This Sunday, November 7, more than 4.4 million Nicaraguans were called to vote. In an election considered “fraudulent” by international actors, the current president, Daniel Ortega, will seek his re-election. The elections have been affected by the arrests of several opponents of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), among them, candidates for the presidential seat. Likewise, three political parties were eliminated.
This Sunday, November 7, in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, the voting centers opened at 06:38 in the morning, local time. However, 3,160 Voting Centers have been enabled for the more than 4.4 million citizens called to the polls. Nicaraguans will elect their president and vice president, 90 deputies before the National Assembly, and 20 before the Central American Parliament (Parlacen).
The opposition considers the elections “fraudulent”, while the international community affirms that they lack “legitimacy”, due to the fact that several presidential candidates are in prison, at the request of the current president, Daniel Ortega.
In this way, the president, in power since 2007, has the freest way to win a new reelection. In case of winning the elections, it would be his fifth term and fourth in a row. It would also be the second time that he governs with his wife, Rosario Murillo, current vice president.
The political parties participating in these elections are: the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), the Independent Liberal Party (PLI), the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN), the Nicaraguan Christian Way (CCN) , the Alliance for the Republic (Apre), and Yatama (Children of Mother Earth, in Miskito language), the latter only on the Caribbean coast.
The opponents of the ruling party point out that the majority of the remaining opposition candidates are actually “collaborators” with the Ortega government and point out that all the “real rivals” of the Sandinista leader were imprisoned or forced to go into exile.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) suggested that voters take their precautions and follow the biosecurity measures established by the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the recommendations is to wash your hands or wear a mask. The same Council affirmed that 15,000 members of the Nicaraguan Army and 16,665 agents of the National Police will guard the elections.
Annulled the “Dry Law” for voting
In a public statement, the Nicaraguan National Police reported that “all tourist, recreational, sports, commercial service establishments, cafeterias, restaurants, and meeting and entertainment venues will work and function normally.” In this way, the sale of alcohol was authorized, annulling the dry law.
The non-governmental Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), spoke through its Twitter account. “We condemn the irresponsible action of the Ortega Murillo regime, because within hours of the disputed general elections, they have tacitly suspended the dry law, through an ambiguous statement from the police,” the statement read.
🔴 WE CONDEMN THE IRRESPONSIBLE action of the Ortega Murillo regime, because within hours of the questioned general elections, they have tacitly suspended the dry law (prohibition of alcoholic beverages), through an ambiguous statement from the police 👇 pic.twitter.com/U5fG2yeyHp
– Cenidh (@cenidh) November 6, 2021
And he added that “Is it a perverse trap? Do they want the media and the population to take it for granted and thus charge them with crimes? Do they want to promote violence, confrontation, between their fans and the opposition?”
The multidisciplinary observatory Urnas Abiertas accused the FSLN leader of “coercing the vote.” And he added that “despite the fact that the electoral campaign ended last Wednesday, the electoral silence has been disrespected by the FSLN, observing different strategies to coerce people to vote on November 7.”
According to the observatory, the strategies of the president’s political party include a “mobilization plan, house-to-house visits, payments of 500 cordobas ($ 14.12) for voting for Ortega, offer of social benefits, request for photographs to demonstrate participation in elections, threats, and personal visits by public officials to ask for the vote. ” During the visits, the Sandinista militants warn the Nicaraguans that “those who abstain from voting will not be able to carry out procedures in state institutions.”
The observatory confessed that “these types of actions were reported from the departments of Managua, Chinandega, Carazo, Río San Juan, Jinotega, Masaya and Granada.” “In addition, activities promoted by the Mayor’s Offices were observed using materials alluding to the FSLN and peripherals in full electoral silence. As well as a concentration of FSLN sympathizers and para-police officers in mayors, police stations and party houses,” he declared.
According to Open Urns, since October 2020, there have been a total of 1,656 acts of political violence, 120 in the last month. For this reason, the opposition, organizations that defend human rights, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union, have expressed their disagreement regarding these elections.
According to the organizations Blue and White National Unity and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, this Sunday, before the vote, the National Police arrested at least eight territorial leaders of the opposition. Among those arrested are Yaser Mahumar Vado, leader of the National Unity and Nidia Barbosa, of the Civic Alliance. The rest of the names were not revealed at the request of the relatives.
Alexa Zamora, leader of the National Unity, confirmed the news through an audio. “We counted at least eight of our leaderships kidnapped by the regime, in illegal raids, which only reinforces the state of siege in which the Ortega and Murillo regime has placed the opposition,” he said.
For its part, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy assured that “in Nicaragua harassment, surveillance, threats, intimidation, harassment, attacks and arbitrary illegal detentions of our municipal and departmental leaders and territorial links persist.”
Until last October 21, 39 leaders and independent professionals were imprisoned in the framework of the elections. Among the latest arrests are those of Michael Healy, president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), and that of Álvaro Vargas, vice president of the employer’s association.
Among those arrested, there are also seven opponents aspiring to the Presidency. Sandinista Daniel Ortega accused them of “treason” and “money laundering.” In addition, three opposition parties were eliminated. Meanwhile, they did not invite the Organization of American States (OAS) or the European Union (EU) as observers.