Tonhey yes Brenda Rocha, president of Nicaragua’s electoral commission, said it would be a “civic carnival.” In contrast, Nicaragua’s November 6 municipal elections were a farce. The ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front took control of all 153 cities and seized the remaining 12 cities run by other parties. Nicaragua is now effectively a one-party state. Some would say a family.
The election ended years of creeping authoritarianism in the country, led by former Marxist guerrilla president Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice president Rosario Murillo. Mr Ortega became president in 1979 after taking part in a revolution against the last of the Somozas, a kleptocratic dynasty that ruled for 43 years with US backing. Mr Ortega lost the 1990 election and stepped down. Since returning to power in 2007, he has vowed not to lose power again.
Back in office, he courted businessmen and won the support of the Roman Catholic Church with one of the world’s strictest abortion bans. Between 2008 and 2015, Nicaragua bought $4.5 billion worth of Venezuelan oil at a discount. Proceeds from its sale are funneled into banks owned by the ruling party and squandered on Mr Ortega’s supporters. Between 2010 and 2017, the economy grew by an average of 5% per year. The percentage of the population living on less than $3.20 a day fell from 27 percent in 2005 to 10 percent in 2017. With would-be critics silenced or bought off, Mr Ortega took over in all branches of the state. The Supreme Court – widely believed to be controlled by Mr Ortega – lifted term limits and expelled the opposition leader and 16 of his supporters from Congress.
Recently, the regime has become more bloody and brazen. In 2018, police and Sandinista mobs killed more than 350 people as students and pensioners peacefully protested against the government. Mr Ortega won a fourth straight term ahead of last year’s general election, with all seven opposition presidential candidates locked in. Some 219 students, journalists and human rights defenders were imprisoned. Many are in El Chipote prison in the capital, Managua. A former revolutionary commander turned critic died in February after being denied medical help. Many prisoners are held in solitary confinement. Some have starved to death.
Mr. Ortega and Ms. Murillo have even started looking at the Catholic Church. Over the past six months, the government has jailed 11 priests for denouncing human rights violations. A bishop has been placed under house arrest after Ms Murillo claimed he had committed a “crime against spirituality”.
at least 2,000 non-governmental organizations and 50 independent outlets were recently shut down. During the week of the municipal elections, 31 people were arrested, according to civil society group Urnas Abiertas. It also estimated that more than 80 percent of Nicaraguans did not vote. Instead, they are voting with their feet.in a recent survey Customer ID– More than half of Nicaraguans in Gallup say they want to immigrate. Remittance accounts for 15% gross domestic product.
The state now looks like a family business. Eight of the ruling couple’s nine children work in government or help run public companies. The only stepdaughter without a decent government job is in exile because she claims Mr Ortega sexually abused her as a child (which he denies).according to confidentialA Nicaraguan newspaper, the family has ties to at least 22 businesses, including oil companies and real estate firms. The first couple last reported their wealth 20 years ago, when they claimed $300,000.
So far, Mr Ortega appears immune to the pressure. The US and EU have sanctioned several members of the ruling family and dozens of their cronies, including Ms Rocha. In October, the Joe Biden administration announced new sanctions on the gold industry, which exported nearly $1 billion worth of the metal last year. At the same time, the regime can no longer rely so heavily on fellow dictators who once supported it. Venezuela and Cuba are short on funds. Colombia’s new leftist president, Gustavo Petro, is rumored to be trying to mediate, but seems to be coming to nothing. Benjamin Gerdan of the Wilson Center, a US think-tank, said the authoritarian couple were “completely content to be isolated like North Korea in order to maintain their rule”.
There is talk of freezing Nicaragua out of the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the US. Inexplicably, the Honduras-based Central American Bank for Economic Integration has lent more than $1 billion to Nicaragua since 2018. Cindy Regidor, Nicaragua’s journalist in Costa Rica, hopes that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s recent victory in Brazil, the former president, will match Colombia’s Petro Together with Chile’s Gabriel Boric, Mr. Gabriel Boric formed the Democratic Left Alliance in an attempt to mediate with the regime.
But the Ortegas could be their own downfall. Nicaraguans resent Ms. Murillo’s ostentatious waste of their hard-earned money (e.g., on the fancy electric tree on Managua’s main street.)”[She] Not someone the military takes seriously — the weak link will be the transition from Ortega to his wife,” said Ryan Berg of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. The Ortegas have forgotten the lessons of their own revolution. Despotism Dynasties don’t last forever. ■