Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega won a fourth consecutive presidential term.
The United States reacted swiftly threatening sanctions, as Ortega reportedly jailed political rivals ahead of the vote.
This prompted the initial threats of sanctions from the United States and international calls for free elections.
Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council said that with nearly all the ballots counted, a preliminary tally had Ortega’s Sandinista alliance winning with about 76% of votes.
In the months leading up to the November 7th election, Western and many Latin American nations had expressed deep concern about the fairness of the vote as Ortega detained opponents and business leaders and criminalized dissent.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his country will work with other democratic governments and was ready to use a range of tools, including possible sanctions, visa restrictions and coordinated actions against those it said were complicit in supporting the Nicaragua government’s “undemocratic acts.”
Previous, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton referred to Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela as the “Troika of Tyranny”. The United States supported an opposition figure in Venezuela – Juan Guaido and there were numerous attempts to take down President Nicholas Maduro, but that entirely failed.
The time has come to attempt and pressure Nicaragua into changes, as Cuba is likely viewed as a lost cause.
Democrats in the U.S. Congress pushed for President Joe Biden to back the so-called Renacer Act that aims to intensify pressure on Ortega and pursue greater regional cooperation to boost democratic institutions.
A statement by all 27 EU members accused Ortega of “systematic incarceration, harassment and intimidation” of opponents, journalists and activists.
The elections “complete the conversion of Nicaragua into an autocratic regime,” the EU said. Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Spain and Britain called for detained opposition leaders to be freed.
“Elections were neither free, nor fair, nor competitive,” said Jose Manuel Albares, Spain’s foreign minister.
In a speech that lasted more than an hour, Ortega fired back against the United States and Europe, labeling them “Yankee imperialists.”
“They wanted to be at the head of the Supreme Electoral Council… counting the votes of the Nicaraguans,” Ortega said, addressing supporters from Revolution Square in Managua. “That won’t happen again in Nicaragua. Never again, never again.”
Of his jailed opponents, Ortega said, “They are not Nicaraguans, they have no homeland.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said U.S. calls for countries not to recognize the outcome were “unacceptable.”
Argentina’s foreign ministry said it was concerned over the arrest of opposition leaders, but said it maintained its diplomatic tradition of “non-interference in internal matters in other nations.”