By Nitya Chakraborty
Nicaragua is holding its general elections on November 7 this year but the tempo of the poll campaign has already hotted up in the wake of the recent victory of the left candidates in parliamentary elections in Mexico and presidential elections in Peru. This small Latin American country will be the fourth one in the region which will go for Presidential elections in 2021. Honduras will be the fifth and the last country in the region to elect its president on November 27.
Nicaragua is having a running battle with the US establishment since the leftist maverick Daniel Ortega took over power in 2006 presidential elections. Ortega, the supremo of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSNL) is contesting again in the November poll and all indications suggest that he will retain his presidency once again, apart from securing majority in the national assembly. Ortega is being continuously attacked by the U.S. Government, Pentagon and the US sponsored regional organisations for his authoritarian ways and trampling of democratic rights, but he has continued with his rough ways claiming that his government has been working for the underprivileged and he will continue to do so defying the opposition by the pro-rich rightwing.
The right wing parties as also other civil society groups including a few leftwing outfits tried to form a combined front against the ruling Sandinistas but their efforts failed as they could not register the alliance name before the deadline and now, the ground reality is that President Ortega will be facing a divided opposition, which is in no position to give powerful Ortega any challenge in November 7 elections, despite all the support extended by the US backed corporate media and Organisation of American States to the opposition right.
Nicaragua’s fractured opposition has spent more than two years trying to come to an agreement over how to form a single coalition to battle Ortega, a strongman who has been in power since 2007.The Supreme Electoral Council had given them enough time to forge a common front but the differences amongst the opposition constituents were so wide that they miserably failed to put up a common front. As a result, Ortega will be facing a number of candidates from the opposition groups.
The right-wing Citizen Alliance had been locked in intense talks last month with the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD), part of a National Coalition umbrella grouping that represents anti-Ortega leftists, evangelical Christians, students and other groups. The opposition groups were participants in the anti-Ortega demonstrations in 2018 and 2019 and even during the pandemic, but despite all backroom persuasion by the US backed big media, Citizen Alliance could not agree with the terms given by PRD.
The United States administration under new Biden presidency, is showing same antipathy towards Nicaragua as was there during Trump tenure. Sanctions are continuing against both Nicaragua and Venezuela which supports Nicaragua and gives some sort of financial help. The global trade developments as also covid-19 have hit Nicaraguan economy and there is big strain on finances.
Nicaragua has demanded an end to “all illegal and coercive measures,” including U.S. sanctions, as it warned of a dirty tricks campaign ahead of November’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
“An unprecedented and relentless attack is unfolding against Nicaragua’s government and people are driven by false narratives advanced by right-wing, U.S.-financed media outlets and ‘opposition’ figures,” the Sandinista government warned in a statement recently.
A number of Western media reports accuse the Nicaraguan authorities of detaining opposition figures, a narrative that critics say is part of a broader attempt to discredit the government and sow discord in the run-up to the elections.
But those who have been taken into custody are under investigation for serious crimes, including money laundering, treason, and seditious conspiracy, with the government insisting that it is operating in an open and transparent manner in accordance with Nicaraguan law.
The detained opposition figures include Cristiana Chamorro, whose Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy is accused of receiving millions of dollars from U.S. organizations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was formed in 1983 “to do today what was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”
Sandinistas are however confident that all these provocations from the US backed right will fail and the voters in Nicaragua will solidly back President Ortega and his pro-people programmes. The progressive forces in Latin America are hopeful that the President Ortega will once again be the winner keeping the flag of Latin American left high in the wake of victories in Mexico and Peru this month and possible win in Chile later this year. (IPA Service)