RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Wednesday, June 16, stressed that “there are no conditions” for “fair and free elections” in Nicaragua and urged the “immediate release” of the four presidential candidates recently detained by the regime of Daniel Ortega.
In a statement, Blinken expressed his “strong support” for the resolution approved Tuesday by a broad majority of 26 countries in the Organization of American States (OAS) that calls for “the immediate release of the presidential candidates and all political prisoners”.
“Given the regime’s recent repression and its lack of thorough electoral reform, the conditions for fair and free elections this November do not exist,” said the head of U.S. diplomacy.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on high-ranking officials in Managua, including several immediate family members of Ortega and his wife and vice president of the Central American country, Rosario Murillo.
Nicaraguan authorities have so far this month detained four opposition presidential hopefuls, Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, and Juan Sebastián Chamorro García, as well as other opponents and two historic ex-guerrillas, with five months to go before the elections in which President Daniel Ortega, in power since 2007, seeks new reelection.
Blinken highlighted the “clear message” sent by the OAS “in support of the people of Nicaragua and their struggle for free and fair elections and respect for human rights”.
The initiative, promoted by Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the U.S., Paraguay, and Peru, easily passed the 18-vote hurdle it needed to be approved by receiving the backing of 26 of the 34 countries that are active members of the OAS.
Nicaragua itself, the leftist government of Bolivian President Luis Arce, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an ally of Venezuela, voted against it, while five countries abstained: Honduras, Belize, Dominica, Mexico, and Argentina.