Elections in Nicaragua: Hardly any doubts about the winner

Status: 07.11.2021 09:22 a.m.

Nicaragua elects: There is little doubt that Daniel Ortega will secure his fourth term in office. He eliminated his competitors beforehand. Many people have left the country.

By Anne Demmer, ARD Studio Mexico City

Carlos Fernando Chamorro meets journalists for an interview in a residential complex on the outskirts of San José, the capital of neighboring Costa Rica. The editor-in-chief of the investigative portal “El Confidencial” left Nicaragua last June. The police raided his house and the editorial offices in Managua for hours. It’s the second time.

The work becomes more and more difficult

At the beginning of 2019, the son of the former president Violeta Chamorro already left the country. He will now report on the elections in Nicaragua from his exile in Costa Rica. He doesn’t want to talk about how he and his team work on site.

He has to protect the names of his reporters, but also those of his interviewees in his home country. The work is becoming more and more difficult, he says: “I no longer have any sources, no interview partners who want to express their opinion openly, I have to protect their identity because they could be arrested if they openly express their opinion or because they gave information to have.”

Many members of the opposition and journalists arrested

Criticism runs the risk of arrest. Around 40 members of the opposition, journalists, entrepreneurs and politicians were arrested in the run-up to the elections. Including seven leading opposition politicians, candidates for the presidency.

Promising candidate Chamorro under house arrest

Confidencial editor-in-chief’s immediate family is also affected. His sister was considered the most promising candidate. Christiana Chamorro is now under house arrest and is accused of money laundering. His cousin, Sebastián Chamorro, is in prison, El Chipote.

He has also run as a presidential candidate. My brother Joaquin Chamorro is also in prison. And another cousin, Juan Lorenzo Holmann. He was the manager of the newspaper ‘La Prensa’. His editorial offices were also searched. Those in prison are in solitary confinement. In four to five months, their family members only visited them twice.

Many people have left the country

100,000 people have now left the country. The majority live in exile in Costa Rica. Susana López also decided to flee to the neighboring country in June when people around her were arrested last June. Her 20-year-old son, Gerald Vásquez, was killed in the 2018 student protests, against which the security forces repeatedly brutalized. A bullet hit him in the head.

Hope for justice

After that, Susana López herself joined the protest movement, the Association of Mothers, the Asociación Madres de Abril. They demand justice for what happened to their children. She says: “The students wanted a change, we will continue with it, also from here. The perpetrators have to be held accountable. They have to pay for it. At some point there will be justice.”

At least that’s what she hopes. At the moment, however, it does not look like a change. Even if, according to the latest Gallup poll, only 19 percent of those polled would vote for incumbent President Daniel Ortega and 65 percent would vote for one of the seven incarcerated candidates.

The winner is determined before the election

El Confidencial’s editor-in-chief Carlos Fernando Chamorro says the winner of the election will be determined even before the polling stations open: “The electoral council will confirm a turnout of around 70 percent for Daniel Ortega. Some will stay at home after the boycott, others will vote. Others even have to vote because otherwise they would lose their jobs. ” The electoral council is not an institution that can be trusted, that is autonomous. “The only thing we know is that the opposition is in jail.”

How to deal with fear

In view of the massive repression in his home country – against his family, Chamorro is also afraid: The question is how we deal with the fear that it will not paralyze us. Of course, he feels safer in exile. “My father was killed during the Somoza dictatorship. Just before they killed him, he said: Everyone is master of their own fears. That is what we Nicaraguans live with, that is our mandate,” he says.

Elections in Nicaragua: votes from exile in Costa Rica

Anne Demmer, ARD Mexico City, November 7, 2021 6:14 am


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