Increasingly isolated by the international community, the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, assumed his fifth term this Monday after prevailing in some controversial elections with a good part of the opposition leadership in jail or in exile.
The inauguration ceremony had few foreign delegations and coincided with a new batch of Economic sanctions applied by the United States and the European Union in response to the authoritarian drift of the Managua regime.
Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo. Photo capture.
In the presidential oath broadcast by the national TV network, the presidents of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, hardly appeared as the heads of state attending the event, along with ambassadors and junior-level officials.
Argentina supported the inauguration of Ortega by sending its ambassador, Daniel Capitanich, who shared the privileged places with delegates from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola, Turkey, Belarus, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia and Yemen , among others.
Last weekend, when confirming the integration of the delegations, Vice President Murillo attributed to the pandemic the minimum number of representatives that will be present.
Ortega won the November 7 election after sending 40 dissident leaders to prison or exile, among them, seven presidential candidates. Cristiana Chamorro, favorite in the polls, completed 220 days of house arrest last Saturday.
Ortega, 76, has been in power since 2007 and is now assuming his fourth consecutive term, the second with his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. If his first presidency (1985 to 1990) is counted, this will be his fifth term, adding 20 years in power, an unprecedented case in the recent history of Nicaragua.
Nicolás Maduro and Miguel Díaz-Canel, president of Venezuela and Cuba, respectively. Photo capture.
The investiture of the former Sandinista guerrilla is against the backdrop of the sanctions applied in the last three years by the United States and the EU to family members, relatives, officials and some entities such as the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office, for corruption and violation of human rights.
The White House described the last election as an electoral “pantomime”, while Brussels also considered that it was not “democratic” because it lacked transparency. Several Latin American countries, through the OAS, also ignored the legitimacy of the electoral contest and demanded the release of the imprisoned opponents.
In his reply, Ortega described this global rejection as “aggressions” against his country and a violation of his sovereignty by considering that the arrested opponents are “criminals” who were seeking a coup supported by the United States.
This Monday, hours before the inauguration, the United States and the EU increased pressure on Nicaragua with economic sanctions and travel bans. In Washington, the Treasury announced sanctions against six senior Nicaraguan officials, including Defense Minister Rosa Adelina Barahona, in response to the “farce” of the November elections.
At the same time, the State Department imposed visa restrictions on 116 people with ties to the Nicaraguan government, among which are mayors, prosecutors, security officials and university academics. The 116 people sanctioned are “complicit in undermining democracy in Nicaragua,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
In addition to Minister Barahona, Generals Jesús Pulido Ortiz and Bayardo Ramón Rodríguez Ruiz were also targeted for sanctions, for having “repressed the opposition and the public demonstrations of April 2018, resulting in more than 300 deaths, 2,000 wounded and the imprisonment of hundreds of political figures and civil society ”.
An exile from Nicaragua in Costa Rica protests. AFP photo.
In turn, dOrtega’s sons who work as presidential advisers -Camila Ortega Murillo and Laureano Ortega Murillo- are among the six people sanctioned by the EU for “serious human rights violations, including the repression of civil society, support for fraudulent presidential and parliamentary elections and for undermining democracy and the rule of law.”
The sanctions against Managua were increased after April 2018, when a social revolt against a controversial social security reform was quelled with police and military personnel in the streets of the country.
Sources: AFP, AP, EFE and Clarín