Carter Center blasts Nicaragua’s electoral system

Electoral watchdog group says Nicaragua’s democracy is in an ‘unfortunate chapter’ and Sandinista-stacked electoral system has ‘degenerated significantly’

cartercenter-e1363075288977The Carter Center today released a statement lamenting the Sandinista government’s recent renewal of its scandal-plagued electoral authorities, calling the move a “significant lost opportunity for this country to strengthen its battered electoral institutions.”

The international electoral and human rights watchdog group started by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said the “image and credibility of the CSE, together with the standards governing democracy and elections in Nicaragua, have degenerated significantly in the wake of the confirmed fraud perpetrated in the 2008 municipal elections.”

The Carter Center added, “On Nov. 6, 2011, this same CSE organized and held the least transparent national election in Nicaragua in the last 20 years, the results of which have proven to be impossible to verify, setting a damaging precedent for the future of democracy in Nicaragua.”

The electoral watchdog group, which has observed national elections in Nicaragua since 1989, called on the Sandinista-dominated National Assembly to “undertake their patriotic duty to the Nicaraguan people to conduct a serious, thorough review of the Nicaraguan electoral system with the participation of all of the political parties so that, for the good of Nicaraguan society and its democracy, decisions and events such as these never occur again.”

“We also ask the international community to make sure it keeps its eyes on the status of democracy in Nicaragua in order to encourage and facilitate the return of free, fair, and transparent elections with widely-accepted results to Nicaragua as a first step toward building and strengthening the rule of law and the democratic institutions that this country so deserves and needs,” the group concluded.



  • Jim

    First the Carter Center can be admired for the work for which they are doing. However, before we start admonishing other countries about voting rights and elections we would be best served to take an inward introspective look at our own country and the systematic plan to deprive millions of United States citizens of their right to vote. One needs to look no further than the Supreme Court and its continued attack and sustained effort to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Certainly anyone who can read and has taken the time to follow the actions of the governors and legislators of Wisconsin,
    Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Louisiana to name a few understands that they have and are demonstrating on a continuing basis a clear pattern of depriving citizens of their voting rights through self-serving gerrymandering and the legislative process.

    Unless someone stands up with a backbone, the legislative process will continue to move
    forward, and more voters will either become disenfranchised or remain unprotected in November and beyond. At last count at least 48 restrictive voting bills are pending in 18 states attempting to make voting more difficult.

    If the Carter Center is interested in voting rights, disenfranchised people, and transparency they should consider modifying their Mission Statement and Charter so as to start a serious discussion and effort to restore that which was established by the US Constitution in their own country.

    While I am not suggesting that the elections are transparent or even free or fair in Nicaragua, there is a lot of work to do at home before they stand on the bully pulpit and tell others how they should run their countries.

    • flaco delgado
    • Mark Rabuchin

      Jim, the name of this publication is the NICARAGUA DISPATCH, and the subject under discussion is the electoral process in the Central American country of Nicaragua, and the Carter Center’s critique of it. The subject under discussion is not long-distance running, cooking with healthy oils, fine woodworking, or US elections.

      Having said that, what on earth are you talking about?

      “The systematic plan to deprive millions of United States citizens of their right to vote.”

      Which “systematic plan” would that be, Jim? And who is being deprived of “their right to vote?”

      Sure you’re talking about the United States, Jim? I understand you have concerns about how elections are done in America. Fine. You deserve a seat at the table, and you deserve an airing of your views. But this is not the place or time, and your views are completely over the top in my opinion.

      Gerrymandering, as distasteful as it may be, deprives NOBODY of their right to vote. Asking for a simple ID, which you can get free from the government, deprives NOBODY of their right to vote. Name one person who couldn’t.

      And this notion that WE CAN’T criticize a third-world, thoroughly corrupt government that has long been in power in Nicaragua (and has failed so miserably that even the left-wing-guerrilla loving, thug-and-dictator-embracing, Islamic-loving Carter-Fucking-Center cries foul!)BEFORE WE ACHIEVE perfection in the experiment in Democracy called America is silly. Do I have your permission to bitch about all the pot holes in the streets of Managua? Or must we first fill in ALL our own back in the states before we have the right to say anything?

