The Biden administration sharply criticized Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo as the nation on Sunday officially left the pan-American Organization of American States.
The State Department said in a statement the leftist regime quit the OAS to avoid further scrutiny of the Ortega government’s poor record on human rights and civil liberties and its pressure campaign targeting regime critics such as the Catholic church.
Mr. Ortega and Ms. Murillo‘s “decision to further isolate Nicaragua from the international community demonstrates their desperation to avoid any effort by the OAS or like-minded partners to hold them accountable for egregious human rights abuses,” the State Department said Sunday.
“Their abuses include unjustly detaining, convicting, and mistreating political prisoners â including Bishop Rolando Alvarez; attacking independent journalists; and forcing hundreds of civil society organizations and educational institutions to close or hand over operations to the state.”
The statement said the U.S. and its OAS allies will continue to press the Managua government over its human rights record despite the withdrawal.
Nicaragua joined the OAS in 1950, but relations with the Western Hemisphere umbrella organization deteriorated sharply in the wake of widely criticized 2018 elections that led to a surge in opposition protests followed by a government crackdown on dissent.
The Ortega government began the two-year process to leave the OAS shortly after critics said new national elections in November 2021 were rigged to keep the regime in power. Mr. Ortega was elected to a fourth term in power. Ms. Murillo and Mr. Ortega are married.
Official tallies in that vote gave the ruling Sandinista alliance 76% of the vote and Mr. Ortega at the time dismissed his detractors as “Yankee imperialists.”
• David R. Sands can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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