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When will Congress’s human rights champions notice Ortega’s crackdown in Nicaragua?

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24.06.2021

Robert Kagan, a contributing columnist, served as deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs in the Reagan administration. He is the author of “A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990.”

American progressives have a lot to say about U.S. policy in Central America — four decades ago. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), to take one example, recently expounded, in the context of the immigration debate, on the Central American victims of U.S. Cold War policies. Fair enough. But when it comes to what’s happening right now in, say, Nicaragua, where de facto President-for-life Daniel Ortega is locking up every opposition and civic leader in sight, that doesn’t seem to interest her very much.

For those who may have missed it — and given the level of U.S. media coverage, that is probably most everyone — Ortega, now in his 14th year of uncontested rule, has in recent weeks arrested nearly 20 opposition and civic leaders, including seemingly anyone even considering running against him in the Nov. 7 presidential election.

Given that Ortega has not allowed a contested election since his own victory in 2006 and controls every lever of power in the country — the army, the police, the courts, the legislature — one wonders why he feels the jailings are necessary. Of course, you could ask the same thing about autocrats such as Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman and the Burmese generals. The United States has been so increasingly indifferent to the consolidation........

© Washington Post


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