Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

President Daniel Ortega is expected to secure a fourth consecutive term on Sunday in an election in Nicaragua that is condemned by the US and others as a fraud after he sent opponents to jail.

Ortega, who first took power after the Sandinista Revolution that overthrew an American-backed dictator in 1979, aims to extend a second presidential term that began in 2007.

A recent CID Gallup poll proposed that less than one-fifth of Nicaraguan support Ortega and his vice president, wife Rosario Murillo. Yet activists and analysts say the government will demand victory on Sunday, no matter what happens.

“Today is not going to be an election, it is going to be a fraud that is taking place under unprecedented repression,” said Vilma Núñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH). “There is no one to vote for, nor a reason to vote.”

Sunday’s presidential ticket will show Ortega (75) against a handful of lesser-known politicians. Voters will also elect representatives to the country’s congress. Governments around the world have condemned his administration after throwing his main opponents in jail in a campaign of repression this year.

The US also called the election a sham and was to be heard to investigate further sanctions against officials. The EU also imposed sanctions on human rights abusers and the undermining of democracy. This week, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress passed a bill calling for more sanctions against the country’s leaders.

Foreign Minister Denis Moncada said at a polling station on Sunday that Nicaraguane would not be intimidated by threats or sanctions by foreign powers. He said the election process was peaceful, stable and free, a video of his comments published on social media showed.

Nicaraguan civil society groups are urging people to stay home Sunday and not vote. In recent days, another 21 people linked to opposition groups have been detained, Nicaraguan activist network Urnas Abiertas said.

“There are so few ways to protest for people,” it said. “There is more and more supervision, there are arrests for putting up stickers. . . for paint on the walls. ”

The decline of Nicaraguan institutions has taken place over the past two decades and accelerated when Ortega took power again in 2007, Urnas Abiertas said.

The economy of Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, has shrunk since 2018, the year that killed the government’s repression of major protests more than 400 people. The country also has one of the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rates in the region: only 5 percent of its population is fully vaccinated, according to the Our world in database.

More than 200,000 Nicaraguans have left the country since the 2018 repression, according to Manuel Orozco, director of the Migration, Overpayment and Development Program at the Inter-American Dialogue. Many went to the US and neighboring Costa Rica, with a large number of families at home relying on overpayments.

Some fear that further consolidation of Ortega’s power will only serve to accelerate that trend.

“More instability and repression will unleash a new wave of migration – both south and north to the U.S. border,” said Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. “This is a crucial moment for the US, EU and countries across the Americas to show that dictators will not be tolerated.”

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