ON 6TH NOVEMBER, Sandinista candidate Daniel Ortega won presidential and National Assembly elections with 72% of the vote. On 8th November, Donald Trump won the US presidential elections with 47.5% of the votes, with his party retaining control of Congress.
There is now a real danger of the US destabilising Nicaragua. Polls conducted before the Nicaraguan elections indicated overwhelming support for the Sandinistas’ policies. They have brought economic, political and social stability in a country with a history of war and instability and the second highest levels of poverty in the Americas. According to World Bank figures, annual economic growth has been 4-5% and poverty has dropped from 42.5% in 2009 to 29.6% in 2014.
The day after the elections, the US State Department expressed “deep concerns” about the “flawed electoral process in Nicaragua”. However, a group of Latin American electoral experts were in Nicaragua for five months monitoring all aspects of the process. This group, headed by Raul Alconada, former foreign minister of Argentina, included former ministers, MPs, presidents of electoral commissions, academics, lawyers and others from across Latin America with extensive knowledge and experience of elections. On 7th November, the group’s report validated the efficient organisation, transparency and citizen participation in the elections.
The Trump administration could approve legislation that would block loans to Nicaragua from international lending institutions, undermining the Nicaragua economy and threatening the advances of the past ten years. This would threaten the human rights Nicaraguans have voted for – peace, stability, dignity, jobs and improvements in the wellbeing of their families – and potentially destabilise the whole region.