After this fraud, the future will be written with an R
A month after its fraudulent electoral process, Nicaraguans remain polarizeded and expectant. Those who don’t accept the election results will face a real dilemma in the coming months, perhaps even years,
between Resignation and Resistance.
They will either resign themselves to accepting what happened
and everything will go on as before, with more of the same
that we saw in the five years preceding the elections;
or they will resist and organize to change things.
On November 15, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) proclaimed Daniel Ortega reelected as President of Nicaragua until 2016 and allotted his party 62 legislative representatives. “This resolution is an electoral matter and is not subject to any appeal,” said the discredited CSE president, Roberto Rivas.
Bringing forward the calendar established by the CSE itself, Rivas had already rejected in a question of hours the first two suits for review presented by the PLI Alliance and the PLC on the grounds that they “lacked requisites.” Thus came to an official end the corrupted 2011 electoral process, which has changed the nation’s political map, put the country face to face with the consequences of political trauma and left the population that doesn’t accept the results facing a dilemma.
Everything remains the sameDuring the first two weeks after the elections, the information from the victorious governing party sought to transmit soothing messages to the country: “nothing has happened here,” “everything’s the same” and “let’s all get back to work.” The official discourse continually referred to calm, joy and peace. It totally ignored the frustration of people all over the country who had witnessed fraudulent maneuvers on election day. Ortega went on giving out property titles and selling Russian taxis. There was no official reaction to the European Union’s Electoral Obser¬vation Mission report, which detailed the defects of a process conducted “with no transparency or neutrality.”
Nor was there any condemnation whatsoever of the crime committed in San José de Cusmapa by the FSLN political secretary, a deputypolice commissioner, four other police officers and an electoral official, all of whom piled into mayor’s office vehicles two nights after the elections to intimidate PLI sympathizers in a small peasant community of a hundred homes and ended up killing an elderly man and two of his sons there.
Everything is cast in doubtDespite the voluntarism of the official words and lack of words, it was evident that something serious had indeed happened, that nothing was the same and that the famous “country risk,” on which “getting back to work” depends, could suffer mightily.
The members of the Bishops’ Council issued a communiqué on November 16 in which they defined the electoral results as “totally cast in doubt” and called the behavior of the electoral apparatus on voting day a “reprehensible action in God’s eyes.” Without using the words “fraud” or “sin,” they were obviously talking about both.
A rain of negative reportsThe previous day, the head of the Organization of American States (OAS) observer mission, Dante Caputo, had presented his mission’s report to the OAS Security Council in Washington. It questioned the electoral process due to “irregularities” and complained of “incompliance” with the agreement the CSE had signed with the mission. That was followed two days later by an addendum to the main findings of the European Union’s preliminary report released two days after the elections, this one on the final vote counting and results-publishing stages of the electoral process, thus covering everything its observers had seen up to that moment. This second declaration unequivocally states that “the opacity and arbitrariness observed in the final phase of the 2011 elections, added to the problems of monitor accreditation and the refusal to accredit various groups of national observers with extensive experience, amounts to a serious step backwards in the democratic quality of elections in Nicaragua.”
Six days after that, on November 23, the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH) presented its own final report on the electoral process. It referred to the CSE’s repeated violations of the Constitution and the Electoral Law, abuse of state goods, violation of the rights of women and children during the elections (‘dirty’ propaganda on the issue of therapeutic abortion and the use of children in the campaign) and the limitations CENIDH promoters experienced when monitoring the voting process.” It further stated that “we have the right to demand an investigation to determine the responsibility of the CSE magistrates and other actors, specifically in the squandering of some 1 billion córdobas, equivalent to around US$44 million, in an electoral process devoid of transparency.” It concludes that “in light of all the irregularities, obstacles and traps that characterized the electoral process there is no option but to determine that the presidency conferred on President Ortega and the unbelievable majority granted to the FSLN in the National Assembly are completely lacking in legitimacy, because they are the result of the violation of the Constitution and of the people’s will as expressed in the ballot boxes, making way for the establishment of a new dictatorship, a form of government in which all freedom is progressively lost and human rights violations acquire a systematic quality.”
