Daniel Ortega Must (And Can) Be Stopped

The region, from the U.S. to Latin America, has the diplomatic, economic and legal leverage to end the brazen abuses of Nicaragua's aspiring dictator-for-life.

Protestors in Managua, Nicaragua on the 'International Day of the Disappeared'
Protestors in Managua, Nicaragua on the "International Day of the Disappeared"


BOGOTÁ — The repression recently unleashed in Nicaragua by its ruler Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, has culminated in the jailing of the main candidates in the country's upcoming presidential elections, which take place in November, as well as of journalists and regime opponents. These actions are an insult to democracy in the region. Amid increasing international isolation and repudiation, and with sanctions imposed on their family, the Ortega-Murillo couple has already overcome the regime of Anastasio Somoza, the dictator Ortega helped to topple in 1979, in the number of killings, violations of the law and acts of corruption.

The only way to stop the abuses and achieve a free and transparent electoral process under foreign observation is to increase international, political and economic pressure on the regime. Ortega and Murillo must be made to understand that their spurious elections in November will not be recognized. There is no alternative. Unlike Venezuela, whose dictatorial regime has oil and enjoys the support of China and Russia, Ortega depends on exchanges with the United States in a free-trade pact that is in force, and on trade with Europe and other Central American countries. Increasing sanctions will affect the regime where it is vulnerable.

President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega and Army General Julio Cesar Aviles at the latter's inauguration — Jorge Torres/EFE/ ZUMA

Politically, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has sent a firm letter to the OAS Permanent Council asking to apply the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Almagro wants the OAS to act against Ortega for "breaking the democratic order" with an "unprecedented onslaught" that has altered the constitutional order, as the Charter states.

In October 2020, the OAS general assembly approved a resolution urging electoral reforms in Nicaragua in May 2021, preceding free elections. Its 34 member states will hopefully pay heed to Almagro's demands and immediately begin steps to exclude Nicaragua from the group.

The objective was to eliminate any candidacy and all opposition.

Those arrested in recent days, on trumped-up charges bereft of legal bases, are aspiring presidential candidates or political and business leaders like Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Dora María Téllez and 25 more.

Téllez is a former Sandinista captain and one of Ortega's sharper critics. She has said the "dying dictatorship's objective" was to "eliminate any candidacy and all opposition." Carlos Fernando Chamorro, a reputed journalist, calls the situation a "new coup d"état against Nicaraguans' right to freely elect and be elected." Sergio Ramírez, a prominent writer and former vice-president, has said in turn that "the rule of law has ceased to exist in Nicaragua. The rest is all fiction and parody." All of them are right.

Most of the detained are subjected to a law approved in 2020, which punishes those inciting "foreign intervention" in the country's affairs and seeking foreign military intervention or the use of foreign funds. The regime wants to use such charges or others alleging money laundering, to keep itself in power. The international community must be firm in defending democracy, while the OAS, in particular, must enact juridical provisions like its Democratic Charter to defend Nicaraguans at this critical moment.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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