America dealt with a Nicaraguan dictator. It didn’t go as hoped.

“U.S.-Nicaragua links began unraveling more than a decade ago as it became clear that Ortega — a former rebel who fought another Nicaraguan dictator — wouldn’t leave the presidency. Relations worsened over the past five years as Ortega and Murillo strengthened their grip.
The Trump administration imposed economic sanctions and other penalties, mainly targeting individuals such as Murillo, in 2018, a year when the regime brutally cracked down on widespread protests.

In June 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Nicaraguan counterpart that the United States could ease up on those penalties if Nicaragua were to move back toward democracy and improve its human rights record. (Abuses such as torture and extrajudicial executions in Nicaragua may constitute crimes against humanity, a U.N. investigative panel said earlier this month.)

Blinken’s message failed to sway the ruling power couple. Over the next few months, Ortega and Murillo imprisoned more dissidents ahead of an election.

The U.S. responded by slapping sanctions on a Nicaraguan state-owned mining company and banning visas for hundreds of Nicaraguan officials and their relatives. Biden also issued orders in October that authorized his administration to impose future sanctions on various economic sectors in Nicaragua, as well as trade and investment.”

Biden’s Summit of the Americas Was Over Before It Started

“In a speech delivered last Wednesday at the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, President Joe Biden made a passionate plea for renewed purpose and partnership between the United States and its Latin American and Caribbean neighbors.

But it was some conspicuously empty seats in the audience that grabbed the attention. Out of the 35 countries in the Americas, only 23 sent heads of state, one of the lowest attendance rates since the first summit almost 30 years ago.

Most of these absences stem from Biden’s decision to not invite Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to the summit over their human rights records, a move driven in part by pressure from Cuban-American exile groups. “There can’t be a Summit of the Americas if all the countries of the continent don’t participate,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stated at a press conference on June 6. The presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, major sources of migration to the United States, also announced they would not attend in protest.

In 2001, the Organization of American States passed the Inter-American Democratic Charter, officially barring nondemocratic states from participating in successive summits at the behest of the United States. However, this rule was seemingly annulled when the U.S. and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations under former President Barack Obama.

Cuba attended the 2015 summit in Panama, where Obama’s meeting with former Cuban President Raul Castro marked the first time Cuban and American heads of state had met since the Cuban Revolution.”

“”There is no way President Biden can make progress on addressing the migrant crisis since the Presidents of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador chose not to attend””

“The summit’s perceived disconnects have confirmed what some in the region have feared: The U.S. is failing to reset or even update its Latin America policy after years of neglect under former President Donald Trump.”

“”Washington seems to have prepared this summit as if it was 1994,” said Rivero Santos, referring back to the first Summit of the Americas held in Miami. Rivero Santos believes the Biden administration still sees the Americas through the prism of the 1990s neoliberal political wave that swept south, but socialist and populist governments have been making inroads in the region for years. “Washington has not been able to keep up with the changes in the region. The Latin America of 1994 is very different than the Latin America of 2022.””

Nicaragua’s Ortega seeks reelection in questioned vote

“Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega sought a fourth consecutive term in elections..against a field of little-known candidates while those who could have given him a real challenge sat in jail.”

“The opposition called on Nicaraguans to stay home in protest of an electoral process that has been roundly criticized as not credible by foreign powers.”

“The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions against those in Ortega’s inner circle, but Ortega responded only by arresting more of his opponents.
…a senior U.S. State Department official, who spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the U.S. government was willing to consider additional targeted sanctions, but had tried to avoid measures that would more broadly impact the Nicaraguan people.

“It is very hard when you have a government that has very minimal goals that include remaining in power at any cost and disregarding the will of their own citizens or the needs of the citizens to retain that power,” the official said.

The Organization of American States has condemned Nicaragua’s holding of political prisoners and unwillingness to hold free and fair elections, but Ortega’s government has only railed against foreign interference.”