One day after Nicaragua’s presidential election on November 7, the country’s regime-controlled Supreme Electoral Council -- to no one’s surprise -- declared that Daniel Ortega had won a fifth term as president, supposedly with an overwhelming majority of the votes tallied.
However, many in the international community used a common language to describe Nicaragua’s election: “a sham,” “a farce,” and “a show.”
President Joe Biden called it “a pantomime election, that was neither free nor fair, and most certainly not democratic.” In a written statement, President Biden noted the conditions in Nicaragua before the election:
the arbitrary detention of nearly 40 opposition figures since May, including seven potential presidential candidates; the blocking of political parties from participation; the shuttering of independent media; the jailing of journalists and members of the private sector; the bullying of civil society organizations into closing their doors.
“Long unpopular and now without a democratic mandate, the Ortega and [Vice President] Murillo family now rule Nicaragua as autocrats, no different from the Somoza family that Ortega and the Sandinistas fought four decades ago,” President Biden said.
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed Daniel Ortega’s claim to be “defending national sovereignty.”
“Only governments that conduct free and fair elections can credibly claim to represent the will of the people,” declared Secretary Blinken. “The United States joins other democracies in the region and across the world in condemning this subversion of democratic norms. We stand with the Nicaraguan people and support those seeking to restore democracy.”
In response to the regime’s repression and brutality, the United States to date has imposed sanctions on dozens of individuals close to Ortega and Murillo, including Murillo herself and four of their children, the head of Nicaragua’s army, and the finance minister. National Assembly members, Supreme Electoral Council officials, and the National Police have also been sanctioned.
Secretary Blinken said the United States “will continue to use diplomacy, coordinated actions with regional allies and partners, sanctions, and visa restrictions, as appropriate, to promote accountability for those complicit in supporting the Ortega-Murillo government’s undemocratic acts.” He called for the immediate and unconditional release of those wrongfully imprisoned by the regime.
“While the current Nicaraguan government is no longer democratic, the nation of Nicaragua remains a member of the global community committed to democratic principles,” Secretary Blinken declared. “The Nicaraguan people deserve to enjoy the freedoms and rights that are respected in a democracy.”