Nicaragua denounces OAS as President Ortega, wife banned from US

US President Joe Biden accuses Ortega government of using violence against protesters, jailing opponents to win election.

A man walks by a banner depicting Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo ahead of the country's presidential elections, in Managua, Nicaragua, November 2, 2021 [File: Stringer/Reuters]

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday banned members of the Nicaraguan government from entering the United States as he issued a broad proclamation in response to an election that Washington has denounced as rigged in favour of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

Before the November 7 vote, Nicaraguan authorities detained nearly 40 opposition figures, including seven would-be presidential challengers, assuring victory for longtime ruler Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo.

“The repressive and abusive acts of the Ortega government and those who support it compel the United States to act,” Biden said in a proclamation.

“The Ortega government’s undemocratic, authoritarian actions have crippled the electoral process and stripped away the right of Nicaraguan citizens to choose their leaders in free and fair elections.”

On Monday, the US announced separate financial sanctions against Nicaraguan officials, describing the recent election as a “sham”.

The United Kingdom and Canada also announced new sanctions against prominent Nicaraguans.

“The physical and psychological abuse of political prisoners at the hands of police and prison authorities is intolerable and cannot stand,” Biden said, accusing Ortega of overseeing corrupt courts, police and security services.

Demonstrators wearing masks to mock Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife Vice President Rosario Murillo, take part in a march of Nicaraguans exiled in Costa Rica to protest against the presidential election in Nicaragua, in San Jose, Costa Rica, November 7, 2021 [Mayela Lopez/Reuters]

A firebrand Marxist in his youth, Ortega ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, after leading a rebel army that removed US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Returning to power in 2007, he has won re-election four times, becoming increasingly dictatorial and quashing presidential term limits.

Ortega has derided his US critics as “Yankee imperialists” and accused them of trying to undermine Nicaragua’s electoral process. Cuba, Venezuela and Russia have offered Ortega their backing.

Previous sanctions and travel bans on certain Nicaraguan officials imposed by Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, have failed to deter Ortega, and many analysts are sceptical whether new measures will have much effect.

The Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a resolution on Friday saying Nicaragua’s election lacked “democratic legitimacy”. Twenty-five nations voted in favour and seven abstained, including Mexico, Honduras and Bolivia.

The OAS’s democratic charter calls on member states to “promote and consolidate representative democracy”.

The Nicaraguan opposition said the election was marked by mass abstention even as the government claimed a turnout of 65 percent.

Nicaragua’s Congressional Speaker Gustavo Porras said Tuesday the legislature was asking Ortega to reject the OAS charter, which begins the formal process for leaving the group.

During that legislative session, 83 of 87 legislators approved the motion.

Like all branches of government in Nicaragua, Congress is controlled by Ortega’s left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front.

Congress accused the OAS of violating the “principle of non-intervention in the internal matters of other states”.

“Denouncing the democratic charter means leaving that colonialist organization,” pro-government legislator Carlos Emilio Lopez said.

Nicaragua is now fully “an autocratic regime”, the European Union said last week.

Faced with international criticism, Ortega lashed out at Spain and the EU, saying they were led by “fascists” and “Nazi parliamentarians”.

Source: News Agencies