June 18, 2009
Eight months later, the consequences of last November’s municipal elections continue to reverberate throughout Nicaragua. Now the latest victim is not the legitimacy of the democratic process but Nicaraguan citizens. And the government of Nicaragua is to blame.
Last week, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)—a U.S. government entity established in 2004 that ties aid to good governance, economic freedom and investments in people—announced that it would cut $62 million in aid to Nicaragua. This money, suspended a few weeks after the municipal elections, was part of a five-year, $175 million agreement (or compact) that was signed with the Nicaraguan government in July 2005.
The reason? MCC assistance only goes to “governments who are governing justly,” and according to MCC Acting Chief Executive Officer Rodney Bent, Nicaragua has not shown “meaningful reforms or progress” in this area. The MCC had been looking for the government of President Daniel Ortega to address the voting irregularities that helped his Sandinista candidates win the mayorship of Managua, and the country’s second city, León. In Managua, Alexis Arguello defeated Eduardo Montealegre (Ortega’s challenger in the 2006 presidential election) amid accusations of voter identity fraud and suspicious polling station tallies. For the first time in 20 years, independent observers were barred from monitoring the election.