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Statement: Let´s keep Ortega from consolidating his dictatorship

November 07, 2021

We, the four former presidents who sign this declaration, along with the Secretary General of International IDEA, do so following the same convictions that guided us before when we issued a statement in defense of democracy in our region. Today we are brought together by the grave situation in Nicaragua.

Esta declaración está disponible en español.


On November 7 elections were held in Nicaragua marked by the violation of the rights of citizens to elect their authorities freely and democratically. What happened is serious both for the future of the Nicaraguan people and for the rest of Latin America, because there the playbook for how to transform a democracy into an autocracy was applied to the letter. These elections took place in a context of heavy-handed repression, with all expressions of democratic opposition shut down, lacking the basic guarantees of electoral integrity, and without the presence of trustworthy international observers. The result was expected:  the illegitimate re-election of Daniel Ortega for a fourth consecutive term, and his effort to perpetuate himself in power indefinitely. Ortega’s re-election was accompanied by the rigorously-controlled election of the vice-president, the 90 members of the National Assembly, and the 20 members of the Central American Parliament.

The conditions under which voters were called to the polls make plain the illegitimacy of these elections. The authoritarian offensive gradually intensified, as 39 leaders from various sectors were arrested, including seven presidential contenders from the opposition – who are still not free – and the legal status of the three main parties from this sector was revoked. Plus numerous arbitrary measures were adopted by the Supreme Electoral Council, which is under the absolute control of the party in power, including, eliminating approximately one million voters from the voter rolls and doing away with more than 1,000 polling places.

In the context of these events, and recalling the applicability of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which the entire hemisphere adopted 20 years ago to ensure the legitimacy of democracy in our region, we propose the following actions:

  1. Call for the coordination of democratic institutions in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the countries of Latin America, plus the corresponding international organizations, to firmly denounce the anti-democratic nature of this election, and to urge that they not recognize the results.
  2. Make an appeal to all the governments of the region to take on the seriousness of these events and to instruct their foreign ministries to make the situation in Nicaragua a priority issue at the next General Assembly of the OAS, to be held virtually November 10 to 12, organized by Guatemala; and to adopt, at the General Assembly, all relevant measures established in the inter-American system.
  3. Further the international isolation of the regime, including suspending Nicaragua from the OAS by applying Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
  4. Demand the immediate release of all political prisoners, the full observance of human rights, the end of the police state, the reestablishment of the constitutional order, and the urgent resumption of negotiations to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis.
  5. Ask the human rights agencies of the United Nations and the OAS to continue monitoring the human rights situation in Nicaragua and to prepare periodic reports with updates.
  6. Provide support, from the international community, for Nicaraguan political actors in their endeavors to attain a minimum of convergence and unity of action in the face of a government that no longer hides its dictatorial nature.
  7. Suspend all programs or negotiations in international and national financial institutions until there is a return of the minimum conditions for rule by democratic institutions in Nicaragua. This should be done without detriment to humanitarian assistance programs that benefit the Nicaraguan population.

Forty years ago the people of Nicaragua embarked upon path to build democracy after long years under an extreme oppressive dictatorship. Today those dreams have been suffocated by a ruler who, installed in power, had taken that same path but who is keeping his people from electing, in a fully free manner, their own future. The peoples and governments of Latin America cannot be indifferent to the current situation in Nicaragua.

This Declaration is made in the context of the appeal to take good care of democracy in Latin America that we issued last year in the name of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso Foundation (Fundação FHC), the Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo, and International IDEA.


This declaration has been signed by:          

  • Fernando Henrique Cardoso, President of Brazil 1995-2003    
  • Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica 2010-2014             
  • Ricardo Lagos, President of Chile 2000-2006
  • Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia 2010-2018
  • Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of International IDEA since 2019              

São Paulo, Brazil; San José, Costa Rica; Santiago, Chile; Bogotá, Colombia and Stockholm, Sweden.

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