On November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, one of the banners displayed in the streets of Managua by women’s organizations read: “We want neither rapists nor vote thieves.”
Two weeks after the elections, the United States, Canada and Costa Rica had still not congratulated Ortega on his reelection, while Spain was the only country within the European Union to do so. “Legally” reelected, Ortega was far from legitimated. And contradictions began to rear their heads within the governing party, given the reckless strategy used by many on voting day to win “by hook and by crook.”
How can the fraud be proved?In those first two weeks after the elections, the PLI Alliance leaders were not only indignant but also seemingly disconcerted and torn by contradictions. First there was the difficulty of proving what had been reported in the personal testimonies of thousands of voting center monitors and voters themselves all over the land: that all the checks and balances established by the Electoral Law to guarantee credible results had been violated. All the steps—starting with the initial counting of ballots and the checking of ballot boxes in the morning to ensure that they were empty; passing through the effectiveness of the ink used to mark the thumbs of people who had voted, the signatures and security code on the ballots, the secrecy of the vote, the presence of party monitors and the issuing to them of legible tally copies; and ending with the final transport of the tallies to the computing center—were manipulated in a significant number of voting centers in what appeared to be an organized and massive plan of illegalities. In the end, the CSE never published the voting results table by table on its web page, again violating the Electoral Law and making it impossible to compare the official count with the copies of vote tallies in the party monitors’ possession. This was further hindered by the fact that a number of monitors never even got a tally of the table they had been assigned to for a variety of reasons and in other cases received an illegible one, making it impossible to add up the tallies from all tables in a given voting center to see if there were differences with the published results, which ultimately were only pubished as low as the voting center (which often contain a number of tables).
Although everyone in Nicaragua, “winners” and “losers” alike, know what happened, and even witnessed examples of it, how can the alteration of the results be put in numbers? The most that can be established is patterns, the guidelines that the fraudulent behavior followed. With such an irregular process, most people believe it will never be possible to know the real results from November 6. As Eliseo Núñez Morales, the PLI Alliance campaign manager, put it, “The problem of proving the fraud in these elections isn’t the numbers, but how they were arrived at. In the best of cases, we don’t know anything: not how many, nor by whom, nor where.”
Nothing happened here? The final technical appraisal by the national observation organization Ethics and Transparency (E&T), released on November 21 (included in November’s English-language edition of envío), concludes that “the published results do not merit credibility given the serious, systematic and intentional irregularities during their emission and ballot counts and even less in light of the irregularities of the earlier stages.” According to its report, between 8 and 12 legislative seats were fraudulently assigned to the governing party by the CSE. In these elections, E&T confirmed its hypothesis of the “route of the fraud,” which it had presented last May, based on the fraud organized by the FSLN in the 2008 municipal elections to take over 40 mayoral seats it had not won cleanly.
That fraud was documented because there were enough monitors’ tallies to contrast them with the official tallies the CSE did publish that year table by table—albeit never completely, particularly in the case of Managua. In its final appraisal of these elections, E&T concluded that the governing party personnel heading the voting tables plus its monitors counted the votes alone, with no witnesses or monitors present, in 30% of the tables (some 4,000). It found that the official results in those tables, which are precisely along that “route” in which the FSLN has always lost historically, gave it at least 30% more votes than the PLI Alliance.
While the PLI Alliance leadership was busy trying to prove the improvable, the rank-and-file, the monitors who had done their best to defend the vote despite the many limitations and even risks, and the voters who felt mocked were all demanding conclusive responses from that same leadership to repudiate and even reverse the fraud. Legitimated by the feeling they had won, and thus furious that the victory had been stolen from them, they found all legal solutions closed to them. With that, the innate contradictions within such a diverse alliance began to rear their heads as well.
Despite the approaching Purísima (Immaculate Conception) festivities, the tension didn’t ease, although it remained calm, contained and deaf. Fabio Gadea has firmly repeated that “I’m the President-elect of the Republic of Nicaragua,” and announced that he’ll never accept the existing election results. From his Radio Corporación station he has called on those who voted for him to maintain ongoing peaceful protests all over the country, as both a fundamental human right and a duty.
