Linked to the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega, the Nicaraguan Legislature approved a bill this Tuesday (16) that, in practice, could lead to the country’s withdrawal from the OAS (Organization of American States). Last Friday (12), the group formed by 34 states issued a resolution condemning the front presidential election held earlier this month in the country.
Among other points, the text, which had the support of 25 members (including Brazil, Argentina and the USA), states that Nicaragua’s democratic institutions were seriously damaged by the Ortega regime, in power uninterruptedly since 2007. The release of candidates of the imprisoned opposition and an end to the harassment of independent media are some of the appeals made in the document.
Nicaraguan congressmen, in turn, accuse the OAS of meddling “in the country’s internal affairs” and urge the “president of the Republic, in his capacity as head of state, […] to denounce the Charter of the Organization of American States”, as announced by the head of the Legislative, Gustavo Porras.
Parliament is controlled by the ruling party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), and the resolution was approved by 83 of the 87 deputies. “The OAS is not promoting peace, cooperation. On the contrary, it is intervening in matters of internal jurisdiction,” stated government deputy Carlos López, during the debate.
In practice, if Ortega decides to follow the steps requested by congressmen, Nicaragua will begin the process of withdrawing from the OAS, which could take about two years.
The deadline is established in accordance with Article 143 of the OAS Charter, which states that a member state may resign by notifying the General Secretariat of the organization.
Regardless, Ortega’s first lady and deputy, Rosario Murillo, who has increasingly been the face of the regime, celebrated the decision of the local legislature. “The Congressional request ratifies our demand to respect the sovereign and dignified decisions of our people and the principle of non-interference in our own affairs,” he said.
On another front of disputes over the recent elections – which did not have observers from independent countries and associations – the President of the United States, Joe Biden, announced on Tuesday new sanctions against Ortega and members of the Nicaraguan regime.
According to the Democrat, the dictator and his wife are banned from entering American territory, in response to the authoritarian advance in the country. “The repression and abuses of Ortega and those who support him require the US to act,” Biden said.
The veto also includes lawmakers, mayors and members of Ortega’s cabinet, whom the Americans accuse of having “violated human rights to punish peaceful protesters”. Senior officials from the police, government agencies and the judiciary were also sanctioned.
In 2018, protesters took to the streets of the country after the dictator tried to pass a controversial pension reform. The acts, harshly repressed by the regime, left more than 300 dead and hundreds wounded.
Just Tuesday, Brian Nichols, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, told a House subcommittee that the government will try to prevent Nicaragua from obtaining funds from international financial institutions in which Washington has the right to vote.
On Monday (15), the US Treasury had already announced sanctions against the Nicaraguan Public Ministry and nine key allies of Ortega, including the Minister of Mines and Energy, Salvador Mansell Castrillo, and several mayors, who are accused of being involved in the repression of the 2018 demonstrations.
Prior to that, Biden had ordered financial sanctions against officials and banned more than a hundred Nicaraguan lawmakers, prosecutors and judges and their families from entering the country. The ads follow the line already taken by former US president Donald Trump, who had also adopted punitive measures against the Nicaraguan dictatorship.
In addition to the US, Canada and the United Kingdom announced sanctions against Ortega’s government. The British turned against eight of the dictatorship’s allies, including Rosario Murillo, the country’s attorney general and the presidents of the Supreme Court and Parliament.
British sanctions include freezing the assets of these people in the UK and banning travel to the country. Canadians, on the other hand, prohibit their citizens from doing business with 11 people connected to Ortega.