The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, is about to confirm this Sunday a fourth consecutive term after 14 years in power, controversial elections concluded in which it did not have a real competition, with seven opposition candidates arrested.
The polls (13,459 in total) closed at 6:00 p.m. local time (00:00 GMT), after 11 hours of voting, in a day guarded by 30,000 soldiers and policemen and that passed without enthusiasm or incidents, with the opposition clamoring a huge abstentionism and the ruling party a great turnout.
As soon as the polls closed, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, called the elections a “farce”, while the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, congratulated his ally Ortega on his predictable victory and He reiterated that “Nicaragua has someone to defend it.”
Ortega, who came to power at the polls in 2007 and will turn 76 on Thursday, will presumably assume another five years as president, at the head of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN, left), along with the powerful Rosario Murillo ( 70), his wife, running for the vice-presidency for the second time.
The former Sandinista guerrilla, who tHe also ruled the country in the 1980s after the FSLN overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, He faced five right-wing candidates, unknown and branded as government collaborators.
The winner has not been in doubt, but as the opposition called not to vote, the participation of the 4.4 million voters called to also elect 90 deputies of a Congress that, like all the powers of the State, is not known. under the control of the Executive.
The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) has not given any voting estimates and announced that there will be results around midnight (0600 GMT).
The elections, considered undemocratic by the international community, were held three and a half years after the 2018 protests that demanded the resignation of Ortega and whose repression left at least 328 dead and more than 100,000 exiles, plunging this Central American country of 6.5 million inhabitants into a deep political crisis.
With the elections approaching, in an offensive against the opposition that began in June, three parties were outlawed. Seven presidential hopefuls and another 32 social activists, politicians, businessmen and journalists were arrested, adding to some 120 opponents who have still been imprisoned since 2018.
After voting with his wife, Ortega lashed out at the opponents and justified the arrests. “They were conspiring, they did not want these elections to be held (…) They are demons who do not want peace,” he asserted, after calling them “terrorists.”
Based on laws passed at the end of 2020, the recent detainees are accused of violating sovereignty, promoting international sanctions, “Treason” or “money laundering”, as is the case of the favorite opposition candidate, Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of former President Violeta Barrios (1990-1997) and who is under house arrest.
The FSLN mobilized house to house to call to vote, while the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) denounced that there is fear and social control that intimidates people when it comes to voting.
“Nobody in my family went to vote. This was a mockery for Nicaraguans, “the 49-year-old owner of a grocery store told AFP, who asked to hide her name” out of fear. “
Pablo de Jesús Rodríguez, 26, who makes his living as a carpenter and bricklayer, voted the José de la Cruz Mena center: “The president has done good things for our country,” he told AFP.
Ortega is singled out by his critics for “nepotism” and for establishing a “dictatorship.” He accuses opponents of “coup plotters” sponsored by Washington.
In the United States and Costa Rica, where thousands of exiles take refuge, there were protests. About 1,000 Nicaraguans marched in San José waving flags of his country and singing “Long live free Nicaragua!” “We are looking for that diabolical couple (Ortega and Murillo) to leave the country and return to democracy,” said Marcos Martínez, one of the protesters.
The international community, led by the United States and the European Union (EU), previously disqualified the elections. Biden, whose country like the EU sanctioned Ortega’s inner circle, will sign an arsenal of measures under the RENACER law, to increase pressure on the Ortega government. “They sold their souls to the empire a while ago, they live on their knees demanding sanctions against Nicaragua,” said Ortega this Sunday, referring to the opponents.
The situation in Nicaragua It will be debated this week in the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), that could suspend the country from the regional bloc.
Analysts warn that isolation will worsen the socioeconomic situation and trigger migration. Some 200 “electoral escorts” and dozens of journalists from countries that the government considers “friends”, such as Russia, were accredited.
According to the independent observatory Urnas Abiertas, they are “Sandinista sympathizers” who replace the international observation of the OAS or the EU and international media.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism