Nicaraguan Public Employees Ordered to Prove they Voted

in the predetermined municipal elections on Sunday November 6th

A Sandinista sympathizer taking a “selfie” as he leaves his polling place in Esquipulas, Nicaragua during the November 2021 presidential elections. His ink-stained finger served as proof he voted. Photo: Confidencial

Public employees will be monitored during the municipal elections this Sunday. They also fear that the ballots they turn in will be inspected.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – With just two days left until Nicaragua’s municipal elections on November 6, the governing Sandinista party has its militant members out on the streets, going house to house to “invite” people to participate. However, the electoral process they’re promoting is one with no guarantees and an outcome that’s been essentially predetermined. Party functionaries are also demanding that the public employees go out and cast an early ballot this Sunday. They’re asked to provide proof of their compliance by sending a “selfie” of their ink-stained finger[1] to their social media groups on WhatsApp.

Some 3.7 million Nicaraguans have been called on to cast a ballot in these elections, although the only parties participating are the Sandinista Front and five miniscule “parties” who collaborate with the Ortega dictatorship by allowing them to feign competitive elections.

“[Voting] is unconditionally demanded. It’s a requirement, and they’re going to be calling us,” confirms “Carla” [assumed name], a government worker who agreed to speak with us under guarantee of anonymity.

There’s a lot of fear in the public workplaces. Workers worry that their conversations could be overheard, so that there’s a general preference for not expressing anything. “[Workers feel] panicked that their telephones could suddenly be taken from them and examined,” Carla admits.

The only thing she knows about the voting is that it will be monitored via the WhatsApp groups. They’ll be asked if they voted, and to confirm their residence and the polling place they’re registered at.

“Carmen” [also an assumed name] works in the Judicial system. She assures that the collaborators working in each polling place are even more strictly controlled. They must present themselves at 6 am to vote, then send a photo of their ink-stained finger together with the data from the polling place where they deposited their ballots.

Judges in charge of the political training

Since the “electoral farce” of the 2021 national elections, a number of public employees have been obligated to participate in the electoral apparatus, Carmen comments. This is by order of the political coordinators of each institution. That hasn’t changed in 2022. This year, they attended two training sessions conducted by the Supreme Electoral Council – one that was directly political and one that was specific to the institution,  

In Carmen’s case, both workshops were led by judges rather than Electoral Council functionaries. The political message was clear: “[the Sandinistas] must win the elections”, and they expect the public employees to participate in every walk, caravan, and campaign closing event, as well as in the activities of getting out and confirming the vote in the neighborhoods.

Carmen feels that what she’s doing is “ridiculous”.  She recognizes that a real electoral process implies competition between different parties and guarantees of transparency. Here, she affirms, “there’s nothing like that.”

“Since the presidential elections, there’s been the same feeling; that they’ve already been decided in favor of the FSLN [governing Sandinista party],” states the functionary.

“Carlos,” a public employee in the health sector, says that health employees who are scheduled to work on November 6 have been ordered to first travel to their respective cities of residence and vote, then return for their workday.

In the high school where teacher “Lucia” works, they’re still awaiting orientations regarding the voting. However, weeks ago all the school personnel there were asked for their ID card numbers. “It’s probable that the objective of this is to check that we go to our assigned polling places and vote,” she theorizes.

“It’s a form of pressure on the person who doesn’t vote. It can be confirmed that they didn’t appear at their polling place, and is one strategy to obligate people to vote, out of fear of losing their jobs,” the teacher concludes.

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