Civil society activists and other critical voices, such as foreign researchers, were also silenced, harassed, and/or co-opted. The Sandinista National Liberation Front’s (FSLN) strategy is thus proving to be more sophisticated and effective than that of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela first under Hugo Chávez and now Nicolás Maduro. The passing of the NICA in particular would be counterproductive given many Nicaraguans’ long-standing distrust of, and resentment against, the United States. Going through multilateral mechanisms, however cumbersome, may be more effective and would avoid a backlash against Washington. If you enjoyed reading this, subscribe for more! Brazil and Argentina, the South American heavyweights, have a relatively weak presence in Central America. What has been the reaction of the United States, which spent so much money and political capital to promote democracy in Nicaragua during the 1980s? “La Corte Suprema de Nicaragua quita partido a la principal coalición opositora,” Agencia EFE, June 8, 2016, https://www.efe.com/efe/america/politica/la-corte-suprema-de-nicaragua-quita-partido-a-principal-coalicion-opositora/20000035-2950307. What is most worrisome, in this context, is the extreme concentration of power surrounding Ortega, his wife, and his children, dramatically reducing the likelihood of the return of multiparty democracy or an orderly political transition in the coming years. Andreas E. Feldmann is an associate professor in the departments of Latin American and Latino studies and political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This should involve establishing specific rules and monitoring mechanisms related to, for example, judicial independence, freedom of the press, and protection of opposition politicians—areas where aspiring autocrats often begin to expose their authoritarian tendencies. In later pre-Columbian times, Nicaragua's indigenous people were part of the Intermediate Area, between the Mesoamerican and Andean cultural regions, and within the influence of the Isthmo-Colombian area. Learning from the mistakes he made during his first tenure as president, Ortega recognizes the need to maintain macroeconomic stability and fiscal prudence. The arms of government include the executive, legislative, judiciary, and electoral board. Rather than opting for overt media censorship, companies are actively encouraged not to buy ads in critical news outlets. Meanwhile, the international community has seemed incapable of, or disinterested in, helping to reverse this trend. Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly. Now that he has consolidated power, external measures, in particular sanctions, may play into the hands of the government, which would use external “aggression” as a justification for increased domestic repression. The Trump administration, which has taken a strong stance on Cuba, may eventually take a similar, more aggressive position on Nicaragua. To raise awareness of citizen security in Nicaragua by encouraging debate and generating information on security and violence. The regime is unresponsive to any domestic pressure to step back from its authoritarian consolidation of power. As a result, comparisons between Ortega and Hugo Chávez or Nicolás Maduro are somewhat misleading. The last election was on November 6, 2011, and the next will be on November 2016. In 1952 the University of Managua became part of the National University of Nicaragua. Democracy in Nicaragua by Jose Luis Coraggio and George Irvin* On November 4, 1984, Nicaragua went to the polls to elect a new president, vice president, and national assembly. Six months ahead of the vote, the Supreme Court, aligned with Ortega, barred Eduardo Montealegre, leader of the main opposition party, the Independent Liberal Party, from running.2 Several other parties were stripped of their legal status, while opposition within the Sandinista party was suppressed. By Benjamin Elisha Sawe on August 8 2019 in Politics. Two months ago, Nicaragua was a popular and friendly tourism destination with the fastest-growing economy in Central America, a … Second, Ortega’s shrewd, pragmatic approach has been instrumental in placating another important adversary: the Catholic Church, which has been historically highly critical of Sandinismo ideology. The 16 judges to the Supreme Court are organized into four chambers namely administrative chamber, criminal chamber, civil chamber, and constitutional chamber. After the November 2016 election in Nicaragua, the United States declared that it was “deeply concerned by the flawed presidential and legislative electoral process in Nicaragua, which precluded the possibility of a free and fair election.” But the reaction by Latin American governments was far more muted, and only Costa Rica’s government explicitly commented on Ortega’s growing authoritarian tendencies. Follow the conversation—Sign up to receive email updates when comments are posted to this article. By comparison, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party’s candidate, Máximino Rodríguez, won a paltry 14.2 percent. In a region plagued by astonishing levels of violence—among the highest in the world for