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Nicaragua closer to suspension from the OAS

Resolution of OAS Foreign Ministers initiates application of Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

A Permanent Council Resolution obtained 27 votes in favor

Redacción Confidencial

18 de noviembre 2021


The resolution of the Organization of American States (OAS) that called the November 7 elections in Nicaragua “illegitimate” places the country closer to suspension from the regional organization every day, according to sources consulted by Confidencial. 

The former President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis (2014-2018), said on Friday that “it is significant from a diplomatic point of view” that 25 countries, out of a total of 34 which make up the OAS, have voted in favor of the resolution on Nicaragua. Since “exhausting the hemispheric body is essential to move towards other scenarios such as the United Nations,” he explained.

The document approved at the 51st General Assembly of the OAS, held from November 10 to 12, poses “to declare that, in the obvious circumstances, the November 7 elections were not free, fair or transparent and do not have democratic legitimacy.”

It also gives a period of 18 days for the Permanent Council to carry out a “collective appraisal” of the situation in the country, “in accordance with the OAS Charter and the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” and to “take the appropriate actions.” Both approaches are part of the procedures established in the organization’s Charter for the suspension of a member state after a disruption of the democratic order has been demonstrated. 

“Collective appraisal”

Article 20 of the Democratic Charter establishes that “in the event that in a member state there is an alteration of the constitutional order that seriously affects its democratic order, any member State or the Secretary General may request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to carry out a collective appraisal of the situation and adopt the decisions it deems appropriate.”

The resolution demands the release of Ortega’s political prisoners, a total of 150, of whom 39 were arbitrarily detained since last May in the midst of the regime’s repressive escalation. Among them are political, civic and business leaders, most of whom were charged with “treason to the homeland.”

Former Costa Rican president, Luis Guillermo Solis, noted that the resolution could have “financial implications” for the country if the expulsion takes place. “If Nicaragua is suspended from the Organization, it means that it will not be able to receive funds from the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (CABEI), and eventually from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). That already places the sanctions on another level and if the RENACER Act (approved by the United States) is added to that, we are facing a completely new situation,” he added.

In four and a half years, from January 2017 to June 2021, the Government of Nicaragua has received from CABEI more than 2.289 billion dollars—an average of more than 450 million dollars a year—despite criticism and demands for it to cease financing the violent repression of Ortega and the de facto police state that tramples on human rights.

CABEI has also granted 7.11 million dollars in non-reimbursable funds for emergency aid due to the impact of hurricanes, sanitation programs and the fight against Covid-19  from October 2017 to November 2020.

A triumph of the Nicaraguan people

Laura Chinchilla, also a former president of Costa Rica, called the OAS resolution “A triumph for the Nicaraguan people!” But she warned that it is necessary to wait a little longer to see the conclusions of the “collective appraisal” report, and thus evaluate if there is the majority necessary to suspend Nicaragua from the organization.

Chinchilla agreed with Solis when explaining that the “path towards the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter” begins with the resolution on Nicaragua. For both, “it is very positive” that there is a “hemispheric conscience” that what happened on November 7 in Nicaragua “cannot go unnoticed.”

The resolution was presented by the delegations of eight countries: Canada, Antigua and Barbuda, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the United States, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay. The only vote against was that of Nicaragua, seven countries abstained, and one was declared absent.

According to the voting record, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Bolivia, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia abstained, while the country that was absent was Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The most striking shift was that of Argentina, although it declared itself concerned about an anticipated condemnation of the Central American country, it voted in favor of the resolution, when in previous votes it abstained. Guatemala also modified its position of abstention to condemning the Ortega regime, declaring the elections illegitimate.

The Ortega government representative to the OAS, Michael Campbell, described the resolution as an attack “on democracy” and initially focused his criticism on the OAS, which he said is not “our Supreme Electoral Council,” referring to the election authorities controlled by the ruling party.

A former Nicaraguan diplomat, who requested anonymity for security motives, considered that the OAS resolution was “an important achievement for the cause of democracy in Nicaragua.” Since it allows “to refer the matter to the Permanent Council again,” since the regular session cannot suspend a country. “That can only be done by an Extraordinary Assembly,” he indicated.

The Assembly resolution “was oriented to correctly channeling the process that seeks the suspension of Nicaragua, in the event that such is the decision of the 25 States that voted in favor of this resolution,” said the former diplomat. In addition, it determines with great clarity two very important things: “to declare that the November 7 elections do not have democratic legitimacy; and conclude that based on the OAS Charter and the Democratic Charter, democracy in Nicaragua has been seriously undermined by the Government,” he added.

Authorities cannot be recognized either

Alexa Zamora, from the Political Council of the Blue and White National Unity opposition group, considers that the OAS resolution is “extremely positive,” since it openly declares “that it is impossible to recognize the results of the November 7 elections,” and therefore “indirectly they are saying that they cannot recognize the authorities who have been elected from them.”

Zamora believes the resolution will limit Ortega’s “room for maneuver” at the international level and the access that he may have to funds coming from the international community. However, she warns that internally his regime will intensify the repression against those who are considered opponents.

“Since November 6 there has been an increase in harassment and political violence. That was mentioned by the Urnas Abierta report,” Zamora recalled. Also, this Friday four councilmen of Citizens for Liberty (CxL) were arrested and she added that “the repression against community leaders will probably increase.”

The resolution approved at the OAS regretted that the Ortega regime has ignored the efforts of the international community to help the country overcome the crisis. In the organization, a working group was even created in August 2018, five months after the crisis broke out, caused by the repression against thousands of protestors who called for a change of government. 

This article was orginally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times



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Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.