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Daniel Ortega rejects “electoral farce” criticism

“Voting does not kill anyone. It doesn’t injure anyone. Voting does not call for terrorism,” says Ortega, justifying the 2018 massacre.

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Photo: Government

Octavio Enríquez

9 de noviembre 2021


On all national radio and television stations, ordered by TELCOR, the president and candidate for re-election by the ruling Sandinista party, Daniel Ortega, described Sunday’s votes as “a signal and a commitment from the majority for peace.”

In his speech he defended a process of his design, questioned for the absence of competition, the imprisonment of opponents, and the widespread repression against civil society, independent media, and priests critical of the regime.

After casting his vote, in an event broadcast from the polling station established in his enclave of El Carmen, in Managua, Ortega said that 49 “elections” have been held in the country since 1984, when he first ran for president. He then attacked the opposition that called for a change of government in 2018 following mass protests against him which he described as acts of terrorism, and which his regime quashed with repression and massacre.

“They bragged about filming the destruction, the murders, and they publicly defended the barricades. They had no shame, nor dignity, nor love for families and the country,” the president charged, minutes after having cast his vote near his residence, which is the presidential office and secretariat of the FSLN.

The president was accompanied in his public address by his wife, vice president and government spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo, and insisted again that he was the victim of an attempted coup d’état financed by the United States in 2018.

However, all evidence points to the contrary: systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by the Government against Nicaraguan citizens to suppress any kind of criticism.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), affiliate of the Organization of American States (OAS), 328 people were killed by the government’s excessive use of force, 2000 were injured and 100,000 had to leave the country in 2018.

In his speech, Ortega said nothing about the victims of the repression and made accusations against those who “destroyed the economy.” He said that he managed to restore peace, alluding to “Operation Cleanup,” the violent clearing of the barricades erected by citizens to defend themselves from the bloody attacks of the police and paramilitaries.

The sermon on “sovereignty”

The presidential couple preaches “defense of sovereignty” as the core of their electoral campaign, in order to reject foreign criticism of irregularities, like having increased repression with the arbitrary imprisonment of 39 leaders, including seven presidential candidates, since last May. There are now more than 150 political prisoners in Nicaragua.

The other major questioning of the regime has to do with the lack of guarantees for a free and competitive electoral process. The electoral system is under the total control of the ruling party. The other candidates on the ballot are unknown, and there is no independent electoral observation. With the situation in his favor, the Sandinista strongman once again had only praise for the electoral process.

“Voting does not kill anyone. It doesn’t injure anyone. Voting does not call for terrorism, war, erecting barricades and paralyzing the economy. We cannot forget those who sowed terror,” he contended.

A Poll by CID Gallup conducted in September affirms that the president’s arguments do not convince the population, the majority of whom demand the release of political prisoners. The poll also confirms that the majority does not believe the police authorities’ statements in which the arrests of government opponents are reported. A large majority of 76% of respondents believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction, stated the survey.

With these elections Ortega would win his fourth consecutive term since 2007 when he resumed the Presidency after 16 years out of office. He ruled the country for the first time between 1985-1990 in the turbulent years of the Sandinista revolution, when he condemned the Somoza family for establishing a dictatorial system. Now, forty years later, he is accused of doing the same and he remains in power by force while transmitting the idea that the country is “normal”, although there are constant denunciations of human rights abuses.

“We have a constitution that establishes the way to elect national, as well as departmental and regional authorities,” Ortega added.

Justification of judicial proceedings against opponents

Ortega justified the open judicial processes against his opponents in Nicaragua by comparing the situation with the assault on the Capitol in the United States that occurred during Donald Trump’s final hours in the White House.

However, he said nothing about the criticisms of the fabricated charges carried out by the apparatus under his control, based mainly on three laws created since 2020 to repress opponents.

“They (the US) have as much right to open proceedings against terrorists as we have to open proceedings against terrorists and defend peace. They are underhanded and they did not want these elections to take place,” he said cynically on Sunday.

Contrary to the normalcy portrayed by Ortega, the relatives of the political prisoners have also denounced the fabrication of judicial cases for political reasons, the isolation to which the prisoners have been subjected, and the lack of guarantees in the trials. Defense attorneys are not even allowed to see the case files.

Ortega also referred to the official handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has been characterized by denial, the concealment of deaths, and the encouraging of crowds despite the recommendations of social distancing promoted by the World Health Organization. Likewise, a huge lag in the distribution of vaccines.

“We want to emphasize that from the beginning the Russian Federation provided vaccines and has continued to send vaccines, and they have a scientific center where they plan to manufacture medicines to combat this type of virus,” he said, praising one of his closest allies.

Part of the Ministry of Health’s inefficiency regarding vaccination has been reflected in the wave of Nicaraguans who have traveled to Honduras to be vaccinated, in response to the government’s lack of capacity as well as the long lines of people waiting to be inoculated in public hospitals several months ago.

[Ortega always justifies his continuous reelection by saying his party is the only one that cares about Nicaragua’s poor.]

This artocle was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times



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Octavio Enríquez

Octavio Enríquez

Periodista nicaragüense, exiliado. Comenzó su carrera en el año 2000, cuando todavía era estudiante. Por sus destacadas investigaciones periodísticas ha ganado el Premio Ortega y Gasset, el Premio Internacional de Periodismo Rey de España, el Premio a la Excelencia de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa, y el Premio Latinoamericano de Periodismo de Investigación del Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS).