On Friday, October 1, the Nicaraguan Farmers’ Movement held a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in San Jose, Costa Rica. They demanded more pressure from the regional organization against the electoral process of the Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua. The upcoming voting has been strongly questioned, due to the imprisonment of opposing presidential candidates and the disqualifying of opposition parties.
From Upala in northern Costa Rica, near the Nicaraguan border, three buses transported 150 Nicaraguan producers the 125 miles to the capital of Costa Rica. They came to add their voices to the message: “The November 2021 elections are illegitimate.” The group demanded that the OAS refuse to recognize the upcoming elections and the imminent reelection of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have sought to achieve at any cost.
“We came here to tell you that in Nicaragua there isn’t any electoral process. What will occur on November 7th is a circus, a national shame, in which principled people won’t participate,” read the statement issued by the National Council for the Defense of our Land, Lakes and Sovereignty, also known as the Farmer’s Movement. The statement was directed at the OAS.
The pronouncement highlights the Ortega regime’s failure to comply with the agreements signed in March 2019 with the opposition group Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy. Those agreements included the release of all the political prisoners and the reestablishment of Nicaraguan citizens’ rights and guarantees. The document issued by the Farmers’ Movement noted that, instead, the current rulers “decided long beforehand to steal the elections, repress the entire country and throw all potential electoral opponents in jail.”
The farmers group also rejected the creation of repressive laws that the regime has used to arbitrarily imprison over 35 additional dissenters since May; the annulment of the legal status of opposing political parties; and the persecution unleashed against the independent media and civil society organizations in Nicaragua.
In addition, they demanded liberty for all the 150+ political prisoners and called on the international community not to allow Nicaragua to continue violating the rights of citizens. “We in the countryside were born free like the wind, and we’ll never accept living under a dictatorship with no political rights: without the right to think, to gather, to organize, to protest and to work our land in peace,” the statement added.
The organization invited Nicaraguans not to vote, but to stay home on election day in rejection of the electoral process.
“We’ll continue denouncing the fraudulent canal project”
Nicaraguan rural leader Francisca Ramirez was present at Friday’s protest. She told Confidencial that they’d continue demanding justice from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. The Farmers’ Movement has denounced before this Commission the damages and harm inflicted on the rural community by the Nicaraguan government and Chinese magnate Wang Jing, Daniel Ortega’s partner in the failed project to build an inter-oceanic canal.
In 2013, rural Nicaraguan producers organized the Farmers’ Movement to lobby against the Canal. They denounced the “Canal Law” – Law 840 – which allowed the Chinese tycoon to expropriate any land required to build the inter-oceanic canal on Nicaraguan soil. “That was a racket, but we farmers don’t fall for swindles. We succeeded in keeping them from taking away as much as an inch of land,” expressed exiled farm leader Ramirez, popularly known as “Doña Chica”.
This past week, Wang Jing and his company, the Xinwei Group, were delisted from the Shanghai stock exchange and penalized for mysterious deals and lack of transparency.
Wang Jing had used the canal project and the expectations it raised, “to attract investors and phantom stock quotes.” This allowed him to raise millions of dollars, as recent articles have documented.
With the news that Wang Jing’s financial bubble had burst, Francisca Ramirez hoped that finally, eight years later, they had managed to show Ortega that the inter-oceanic canal was a swindle, and that “sooner or later his dictatorship will end too.”
However, “Doña Chica” warned that while the law remains on the books, the danger to the farmers continues. For that reason, they’ll continue demanding free and transparent elections, so that Nicaragua can have a “National Assembly that represents the people and not one couple.”
Over the last several years, rural residents have been kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and killed for defending their lands. Ramirez stressed that the farm struggle is autonomous and worthy of admiration since it arises from an honorable sector that’s valuable to the Nicaraguan people.