The World Today for November 05, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

When Might Is Right

NICARAGUA

Nicaraguan law enforcement recently arrested two prominent businessmen on charges of “money laundering, acts that diminish the country’s independence and inciting foreign interference,” according to the Associated Press.

Similar charges have been levied against scores of others for similar crimes in recent weeks as authorities have rounded up and detained political and student leaders who might criticize – or run against – President Daniel Ortega in the Nov. 7 presidential election.

The two men had called for the release of political prisoners, earning Ortega’s attention and presumably his ire. Both were likely allies of Ortega and his Sandinista National Liberation Front until he proposed changes to the Central American country’s social security system in 2018, triggering streets protests and a police crackdown that further divided the nation.

The Organization of American States passed a resolution condemning Nicaragua for the detentions. The US has slapped sanctions on Nicaraguans in Ortega’s regime, too. American officials are considering harsher sanctions, leading University of Maryland Professor Richard Kohn to argue in a Baltimore Sun op-ed that the US can cause unintended damage to Nicaragua when it meddles in the country’s affairs.

“Forty-two years after the overthrow of the brutal dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza inspired punk band The Clash to celebrate the revolution in their hit album Sandinista, the Ortega administration is now internationally vilified for its crackdown on the opposition and a critical media,” wrote the Sunday Post, a weekly newspaper based in Dundee, Scotland.

Ortega ran Nicaragua from the early 1980s to 1990 as a leftist rebel who was a freedom fighter or violent communist depending on one’s perspective. When he won the election to the presidency in 2007, he no longer was espousing socialist views, however, noted the Canada-based Geopolitical Monitor.

As Turkish state-owned broadcaster TRT World reported, Ortega routinely deploys anti-Western rhetoric, accusing American and European forces of meddling in his country’s affairs. He still blames foreigners for inciting the 2018 riots that besmirched his administration. And he has accepted Russian influence in the country as he has snubbed American efforts to talk and reconcile, Politico wrote.

Still, compared to how Ortega was the bogeyman of the Western Hemisphere in the 1980s, American leaders don’t care much about him anymore, the left-leaning Nation magazine noted, even as he has suppressed human rights on non-ideological grounds. Journalists, for example, are preparing for imprisonment, surveillance, newsroom raids and other forms of repression in the run-up to the Nov. 7 election, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Regardless, when Ortega was a bogeyman to some decades ago, he was still considered a hero by others in his country. But those days are gone.

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