Nicaragua’s crisis: Is the end of Daniel Ortega approaching?

According to Reuters, the Nicaraguan elite plan to finance opposition candidates in the next elections

President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega.

President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega. / Photo: Nicaragua Presidency

LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

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Leer en español: Crisis en Nicaragua: ¿Se acerca el fin de Daniel Ortega?

Nicaragua has been in a political and economic crisis since April 2018 after students demanded the resignation of Daniel Ortega through protests. As the days went by, the demonstrations became violent and there has been repression and abuse by the public forces since then.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the demonstrations and protests left 325 dead and approximately 70,000 people in exile. To these figures are added the protesters who were imprisoned and who are considered by the opposition as "political prisoners."

According to the BBC, the government has described these protests as an attempted coup and called protesters "terrorists" and "vandals." Although more than 500 prisoners were released, 100 detainees still remain in prisons.

What has happened recently in Nicaragua?

The arrest of these people led to the mothers of the detainees going on hunger strike in the main Cathedral of Managua, on Monday, November 18, to demand their release before the holidays. After knowing the announcement, the police surrounded the place and according to witnesses consulted by the BBC, the agents allowed the sympathizers to attack the strikers.

According to El País, supporters of Ortega stormed the religious precinct and attacked a priest and a nun, who sought to protect the people inside the church. Given the facts, the Church described the irruption as desecration and has demanded that Ortega, through a statement, "take immediate action" to respect the temples. The Ortega government has accused the Church of promoting the alleged coup.

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The tension between the State and the Church has reached such a point that Ortega ordered that basic services such as water and energy be cut off in the parish where 14 people are on hunger strike and with the support of the parish priest Edwin Román. Throughout the crisis, the Church has become an opposition front against the regime and priests, bishops and the cardinal have manifested their disagreement with Ortega and his human rights violations.

The same medium explains that the masses and pilgrimages became spaces in which parishioners express their discontent against Ortega and his government. Last year the bishops tried to mediate in the crisis, but their attempt failed when the president refused to carry out electoral reforms.

Businessmen against Ortega

But the Church is not the only sector that has faced Ortega. The businessmen and the Nicaraguan elite seek to take him out of power. Reuters interviewed two members of the "Great Capital," a select group of wealthy people in the country, and six businessmen. According to the agency, all of them asked to keep their identities in reserve for fear of the actions that Ortega may take against them. According to the testimonies, businessmen who have dared to criticize Ortega publicly have lost contracts and audits have been won by the Prosecutor's Office.

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The interviewees said that “if Ortega does not pay attention to the calls of his opponents to move aside, they say they will finance the opposition candidates in the next presidential elections of 2021, an effort that some estimated could cost between 20 million and 25 million dollars. ”

When Daniel Ortega was re-elected in 2006, he attracted businessmen and investors with a friendly agenda. Between 2010 and 2017, the country's economy grew 5% annually. However, the results stagnated with last year's crisis. In 2018, according to the World Bank, the economy fell 3.8% and for this year a 5% decrease is expected.

The scenario of instability and distrust has frightened the business sector, so they will focus their efforts on financing a new candidate and defeating Ortega in the 2021 elections. The current presidential term of Ortega ends in 2022. However, it will not be An easy task. Getting all the opposition to vote for a single candidate is not easy. Business interests may go against social initiatives.

This would result in the vote being divided and Ortega remaining with the presidency for another period. For the moment, the crisis continues and Daniel Ortega has made it clear that he will not abandon power.

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