The US-based Carter Center and the Nicaraguan organization “Urnas abiertas” [Open Ballot boxes] explain why they consider the Nicaraguan elections “a farce”.
HAVANA TIMES – Beginning at 7 am this Sunday, November 7th, more than 4.4 million Nicaraguans have been called on to vote. The election process has been organized and promoted by the country’s current ruler, Daniel Ortega, and his wife Rosario Murillo, who also serves as Nicaragua’s vice president.
This voting cycle has been the most questioned in Nicaragua’s history. Seven of the original presidential contenders have been imprisoned by the dictatorship, while other main opposition leaders were jailed or forced into exile.
The dictatorship’s repressive escalation included eliminating three political parties from the race, by cancelling their legal status. One of these parties had offered to cede their ballot space to journalist Miguel Mora when he announced his intention to run for president. Mora is now in the regime’s jails, his second time as a political prisoner.
Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council is comprised of Magistrates loyal to Daniel Ortega. That body obediently suspended the legal status of the Conservative Party, when Alfredo Cesar, their legal representative, announced the party wasn’t going to participate in a corrupt electoral process.
The last party removed from the electoral race was the right-leaning Citizens for Liberty Party [Ciudadanos por la Libertad, abbreviated CxL]. That party had become the leading opposition in the race until the Supreme Electoral Council outlawed them. Not only did they abolish the party, the regime then canceled the Nicaraguan identity card of the party’s legal representative, Carmela Maria Rogers Monterrey. “Kitty Monterey”, as she was known, had a long political trajectory in Nicaragua, but possessed dual citizenship; the cancellation of her and her party’s legal status, combined with the threats she received, forced her to flee the country.
“The elections are a farce”
In one voice, national and international organizations are denouncing the current Nicaraguan elections as a “farce”, because they lack the most minimal standards of credibility and legitimacy. This was the explanation Jennie Lincoln of the US-based Carter Center gave Nicaragua’s 100% Noticias news site.
“The November 7th electoral process in Nicaragua isn’t a democratic election by any international standard. It doesn’t meet the requirements for a democratic election,” Lincoln stated. She noted regretfully that Ortega didn’t allow any formal electoral observation, replacing it with “electoral invitees”, who she termed “electoral tourists”.
“Those accompanying the electoral process are essentially electoral tourists. They’re invited by the government, they see what the government wants them to see, and they come out repeating what the government has told them,” said Lincoln. She herself had the opportunity to observe the 1990 elections in Nicaragua, when Violeta Barrios de Chamorro unexpectedly defeated Ortega in democratic elections.
“It would be better for those tourists to go see Nicaragua’s beautiful beaches, because their position as guests won’t cover up the stains of these elections,” added the expert in electoral matters.
“I supervised those  elections. It was an electoral process that posed some challenges for the opposition. There was a lot of government involvement in the campaigns, but even so, the Nicaraguan people were able to go to the polls and deposit their secret ballots. Everyone who wanted to voted, and they had the freedom to decide the future of their government, during a difficult election. They had access to a process that ended with the democratic decision to choose another government,” she recalled.
The credibility of an electoral process
Now senior advisor to the Carter Center for peace initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean, Jennie Lincoln also questioned the imprisonment of all the opposition candidates who originally aspired to run for president.
“There’s a list of guarantees that an electoral process should offer to be a truly democratic election. They begin with guarantees for the broad participation of all citizens and candidates. All of them have the right to access the electoral process,” the specialist in electoral matters explained.
“In Nicaragua, it’s obvious that even the presidential candidates are in jail, along with other political prisoners. The government has stomped on human rights, and that’s no guarantee for an election,” she observed.
The Carter Center didn’t receive any invitation from the dictatorship to observe this electoral process. It’s expected that only those loyal to the government party will be going to the polls to mark their ballots for Daniel Ortega.
“They didn’t invite us, and we’d never have accepted an invitation to observe an election that’s now seen as a ruse,” Jennie Lincoln concluded.
There wasn’t even an electoral campaign
Pedro Fonseca is the spokesman for the observation organization Urnas Abiertas [“Open Ballot Boxes”]. He lamented that the small allied political parties allowed to participate in these elections didn’t even hold an electoral campaign or offer proposals for governing, as the imprisoned candidates had done.
“An electoral campaign has as its objective the existence of debate and discussion; the presentation of different platforms for governing and different political agendas, all within the framework of citizen participation and public opinion. Unfortunately, Nicaragua didn’t present these conditions, and the regime specifically made sure that such liberty didn’t exist. We haven’t heard the political parties’ plans for governing, and these parties have nothing to offer,” Fonseca explained to the 100% Noticias news team.
The Urnas Abiertas spokesperson added: “the citizens don’t even know who [these parties’] candidates for president and vice president are.”
“This electoral process is the regime’s means of legitimizing their government. The people who are going to participate in this disastrous election process and in this voting are going to be those being controlled by the regime,” Fonseca predicted.
According to Urnas Abiertas, one of the parameters used to measure the “quality” and the “integrity” of this electoral process is that of clean elections.
“Three basic parameters are contemplated: clean elections, inclusive elections and competitive elections. The first measure has to do with whether there’s freedom to exercise the vote. [In Nicaragua] the population’s preferences and the preferences of those voting aren’t respected. There’s evidence that the regime is controlling the vote of those who have to go to the polls, like the public employees and the people who’ve benefited from the social programs,” Fonseca clarified.
“This is an election that has lacked legitimacy since before the electoral calendar was even established,” he concluded.