Argentina and Mexico side with the Nicaraguan dictatorship at the Organisation of American States

The OAS, within the Permanent Council, voted a resolution condemning the situation in Nicaragua
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REUTERS/LUISA GONZALEZ  -   José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch Americas

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday criticised the vote by Argentina and Mexico at the Organisation of American States on Nicaragua, calling the vote cast by the two territories "distressing". The organisation's executive director for the Americas, José Vivanco, shared on his Twitter account a message about the communiqué issued by the Argentinean foreign ministry: "Painful report from Mexico and Argentina on the case in Nicaragua. It is one thing to seek a negotiated solution to this crisis and quite another to say such nonsense".

On Tuesday, Argentina and Mexico expressed their opposition to intervening in Nicaragua's internal affairs, which led them to be the black sheep in the resolution debated in the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States. The two states also expressed their disagreement with the "pretension" of "imposing guidelines from outside or unduly prejudging the development of electoral processes". "In this environment, it has not been feasible for us to escort the resolution plan put forward today in the Permanent Council of the OAS. The Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States addressed the case of Nicaragua in an extraordinary session on Tuesday, after the organisation's secretary general, Luis Almagro, urged the use of the Inter-American Democratic Charter because of the repression against the Nicaraguan opposition. 

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AFP PHOTO / ARGENTINIAN PRESIDENCY / ESTEBAN COLLAZO - Alberto Fernández, President of Argentina

With 26 votes in favour, three against and five abstentions, the body approved the resolution: "The Situation in Nicaragua", which, among other points of view, condemns "unequivocally the arrest, harassment and arbitrary limitations imposed on presidential pre-candidates, political parties and independent media" and calls for "the immediate release of the presidential pre-candidates and all political prisoners". On Monday, Daniel Ortega's regime defended the arrests of several opposition leaders, including four presidential hopefuls and two historic ex-guerrillas, and demanded "non-interference by any foreign regime" in its internal affairs, just five months before the elections in which Ortega, who became president in 2007, is seeking a new re-election that several international organisations have denounced as illegal. 

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PHOTO/REUTERS - Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

Meanwhile, from Washington on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that "there are no conditions" for "free and fair elections" in Nicaragua and urged the "immediate release" of the four presidential candidates.

Blinken expressed his "strong support" for the resolution approved Tuesday by a large majority of 26 countries in the Organisation of American States (OAS) that demands "the speedy release of the presidential candidates and all political prisoners". "Given the regime's recent repression and its lack of thorough electoral reform, the conditions for fair and free elections this November do not exist," the head of US diplomacy said. 

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PHOTO/AP - Former Sandinista revolutionary commander Dora María Téllez, Nicaraguan police arrested Téllez

The new legislation passed in Nicaragua rejects those who "lead or finance an overthrow... encourage remote obstructions, call for military intervention... propose or organise financial barricades, recommend and call for the imposition of sanctions against Nicaragua or its citizens". Those found guilty "shall be traitors to the homeland, and therefore may not stand for public office". Treason is punishable by prison sentences of up to 15 years. Ortega has so far captured four potential opposition candidates who may have challenged his choice for a fourth continuous term, and many Nicaraguan resistance leaders now fear that it is only a matter of time before the police come for them.