The Nicaraguan elections on November 7 returned a large majority for President Daniel Ortega and the socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Ortega won approximately 76% of the vote with 65% voter turnout. For context, the 2020 election in the United States saw 66% voter turnout, which was the highest for a presidential election since 1900.
This high voter turnout took place in the context of an attempted boycott of the vote by sectors of the opposition. Unable to take power in a democratic manner, some opposition parties have resorted to a boycott to try to paint the elections as illegitimate — a strategy concocted with the full backing of the U.S. government. The boycott was defeated by the people, who came out in large numbers to assert their country’s sovereign right to choose its own leaders.
The international corporate media has denounced the election as a fraud and evidence of the “tyrannical” nature of the FSLN. Biden even went so far as to say there was no difference between Ortega and Anastasio Somoza, the brutal U.S.-backed dictator overthrown by the FSLN in the 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution.
The basis for these accusations of electoral impropriety was the disqualification of several opposition figures due to their role in the 2018 coup attempt against the government. Ground was prepared for the 2018 coup attempt with millions of dollars given to opposition groups by CIA-linked outfits like the National Endowment for Democracy. Seizing upon the pretext of a minor reform to the social security system, the opposition staged riots and set up roadblocks across the country.
Opposition supporters kidnapped and ransomed random passersby, tortured and murdered FSLN supporters, committed sexual violence, burned down stores, and caused chaos throughout the country. The three month all-out assault against the people of Nicaragua ultimately failed as support for the government held strong. The coup attempt was stopped and its leaders arrested or fled.
After the coup attempt, in the interests of reconciliation there was an amnesty for the plotters on the condition that they stop receiving assistance from the U.S. government. This condition was ignored by many opposition members who then faced action by Nicaragua’s judicial authorities and the Supreme Electoral Council. It is the height of hypocrisy for the United States to condemn the disqualification of candidates as “undemocratic” when those candidates were disqualified on the basis of their participation in an anti-democratic attempt to overthrow the government using brutal violence.
This election also reflected widespread recognition of the major social gains made in Nicaragua since the return of the FSLN to power in 2007. During the neo-liberal period when right wing parties ran the country in the 1990s and first half of the 2000s, Over 60% of the population lived in poverty, the literacy rate was at 80%, and GDP per capita was less than $1,000. Since then, the FSLN has accelerated the development of the country with the goal of achieving social justice. Infant mortality, an indication of the quality of the medical system, has decreased substantially to 19.57 per 1,000 live births, lower than comparably poor countries. 97% of the country has access to electricity and there are 94 cell phone subscriptions per 100 residents. The poverty rate declined to 24% in 2016 and the GDP per capita more than doubled to $1,900. Still struggling with the decades of underdevelopment imposed by the imperialist world system, Nicaragua’s pro-socialist government has made strides to raise the living conditions of its people.
It’s no surprise, given the social progress seen in the country and the fascistic conduct of the right wing opposition, that the people gave an election victory to Ortega and the FSLN. And it is similarly no surprise that the corporate media refuses to report the truth.