Recruiting votes in the cemetery is a classic trick used by corrupt regimes to fatten electoral victories with some help from beyond the crypt. In Nicaragua, however, several parties are now being accused of recruiting their candidates from among the dead.
Three minority parties accused of operating as “satellite parties” to the Sandinista Front are being denounced for allegedly resorting to identity theft and “grave robbery” to fill their candidate rosters for the November municipal elections. The Independent Liberal Party (PLI) says at least two of the candidates running for the Conservative Party (PC) are dead and buried and claims the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) and the Alliance for the Republic (APRE) are usurping people’s identities to run fake candidates.
According to the PLI’s initial audit of the official candidate list, Cairo Isidro Llanes López, who died in 2001, is running for city councilman in Totogalpa on the Conservative Party’s ticket. Wendy Paola Barriento Olivera, who died five years ago in Guatemala, is also running on the Conservative Party’s ballot in the municipality of San Pedro del Norte, in Chinandega.
The dead candidates’ families were not happy to learn that their deceased beloved ones are running for office on the ticket of political party that—appropriately enough—was resurrected from the dead by the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) in 2010 to create an image of political pluralism.
The PLI also found three of their own candidates cross-listed as candidates for the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN).
Other anomalies are also starting to surface. La Prensa found that Ana Greyss Hernández, a Nicaraguan woman who immigrated years ago to Carson City, Nevada, was surprised to learn that the Conservative Party has listed her as a candidate in the northern municipality of Yalí. Hernández, a U.S. citizen, wrote an angry letter to the CSE accusing the Conservative Party of identity theft and demanding to be removed from the ballot, according to La Prensa.
Juanita de Dios Reyes Cruz, who lives in the northern municipality of Somotillo, Chinandega, was similarly surprised to learn that she is registered as a candidate on the ticket of the Alliance for the Republic (APRE). “I don’t even know what APRE is,” Reyes told La Prensa.
The initial complaints of dead candidates, identity theft and forced ballot recruitment come on the heels of the CSE’s announcement that the ALN, APRE and PC—three parties accused of operating under the protection of the Sandinista Front—have all qualified for the November municipal elections while the Christian Democrat Union (UDC), a minority party that was showing signs of appealing to disenfranchised Sandinista voters, was disqualified.
The UDC challenged the CSE’s decision on Aug. 28, insisting they have fulfilled all the registration requirements and asking for a revision of the electoral body’s decision. After several minutes of perfunctory consideration, the CSE rejected the UDC’s request for revision and upheld its original decision.
“The Christian Democrat Union on Aug. 24 on presented the equivalent of 73% of their candidates; by not presenting complete documentation according to Articles 63, 77 and 82 of the Electoral Law, the (party) did not meet the requirements to register candidates for the municipal elections on Nov. 4,” the CSE determined in a notice pinned to the UDC’s office door in the early morning of Aug. 29, before anyone was there to receive the electoral body’s speedy response.
The CSE has not shown the same speedy efficiency responding to the complaints of zombie candidates, identity theft and duplicated candidacies.