On Saturday, December 3, some 10-12,000 people defied the official boycott and marched through the center of Managua denouncing the fraud and demanding annulment of the elections. That much-needed protest, organized by civil society organizations frustrated by the fraud and by the PLI Alliance, was slow in coming and totally insufficient either to reflect the size of the crisis or to find some way out of it.
“There’s a destabilization plan”The governing party’s solution of choice has been intimidation. Six days after the government finally thanked the OAS observation mission for its report, despite its criticisms, and diplomatically “took note” of its recommendations, it did a 180-degree turn. In the OAS headquarters in Washington D.C., it accused the mission of providing “false information” and its observers of “lying,” denouncing the report as one piece of a plan hatched by the US Embassy in Managua and the PLI Alliance to destabilize the elections.
To “prove” that alleged plan, Nicaragua’s representative in the OAS pathetically read out the declaration made in Managua the previous day by a politician of scant credibility, in prison by order of the Ortega government since October. Under intense pressure and in exchange for his freedom, this politician had appeared on the governing party’s TV channel accusing the PLI Alliance leaders of the plot.
The US business attaché in Managua called the government’s accusation baseless. And while he insisted that “we are committed to the people [of Nicaragua],” he warned that “every action has its consequences,” referring to what happened in the elections,” adding, “That’s not a threat; it’s a fact.”
International reactionsThe outgoing European Union representative in Nicaragua assured that the EU would not “punish” the Nicaraguan people, but admitted that the report from the EU observers would have a “certain influence” on upcoming coop¬eration programs.
In a US House of Representatives hearing titled “Democracy Held Hostage in Nicaragua: Part 1,” held on December 1, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called on President Obama not to recognize the Ortega government and not to name a new ambassador in Managua. The former US Ambassador, Robert Callahan, testified in the hearing. He recommended that no measures be taken despite the “electoral farce,” counseling instead waiting to see how the reelected President starts his new term, and being prepared to reduce or eliminate aid and reevaluate the scope of the US diplomatic presence “if he becomes more authoritarian.”
Ortega read the conclusions of that hearing in their entirety at the inauguration of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Caracas on December 3. He reiterated the plot theory and stated that what he described as 2,000 people demonstrating during those same hours in Managua was financed by the United States.
With so many exposed flanks, Ortega ended the year officially reelected but looking for ways out of the labyrinth of illegitimacy into which he had ventured with the fraud.
Did the end justify the means? The national situation has become even more complex and sensitive than it was before the elections. It is also more dangerous, although there has not been a great deal of either blood or people in the streets.
Given their logic of power, Ortega and his group are doing nothing to make their positions more flexible, rectify the situation or open up to any real dialogue, and are hindering any efforts by others. In their script there’s no turning back. The fraud has dramatically revealed to what lengths they are determined to go, paying any political cost and leaping any ethical barrier, to impose their project.
Implicating at least 150,000 people around the country in hundreds of fraudulent and illegal maneuvers on election day and teaching them to justify it on the grounds that “they do it in other countries,” or “it’s for the poor,” or “because the Right’s useless” sets an extremely serious precedent that will have very negative consequences for the country.
“Summarize the elections? They were an apology for crime,” a priest commented to envío. The scorn for the law, under the idea prevalent in the revolutionary years that “the vanguard” can respect or violate any law it pleases and leads all of society—”the people”—has also prevailed in the last five years. The seeds of the decision to leapfrog any laws it pleases, justifying it with that ideological clairvoyance and with the cynical pragmatism that “the end justifies the means” already appeared in an envío text from April 2007, in which sociologist Orlando Núñez, then-adviser to President Ortega, warned that “we’ll have to learn to administer the contradiction between respecting institutionalization and the process of social justice…. Laws aren’t justice. We have to follow them because we have no choice, but if we can change them, even better…. We need to get accustomed to the tension between democracy and social justice, because we’ll be navigating through it for the next five years. Sometimes the two will coincide but often they won’t.”
