An hour before the polling stations were set to close for the general elections of November 7, 2021, the “mobilizers” of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) carried out the order of “reinforcing the vote”, by filling out ballots in favor of “Comandante Daniel (Ortega) and Comadre Rosario (Murillo)”.
“Mateo”, 35 years old, was one of the mobilizers who received the order. In an interview with CONFIDENCIAL, the man affirmed that he voted five times in different voting centers in District I, in Managua.
“At first we mobilized people. That is, they came to my house at 7 in the morning, and we went to look for people at their homes to move them to the voting centers, but at about five in the afternoon the show began: they threw in a new orientation, they told us that they would take us to a list of places where we had to reinforce the Sandinista vote”, “Mateo” explained.
In November 2021, Ortega and Murillo consolidated a new consecutive presidential term with 75.92% of the votes, in elections conducted by a collapsed Supreme Electoral Council, without guarantees, transparency, or electoral competition, with seven presidential aspiring candidates who remain imprisoned, and which were not recognized by the majority of the democratic international community which qualified them as an “electoral farce”.
“They already knew” about the fraud technique at voting centers
In each of the five voting centers to which he was sent, “the district chief of the Front” indicated which Voting Reception Board (Junta Receptora de Votos, JRV) he should go to and told him: “Don’t worry, you already know what you are going to, they are going to give you the ballot, you know how to fill it out, you put it in the ballot box and you go out”.
“When we entered the Reception Board, we did not provide anything, it was understood, we went in one go, straight to the ballot. There was no password, they had identified the group supervisor and that was enough, we could fill out and fill out, and as nervous as I was, I had to vote five times, once in each voting center they took me to”, he explained.
“Mateo” assures that his group from District I was taken aboard six vans and a small truck, although in other districts of the capital “they moved more vans because there were more people”. He calculates that each vehicle transported between ten and fifteen mobilizers, who got off at each of the five voting centers to “fill out ballots”.
“I don’t know how much the others filled out, but I only filled out one in each Voting Center”, he commented. The votes were cast without even presenting an identity card, although the members of the voting tables did make the pantomime of marking their finger when “exercising the vote”.
“I gave them the same finger and they were not even scared to see that I had already stained it. Another family member, who also worked as a mobilizer, even had a different finger stained at each Voting Center”, he recalled.
“I did it out of fear and necessity”, he says about voting for the FSLN
“Mateo” affirms that when he was summoned – a month before the voting – “they never” mentioned to him that he had to “fill out ballots”, but, he thinks that perhaps he did not find out because he did not attend the previous meetings that the Sandinista Front made with the mobilizers.
“I could not go to the meetings because of my work, so, I do not know if they said it there, but for me, it was a direct order because I did not know I was going to do that. I thought I was going to mobilize people, to ask people to vote and to offer transportation, well, I did not think that was illegal, but then they came out with that order and I could not back out because they would think that I was against them”, he explained.
He added that he agreed to participate as a Sandinista Front mobilizer out of “fear and necessity” since at that time he had not been able to get a formal job for more than a year and the party promised him a political endorsement that would open labor doors for him in state institutions.
“I was afraid to say no because they came to my house to ask me to join, to support them. They know that I am not an opponent, I am not from any party in fact, because if I do not work I do not eat, but they know that part of my family is Sandinista, so they trusted me, they offered me and told me about the endorsement, others were offered 500 pesos, so I said yes, I did not see anything wrong in going to offer transportation,” he said.
On October 17, 2021, CONFIDENCIAL published a report in which it revealed that the Sandinista Front had initiated the calls for mobilizers, by securing “trusted” Sandinista sympathizers, people who had already participated as mobilizers, and State workers, who should “guarantee the Sandinista vote”.
The testimonies of the mobilizers summoned confirm that the Sandinista Front uses public resources, such as vehicles of institutions, delegations, and mayors’ offices, to the group and transport its sympathizers.
They identify those who “do not support the party”
In addition to the “direct” order to impregnate the ballot boxes, “Mateo” explains that the work of the mobilizers was to identify “families that do not support the party”.
They had to identify each person who refused to go on the transportation they were offered and, above all, those who did not show that they had already exercised their right to vote.
“Those who were going with us, in the vans, and those who did not want to go were signed up. Those who went were asked for their ID number, name, and address. For those who did not welcome us, the people from the neighborhood gave us their names, we wrote down the address, and they were crossed out as people who did not support the party”, he explained.
“Mateo” assures that, after November 2021, the party members complied with the delivery of the political endorsement, but he regrets that “it did not work at all”, because he still does not get a job. “I stained myself doing something that is illegal, doing something I did not know I had to do from the beginning, and that I ended up doing out of fear”, he reflects.
He highlighted that the members of the Sandinista Front of District I went back to look for the mobilizers who participated in the November 2021 voting, to “reinforce” the marches that were made by districts in Managua in commemoration of the day of the Sandinista Revolution, which is celebrated every July 19, but he recounts that “thank God they did not find me”.
Voting in 2021 was “false and illegitimate”
The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo in the 2021 general elections was reelected without political competition for a fourth consecutive term. The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) -aligned with Ortega’s interests- declared the Sandinista Front as the winner with more than 75% of the votes.
The Observatorio Ciudadano de Urnas Abiertas, in a report released on November 7, 2021, estimated that abstention during the general voting was 81.5%.
The document points out that in the context of the elections there were 35 arrests ordered by the Ortega government, 25 of which were registered the day before voting, and more than 200 acts of violence in the different Voting Centers.
However, the regime’s hunt began six months before the voting process, with the imprisonment of human rights defenders, political activists, peasants, journalists, commentators, ex-diplomats, and seven presidential aspirants: Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Miguel Mora, Medardo Mairena and Noel Vidaurre.
National and international organizations, and officials from different Latin American and European governments, rejected the elections organized by the Ortega-Murillo regime, classifying them as “false” and “illegitimate”.
On November 10, 2021, forty former foreign ministers of Latin America signed a letter in which they expressed their “deep concern for what happened in the illegitimate electoral process”, which took place on November 7, 2021, in Nicaragua.
The organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its annual report 2021, released in January 2022, denounced that Nicaragua experienced 2021 a general election without guarantees, with dozens of opposition leaders in jail, and with thousands of citizens fleeing into exile.
The Ortega-Murillo regime currently holds more than 190 people in detention for political reasons. National and international human rights defenders have urged the immediate release of these citizens, denouncing that they are victims of torture and cruel treatment in prison.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff.