What Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, orchestrated today was a pantomime election that was neither free nor fair, and most certainly not democratic. The arbitrary imprisonment of nearly 40 opposition figures since May, including seven potential presidential candidates, and the blocking of political parties from participation rigged the outcome well before election day. They shuttered independent media, locked up journalists and members of the private sector, and bullied civil society organizations into closing their doors. Long unpopular and now without a democratic mandate, the Ortega and Murillo family now rule Nicaragua as autocrats, no different from the Somoza family that Ortega and the Sandinistas fought four decades ago.
The United States stands in support of the inalienable right to democratic self-determination of the Nicaraguan people, and those of any other country in the hemisphere where popular sovereignty is compromised by the erosion of democratic norms, stifling of civic space, or violations of fundamental rights. The Inter-American Democratic Charter obligates the hemisphere to stand up for the democratic rights of the Nicaraguan people. We call on the Ortega-Murillo regime to take immediate steps to restore democracy in Nicaragua, and to immediately and unconditionally release those unjustly imprisoned for speaking out against abuses and clamoring for the right of Nicaraguans to vote in free and fair elections. Until then, the United States, in close coordination with other members of the international community, will use all diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to support the people of Nicaragua and hold accountable the Ortega-Murillo government and those that facilitate its abuses.