Ortega’s gambleAfter five years navigating through that contradiction and “getting accustomed to it,” President Ortega is gambling on continuing that routine and that it the population will continue accepting it. He’s banking on tolerance, forgetfulness and passivity toward consummated acts. He’s counting on resignation. And in the very short run he’s relying on political demobilization and on the festive mobilization Christmas always brings.
He’s trusting that in January, when his new term begins, the 26 legislators assigned to the PLI Alliance by the official figures will take their seats in the National Assembly and that their presence and participation will somewhat dilute the negative image of absolute power derived from the massive parliamentary majority he got by crook at the ballot box. He’s also counting on being able to “work” those legislators, negotiating unilaterally with at least some of them.
COSEP seems worried about Ortega’s “absolute power”…The business leaders under the umbrella of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) expressed their concern about the “absolute power” Ortega will now have through the words of the organization’s president, José Adán Aguerri. From the very first day, Aguerri called the electoral results questionable. He demanded that the CSE magistrates be changed and began to offer proposals. The first one is that the impasse provoked by the electoral crisis must be resolved quickly so the country can continue on the path of economic growth, which is in no small part thanks to the alliance the business class has maintained with the governing party.
At the same time, although unable to sweep the electoral fraud under the rug, the business elite are still acting publicly like the government’s best ally, doing their part to get the population to resign itself and calm down, since business as usual is the best business.
On the one hand, they proposed reforms to the Electoral Law and announced that they were already drafting a proposal. They also suggested the immediate election of new electoral magistrates. On the other, having politically backed Ortega over the past five years, COSEP doesn’t refer to the institutional destruction wreaked by the FSLN. Rather it agrees with the government’s officious spokespeople who attribute the country’s political crisis to the opposition’s lack of unity. To quote one, “We’re not going to go on letting the cost of the political confrontations by a class that hasn’t been able to act with unity continue affecting Nicaragua’s development.”
...but can’t resist allying with itCOSEP’s most extraordinary proposals are the two privileges it has demanded of the reelected President: first, that it give legal status via a presidential decree to the COSEP-Government Follow-up Commission; and, far more scandalous, that it give COSEP an office in the National Assembly so it can formally and effectively advocate its position in the legislative debates and lobby for approval of laws that affect its interests.
This corporative scheme between big capital and the President would reinforce the cordial alliance and ongoing dialogue the governing party has maintained with COSEP during the Ortega government’s first term. Now COSEP is clambering onto the ladder Ortega is climbing in search of legitimization. Days after the elections a source linked to the governing party confided to envío that “this is going to be resolved by meeting with COSEP’s four business barons and giving them everything they’re asking for.”
In the debate about COSEP’s intentions to continue legitimizing the FSLN government, economist José Luis Medal wrote the following in an article in La Prensa: “In the current context of total destruction of the balance of power, Montesquieu’s statement that all is lost when all branches of State are concentrated in the hands of just one man came to mind… Democratic institutionality can be rebuilt, but doing so requires various condi¬tions, including the organized private sector assuming its business political responsibility. Nobody is suggesting that business organizations participate in party politics, but that does not mean they have no responsibility in the ultimate objective of politics: achieving the common good in the framework of a democratic system. This is, in fact, even necessary for the private sector’s own strategic interests. Absolute power in the hands of just one person is counter to a good business climate and increases the country risk. Despite its pro-institutionality rhetoric, COSEP has helped consolidate authoritarian power. Along with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and the IDB [Inter-American Development Bank], it has been the best propagandist for a supposed great economic success under the current government, despite the fact that the average GDP growth rate in 2007- 2011 has been under 3%, and that in constant values the per capita GDP and per capita exports are less than they were 35 years ago. Although it has not been their intent, objectively speaking COSEP, the IMF and the IDB have collaborated in the destruction of the democratic institutionality.”
