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Don't let Nicaragua's Ortega become a Mugabe

The West must use leverage to prevent bloody confrontation.

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As the second-poorest nation in Latin America, Nicaragua can't afford to descend into violence as it did during the cold-war days of the 1980s.

Yet, this may be the direction this Central American nation is heading after a much-disputed election on Nov. 9. And the current political confrontation may portent worse things to come for Central America.

A near repeat of its Sandinista past is under way as Daniel Ortega former strongman, and now president, tries to survive the backlash against the alleged rigging of last month's vote.

The electoral authorities have long been controlled by the government, which also banned most international observers – notably the Organization of American States (OAS), the EU, and the Carter Center – on account of being dominated by "foreign powers" bent on discrediting President Ortega. In a later twist to the impasse, on Nov. 18 Sandinista mobs used force to prevent an opposition demonstration from taking place in Managua, the capital.

So far the reaction of the world to all this has been rather muted. It shouldn't be.


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