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OAS votes: Ortega’s reelection “has no legitimacy”

Twenty-five countries, a majority, demanded freedom for Ortega’s political prisoners and to begin application of the Democratic Charter.

Octavio Enríquez

13 de noviembre 2021


The Ortega regime suffered a political defeat Friday in the General Assembly of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of American States (OAS). Twenty-five countries approved a resolution declaring the November 7 voting in Nicaragua “without legitimacy”, in which the strongman was re-elected for the fourth consecutive time, without political competition and without democratic guarantees.

The OAS Foreign Ministers established November 30th as the deadline for the Permanent Council to carry out a “collective assessment” of the country’s situation, “in accordance with the OAS Charter and the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” and that it “take the appropriate actions ”, which would put the Ortega regime in the face of a possible suspension from the body.

They also “reiterated their previous calls for the release of all the candidates and political prisoners, the restitution of their democratic rights, and an immediate end to the arrest and harassment of independent media and members of civil society.”

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

According to a vote tabulation conducted by Confidencial during the broadcast, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Bolivia, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia abstained, while the country that was “absent” was Saint Kitts and Nevis. One of the most curious details was that Argentina voted in favor of the resolution, despite having declared itself concerned about an early condemnation of the Central American country.

“The actions of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo are contrary to everything that this organization defends: democracy, human rights, security and development. They have shown they do not respect either the OAS Charter or the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and their actions should have consequences,” said the interim permanent representative of the United States to the OAS, Bradley Freden, who once again demanded the release of political prisoners and the restoration of democracy.

Freden further noted that Ortega and Murillo closed independent media outlets, locked up journalists and business leaders, and frightened civil society leaders into closing their doors. These actions resulted in the presidential couple being “Enormously unpopular” and rule “as autocrats, not unlike the Somoza family that Ortega and the Sandinistas fought to overthrow four decades ago.”

The Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Rodolfo Solano, celebrated the OAS resolution. He demanded the release of the political prisoners and recognized the role of the body and the countries that constitute it in favor of democracy and the protection of human rights.

“From this space, we will continue to use all the diplomatic tools available to the Inter-American system so that Nicaragua can resume the path of reestablishing democracy for the benefit of its people,” added Solano.

Regime responds with insults

The Nicaraguan 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 electoral authorities controlled by the ruling party.

“The OAS does not have the authority to establish our Voting Centers, OAS officials are not and should not be political party supervisors. The OAS is not an arbitrator or auditor of the Electoral process; each town establishes their authorities,” said Campbell. He maintained that the popular will was “respected” in the country.

With this resolution, the regional body joined the representatives of at least 40 countries who have denounced the November 7 vote as illegitimate, because the minimum democratic guarantees were not met in the process.

Campbell targeted his criticism against Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, Brazil, Ecuador, and Panama. For each of them he had insults under the logic that these nations criticize “the democracy of Nicaragua while their political systems are falling apart.”

The Nicaraguan official remained silent about the serious human rights violations committed by the regime, including the existence of 150+ political prisoners and the general disrespect for fundamental rights.

Campbell singled out the United States for interventionism; Colombia for crimes against indigenous leaders and drug trafficking; Brazil for racism and discrimination, Costa Rica for corruption and he even cited the case of the investigation of the “Panama Papers” to attack that country, Ecuador, Chile and Uruguay.

“The abuses and negligence of the Brazilian government are also notorious, evidently having committed crimes against humanity against its own people, for its ‘denial of COVID19’ which has resulted in the death of more than 600.000 Brazilian sisters and brothers,” he pointed out.

A Confidencial investigation showed that the same Ortega regime has downplayed the pandemic, hiding more than 6000 deaths from it in the country just between March and August 2020, while official figures register 210 deaths in 20 months since the first case in Nicaragua.

The Nicaraguan electoral process, which the regime defends as duly conducted, actually took place without political competition, after the justice system under Ortega’s control arrested 39 opponents since May, seven of them presidential candidates. It also intensified harassment of the general population. The electoral structures are also in the hands of the ruling party.

The resolution approved at the OAS General Assembly regrets 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 since August 2018, five months after the crisis caused by the repression against thousands of protesters who called for a change of government.

The resolution was presented by Canada, which since Thursday, through its Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, regretted that Ortega removed the Central American country from the democracies of the hemisphere, which provoked a bitter response from the representative of Nicaragua, Michael Campbell who asked her to “Respect” Nicaragua.

Since November 9, the day before the General Assembly meeting concluded on Friday, Secretary General Luis Almagro had questioned the electoral process in Nicaragua and had pointed out the government’s control over electoral structures. He also noted the complicity of the parties that appeared on the ballot and that analysts identify as allies of the Government. The criticism also focused on the vote count without the slightest transparency, in which the only clear thing so far was the triumph of Ortega with 75% of the votes.

So far, in addition to the pronouncements of the countries, five former presidents, Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica), Luis Guillermo Solís (Costa Rica), Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia), Jorge Tuto Quiroga (Bolivia) spoke out calling on the countries of the continent to give an urgent response to what happened in Nicaragua.

Ortega has been described by Chinchilla and Quiroga as a new Kim Jong-Um (North Korean dictator) in Central America. In general terms, the Nicaraguan regime has defended its “sovereignty”, while it tortures its political prisoners whom the ruler calls “traitors, stateless, sons of bitches” as he said when celebrating his “victory.”

This article 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).