The reforms to come Next year won’t be an easy one for the reelected President. Municipal elections are coming up again in November 2012. The government will have to establish an important rate hike for electricity very soon. And it has also agreed to reform the social security pension system and institute a fiscal reform in the first half of the year as conditions for signing a new agreement with the IMF.
COSEP is expecting to play a major role in both reforms: to protect its privileged tax exonerations in the case of the fiscal reform and minimize any increase in employers’ social security contributions for their workers’ pensions.
With COSEP’s support, the government could “resolve” the loss of face the current CSE has earned over the years, even though it reached an untenable extreme in these elections. It might, for example, reform the most dysfunctional aspects of the Electoral Law at the suggestion of the business class and appoint as magistrates technocrats close to big capital, business leaders linked to the upper entrepreneurial echelons or even some civil society “notable.”
Three issues for a Other sectors of civil society have been suggesting many other solutions. For years now, but particularly actively since the proven fraud in the 2008 municipal elections, the Electoral Reform Promoter Group, made up of 14 national organizations, has fought to get the powers that be to listen to its well-sustained proposal of reforms needed to be made to the 2000 Electoral Law—a product of the pact between Daniel Ortega and Arnoldo Alemán—for our electoral system to be democratic and pluralist.
dialogue with everyone
In its technical appraisal of the elections, Ethics and Transparency, one of the group members, warned that “attention must be paid to the contents of the electoral reform to avoid cosmetic changes or even a worsening of the legislation, as occurred during the previous reform (2000).” Regarding the immediate replacement of all electoral authorities—not only the magistrates and their alternates—it proposes “the proper investigation and trial of CSE officials for the commission of electoral crimes and express viola¬tions of both the Electoral Law and their specific mandate.”
A grouping called the Alliance for Tax Reform was formed in May of this year to establish the essential principles that must underlie any fiscal reform if it is to lead the country toward a fair and equitable tax system, thus necessarily affecting the interests of the business elite allied to Ortega. This alliance is made up of the NGO umbrella group known as Civil Coordinator , the Nicaraguan Institute of Tax Research and Studies and the Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy.
The fiscal reform, the electoral reform and the reform to the social security system are three tasks in which the government must dialogue with the whole of society, not just the business elite. Because these issues are strategic to the future of the country, they require an open national debate in which all voices are welcomed. Where these three reforms end up and what their contents will be are three keys to learning how far Ortega wants to take his “absolute power.” They will test the capacity of both the party-based and social opposition to make itself heard and to involve and mobilize society.
The political map has changedWhile the government will be seeking legitimization by resignation, the PLI Alliance’s voters, organizational base and leadership, with presidential candidate Fabio Gadea in the lead, will be seeking another solution. The future they want to write also begins with an R, but for them it means resistance. There is the raw material to do it and no end of reasons to choose that road.
If the result of November’s elections can never be established with any precision, something important nonetheless happened in them. That something has changed the political map, altering the correlation of forces to which we have become accustomed for some years now. Some are going as far as to characterize it as the collapse of the political party system.
Two important signalsAt the very least, there are two very significant signals for the future to be built. One is that the traditional Liberalism of the rural areas, the war zones of the eighties, abandoned the PLC. They cast a “punishment vote” by switching to the option of the more pluralist PLI Alliance. The insistent predictions of government spokespeople were not borne out: the race was not in fact between the FSLN and the PLC—the two parties to the pact that has done so much damage to the country in the past decade; and the PLC electoral machinery definitely did not outpace the “improvised and disarticulated” alliance that was running an “old storyteller” as its candidate. Liberalism will have to take note of this.
The other signal is that despite the governing party’s social programs, which have improved the life of many poor families, the social control accompanying them, the single mind¬set characterizing this power group’s project and the all-encompassing way it is going after not only hearts and minds but all spaces people move in, not to mention its intolerant response to those who think differently, all suggest that a vote for Fabio Gadea expressed the value that freedom—in its multiple meanings in each mind and each space—has for a good part of the population.
