Nicaragua: Doubling Down on Dictatorship

Issue Date April 2022
Volume 33
Issue 2
Page Numbers 133–46
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After Nicaragua’s fraudulent 2016 elections, President Daniel Ortega and Vice-President and First Lady Rosario Murillo appeared firmly in control, buoyed by economic growth and elite alliances. When protests unexpectedly erupted in 2018, Ortega and Murillo chose deepening repression, using police, paramilitaries, and the judiciary to crush dissent and extinguish political freedoms. Nicaragua’s 2021 elections took place with all opposition contenders jailed, alongside dozens of other political prisoners. Domestic and international actors had for years failed to unify and take action as Ortega’s authoritarian ambitions became clear. The Nicaraguan case underscores the need for early, coordinated efforts to defend democracy from would-be authoritarians.

About the Authors

Kai M. Thaler

Kai M. Thaler is assistant professor of global studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

View all work by Kai M. Thaler

Eric Mosinger

Eric Mosinger is assistant professor of political science at Santa Clara University.

View all work by Eric Mosinger