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Nicaraguans live with apathy the campaign of elections without rivals for Ortega

Affected by the pandemic, the cost of living, unemployment and the political crisis, the Nicaraguans are apathetic to the elections on November 7, in which the president Daniel Ortega He is seeking his fourth consecutive term, with his rivals imprisoned.

Less than a month before the vote, a true electoral environment is not perceived. There are no banners of candidates in the streets or proselytizing activities for these elections that the opposition describes as “electoral farce.”

Just a few stalls selling T-shirts stamped with Ortega’s face. So far there have been a couple of small acts by two unknown candidates, which do not represent any real opposition challenge to Ortega.

The electoral authorities banned the activities of more than 200 people to curb the spread of the coronavirus. On the other hand, in some areas there are long lines, under the sun, for the vaccination shift.

“I do not see that these elections are going to be good, there is no one to choose as president … as everyone is in prison,” says Lucía Vega, 42, at her stall selling tortillas (made from corn ) in Managua.

Since last June, a total of 37 opponents, seven of them presidential hopefuls, have been arrested on charges of “treason” against the fatherland or money laundering, under laws passed by the government in December.

The serious political crisis that this Central American country is experiencing erupted with the anti-government protests of April 2018, whose repression left more than 300 dead, hundreds of imprisoned and more than 100,000 exiles.

– “Protest with silence” –

Ortega, a 75-year-old ex-guerrilla who has been in power since 2007, accuses opponents of being “criminals” and “terrorists” who tried, with the help of the United States, to remove him from power through a coup, as he calls the protests. of 2018.

The actions against the opponents prompted sanctions and criticism from the international community, which demands the release of the detainees and free and fair elections.

“Outside they can say what they want, but it is the people who decide here; the people will vote for peace, ”said Ortega, who is seeking reelection again with his wife Rosario Murillo as vice president.

For the sociologist Oscar René Vargas, in exile, the apathy of the people is “an expression of prudence and discontent”: “Since they cannot protest in the streets for fear of repression, they protest with silence,” he commented.

Ortega and Murillo assure that “with peace will come progress and well-being.” The government projected for 2021 that the economy will grow 7% despite the covid-19 pandemic and the lags of the political crisis. In recent weeks it has inaugurated several infrastructure projects such as streets, parks and schools.

– “This is ugly” –

But many Nicaraguans, like Lucía, are concerned about the economic situation. “This is ugly (sales), you don’t earn much because people don’t want to go out and buy because of the epidemic,” he said.

The population resents weekly increases in fuel and utility rates in their pockets.

“If you have something for one thing, you don’t have two, I pay rent here and sometimes with food I have to figure it out,” Fabiola Ponce, 22, who owns a hairdresser in a western market, told AFP. from Managua.

His little place looks empty because, he says, people “if they have food for lunch, they don’t have to cut their hair.”

Although she avoids commenting on the elections, Fabiola says that she does not hear “campaign noise” (electoral environment), but that she hopes that “everything will be better, because really this (the economic situation) is not right”

Wilber Espinoza, who sells T-shirts with the image of Ortega and Ernesto “Che” Guevara on a Managua street, acknowledges that “people are a bit limited (of money)”.

“But this is going to improve, because the government wants us to always move forward, to develop,” he said.

The economist Luis Núñez warns that “people are surviving with the minimum because the cost of living is too high”, while the minimum wage is 186 dollars, it takes much more than double to subsist on the basics.




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