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Prominent Nicaraguan says opposition should sit out elections


Sergio Ramirez, a writer and former vice president of Nicaragua, says the opposition to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega would legitimize his presidency if they attempt to vote in the next election. “Elections where the majority of candidates who can oppose Ortega are in jail cannot be elections,” he said. The Associated Press has the story:

Writer and former Nicaraguan Vice President Sergio Ramírez denounces Nicaraguan elections

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Writer and former Nicaraguan Vice President Sergio Ramírez said Monday that there is “zero possibility” of holding free elections in Nicaragua Nov. 7 and that opposition forces who participate would only be “legitimizing” President Daniel Ortega‘s re-election.

In an interview with The Associated Press from the United States where he was receiving medical treatment, the author of “Divine Punishment” said that Ortega had imposed a system of “terror” that prevents people from freely taking to the streets and that he will not tolerate any opposition electoral campaign.

“There is zero possibility (of free elections) and the political force that goes to the end will do a lot of damage to Nicaragua, it will be giving democratic credibility to a process that is corrupted beforehand,” said Ramírez, winner of the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 2017.

“Elections where the majority of candidates who can oppose Ortega are in jail cannot be elections,” he said, referring to the arrests of five pre-candidates, among the nearly 20 arrests of leading opposition figures in recent weeks.

The government has also excluded an opposition party that was going to be the vehicle for the National Coalition, a broad opposition to run against Ortega in the elections.

“The parties that go to the end, that accept electoral defeat and the seats they’re assigned in the National Assembly, are those that are going to give strength to Daniel Ortega to claim legitimacy in the elections,” Ramírez said. “It is a very serious step.”

A motorcyclist rides past a truck billboard promoting President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo, in Managua, Nicaragua, Thursday, June 17, 2021. In recent weeks, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega’s government has rounded up 13 opposition leaders, including four presidential challengers for the Nov. 7 elections. They face allegations ranging from money laundering to crimes against the state. (AP Photo/Miguel Andres)

Sandinista Renovation Movement

The 78-year-old writer was Nicaragua’s vice president during Ortega’s first government from 1985 to 1990. But in the mid-1990s he distanced himself from Ortega, founding along with other intellectuals and former guerrillas, the Sandinista Renovation Movement, or MRS by its Spanish initials. It has since become the political movement, Unamos, or Unite. Ramírez retired from politics in 1996, but continues to be an important voice in the country.

His comments came the same day that Mexico and Argentina recalled their ambassadors to Nicaragua for consultations, a day after Ortega’s government arrested yet another presidential contender.

Mexico and Argentina had broken with others in the region last week in not voting in favor of an Organization of American States resolution condemning more than a dozen recent arrests in Nicaragua of key opposition figures.

Both countries want to consult with their ambassadors about “the worrisome political-legal actions taken by the Nicaraguan government in recent days that have put at risk the well-being and freedom of various opposition figures (including presidential pre-candidates), activists and Nicaraguan businessmen,” their foreign ministries said in a joint statement. They want to promote a dialogue with Ortega’s government.

Late Sunday, Nicaraguan police arrested journalist Miguel Mora for alleged crimes against the state, similar to the announced charges against others arrested during the past month. Mora was previously arrested in December 2018 and held for nearly six months before being released.

Mora led the news outlet 100% Noticias until 2020. Police searched the home he shares with his wife, fellow journalist Verónica Chávez.

Mora is the fifth potential presidential candidate arrested since late May. Ortega is running for a fourth consecutive presidential term. Other arrests have included opposition leaders, prominent businessmen and former government officials.

Mora had registered as a pre-candidate for Democratic Renewal Party.

The government has accused most of those arrested with accepting foreign funding and working for the overthrow of the government. Ortega has characterized a popular uprising in April 2018 that led to months of street protests as an attempted coup with foreign backing.

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