countries at peace—Nicaragua has the best indices of public security. The officeholder is recognized as the Chief of State and Head of Government. The World Unpacked is a biweekly foreign policy podcast, hosted by Laura Lucas Magnuson, that breaks down the hottest global issues of today with experts, journalists, and policymakers who can explain what is happening, why it matters, and where we go from here. Finally, the regime has contained opposition by using an astute combination of co-option and targeted repression, as well as the occasional concession. While most Latin American economies have been struggling, Nicaragua’s economy has been growing at nearly 5 percent per year since the mid-2000s, though from a very low base. The President is the senior-most government official. In a move that caught many by surprise, Ortega’s regime changed gears and deployed a discourse that amalgamates socialism and religion, strongly contrasting with Sandinismo’s historical anticlericalism. While Venezuela nationalized key industries and took concrete steps to articulate a socialist project, Nicaragua became and remains an attractive destination for FDI. The institution is formally referred to as the Supreme Electoral Council. This publication is from Carnegie’s Rising Democracies Network. When buying support does not work, the regime turns to repression of varying degrees of intensity, which is generally not overtly violent but highly effective. Since several U.S. officials were expelled from the country in June 2016, decisionmakers in Managua have attempted to act more subtly. The Electoral body is made of seven magistrates. The current president of Nicaragua is Jose Daniel Ortega who has been in office since 2007, and his Vice is Moises Omar Hallesleven Acevedo who has been in office since 2012. Thus, there is an urgent need to update this framework and galvanize more effective international support that will put the brakes on the country’s authoritarian turn. 1 (2016): 239–58. First, despite the president’s antineoliberal rhetoric, he has embraced a largely orthodox, pro-business economic policy that has rendered positive results. The two regions practice limited self-governance. While uncertain, regional pressure holds more promise for change. Rather than combating business elites, Ortega has largely co-opted them. You are leaving the website for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy and entering a website for another of Carnegie's global centers. Several factors explain this outcome. A regime to protect democracy exists at the regional level, but implementation of its framework of rules and norms has done little to curb authoritarian tendencies in Nicaragua and other Latin American countries. Third, the crisis in Venezuela has consumed most of the attention and political capital of Latin American countries, taking precedence over other crises including Nicaragua’s declining democracy and the increasingly authoritarian tendencies displayed by President Evo Morales in Bolivia. Yet, democracy and rule of law died here a long time ago. What Type Of Government Does Switzerland Have? The Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC) provides the necessary mechanisms to boost diplomatic pressure against Nicaragua and other countries displaying authoritarian tendencies—something Costa Rica has been cautiously calling for. Oliver Della Costa Stuenkel is an associate professor of international relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, where he coordinates the São Paulo branch of the School of History and Social Science and the executive program in international relations. No links or markup permitted. Nicaragua’s strong economic performance is also the result of Ortega’s alliance with Venezuela, which provides important energy aid to Nicaragua through the Petrocaribe program. With the ruling FSLN’s one-sided triumph in the November 2016 elections, Nicaraguan democracy underwent further erosion. You can be part of the solution. Fourth, Latin America’s regional mechanisms, created in the 1980s and 1990s, are largely designed to prevent overt political ruptures rather than the kind of incremental steps away from democracy that Ortega is engineering. However, for the moment, Washington seems too distracted by multiple other crises to take a proactive position on the country’s drift back into authoritarianism. This week, at the end of its semiannual meeting in Colombia, the Inter-American Press Association (SIP) demanded that the government of Managua release the journalists Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda immediately, who have been arrested since December without due process and, … This is despite their purported vow to defend and promote regional democracy. Ironically, Ortega’s increasingly dictatorial and nepotistic rule recalls the Somoza family’s sultanistic regime. The President is the senior-most government official. View of colonial Granada with Lake Nicaragua in the background. Nicaragua is a prime example of this worrisome trend. forces emerging from that history to make the revolution. Once upon a time, Daniel Ortega helped lead a revolution in Nicaragua. Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife, is vice president but said to control many key decisions, while cabinet ministers have a largely ceremonial role. Rather than imprisoning opposition figures, the judiciary annuls their candidacies. Understanding The Relationship Between Hong Kong And China, Presidents Who Did The Most To Improve Black Rights. Ortega has used these resources to finance social programs and infrastructure projects and buttress his control over the Sandinista party. They had coalesced in Central America and migrated also to present-day northern Colombia an… Second, the United States interpreted the Sandinista revolution as a possible shift toward communism and suspended economic aid to Nicaragua in the early 1980s. In May, following the death in state custody of a political prisoner, the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy suspended its participation in a dialogue with the government aimed at negotiating a solution to the country’s political crisis. Judges to the Supreme Court are nominated by political parties and elected by the National Assembly to a five-year term. Democracy and Citizen Security in Nicaragua . In this respect, the mechanisms have had a tangible impact—playing a role in avoiding, reversing, or condemning antidemocratic coups and dissention in places like Paraguay (1996, 1999, and 2012), Venezuela (2002), and Honduras (2009). The 15 departments that form the Western half of Nicaragua are decentralized administrative units. As a result, the electoral body is biased. But Ortega, a wily political operator who has dismantled Nicaragua’s democracy since returning to power in 2007, was determined to stay – whatever the cost. The President of Nicaragua is both head of state and head of government. All maps, graphics, flags, photos and original descriptions © 2020 worldatlas.com. The officeholder is recognized as the Chief of State and Head of Government. The President and Vice President are democratically elected on the same ballot to a five-year term. The most likely scenario is that Ortega continues to accumulate power, possibly with increased repression. Without such a debate, the region will be unable to deal with cases where incumbent leaders slowly erode democracy from within. The Path to Change and Democracy for Nicaragua “The people have lost fear and Ortega has lost the people.” Real change begins, after Ortega leaves power, with dismantling the structures of the dictatorship and putting an end to impunity. The number of Supreme Court judges was increased from nine judges to sixteen judges to strengthen the court’s independence. Governments agreed to regional democracy mechanisms as a protection against threats from the barracks, not to restrict their own room for maneuver. A major achievement is Nicaragua’s public security record. This is becoming increasingly obvious in the case of Nicaragua. Notable landmarks include Darío Park, with its monument to Nicaragua’s famed poet Rubén Darío; the National Palace; the 20th-century cathedral; the Carlos Fonseca Memorial; and the Tower of Democracy. In our view, Nicaraguan politics has been shaped first and foremost by. Improved public security conditions have boosted the regime’s legitimacy. This is despite their purported vow to defend and promote regional democracy. Taiwan should wait until democracy has been reestablished in Nicaragua to continue normal interactions. The departments are in charge of their economic, social and cultural development. Which Countries Were First To Elect Women Leaders? The country is divided into 15 administrative units and two autonomous regions. The Mexican government has refused to take any diplomatic stance despite a major rift resulting from the unlawful detention, ill treatment, and expulsion from Nicaragua of the Mexican student Jobany Torres in June 2016. Similarly, democratic members of the OAS could step up their diplomatic pressure on Nicaragua. Judiciary of Nicaragua is independent of the legislative and executive arm of government. Democracy and reconciliation in Nicaragua, a critical assessment hearing before the the [sic] Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, February, 4, 1993. Gema Kloppe-Santamaría is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Loyola University Chicago. Ortega, moreover, used his almost total control over television and radio to boost his reelection campaign. To promote greater strategic thinking among pro-democracy players and the international community about the prospects for a democratic transition in Nicaragua. Indeed, perhaps more destabilizing would be an open power struggle within the Sandinista movement, born out of growing tensions between Murillo and the Sandinista stalwarts, most of whom are critical of her growing role in government. As this is set to be an increasingly common problem, Latin America’s democracy mechanisms must be updated to focus on backsliding and the erosion of democracy rather than high-profile ruptures. Ortega lost power to centrist Violeta Chamorro following a bloody civil war, but, in 2006, he staged an improbable comeback and was once again elected president. Nicaragua can once again return to democracy. But it's a human right that many