Illustration Credit: Angel Boligán, Cagle Cartoons
On Sunday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, won reelection following a year of political prosecutions, bans on opposition parties, and laws to curtail the independent press. The United States, European Union, and a majority of countries in the Western Hemisphere have declared the election illegitimate.
Despite government reports that electoral participation totalled 65 percent of eligible voters, Urnas Abiertas, a Nicaraguan poll-watching organization, put this number at less than 20 percent, citing a nationwide boycott of the elections. Voters chose between Ortega and five other little-known candidates after the Ortega government jailed seven presidential candidates earlier this year.
Following the elections, policymakers and analysts have discussed invoking Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter in order to suspend Nicaragua from the Organization of American States. Delegates to the OAS began meetings this Wednesday to discuss the topic. While Secretary General Luis Almagro stated that events in Nicaragua amounted to a violation of the Charter, not all OAS member states have made their positions clear. The OAS is currently reviewing a proposed resolution by eight countries, including the United States, calling for a “collective evaluation” of the situation in Nicaragua, to be followed by “appropriate action” under the Democratic Charter by November 30. A vote to suspend Nicaragua would require the support of two thirds of OAS member states.
In Washington last week, Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives passed the RENACER Act, which offers the Biden administration greater powers to sanction Nicaraguan officials and calls for a review of Nicaragua’s membership in the CAFTA-DR trade agreement. President Biden signed the act into law on Wednesday.