It’s a dual lesson for both Alemán and Ortega, the two politicians who contrived the pact. There are also lessons to be learned by those who from a more intellectual perspective insisted Gadea wasn’t capable of capitalizing on the governing party’s weaknesses and criticized his and his group’s insistence in their messages on democratic freedoms, arguing that they wouldn’t speak to the poor, wouldn’t inspire the general population and wouldn’t mobilize political consciousness. The fact is that Gadea did speak to, inspire and mobilize a sizable sector of the population and was rewarded with their votes—nearly a third even by the highly questioned official count.
Banking on resistanceThose two signals and the experience of indignation produced by the fraud led the PLI Alliance to proclaim its decision to construct a future of resistance. Núñez Morales, a young politician who came of age in the PLC ranks, joined Eduardo Montealegre’s ALN until that banker was ousted by the CSE and more recently became Gadea’s campaign chief, now appears to be committed to those in the PLI Alliance who have opted for resistance. He argues that the starting point for visualizing the future is to appropriately define the Ortega government. In his words, between 2007 and the 2011 elections it was “a dictatorship trying to set itself up” but will now be “a dictatorship trying to consolidate itself.”
The resistance, he adds, will also have to be built based on recognition that, with the leadership Gadea demonstrated in this campaign, the PLI Alliance has already created a “pluralist front” against the governing party. The challenge will be to maintain and expand this front and ensure its plurality. For Núñez Morales, the fraud marks “the end of leadership deals” and it’s now time for something new: to work with the PLC grass roots who voted against Alemán, seek out those “unhappy with today’s fraud so we can bring new people into politics,” build a sufficiently open party in which everyone feels they can participate, and “involve people in political decisions.”
“Prepare for years of struggle”Núñez Morales dramatically assures that this resistance will end up generating a civic rebellion that will oblige the FSLN to either move back onto the democratic path in the 2016 general elections or else trigger a civil war. His vision isn’t shortsighted: “We have to get organized and structure communication networks with all those who think the same, which is a lot of us, to prepare ourselves for years of struggle.”
Messages agreeing on the need for a future of resistance have come from two organizations within the PLI Alliance that are traditionally on opposing sides: the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) and a sector of the former Nicaraguan Resistance. Starting the very day after the fraud, both these Sandinistas and former contras spoke out with similar voices: we’re facing a dictatorship; we won’t sell out; we won’t back off; we’re going to fight.
The now two-time blockage of the electoral path to change has also, not surprisingly, led others from more extreme rightwing, traditional Catholic ideological matrixes to advocate more radical approaches in this new post-fraud political setting. Former education minister Humberto Belli, for example, wrote: “When the electoral paths to change governments are closed, new, more difficult and risky ways of acting are imposed…. Today in Nicaragua the whole political strategy needs to be rethought. The decisive theater of struggle will now be the street and not parliamentary huddles…. Risking the comfort of their positions to march at the front of their people is, precisely, one of the challenges facing the current PLI leadership.”
“I’m the leader, even The immediate obstacle to an organized resistance struggle will be in the leaders—also present in the PLI Alliance—who like those in the business elite suffer from the worst features of the national political culture: shortsightedness and opportunism, vulnera¬bility to the offer of quotas of power, the tendency to enter into self-serving pacts, etc.
if I don’t want to be”
In this regard, Fabio Gadea’s reaction in an interview with Carlos Fernando Chamorro to a November 19 editorial in La Prensa was significant. The editorialist wrote that Gadea had not fulfilled his mission and it was time for Eduardo Montealegre to return to the head of the opposition to Ortega, since parliamentary immunity now protects him from the case of the CENI bond scandal resulting from the bank failures of 2000. Montealegre had stepped back out of the limelight and proposed Gadea for the presidential candidacy, knowing that if he ran himself Ortega would tar his candidacy with accusations of massive corruption as he did in the last elections. He was also the one who determined the majority of the legislative candidates on the PLI Alliance slates, himself included.
