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Workers install a billboard supporting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Managua, Nicaragua, Dec. 21, 2015 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Nicaragua’s Politics Are About More Than Just Ortega, Despite His Hold on Power

Monday, July 11, 2016

In November, Nicaraguans will head to the polls to elect a president, members of the National Assembly and representatives to the Central American Parliament. The elections will be the country’s first since constitutional reforms were passed in 2014. The likely victor of the presidential race, President Daniel Ortega, can now be elected with a simple plurality, although he is predicted to win more than 60 percent of the vote. It would be his fourth term since being elected in 1984 and his seventh presidential campaign overall. Though his candidacy comes as no surprise, two recent controversies—one international and one domestic—have revived debates about Ortega’s stewardship and the status of democracy in Nicaragua.

The first controversy involves the recent expulsions of six environmental activists and three U.S. officials, two of whom were reportedly conducting counterterrorism activities without government permission. The third U.S. official, a professor at the U.S. Army War College, was conducting research on the proposed and controversial interoceanic canal. The U.S. State Department, along with the Mexican government, responded to these expulsions by issuing a travel alert that included a warning of street protests and security concerns surrounding the upcoming elections. ...

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