16 November 2011 ~ 0 Comentarios

Trickery and victory in Nicaragua

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

Elecciones en Nicaragua

(THE MIAMI HERALD) Daniel Ortega won the elections in Nicaragua, and cheated. Both.

He won, because the opposition was divided and bitterly conflicted. He won, because there is now a generation of young Nicaraguans to whom the civil war of the 1980s and the disasters provoked by the Sandinistas in that era of crime and collectivist passion seem remote and foreign. He won, because Ortega skillfully used the petrodollars sent by Hugo Chávez to recruit political clients.

He won, because today’s Daniel Ortega more resembles Anastasio Somoza than Fidel Castro: He practices orthodoxy in the handling of the macroeconomic variables, as recommended by the IMF; provides space for the private sector to earn money, especially if the businessmen “don’t get involved in politics;” enjoys the blessing of part of the clergy, the surprising Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo; and maintains a close alliance with the armed forces, to the point that this time he picked as his vice presidential candidate a retired general, Omar Hallesleven Acevedo, who until recently headed the military.

He cheated, because he did not win with 62 percent of the vote, but with maybe 10 to 25 percent fewer votes, judging from the patterns of voter behavior in the elections of the past 20 years. The fraud has been denounced forcefully by Dora María Téllez, a former revolutionary comandante, and Carlos Tunnermann, the Sandinistas’ former minister of education, in addition to the defeated candidate, Fabio Gadea (the major victim of the swindle) and some impartial observers, such as the socialist Euro-deputy Luis Yáñez, the Carter Center, and the NGO Transparency and Ethics.

Ortega stretched his victory (if he really won), stripping his adversaries of the quota of power they deserved, because he wants a monopoly on political authority so he can perpetuate his government. He already did that, shamelessly, in the 2008 municipal elections, when he discovered that he could steal dozens of mayoralties, Managua’s among them, without paying the least for his felony.

If he could get away with it then, why shouldn’t he repeat the same abuse in these elections? Tunnermann wrote a pre-election analysis titled “Chronicle of a fraud foretold.” You could see it coming.

In addition to the presidency, Ortega now has gained 60 deputies — two thirds of Parliament — and control over the judiciary and the electoral power. Behind the mask of democracy, he can govern at will and pass a law that will permit his indefinite reelection. It is also likely that he will turn the Councils of the People’s Power, today managed by his own political party, into a state institution funded by public money.

Ortega has seized all the institutional reins to create a totalitarian state where the state, government, party and strongman fuse and merge into a single body. At that point, which is very near, there will remain no vestige of the republican ideals with which Nicaragua was created.

Is there any objective proof of fraud? In my opinion, there is, albeit indirectly. A recent survey by Latinobarómetro, a respectable Chilean NGO, done in 18 countries in Latin America, found that Nicaragua’s politicians are the worst and says they should be consigned to the group “that least obeys the law.” And they said its people are among the “most opposed” to presidential reelection, along with Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and Peru.

At the same time, Nicaragua is, by far, the Latin American nation that most values the market economy as the “only system” capable of achieving development. Simultaneously, of the 18 countries in a scale of expectations, Nicaragua ranks 15 in believing that its state is capable of solving the region’s four crucial problems: “crime, drug trafficking, poverty and corruption.” While Argentina’s level of hope in the ability of the state to deal with these scourges stands at 75, and while the Latin American average is 57, Nicaragua barely reaches 39.

In a society that has such perceptions, who can believe that Daniel Ortega earned 62 percent of the vote?

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