Monday, November 8, 2021

Nicaragua Descends Into Police State (VIDEO)

Daniel Ortega is a communist totalitarian with a long history. I call for regime change. Topple the motherfucker.

At the New York Times, "Nicaragua Descends Into Autocratic Rule as Ortega Crushes Dissent":

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Daniel Ortega became a hero in Nicaragua for helping overthrow a notorious dictator. Now, 40 years later, he has become the kind of authoritarian leader he once fought against.

After methodically choking off competition and dissent, Mr. Ortega has all but ensured his victory in presidential elections on Sunday, representing a turn toward an openly dictatorial model that could set an example for other leaders across Latin America.

He detained the credible challengers who planned to run against him, shut down opposition parties, banned large campaign events and closed voting stations en masse. He even jailed some of the elderly Sandinistas who fought with him to depose the dictator, Anastasio Somoza.

“This isn’t an election, this is a farce,” said Berta Valle, the wife of one of the jailed opposition leaders. “No one will elect anyone, because the only candidate is Daniel Ortega.”

Mr. Ortega’s path to a fourth consecutive term in office and near-total control of Nicaragua has ushered in a new era of repression and terror, analysts said. His claim to victory would deliver another blow to President Biden’s agenda in the region, where his administration has failed to slow an anti-democratic slide and a mass exodus of desperate people toward the United States.

A record number of Nicaraguans have been intercepted crossing the Southwest border of the United States this year since Mr. Ortega began crushing his opposition. And more than 80,000 Nicaraguans are living as refugees in neighboring Costa Rica.

“This is a turning point toward authoritarianism in the region,” said José Miguel Vivanco, head of the Americas region for Human Rights Watch, who called Mr. Ortega’s crackdown “a slow-motion horror movie.”

“He is not even trying to preserve some sort of facade of democratic rule,” Mr. Vivanco said of the Nicaraguan leader. “He is in a flagrant, open manner, just deciding to treat the election as a performance.”

The commission that monitors elections has been entrusted to Ortega loyalists, and there have been no public debates among the contest’s five remaining candidates, all of whom are little-known members of parties aligned with his Sandinista government.

The electoral authority said early on Monday that, with nearly half of the votes counted, Mr. Ortega had won about three quarters of them. It did not give results for congressional elections.

Once polls opened early on Sunday morning, some polling stations had lines as Nicaraguans turned out to cast their ballots. But as the day progressed, many of the stations were largely empty. The streets of the capital, Managua, were also quiet, with little to show that a significant election was underway.

The night before, at least four people from opposition organizations were arrested and their houses raided by the police.

“These elections are, thank God, a sign, a commitment by the vast majority of Nicaraguans to vote for peace,” Mr. Ortega said in a national television broadcast on Sunday. “We are burying war and giving life to peace.”

Mr. Ortega first came to power after helping lead the revolution that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. More than a decade later, he was ousted by Nicaraguan voters, in what was considered the nation’s first democratic election.

That lesson about the risks of democratic rule appears to have shaped the rest of Mr. Ortega’s political life. He took office again in 2007, after getting a rival party to agree to a legal change that allowed a candidate to win an election with just 35 percent of the vote. He then spent years undermining the institutions holding together the country’s fragile democracy.

He made it clear that he would not tolerate dissent in 2018, when he sent the police to violently smother protests against the government, leading to hundreds of deaths and accusations by human rights groups of crimes against humanity.

But the sudden sweep of arrests preceding the elections, which sent seven political candidates and more than 150 others to jail, transformed the country into what many activists described as a police state, where even mild expressions of dissent are muted by fear.

A sportswriter was recently imprisoned for a series of posts critical of the government on Twitter and Facebook, under a new law that mandates up to five years in jail for anyone who says anything that “endangers economic stability” or “public order.”

After the detentions began, the United States placed new sanctions on Nicaraguan officials and the Organization of American States condemned the government...