Nicaragua struck the nail in the coffin of free and fair elections. On August 6, Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council disqualified opposition party Citizens for Freedom from running in the November 7 elections. The ruling should come as no surprise, since, as the State Department’s most recent human rights report on Nicaragua notes, “[President Daniel] Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front party exercises total control over the executive, legislative, judicial, and electoral functions.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the ban on the last genuine opposition party in Nicaragua underscores the desire on the part of Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo “to remain in power at all costs.” He notes that the opposition party’s disqualification “follows the detention of seven presidential candidates and 24 opposition figures, human rights activists, business leaders, students and NGO workers over the last two months.”
President Ortega is seeking to secure his fourth term in office and is determined to allow no obstacles to stand in the way – certainly not democratic processes, institutions, or advocates. Secretary Blinken said the election in Nicaragua “including its eventual results, has lost all credibility.”
In response to the wave of repression taking place in Nicaragua, including the undermining of democracy and the abuse of human rights, on June 9 the United States imposed sanctions on four members of the Ortega-Murillo regime. On July 10, the U.S. imposed visa restrictions against 100 Nicaraguan legislators, judges, and prosecutors, as well as some of their family members.
On August 6, the United States restricted the visas of an additional 50 immediate family members of Nicaraguan National Assembly representatives and Nicaraguan prosecutors and judges. According to State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, “Anyone benefiting from the undermining of free and fair elections in Nicaragua is not welcome in the United States.”
In his statement, Secretary Blinken noted that the Ortega-Murillo regime has failed to comply with its international commitments under the Inter-American Democratic charter, as well as the rights of the Nicaraguan people to freely choose their own leaders. “We will continue to work closely with other democracies to respond diplomatically and economically to these dire developments, which only further deprive the Nicaraguan people of their desire for a representative government and economic prosperity.”