Tuesday, November 9, 2021

International community rejects Ortega's reelection (Nov. 9, 2021)

A number of countries in the region and beyond refuse to recognize the results of Nicaragua's election on Sunday. (See yesterday's post.) The Dominican Republic, Peru, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Panama, Chile, Canada, the European Union and the U.S. all rejected the legitimacy of Daniel Ortega's fourth consecutive reelection, reports Confidencial. Several countries said they would pursue action within the Organization of American States.

While there are calls for increased international pressure on Nicaragua's government, “The only way out of the regime’s political crisis is in Managua, not in Washington or Brussels,” writes Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Chamorro in El Faro. "Diplomatic pressure should focus on how to influence the restoration of democratic freedoms in Nicaragua. The Ortega regime can withstand international sanctions, individual or institutional, for a time, but it cannot rule a single day without losing control of power if the police state is suspended."

Independent election observer Urnas Abiertas recorded 200 instances of election abuses at polling stations, including intimidation by government-aligned paramilitary groups. There are widespread reports that public sector employees and their families were strongly pressured to vote, and were transported by FSLN party workers to polling sites. Nonetheless, Nicaraguans showed discontent by staying home: Urnas Abiertas reported an abstention rate between 79 and 84 percent, while the government claimed that 65 percent of voters participated. (El Faro)

In the wake of Ortega's crackdown on dissent, Nicaraguan citizens live in fear of both the government and of each other, reports CNN. Neighbors rarely talk politics anymore for fear of being denounced as a traitor, they said. And beyond the country's borders, CNN reports that evidence suggests Ortega agents have been stalking and threatening outspoken Nicaraguan exiles.

News Briefs

  • Brazilian government officials and experts worry that Telegram, an encrypted messaging and social media platform favored by conservative groups, could become a powerful vector for lies and vitriol before next year’s presidential elections, reports the New York Times. In Brazil the app is making huge inroads, particularly after President Jair Bolsonaro asked supporters to sign up for his official channel earlier this year, after Donald Trump was banned from Twitter.

  • The issue of hunger will be front and center in Brazil's presidential elections next year, according to the Brazil Research Initiative. About nineteen million Brazilians currently face food insecurity, according to the World Food Programme, the pandemic and inflation have made the situation worse.
  • Chile’s lower chamber of Congress approved the impeachment trial of President Sebastian Piñera over corruption allegations stemming from Pandora Papers leaks. Proceedings will now advance to the Senate, which will act as a jury. (Al JazeeraLa Tercera)

  • More than 400 Chileans totally or partially lost their sight after being shot or beaten by police in a wave of social protests that started in October 2019. The case of Fabiola Campillai, who lost her sight, taste and smell, is one of the most emblematic -- now she is running for senate. (Guardian)
  • The Dominican Republic is requiring hundreds of thousands of Haitians to register their whereabouts inside the country, a move the government said aims to shield the country from its neighbor's gang violence and unrest. But migrant advocates say the crackdown is exacerbating Dominican “xenophobia and racism” by playing into fears that Haitians are a nexus of crime, reports Bloomberg.
  • The U.S. government is urging its citizens in Haiti "to strongly consider returning to the United States," amid the deteriorating security situation in Haiti. (Miami Herald)
Regional Relations
  • U.S. officials, current and former, are chafing against the increasingly assertive role of E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Venezuela, reports the Washington Post's WorldView. Critics fear his decision to send international election monitors to regional elections later this month could lend international legitimacy to an electoral exercise they see as fundamentally flawed.
  • Information about corruption tied to Venezuela continues to demonstrate how Maduro’s money laundering networks have spread across and beyond the hemisphere -- Latin America Risk Report.
  • Rival drug gangs are vying for influence in Mexico's Michoacán state, but observers say the national army has largely stopped fighting their illegal activities, and instead merely tries to keep them from invading each other's turf. “There is something like an increasingly explicit attempt to administer the conflict,” Alejandro Hope told the Guardian. “They [soldiers] are not there to disarm the two sides, but rather to prevent the conflict from spreading. The problem is that we don’t know where the army draws the line, what they are willing to accept.”
  • Argentina's governing Frente de Todos coalition is hoping to win back voters in Buenos Aires province who abstained in September's primaries. The Fernández administration is fighting to retain control of Congress, and has launched a massive "listening" campaign, in which officials chat with citizens on the street to hear their views. (Página 12, see Friday's post.)

  • Security forces repressed protesters with tear gas in La Matanza, in greater Buenos Aires -- there have been protests against insecurity following the murder of a store owner during a holdup. (Infobae)
  • Argentina’s macroeconomic instability and stagnation offer a sobering preview of where much of the region could be headed, warns Eduardo Levy Yeyati in Americas Quarterly. "Latin America is the only region in the world that is at the same time poor and (mostly) democratic. This distinctive aspect points to a key political challenge: How can Latin American politics negotiate a collective solution to the trap in an increasingly vocal and plural liberal democracy?"
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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