Cenidh, the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center, assured that “conditions to guarantee that the citizenry of all the municipalities freely elect their mayors and city council members are non-existent.” The organization’s position – released less than fifteen days prior to the municipal elections – included their disbelief that the electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) would give the process credibility.
Dr. Vilma Nunez, president of Cenidh, noted that voting in Nicaragua isn’t obligatory, and in her judgement, “Voting will contribute to deepening the violation of the population’s human rights, since the exercise of the vote will legitimize the pretensions of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo to remain in power eternally.”
Nonetheless, Nunez clarified that going to the polls or not on November 5th is the decision of each person, and their decision should be respected. Cenidh appealed to the population to make the choice to vote or not based on information and reflection.
Cenidh sustained that during the decade of Comandante Ortega’s government, a “model of domination” has been installed, including no change in the electoral authorities, no “substantial” reforms “in the exclusionist” Electoral Law, and no signs of restructuring what amounts to “an institutional dictatorship.”
According to Nunez, while it’s true that the Ortega regime has granted legal status to the Citizens for Liberty (CxL) party, previously headed by Eduardo Montealegre, this measure was intended to “paint a face” of supposed plurality on “a totally corrupt process.”
Citizens for Liberty, like the other “loyal opposition” parties that are participating in the process, have tried to counter those who discredit the elections with the argument that the OAS will be present. Other proscribed opposition sectors such as the Broad Front for Democracy (FAD) take the opposite view, questioning the OAS mission’s impartiality and that of its head, Wilfredo Penco.
Cenidh considers the OAS presence came “late”; further, they will have a presence in “few cities”. These facts “technically” make it impossible to mount an effective structure for election supervision in such a short time frame, in few places and with such limited personnel. “There’s also the aggravating factor that the chief of the OAS mission, Wilfredo Penco, approved and even praised the fraudulent electoral processes of 2008, 2011 and 2016,” recalled Nunez.
The Nicaraguan Human Rights Center appealed to the citizens, calling it the responsibility of “all the Nicaraguan people” to demand of the government and the electoral authorities a change of direction towards the construction of a free, democratic and transparent electoral system with credibility for all, and respectful of the civil and political rights of the citizens. This position coincides in part with that of the bishops from the episcopal Conference who last Saturday published their message in the run-up to the municipal elections.
The Catholic hierarchy emphasized that the electoral problems continue “to be the same” and noted a great “lack of citizen’s consciousness”. “The message invites us to stop being spectators of reality. It invites judgement. It asks that the predatory politicians cease their domination of Nicaragua. We must recover what we’ve lost – our ability to exercise the rights of citizens. This goes to the heart of the problem in Nicaragua,” said Monsignor Silvio Baez.
Cenidh will follow the elections closely
Although Cenidh isn’t accredited to observe the electoral process, its president informed that they will be paying close attention and will be ready to offer follow-up on that day, just as in the previous elections.
“As an organization that defends human rights, we must keep a close watch on all the arenas where human, civil and political rights could be violated,” explained Nunez. The Cenidh will issue its report on the elections by November 10th at the latest, Nunez concluded.
Translated by Habana Times