around the world still struggle to attain. The magistrates are elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term. The New EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime: Breakthrough or Distraction? In 2016, Nicaragua’s homicide rate was lower than that of any other country in Central America. Democracy International stated in its listing on LinkedIn that it was seeking a Nicaraguan national in the capital of Managua to work as a “Senior Level Technical Expert – Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance to provide technical and programmatic support for USAID/Nicaragua’s Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (RAIN) Task Order.” Members of the national assembly are elected from political parties by proportional representation. But the Ortega regime is loath to allow free and fair elections that would threaten their family and the ruling Sandinista party. The government then formally ended the talks in August. The administration of former president Barack Obama criticized the tarnished democratic record of Ortega and even imposed soft sanctions in 2013—withdrawing funding for some small international assistance programs. First, shortly after taking power, the Sandinista leaders began restricting certain freedoms and confiscating property. A Strange Silence: The Emergence of Democracy in Nicaragua is the first book to explain what made the Chamorro victory possible and why the U.S. media failed to tell the full story behind the Nicaraguan democratic revolution. What do we make of the project of post-revolutionary neoliberalism and managed democracy that has unfolded under the Ortega administration? President Daniel Ortega first ruled Nicaragua between 1979 and 1990, after his revolutionary FSLN party toppled the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Out of the 92 members of the national assembly; 20 members are elected nationally, 70 members are representatives of the country’s departments and autonomous regions, and the remaining two members are the out-going president and the presidential runners-up. Studying the case of Nicaragua can help advance this urgent debate. 2 The Supreme Court ruled that the candidate Eduardo Montealegre could not lead the opposition Independent Liberal Party, pointing to “abuse” by Montealegre and obliging the party to be led by Pedro Reyes Vallejos, who enjoyed little support in the alliance of opposition groups. While rumors about Ortega’s ill health—he is seventy-two years old and rarely appears in public—cannot be confirmed, there are growing concerns among traditional groups within the Sandinista movement—many of whom have fought alongside the president during the war—about the possibility of Murillo taking over from her husband. Nicaragua’s backsliding, after … Washington, DC 20036-2103. Democratization, however, was halted by two key obstacles. In November 2016, Ortega celebrated a historic triumph and was reelected for a third term, winning 72.1 percent of the votes. All the members serve a five-year term. Visiting researchers asking too many uncomfortable questions have been expelled from the country. Since returning to power in 2007, Daniel Ortega has reinvented himself as a reformed revolutionary willing to do business with the … The regions gained their autonomous status in 1987 through a constitutional Charter of Autonomy. The two regions, which make up the entire Eastern half of Nicaragua, initially formed the department of Zelaya. Third, Ortega has shown himself to be a capable administrator, and despite the country’s authoritarian turn, most people affirm they are better off today than in the past. As for the international community, the window of opportunity to play a constructive role in protecting democracy seems to have closed. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America and has had a difficult path to democracy characterized by the ongoing struggles between generations of family dictatorship and civil war. Kovak tweeted that the law was “a dangerous affront to democracy in Nicaragua.” A Nicaraguan political analyst, José Luis Rocha, said Ortega might have introduced the legislation at this moment to send a message to Washington, the Post adds . P olitical analysts inside and outside of Nicaragua argue that it is a misnomer to refer to the FSLN as Leftist party. To placate foreign critics, for example, observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) were allowed to visit during less relevant municipal elections held in November 2017, thus providing the regime with a handy argument against those criticizing the regime for its authoritarian tendencies. ( Robert Nelson is a PhD student at Stanford specializing in International Relations. Rebranding the FSLN. Instituto de Estudios Estrategicos y Politicas Publicas $53,159. Supreme Court is the country's highest court. The Supreme Electoral Council is responsible for organizing and conducting elections and referendums. Screen names appear with your comment. construction of democracy as an internal process of the Nicaraguan Revolu-. The regime has won over influential members of the Catholic Church by embracing family values and introducing conservative legislation, such as strict antiabortion laws. Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights; ... El pueblo de Nicaragua sufre persecución y ataques letales a manos del gobierno de Ortega durante las protestas en reclamo de justicia, paz y libertades civiles. It is composed of the Supreme Court, Appeals court, criminal court, and military court. Democracy dies in the land of lakes and volcanoes and, with it, independent journalism is also in extinction. Countries with strong, historical relations with Nicaragua (for example, Chile, Mexico, and Panama) and others with regional influence (for example, Argentina) may be able to engage and convince Ortega to consider reversing his course and begin a dialogue with the opposition on ways to solve the crisis. And for that reason, above all else, those who care about Nicaragua’s future should support Biden in November. Indeed, the existing gridlock in Washington makes passing of the NICA unlikely. Carnegie–Tsinghua Young Ambassadors Program, Liberal Constitutionalist Party’s candidate, flawed presidential and legislative electoral, https://www.efe.com/efe/america/politica/la-corte-suprema-de-nicaragua-quita-partido-a-principal-coalicion-opositora/20000035-2950307. Second, the political crisis in Brazil has created a power vacuum in Latin America that has made any coordinated regional strategy far more difficult. The country has a presidential system of government. Colombia, whose relations with Nicaragua are fractious because of a territorial dispute, has remained on the sidelines. The United States, for its part, has taken a rather mild approach. The executive is comprised of the President, Vice-president, and the Council of Ministers. Paleo-Americans first inhabited what is now known as Nicaragua as far back as 12,000 BCE. Latin American diplomats in Managua privately acknowledge the slow decline of Nicaragua’s democracy, yet for various reasons, their governments—with the exception of Costa Rica’s—have been disinclined to speak out. Notwithstanding some abuses, Nicaragua’s human rights record is not appalling when compared to many other countries in the region. By Ryan Berg, opinion contributor — 01/03/20 06:00 PM EST. The Charter of Autonomy granted to the two regions is mostly based on the Spanish model. The regime declared Miguel Obando y Bravo—the influential former Archbishop of Managua and a vociferous enemy of Sandinismo—a “national hero of peace and reconciliation.” The accommodation between Ortega and Obando has been crucial to enhance the support of the government in this predominantly Catholic country. Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. The executive is comprised of the President, Vice-president, and the Council of Ministers. What Type Of Government Does France Have? In 2014, an amendment to the constitution scrapped term limits for the President and vice president. Nicaragua is divided into two autonomous regions and 15 departments. Mexico, which arguably has greater stakes in Nicaragua’s stability due to its close proximity and links with Central American countries, is facing internal challenges and, on the foreign policy front, is focused on growing tensions with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. The President and Vice President are democratically elected on the same ballot to a five-year term. The institution is charged with adjudicating criminal and civil crimes. Since then, he has gradually dismantled Nicaragua’s young democracy. This record is partly attributable to the professional and competent work of the Nicaraguan National Police, which has relied on its strong bonds with civilian communities developed during the revolutionary years to combat crime, particularly gang activity. Nicaraguan is a multiparty state with many political parties. The president appoints the council of ministers. This electoral triumph, however, was not only the result of systematic, overt repression and persecution. Taking the place of overt ruptures such as military coups is the slow erosion of democracy prompted by incumbents who display authoritarian tendencies and deliberately undermine democratic institutions and systems to maintain control. It is easier to topple an autocracy than it is to build a democracy, of course. First and foremost, Latin American democracies are reluctant to spend political capital picking a fight with Nicaragua, a small country that has relatively little impact on their national interests. Opposition figures are often harassed but rarely threatened physically. A year after Nicaragua’s streets filled with students, pensioners, farmers and feminists, all protesting the authoritarian rule of President Daniel Ortega, the country is in crisis. the nation's history and by the particular constellation, or alliance, of class. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Oliver Della Costa Stuenkel,  Andreas E. Feldmann, How Arab Defense Sectors Gain from Civilian Expertise. The Carnegie Endowment is grateful to the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Ford Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development for their support of the Rising Democracies Network. 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