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The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stressed on Wednesday that “there are no conditions” for “fair and free elections” in Nicaragua and urged the “immediate release” of the four presidential candidates recently detained by the regime of Daniel Ortega.
In a statement, Blinken expressed his “strong support” for the resolution approved Tuesday by a broad majority of 26 countries in the Organization of American States (OAS) that calls for “the immediate release of the presidential candidates and all political prisoners.”
“Given the regime’s recent crackdown and its lack of thorough electoral reform, the conditions for fair and free elections this November do not exist,” the chief diplomat said.
President Joe Biden’s administration has imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on high-ranking officials in Managua, including several immediate family members of Ortega and his wife and vice president of the Central American country, Rosario Murillo.
Nicaraguan authorities have so far this month detained four opposition presidential hopefuls, Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastián Chamorro García, as well as other opponents and two historic former guerrillas, with five months to go before the elections in which President Daniel Ortega, in power since 2007, is seeking re-election.
Blinken highlighted the “clear message” sent by the OAS “in support of the people of Nicaragua and their struggle for free and fair elections and respect for human rights”.
The initiative, promoted by Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, USA, Paraguay and Peru, easily surpassed the 18-vote barrier it needed to be approved by receiving the backing of 26 of the 34 countries that are active members of the OAS (Cuba belongs to the organization but has not participated in it since 1962).
Nicaragua itself, the leftist government of Bolivian President Luis Arce, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an ally of Venezuela, voted against it.
Five countries abstained: Honduras, Belize, Dominica, Mexico and Argentina.