Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 424 | Noviembre 2016



Nicaragua briets


This year’s atypical elections cost the country US$55.25 million, $12.6 million more than the last elections in 2011, with no explanation given for the increase. Another 633.1 million córdobas (some US$22.7 million at the current official rate) was budgeted separately, as established in the Electoral Law, to compensate participating parties that get at least 4% of the votes for their campaign expenses. Despite the fact there was never a more lackluster or apparently low-budget campaign, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) still has to divvy up all that money among the four out of six competing parties that topped 4% The FSLN will naturally get the lion’s share, 72.5%, while the Constitutionalist Liberal Party, “new” Independent Liberal Party and Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance will split the remainder based on the proportion of votes each obtained. The FSLN’s presidential and vice presidential candidates didn’t spend a single day campaigning anywhere in the country and their media campaign ads were prepared by publicity firms belonging to their children and broadcast on family-owned radio stations and TV channels, for easy earnings of over US$16 million.


On various occasions before the November 6 voting, leaders of the regional indigenous party Yatama in the Caribbean Coast denounced irregularities there by the CSE. Coming up to election day Reverend Joseph Rivera, superintendent and thus top leader of the Moravian Church, criticized Ortega’s selection of his wife as his vice presidential running mate: “For many people, this ticket is nepotism, a sin,” he said. Reverend Héctor Williams, the With a Tara of the Moskitia, the territory’s maximum indigenous authority, sent a message to Daniel Ortega saying that “the partisan election you are promoting in the sovereign territory of the kingdom of the Moskitia Nation is illegal, illicit and arbitrary.”

The day after the elections hundreds of Yatama members engaged in violent protests against the CSE’s attempt to prevent leader, Brooklyn Rivera, who topped their party’s legislative slate in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region from winning a National Assembly seat even though the CSE originally reported Yatama had won 33% of the vote there, entitling him to one of the region’s three seats. Yatama had broken its years-long alliance with the FSLN in April 2014, accusing it of fraud in the regional autonomous elections that same month. The next year the governing party ousted Rivera from his National Assembly seat—won by running on the FSLN ticket—after accusing him of involvement in fraudulent sales of indigenous lands by other Yatama leaders, although no concrete evidence was ever offered. Given the pressures from his followers, or perhaps some “negotiation” with the governing party, Rivera was finally assigned the legislative seat he won this year.


Florida Republicans Senator Marco Rubio and Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen, promoters of the Nica Act that would condition Nicaragua’s loan requests to international financial institutions on the holding of clean elections, both won their reelection bids in the US elections. On November 7, the day between Nicaragua’s hardly free, transparent or clean elections and what many consider a nightmare US election, Ros Lehtinen declared the following: “Well before a single vote was cast in Nicaragua’s fraudulent elections the results were already determined, as Ortega, his wife and their corrupt regime used any dirty trick available to preserve their dynasty at the expense of the Nicaraguan people…. Nicaraguans have protested peacefully to get their voices heard because they want free and transparent elections, not a sham that pretends to be democratic. The US and other responsible nations cannot recognize the outcome of this stolen election. The Nica Act, which I drafted with Albio Sires, is aimed at making Ortega responsible for his abusive actions and at helping to begin the process of restoring democracy and respect for human rights in Nicaragua.”


This year Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo did not vote in the center they have always used, but rather in a special one closer to their house prepared exclusively for them. The following day they issued a message with Murillo’s distinctive punctuation and capital letters thanking Nicaraguans for the results, weaving in lines from the national anthem: “In obedience we receive the Sacred Mandate to continue guaranteeing that Peace will shine beautifully in our Sky, that nothing will dim the Homeland’s Immortal Glory, that Work will be our Well-earned Laurel every day and Honor our Triumphal Emblem. It elevates us to rise together in Human Grandness, as corresponds to these Times of Victories, that we are experiencing together by the Grace of God. Daniel, and I, the Work Teams of the People-President all over the Nicaraguan State, and the Municipalities and Departments all over the Country, repeat our gratitude, with our Hearts full of Revolutionary Mystique and Commitment, in Sensitivity, Recollection, Prudence and full Comprehension of the Mandate. We are prepared to comply, every day, with God’s Help and Guidance, assuring Respectful, Dialoguing and Fraternal Coexistence in response to all pending challenges, and particularly in Work and Peace.” Days later, Managua was filled with gigantic raspberry sherbet-colored billboards bearing a photo of the presidential couple applauding and the message: “Times of victories. By the grace of God.”


As of November 22, at the close of this issue and more than two weeks after the November 6 elections, few European countries, and none of major international importance, had congratulated Daniel Ortega on his reelection. Nor had Canada and the United States done so. The only European heavyweight to offer his felicitations was Vladimir Putin. And in a meeting in Moscow with representatives of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Labrov went overboard in response to a journalist’s question: “Comandante Daniel Ortega’s convincing victory and the cleanness of the entire democratic process,” Labrov said, “are not being questioned by virtually anyone from the Nicaraguan opposition, perhaps with the exception of its marginal sector. We have no doubts about the purity of these elections. We consider the attempts to create doubts about them to be defective.”

On November 19, the European Union issued a brief and sober statement expressing its “regrets that the electoral process did not provide conditions for an unrestricted participation of all the political forces in the country, as well as the absence of both international and accredited independent local observation.” Despite such coolness, however, it concluded that “The EU stands ready to work with the government issued from these elections, together with other international partners and the Nicaraguan civil society, on the development challenges that Nicaragua is facing, as well as to contribute to efforts to improve governance and democratic practices. In this respect, the EU welcomes the dialogue undertaken by the Nicaraguan government with the OAS with the objective of strengthening the country’s democratic institutions.”


Although it was an unreciprocated gesture, Daniel Ortega was one of the first heads of State to congratulate Donald Trump. His November 9 message said: “Mr. President-Elect: In the name of the Nicaraguan People and the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity, we salute your Triumph yesterday. We join those who believe it is possible to work with the United States, to contribute to a World that privileges Dialogue and Understanding to attend to the serious problems affecting Humanity, prioritizing Peace. From our Dignified and Free Nicaragua, which is working in Christianity, Socialism and Solidarity, a Salute to You, your Family and your People.” Although the message had the customary capital letters and trademark punctuation of texts written by Rosario Murillo, it was signed only by Ortega.

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