“There is no democracy in Nicaragua, and it is not necessary to wait for the elections to find that out,” was the way in which Paulo Abrao, former executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), condemned the decision by the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) of Daniel Ortega, to annul the legal status of the Citizens for Freedom (CxL) party and the Nicaraguan identity card of its president, Kitty Monterrey.
The action has generated several reactions since the arbitrary decision taken by the Supreme Electoral Council on August 6th against the opposition party, which came shortly after a complaint from the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC). However, the main political, social and business sectors of the Nicaraguan opposition remain silent.
The now former presidential candidate of Citizens for Freedom, Oscar Sobalvarro, said on his Twitter account that the political organization will come out successfully, after the Supreme Electoral Council of Daniel Ortega snatched their legal status.
“Citizens for Freedom will come out of this and from whatever comes successfully, because our commitment is to a Nicaragua with peace, freedom and democracy,” said Sobalvarro.
“Ortega is the only candidate in Nicaragua after disqualifying the party of the last opponent in the campaign,” said David Adams in a news analysis for Univision. He noted that “Oscar Sobalvarro, was the ‘Comandante Rubén’ during the Contra war and briefly became presidential candidate this week until his party was eliminated by the Supreme Electoral Council on Friday.”
“First there were eight (opposition candidates), then one and later none,” wrote Adams.
This is the second blow that the political party has received in less than a week, after the Ortega Police put its vice presidential candidate Berenice Quesada under house arrest and disqualified her from participating in the elections.
Quezada was denounced by a group of Ortega supporters before the Human Rights Ombudsman Office for allegedly “advocating crime” and “inciting hatred.”
On this occasion, the complaint received in the Supreme Electoral Council was made by the Ortega allied Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), led by María Haydee Osuna, alleging that the CxL violated the Sovereignty Law, the Foreign Agents Law and the Security Law.
These laws have been used by Ortega to disqualify most of the seven presidential candidates against whom he ordered imprisonment, additionally detaining more than 30 opponents, and disqualifying Quesada, who will be prosecuted “in liberty.”
The Blue and White National Unity expressed solidarity with CxL and stated that “this type of actions further evidence and reinforce the illegitimacy of this totally rigged electoral process, co-opted by the regime in which there are no minimum guarantees to respect and fulfill the will of the citizenry.”
At the same time, they expressed solidarity with the president of the CxL party, Kitty Monterrey, while condemning the actions of the Supreme Electoral Council.
The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy also spoke out and denounced that this is a “new blow,” by the regime against the CxL party, and its members.
“This is a new blow for the party led by Kitty Monterrey, since its presidential hopefuls have been deprived of their freedom. Three of our members and spokespersons of the CxL Alliance have also been imprisoned, adding to the disqualifying of the vice-presidential candidate,” says part of the statement.
“A response to the Renacer Act”
A Nicaraguan political analyst, who asked not to be identified for fear of political reprisals in the country, assessed that the annulment of the legal status of the Citizen for Freedom (CxL) party was “the response” of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo to the approval of the Renacer Act in the United States Senate. “They think that we Nicaraguan opponents are going to go to the United States to ask that the sanctions be lifted in exchange so that they do not continue putting people in prisons and doing what they have been doing.”
“Ortega does not see the elections as a contest between Nicaraguans. He assumes that CxL was a player for the gringos; so, since the gringos imposed the Renacer Act on them, he takes that away from them,” the political analyst assessed.
On the other hand, the elimination of political competition, the analyst warns, shows that “the electoral process died today,” since the only remaining legal way to contest power away from Ortega and his wife has been exhausted. The only thing left for the population is “abstention,” as happened in the 2016 general elections.
The second party “punished”
In his attempt to leave the Sandinista Front as the only party in the race and Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo unrivalled, the Supreme Electoral Council annulled last May the legal status of the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD), whose ballot box slot 14 was the one to be used by the National Coalition to participate in the November elections.
Back then, the complaint was made by a group of protestant pastors supportive of the regime who alleged before the CSE that the PRD had violated their status by signing a de facto alliance between that party and five members of the National Coalition.
Instead, the regime allows small token parties such as Alliance for the Republic (APRE), the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN), Independent Liberal Party (PLI), PLC and Camino Cristiano, not to face any type of obstacle in their attempt to “compete,” in the November elections where they will participate together with the Ortega regime’s FSLN.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times