrested and still being held in secret. Amnesty International condemned such arrests and non-disclosure as “a strategy of repression by force”.
As part of the crackdown, the government banned about 30 civil society organizations and trade unions, as well as 24 civil society organizations and trade unions, including three opposition parties. Most of these 24 organizations were professional medical associations that criticized the Covid-19 anti-epidemic regime for reporting that the government had concealed the number of infections and deaths. Vice President Rosario Murillo has accused doctors of spreading “false speculations” about “health terrorism” and the effects of the infection. In the first months of the plague, the government organized a public event under the banner of “Love in the Age of Kovid.” Nicaragua, along with Haiti, has the lowest vaccination rate in Latin America, with only 4.9 percent of the population vaccinated in October.
In late 2020, the Sandinistas passed a number of laws that allowed the authorities to prosecute anyone who spoke out against the government. Among them is the Cybercrime Act, which allows fines and imprisonment of anyone who publishes what the government considers “false news” in the media. At the same time, the law on “crimes of hatred” allows for life imprisonment if convicted of a “crime of hatred” as defined by the government. As a result of the recent wave of arrests, Sandinista prosecutors have listed a wide range of crimes as “conspiracies to undermine national integrity,” “ideological lies,” “demanding, glorifying, approving sanctions against the state of Nicaragua and its citizens,” and “sexual harassment.” use international funding to fund organizations, associations and foundations to address projects, programs or issues that address sensitive issues such as diversity groups and indigenous rights, and through political marketing on issues such as freedom of expression and democracy. “
One week before the vote, Ortega announced his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, as the country’s “co-president.” His bizarre statement had no legal basis or constitutional legitimacy, but he was anointed as his successor, and 76-year-old Ortega was said to be in poor health, which was widely seen as the next step toward government. family dynasty. The ruling couple’s eight children already serve as presidential advisers and run the family empire’s private and social media, investment funds and family businesses.
According to a mid-October poll by CID-Gallup, an independent poll that has been conducting political polls in the country since 2011, 76 percent of voters believe the country is on the wrong track. According to opinion polls, 19 percent of voters plan to vote for Ortega, 65 percent said they would support the opposition candidate, and 16 percent are unsure. In a poll conducted by FSLN, M&R Ortega received almost 80 percent support. All polls should be treated with caution, given the political instability and the limitations of the polls in the midst of civil strife, but a CID-Gallup poll in May found that Ortega’s support fell from 33 percent to 19 percent. That, in turn, saw a 54 percent drop in Ortega’s popular support, recorded in the 2012 CID-Gallup poll.
Once the polls are over, the Sandinistas have almost absolute control over the Supreme Electoral Council and the reporting of the election results, so it is not possible to give accurate figures on the results. The threat of banning and repressing independent foreign observers also deterred journalists and civil society organizations from speaking out.
Ortega will begin his fourth term in office since the FSLN returned to power in 2007 amid an economic and political crisis. After the 2018 mass uprisings and violent repression, the legitimacy of the regime was shattered and the regime relied more on direct coercion to maintain control. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America estimates that the economy will grow by 2.0 percent this year and 1.8 percent in 2022, after the economy collapses every year until 2018-2020, which is not enough to overcome the three-year recession. As the crisis escalated, the number of Nicaraguans trying to cross the US-Mexico border rose from a few thousand in 2020 to more than 50,000 this year. That number is in addition to the 140,000 people who have already fled. Most have fled to Costa Rica since 2018.
International leftist forces remain divided in Nicaragua
The international left is still divided over the Nicaraguan crisis, with some arguing that the Ortega-Murillo regime is a continuation of the 1980s revolution and that the United States tried to overthrow it. However, as I mentioned in a previous NACLA article, there is little evidence to support the claim that the 2018 public uprising was a coup attempt against the Washington government. launched a destabilization campaign aimed at overthrowing the regime.
Ortega’s inner circle became one of the country’s elites after the 1980s revolution, and in 2007 it ushered in a new phase of capitalist development. During this time, the Sandinista bourgeoisie was about to expand its wealth. Leading Sandinistas gathered around Ortega and invested heavily in tourism, agriculture, finance, import-export, and subcontracting in Macedonia. Ortega and Murillo, dressed in an almost left-wing rhetoric of “Christian, socialist and solidarity,” supported a program to form a populist multi-level coalition under the strict domination of the capital and Sandinista’s elites. This model improved the material situation until the economic downturn in 2015. It was only after the 2018 public protests that Ortega entered into a joint government agreement with the capitalist class, organized as the Supreme Council of Private Enterprises (COSEP). , broken.
Washington wanted a more flexible regime from the beginning, and recent events have strained US-Nicaraguan relations. However, successive US administrations have worked since 2007 with the Ortega government, which works closely with the US Southern Command, the Drug Enforcement Administration and US immigration policy. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided millions of dollars to opposition civil society organizations through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), but from 2007 to 2018, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided hundreds of millions of dollars directly to the Ortega government. .
In the run-up to the Nicaraguan referendum, the US Congress passed the RENACER law, which calls for sanctions against Nicaraguan government officials for human rights abuses and corruption. It also calls on the executive branch to determine whether Nicaragua should withdraw from the Central American Free Trade Agreement and to “expand control” over international financial agencies’ lending to Nicaragua. In 2017, the U.S. government passed nearly the same law, the NICA Act, which has so far imposed sanctions on top Nicaraguan government officials, affecting their assets in the United States.
Despite these sanctions against individuals, Washington has not complied with the NICA law. It did not impose trade sanctions and did not bar Nicaragua from borrowing billions of dollars from international agencies. In 2017-2021, Nicaragua received a huge $ 2.2 billion in aid from the Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE), and in 2020-2021, it borrowed hundreds of millions from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. International monetary fund.
Some international leftists have condemned calls for sanctions against Ortega. However, in 1978 and 1979, Washington and the United States and the international left were widely mobilized (unsuccessfully) to block international funding due to the regime’s serious human rights abuses against the Somoza dictatorship. Leftists around the world have called for sanctions against apartheid in South Africa, cut off US and international funding for Pinochet’s dictatorship, and are now calling for a “boycott, withdrawal and sanctions” against Israel.
Opponents of the Ortega-Murillo regime are firmly rooted in the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship and the traditional conservative parties, the capitalist class and its political agents. Frustrated by the popular uprising from below during the 2018 uprising, the frustrated West, like Ortega, sought to provoke public outrage in its platform to restore direct political power and not pose any threat to control of Nicaragua’s economy.
The government’s repression of popular uprisings of students, workers, feminists, and rangers paved the way for anti-Sandinista opposition to establish current Western dominance. The Nicaraguan masses, about 20 percent of the population, are in opposition to the Sandinista base, and have little interest in traditional conservative parties and businessmen who have no real political representation. Indeed, a CID-Gallup poll in October found that 77 percent of the country’s electorate did not represent any political party.