Presidential Election in Nicaragua: An Election That Wasn’t

Status: 08.11.2021 09:40 a.m.

The winner of the election in Nicaragua had already been determined. Many opponents of the old and new President Ortega have fled abroad. There they hope for help from the international community.

By Anne Demmer, ARD Studio Mexico City, currently San José, Costa Rica

We are students, not criminals. Ortega, listen, we will keep fighting. Yes to democracy, no to dictatorship.

Hundreds of demonstrators chanted in Costa Rica’s capital, San José. Nicaraguans in exile who have fled to the neighboring country. They are representatives of the peasant movement, mothers who have their children and students who have lost their fellow students when the regime’s security forces brutally cracked down on them during the 2018 student protests.

They left their country because they feared reprisals and saw no other option for themselves. A young woman’s T-shirt reads: “Our dreams are too big for your urns.” Christian García carries a sign in front of him: “Why are you following us?” is written on it.

He was also one of the 2018 students, he says. “I was a medical student at the time and treated people with gunshot wounds. I repeat – gunshot wounds!” He lost three friends at the time. What is happening today is a single election fraud, it is an electoral circus, he continues. “There is no opposition, she is in prison. We cannot rebel against the regime in the country itself. They gave us no options.”

Nicaragua’s President Ortega re-elected with around 75 percent

Tagesschau 12:00 p.m., November 8th, 2021

Call for an election boycott

Christian’s family still lives in Nicaragua. She would not have cast her vote, he says. The opposition had called for an election boycott. The authoritarian ruling President Daniel Ortega had seven promising opposition candidates arrested in advance. Before the polling stations opened, it was clear that Ortega would take up his fourth term in a row.

Around 40 members of the opposition – politicians, journalists and entrepreneurs – were arrested in advance. There can be no question of free and fair elections. Because of the escalation of the repression, the US and the EU had also questioned the legitimacy of the election. What Nicaragua’s President Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, hosted today was a pantomime election that was neither free nor fair and certainly not democratic, a statement by the White House in Washington said.

The church also protests

The church also found very clear words again and again. On Radio Santa Lucía, the priest Vicente Martínez even told his congregation to stay home. “If you vote, what will happen then? Should we forget that more than 300 people were killed in 2018?” He asks. “We would then become accomplices.” He knows that he is violating the right to vote, but there is no one to vote for.

Citizens reporters circulated pictures in WhatsApp groups that were supposed to document election day. You can see some deserted streets there. This is also confirmed by a man from a neighborhood in Managua via WhatsApp. He doesn’t want to give his name for security reasons.

The choice – a farce

The streets are pretty empty, he reports. In the polling stations there are around seven to eight people who go to vote. But these are probably government employees who have been asked to vote. He had already participated in elections here, but not to vote, but to invalidate the ballot. “I won’t vote this year. For me, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo are rapists, thieves and murderers.”

There were no independent election observers. State television images circulating on social networks show voters proudly showing their black thumbs at the camera – proof of their choice. Ortega himself stated immediately after casting his vote on Nicaraguan state television:

Today we challenge those who promote terrorism, who finance terrorism, who finance war, terrorism, death, the destruction of the economy, the destruction of health centers, the destruction of schools, who have conspired against us and continue to do so conspire. They don’t want peace, they sow death, hatred, terror.

The old and new President Daniel Ortega – he had arrested the seven opposition presidential candidates beforehand.

Image: AFP

Journalists undesirable

The investigative platform “El Confidencial” reports that two independent journalists were arrested for three hours, others were prevented from reporting.

Just like in San José, people in many parts of the world have demonstrated against the “electoral farce”. Among others in Spain, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Guatemala and Mexico. In Costa Rica, Christian Alvarez is hoping for the support of the international community. One has to put pressure on the regime of Ortega and Murillo, he demands. “There must be sanctions. The international community must take action now.”

Election day in Nicaragua

Anne Demmer, ARD Mexico, 8.11.2021 · 08:20

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