What we did: We carried out a regional campaign aimed at increasing regional awareness about Nicaragua’s democratic breakdown.
What we achieved: This action helped to coordinate policy influencers to put democracy on the public agenda and influence the Organization of American States to reject Nicaragua’s election results and sanction President Daniel Ortega and his government.
Who we did it with: Forty-nine former ministers of foreign affairs from more than 12 Latin American countries
Impact area: Political Participation and Representation
Boundary partners: Policy influencers
The November 2021 presidential and parliamentary elections in Nicaragua were widely condemned as a sham by outside observers, at least in part because of the pre-vote imprisonment of major presidential candidates.
The Latin America and the Caribbean Office of International IDEA carried out a regional campaign aimed at increasing regional awareness about Nicaragua’s democratic breakdown. The campaign has had two main objectives. First, it was designed to create regional awareness of the levels of corruption, lack of rule of law, and uncompetitive conditions under which the elections took place. Second, it aimed at influencing regional democracy-related organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS), to sanction the government of Daniel Ortega by applying the Inter-American Democratic Charter, as well as appealing to the regional community to act against this threat to regional democracy.
Ahead of the election, we issued a report—Un Plan Doloso para acabar la Democracia—on the irregularities and flaws of the pre-existing democratic conditions under which the electoral process took place. International IDEA also sponsored a virtual event under the overall theme of the Renewal of Commitments to Strengthen and Advance Democracy in the Region: The Case of Nicaragua, which included statements by the Foreign Minister of Colombia, Martha Lucia Ramirez; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Andrés Allamand, and closing remarks by Ambassador Guillermo Fernández de Soto, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations. The online conversation also included commentaries from José Miguel Vivanco, Director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, and Carlos F. Chamorro, Director at “El Confidencial” in Nicaragua. This event was held on the margins of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
We also disseminated a declaration about Nicaragua (Let’s keep Ortega from consolidating his dictatorship) signed by four former presidents of the region—Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica), Ricardo Lagos (Chile), Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia)—together with International IDEA Secretary-General Kevin Casas-Zamora. Both documents—the report and the declaration—were broadly disseminated and inspired and supported various actors to discuss and debate democracy in Nicaragua in social media.
Post-election, International IDEA published and disseminated a letter signed by 49 former ministers of foreign affairs from more than 12 Latin American countries condemning the undemocratic results. They called on the OAS to implement sanctions on Ortega and his government. This action helped to coordinate policy influencers to put democracy on the public agenda and their campaign contributed to the OAS rejection of Ortega’s re-election.