Earlier this month, Nicaragua held native elections for the nation’s 153 mayoral seats.

The ruling leftist National Liberation Sandinista Front gained 135 of the seats, leaving solely 18 seats below opposition management. This places the leftists in charge of the presidency, the nationwide meeting, the judiciary, and local-level authorities workplaces.

While worldwide electoral observers have discovered weaknesses within the small Central American nation’s electoral system, they don’t imagine that decisive fraud occurred on this month’s elections.

Opposition teams declare in a different way.

Tensions got here to a head when an indigenous opposition celebration, the Yatama, challenged the election outcomes. In the coastal metropolis of Bilwi, opposition protesters started looting shops and burning two farms and forest ministry workplaces, in line with Gen. Francisco Diaz, a senior state police official.

There have additionally been post-election riots in 13 completely different municipalities within the nation, however the worst of the violence passed off in Bilwi. The authorities of Nicaragua deployed particular police, which put down the riots with the usage of tear fuel.

As a results of police clashing with protesters, seven protesters died, 70 had been injured, and 9 homes and two authorities buildings had been broken by hearth.

It is evident that President Daniel Ortega intends to take Nicaragua’s democracy down the identical dire path as Venezuela. Ortega legitimately gained his election in 2006, however since then, has manufactured “wins” in every election cycle.

In 2008, Ortega eradicated two opposition celebration candidates from the poll and prohibited worldwide observers from evaluating the election. In 2009, he modified the structure to eradicate presidential time period limits, regardless that the structure states that solely the National Assembly may make such a call.

The 2011 Nicaraguan presidential election noticed one more “victory” for the leftist chief wherein worldwide electoral observers, once more, declared electoral “irregularities.”

Ahead of his 2016 re-election, Ortega took it a step additional and appointed his spouse as his vp, regardless that Article 147 of the Nicaraguan Constitution strictly forbids it.

In June 2016, Ortega demanded the elimination of 27 opposition members of the National Assembly. Ortega compelled the Supreme Court to disqualify Eduardo Montealegre, an opposition candidate, from the municipal contest altogether.

This fixed manipulation of the electoral course of sparked an Organization of American States oversight mission.

Understandably, the disaster in Venezuela has dominated the media’s consideration towards a lot of Latin America. But U.S. policymakers have acknowledged one thing must be accomplished in Nicaragua.

In 2016, the House handed the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, launched the invoice within the Senate.

The invoice stipulates that the U.S. authorities won’t help loans for Nicaragua from worldwide monetary establishments except the nation holds “free, truthful, and clear elections,” ceases abusing human rights, and supplies fiscal transparency. These kinds of insurance policies may assist confront Ortega’s authoritarianism.

>>> US Central America Policy Should Address Corrupt Nicaragua Regime

Even although Congress has proposed laws like NICA and others, there’s nonetheless a lot to be accomplished. The State Department launched a press release on Nov. 8 wherein they “condemn the post-electoral violence, lament the lack of life, and name for an investigation that brings these accountable to justice and are significantly troubled by irregularities all through this electoral course of.”

It is in America’s curiosity to protect true democratic freedom in Latin America. The U.S. has an obligation to take the lead in our personal hemisphere and struggle for truthful elections in Nicaragua.

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