by SHELLEY A. McCONNELL
When diplomats sit down this week for the 51st General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), they will be miles apart both literally and politically.
Among other topics, they must address the divisive subject of last Sunday’s elections in Nicaragua, which came nowhere near meeting international standards.
The OAS has been ineffective in halting Nicaragua’s slide into dictatorship. In 2018, Nicaragua expelled human rights investigators, then rejected OAS recommendations for restoring democracy. Last May, Nicaragua ignored an OAS deadline for electoral reforms. Last month, members formally expressed alarm over Nicaragua’s electoral process, but seven countries abstained, reflecting disagreement over whether the OAS should concern itself with democratic erosion that falls short of a military coup d’etat.
Ortega and the Contras
Daniel Ortega was first elected in 1984 after toppling the Somoza dictatorship. The Reagan administration implemented a trade and financial embargo to destabilize what it saw as an emerging communist regime, and funded counterrevolutionary forces known as the Contras to attempt to force Ortega out.
In 1990, Ortega left office peaceably after losing an election scrutinized by international observers. However, when he was re-elected in 2006, he proceeded to systematically dismantle Nicaragua’s democratic government.
With his party controlling election authorities, Ortega strong-armed the courts into abolishing the two-term limit on the presidency in 2009. He claimed victory in shoddy elections in 2011 and 2016 that lacked transparency.
His Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) manufactured a supermajority in the legislature that reformed the constitution to give presidential decrees the force of law, put the president in charge of taxation, and permit active-duty military and police officers to hold political office.
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