MANAGUA – Thousands of Nicaraguans denounced the Nov. 6 presidential election in a protest Thursday coinciding with the visit of the Organization of American States secretary-general.
Luis Almagro visited the Central American nation as part of his organization’s talks with the Nicaraguan government over the controversial balloting, in which the opposition did not participate and President Daniel Ortega, chairman of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party, won a third consecutive term in office.
“We’re demanding new democratic elections. We want observers to come. We’re saying no to the dictatorship, no to the electoral farce, and no to the canal,” the leader of the Movement for Nicaragua, Benjamin Lugo, said.
A group of people also expressed solidarity during the protest with a group of peasants from southern Nicaragua who oppose the planned construction of an interoceanic waterway that is meant to rival the Panama Canal.
Those peasants had planned to hold a march Wednesday in Managua but were impeded by National Police officers.
Participants in Thursday’s protest had planned to make their way to the hotel where Almagro was meeting with representatives of different sectors of Nicaraguan society, but riot police and motorcycle-riding Ortega supporters impeded them.
The organizers of the protest – members of the Broad Front for Democracy (FAD), the Sandinista Renovation Movement, the Council in Defense of Our Lake, Land, and Sovereignty and feminist movements – decided to detain the march to avoid confrontations.
The FAD said the National Police was continuing to block roads in different parts of Nicaragua to prevent people from making their way to Managua for the protest.
Participants in the march say Ortega, who first seized power in a revolution in 1979, served as president in the late 1980s and began a second period in the presidency starting in 2006, violated the constitution through maneuvers to suppress the main opposition Independent Liberation (PLI) party.
They were referring to a Supreme Court ruling in June that ousted that party’s leader, Eduardo Montealegre.
They also slammed Ortega for not allowing independent international election observers.