The Run-up to the Recent Election
November 20, 2021
Nicaragua’s political history is one marred by violence, dictatorships, and power struggles. Central America’s poorest country has dealt with political instability, widespread poverty, and a lack of infrastructure for decades.
As the political situation deteriorated in the run-up to the 2021 presidential election, countries and organizations such as the OAS called for international intervention and the release of political prisoners.
However, as seen with the re-election of Daniel Ortega as Nicaragua’s president, outside forces have limited influence in Nicaragua. Ortega’s grip on power is among the strongest in the Western Hemisphere and looks to remain that way well into the future.
Prior to the election, the feeling of repression spread among the Nicaraguan populace. Walking along the streets of different Nicaraguan cities in the summer of 2021, the reach of party propaganda was evident.
The trademark red and black stripes of Ortega’s political party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), marked nearly every signpost and telephone pole in cities known to be FSLN strongholds. Flags flew above businesses as supporters sprayed paint over the blue and white markings of the opposition groups.
For those people who do not support the government, this propaganda served as a daily reminder of the possibility of being persecuted for their beliefs.
Martinez, relaying his observations of the Nicaraguan public, spoke to the overwhelming feeling of fear.
Martinez said, “People are frightened, repressed; they cannot express themselves freely if they are against the current government.”
To understand how Nicaragua arrived at this point, it is essential to know how Ortega and his ruling party, the FSLN, have risen to power over the past few decades and the impact Ortega’s government has had on critical parts of the society, including student protestors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), opposition leaders, and journalists.