Over the years, poor Nicaraguans have streamed north through Mexico into the U.S. in search of jobs. But who now might be among them? Investigative journalist Todd Bensman has reported on the clandestine entry already given by the Nicaraguan government to 21 unidentified Iranians last year — the very sort of occurrence that preceded the Argentina bombings.
The problem would be less acute if Ortega was simply another democratic leader who could be replaced by an election. But that is looking increasingly unlikely.
Ortega, a three-time election loser, only returned to power thanks to collusion with a former indicted president, Arnoldo Alemán. This eventuated in the control of the Nicaraguan courts and election authority by Ortega’s Sandinistas. Rewritten election rules permitted Ortega to win on the first ballot with a mere 38 per cent of the vote. He thus became president with a smaller number and slice of the votes than in his two earlier, failed presidential bids.
Ortega appears to be a fervent believer in Stalin’s loosely translated maxim — “The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
Municipal autonomy in Nicaragua is today in tatters. Mayors have been dismissed — the most recent being Hugo Barquero four weeks ago. Councils have been stacked. And in the 2008 municipal elections, already-stacked electoral authorities disqualified two opposition parties prior to the vote, banned international observers, and blessed untold electoral fraud, which gave Ortega control of 105 of Nicaragua’s 153 municipalities.
Now, with presidential elections over the horizon, Ortega has ignored congressional opposition to renewing the tenure of the electoral tribunal judges that blessed the 2008 election fraud and extended their terms by presidential decree.
He has also orchestrated an illegal vote by three supreme court judges and three “alternate” judges installed by him to lift the constitutional ban on his re-election.
Ortega’s effort to breach the constitutional barriers to prolong his rule mirror Manuel Zelaya’s similar effort in Honduras last year. Zelaya was unsuccessful and deposed for his illegal efforts, but he lacked Ortega’s advantages — a compromised judiciary and a subverted electoral tribunal.
Ortega looks set to stay and the threat he poses is real. Infiltration of Iranian agents into Mexico has become a frightening possibility that magnifies the security risks to the U.S.
Few seem to be taking notice.
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