Mexico expresses concern, but won’t condemn Nicaragua vote

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s representative at the Organization of American States said her government had expressed “concerns” to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega about his country’s deeply questioned elections, but said Mexico won’t support any OAS measure condemning the Nov. 7 vote.

Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council said that with nearly all the ballots counted from Sunday’s election, Ortega had won more than 75% of the votes. The outcome was never in doubt after his government jailed seven of the leading potential opposition candidates, clearing the field for Ortega to sweep to a fourth consecutive five-year term.

U.S. officials have called the vote a “sham” and “undemocratic,” and the European Union says the elections “lacked legitimacy.”

Luz Elena Baños, Mexico’s representative at the OAS, said Mexico “has expressed our concerns to the government of Nicaragua about the political process carried out on Nov. 7, especially regarding freedom of expression and the right of citizens to participate in politics.”

But Baños said Mexico won’t vote for any measure ”aimed at intervention, isolating or imposing sanctions” on Nicaragua.

She said only the United Nations has the authority to take such measures.

“We call on the member states of the OAS to find through dialogue, respect for sovereignty and human rights, a path to strengthen democracy,” she said.

When the regional body voted last month to condemn repression and demand the release of political prisoners in Nicaragua, seven members abstained, including Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras, which neighbors Nicaragua.

The Ortega administration has continued to close avenues for democratic participation with police banning public protests, electoral authorities banning some opposition political parties and potential candidates being arrested.

With all government institutions firmly within Ortega’s grasp and the opposition exiled, jailed or in hiding, the 75-year-old leader eroded what hope remained the country could soon return to a democratic path.

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