International pressure mounts on Nicaraguan president
The Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a resolution Wednesday condemning repression in Nicaragua and calling for early elections amid a wave of political violence that has gripped the nation.
“The Organization of American States today condemned the acts of violence in Nicaragua, called on all parties to participate actively and in good faith in the National Dialogue and urged the Government to support an electoral calendar in a resolution approved by the Permanent Council,” it stated.
The resolution was widely approved, with 21 votes in favor, three against (Nicaragua, Venezuela and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) and seven abstentions.
“Today, [President Daniel] Ortega’s government lost the support of the OAS. This important inter-American organization sided with the people of Nicaragua,” Felix Maradiaga, director of Nicaragua’s Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies, said on Twitter.
“Besides clearly condemning Ortega, this resolution opens the way to stronger measures from the international community,” he added.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence praised the resolution on Twitter.
“The hemisphere is watching and raising its voice in support of the Nicaraguan people,” said Pence.
Nicaraguan ambassador to the OAS Denis Moncada denounced the resolution as “illegal, illegitimate and unfair.” During the session, Moncada also proposed his own resolution which stated that Nicaragua was facing a “terrorist plan aiming to stage a coup to remove the legitimately elected government”. The resolution was rejected by 20 votes.
The extraordinary session was held a day after pro-government forces launched a violent operation to take control of the rebel stronghold of Masaya, a city 30 kilometers south of the capital Managua. The attack was widely criticized outside Nicaragua, with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Francisco Palmieri asking for “government-instigated violence and bloodshed to end”.
Anti-government protests and the repression that ensued in Nicaragua have killed more than 280 and wounded more than 1,800, according to the UN High Commissioner.
The protests began on April 18, when the Nicaraguan government announced social security reform. Protesters took to the streets demanding that 72-year-old Ortega and his wife and vice-president resign after 11 years in power. Ortega rejected the protesters’ demand for elections in 2019 rather than 2021, when his third consecutive term in office is scheduled to end.