An irritated Gadea responded in his authentic stubborn style: “That editorial really surprised me. I don’t get any money from politics. I’m engaging in politics to save this country. I have no perverse interests. I won the leadership I now have. I raised hope in this population of forging a new country, an honorable, respectable country. Everyone voted for Fabio and for the Alliance. Montealegre is a magnificent leader of his movement, We’re Going with Eduardo. And he’s surely going to work to be the candidate in 2016. But everyone knows that the leader of this movement right now is named Fabio Gadea. Even if I don’t want to be.”
Resistance or resignation Resistance to the fraud has a new political map in its favor, an opportunity that’s opening up. But the road map to capitalize on the new situation shows that it will be a long trip. Among other things, it requires important changes in the current Alliance leadership and a return to real grassroots organizing work, prioritizing it over media projection.
It requires the emergence of a new generation of politicians willing to accept setbacks, make renewed efforts, sacrifice and display the patience the long haul always involves. It requires that this new batch of people move beyond electoral issues and address the social inequities that characterized the former governments and are still advancing so swiftly with this government.
Resignation to the consummated act of fraud leads to and stems from shortsightedness. It counts on Ortega’s indisputable leadership, now with absolute power in all state institutions. It counts on the mystique of the FSLN’s followers who believe they won cleanly and on the cynical pragmatism of those who know better but believe that this project’s end justifies any means to keep it in place. And it counts on the power and resources of business and political sectors that are unwilling to risk anything in such an uncertain situation.
And so we move into 2012, a year in which ancient Mayan wisdom defines December as the end of a cycle. It seems that prediction got a month’s leg up in Nicaragua: one cycle has concluded and another is beginning in which the dilemma for the future will be between Resignation and Resistance.
What they’re saying about the elections this month
What Ethics and In an interview in Nicaragua’s daily newspaper La Prensa on election day, Roberto Courtney, executive director
of the national electoral observation organization Ethics and Transparency, said: “Our electoral system has collapsed. Under such circumstances, you’ll have enormous problems no matter which magistrates you put in. There’s a need to re-establish a trustworthy system that’s not under the control of a political party. After these elections we have to redesign the electoral system. We have the worst one in Latin America. Four out of five parties went into these elections saying they don’t believe in the system and saying that if international observers don’t come then the elections are as good as stolen. That is not occurring anywhere else; only in Nicaragua.”
What the US HouseThe following points were among the resolutions of the December 1 hearing in the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs:
of Representatives said
Point 4 urges President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to immediately adopt significant measures to foster the restoration of constitutional order in Nicaragua, opposing the approval of credits by the international financial institutions for the government of Nicaragua.
Point 5 urges the immediate release of the Final Report by the OAS Mission of Electoral Accompaniment, including a detailed report on the constitutional irregularities that affected the pre-electoral phase in Nicaragua.
Point 6 urges the US Ambassador to the OAS to head up an effort to use the organization’s full power to support significant steps to restoredemocracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua, as established in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, including formal suspension of the government of Nicaragua under Articles 20 and 22 of the Charter.
What Daniel Ortega saidPresident Ortega’s first allusion to the post-electoral crisis in his country came on December 3 and was offered not to the Nicaraguan population but to his Latin American peers at CELAC’s inaugural summit in Caracas. Among other things, he stated that “we won in 2007 [sic] with 38% of the votes. Now we won with 62.6% of the votes. What are our internal adversaries saying? ‘It can’t be true!’ But we aren’t worrying about what they say…. Today, at this precise moment, they are winding up a march…. They said they’d bring together 100,000 people, but if 2,000 were marching it was a lot. US and European agencies distribute resources for all these marches, all these activities against the government…. There was a meeting of the US Senate [sic] Committee on Foreign Affairs….
They’re saying that new elections have to be held. In this round we won with 62.6%. If we held the elections again, I’m sure that would cause a reaction among the people and it would surely be over 70%.
The resolution of the US Senators says it condemn the acts of violence perpetrated on election day and calls on the Nicaraguan authorities to investigate and judge those responsible. They are the ones that were promoting violence, organizing violence before the elections, because they were already clear they were losing them. Because they were elections between Nicaragua and the candidate of the US extreme Right, and they already knew they were losing them! So they started organizing plans with their intelligence agencies to stain the country with blood…”