US Says Nicaragua’s departure from OAS a ‘step away from democracy’

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By Marco Echevarria

The United States State Department has expressed concern over Nicaragua’s official departure from the Organization of American States (OAS) on Sunday, describing it as a move further away from democratic values. The OAS, an influential regional organization, has been vocal in its criticism of human rights abuses under the leadership of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. In response to these criticisms, the Ortega-Murillo administration initiated the process of exiting the OAS in November 2021, a decision that the U.S. believes further alienates Nicaragua from the international community.

Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, expressed this viewpoint on X, a social media platform. As of Sunday, there had been no official response from Ortega’s office or the Nicaraguan government regarding the withdrawal.

Despite Nicaragua’s departure, the OAS has committed to maintaining its scrutiny of the country’s democracy and human rights situation. The organization, which Nicaragua joined in 1950, passed a resolution earlier this month vowing to continue its focus on human rights and democratic freedoms in Nicaragua.

Arturo McFields, who was Nicaragua’s representative to the OAS until his public denunciation of Ortega and Murillo in 2022, remarked that Nicaragua’s withdrawal represents a significant setback for democratic and human rights efforts. However, he expressed optimism about the OAS’s resolution to stay vigilant on Nicaraguan issues.

Since April 2018, Ortega’s government has been accused of suppressing dissent following widespread protests that evolved into a broader critique of his administration. The government’s harsh response to these protests resulted in significant casualties and the imprisonment of numerous individuals. Subsequently, the Ortega administration targeted various institutions and individuals perceived as protest supporters, including private universities, the Roman Catholic Church, civil society organizations, and drove tens of thousands into exile.

This move to exit the OAS came shortly after the organization, along with other international bodies, condemned the elections that led to Ortega’s most recent term, citing them as flawed. Nicaragua’s departure from the OAS follows Venezuela, which left the organization in 2019