      • Jose Martinez

        Mark, to the best of my knowledge, our government is being considered the one govenment that has taken the country back from the brink it was sunk in more than a decade. Even IMF speaks highly and supports this government, they are satisfy with the measures that is has taken to increase the standard of living of Nicaraguans. I am not saying I am satisfy having Rivas one more time holding the office of CSE, that is deplorable and it deserves world condemnation, I fundamentally agree with you but I do not agree over the fact that we lost the election of 2008 by corruption, even though there were inconsistency, those inconsistencies have existed and continue to exist even in the US. Therefore, I think the Carter Center should be more concern of helping the many sleeping rough childrens and adults who wander in the street of the so-called world potential power, the Carter Center should also worry about all the crazy people who return from wars to unease the life of many americans, all his effort should be of more benefit supporting soldiers with PTSD, or even more should be highly concern of having better health care insurance, we are a third world country but we have access to better free health care. In short, as the bible states it “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?” this apply to the Carter Center, they should go back to their own developed country and worry about their disgrace that are many, and if posible pay the debt that they have with Nicaraguans.

      • Jim

        Wow. Don’t need my permission for anything.

        Don’t understand the hate speech and inappropriate foul

        Here is a link to in excess of 90 articles pointing out the systematic
        movement throughout the USA to deprive millions of United States
        citizens of their right to vote.

  • Ken Morris

    Interesting comments on both sides.

    While I do think there is a difference in degree between the electorial process in Nicaragua and the US that justifies special condemnation of Nicargua’s by those in the US, and further suspect that Carter is also concerned with the issues in the US that Jim mentions, the main point I’d like to make is that the Carter Center was never established to become involved in US affairs. Carter himself sometimes speaks out about these, but he established the Carter Center in order to attend problems abroad that other outfits like the UN were not attending to. It would therefore, as Jim notes, require a different mission statement for the Carter Center to become involved in US affairs, but it’s no more reasonable to fault the Carter Center for not doing things that aren’t in its mission statement than to fault KFC for not selling hamburgers.

    I therefore welcome the Carter Center’s criticism of the electoral system in Nicaragua, and find it especially stinging coming from the Carter Center. Carter was personally very supportive of Ortega back in 1989-90 and the two bonded. It therefore has to hurt Ortega a lot to be criticized by the Carter Center.

    A fact Mark seems to miss in his disparagment of Carter as a dictator-embracing whimp and so forth is that this isn’t Carter at all. Carter believes that as a Christian God commands him to love everyone, and he has steadfastly tried to live up to this obligation his whole life. This is what makes him such an excellent negotiator: He takes the time to understand everyone he deals with from their perspective. This doesn’t mean he agrees with them, but it does mean that he will do his best to love and understand them. Carter’s role model was Jesus, who not incidentally was accused of consorting with the wrong people too, but Carter pays no more attention to the criticism than Jesus did. We misunderstand Carter if we confuse his capacity to empathize with people with his agreement with them.

    Personally, I puzzle about the relationship between Carter and Ortega. (Cards on the table, I’ve published biographies of both men.) I’m pretty sure that Carter sympathizes with a lot of what Ortega believes in, but draws a sharp line against the authoritarianism. And that’s what this Carter Center report does, in measured but still tough language. How can anyone object to this?

    As for the undemocratic mess is the US, I would add my own criticisms to Jim’s list. It’s worse I think than he observes. But that is a different topic, and not part of the Carter Center’s mission. After losing the election in 1980, Carter realized that he had to make a choice: He could remain active in domestic politics and compromise his effectiveness globally, or engage in global concerns and ignore domestic issues. Carter believed that he would be more effective globally than domestically, and that the global need was greater. I suspect he was right about this, and can’t fault him for it.

    The mess in the US can be addressed by someone else, although I bet if Carter were interviewed on the topic, he would agree with Jim in carefully measured words.