15 June 2021
The Socialist International has been following with deep concern the continuing deterioration of the political situation in Nicaragua, where general elections are to be held on 7 November this year. Already in January 2019 the world Council of the SI, at its meeting in the city of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, decided by a large majority to withdraw the ruling party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN, from its membership as a result of “gross violations of human rights and democratic values committed by the government of Nicaragua”.
In the run-up to the elections in November, a number of prominent opponents and critics of President Daniel Ortega have been arrested in recent weeks and days, including Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of the former president, who leads the Foundation named after her mother Violeta Barrios de Chamorro; Félix Madariaga; Juan Sebastián Chamorro; the former ambassador Arturo Cruz; the economist José Adán Aguerri; the sociologist Violeta Granera; the lawyer José Pallais; the president of Unamos, Suyen Barahona, and the vice president of Unamos, Hugo Torres; Dora Téllez, a former combatant along with President Ortega and today an opponent; the lawyer and activist of Unamos Ana Margarita Vijil; the lawyer Tamara Dávila, an activist of Unamos, and the former deputy foreign minister of Nicaragua, Víctor Hugo Tinoco Fonseca. Likewise, a number of other social actors and activists on human rights in opposition to the Ortega government have been detained in recent days, some of whom are incommunicado and their whereabouts unknown.
Not only for Nicaragua but for the entire region of Latin America and Caribbean and beyond, it is grave to observe that in recent years the institutional framework and democratic legitimacy in that country have been progressively deteriorating and degrading, in full view of all. Today the situation has become critical, as the fundamental rights and freedoms of Nicaraguan citizens are being violated.
The massive social demonstrations of 2018 and the serious human rights violations that accompanied their violent repression by the government, are in part a reaction to the increasing concentration of public functions by the Sandinistas and to their project to keep President Daniel Ortega in power. Following those events, various legislative, administrative, and judicial initiatives were adopted leading to a restriction of democracy in Nicaragua, measures which today are being applied for illegitimate political ends.
Given the need for conditions that will allow credible, participatory and inclusive elections next November, the government of Nicaragua must immediately release all those who have been detained for political reasons, and prevent all illegitimate restrictions against the rights of its citizens to express their support for the different proposals and alternatives that seek the backing and confidence of the Nicaraguan electorate.