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Nicaragua chronicle is of a democracy’s death foretold


The recent elections were denounced by more than 40 governments but sanctions had no measurable deterrent effect, so can the international community do more?

It is hard to pinpoint at what point in Nicaragua’s long slide into dictatorship that democracy died, but November’s corrupted, farcical elections were certainly its wake. With leading opposition candidates in prison or under house arrest, independent media muzzled, and more than 160 political prisoners and 40 civic and political leaders in jail, the re-election of Daniel Ortega as president and his wife Rosario Murillo as vice-president was a foregone conclusion.

The only question leading up to the election was how many voters would bother to cast ballots – a measly 18.5 per cent according to the civic group Urnas Abiertas in sharp contrast to the government’s claims of 65 per cent. US president Joe Biden called the elections a ‘pantomime’, the EU said that they made Nicaragua a fully ‘autocratic regime’ and Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, declared them ‘illegitimate’.

In the lead-up to these elections, the US, Canada and the European Union (EU) combined applied financial and diplomatic sanctions on approximately 100 individuals associated with brutal repression from a regime which had reportedly already killed at least 325 peaceful demonstrators in 2018.

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