The presidents of Nicaragua and Honduras, Daniel Ortega and Juan Orlando Hernández, held a surprise meeting in Managua on Wednesday afternoon in which they signed decrees based on the delimitation of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Fonseca, dictated by The Hague years ago. . The unusual meeting occurred a few weeks before both countries participate in questioned general elections, in which the Sandinista president will retain power after having imprisoned all his contenders, and the Honduran ends his term dotted with allegations of ties to drug trafficking.
Two of the Central American leaders most criticized for their marked authoritarianism embraced each other in a pre-electoral context in which their reputations are in tatters. On the one hand, Ortega imposes this November 7 elections without competition, since he captured all seven opposition rivals and more than thirty critics. The latest poll by the CID-Gallup firm revealed that 65% of the population would vote for any of the political prisoners with presidential aspirations, and the Sandinista leader would only obtain 19% of the intention to vote.
The Sandinista regime is almost completely isolated by its violent escalation of repression, and organizations and the international community have advanced more sanctions for their environment and the ignorance of the election, which opens the doors for “an illegitimate government.” On October 20, the representative of Honduras to the Organization of American States (OAS) abstained and did not vote for or against the forceful resolution that the organization approved with 26 votes, seven abstentions and no one against, in which demands from the Ortega-Murillo regime an immediate solution to the socio-political crisis and the release of all political prisoners.
While Hernández leaves power with the United States on his heels, less than a year after his brother, former Congressman Tony Hernández, was sentenced to life in prison by a federal court in New York. The New York judiciary proved that Tony Hernández trafficked drugs from Honduras to the United States for 12 years. The Prosecutor’s Office even described Honduras as a “narco-state”, since it maintains that the president, the president, would have conspired with his brother.
The accusations about drug trafficking that weigh on the Hernández brothers tarnish the elections in Honduras, which are perceived as the endorsement “of the autocracy combined with a drug state.” Not only the National Party, headed by the outgoing president, is viewed with suspicion. Jennifer Avila, director of the Honduran media Countercurrent, wrote an analysis in which he highlights that “an ex-convict for international crimes related to money laundering, a mayor facing pre-trial and a candidate who is on her second attempt to achieve the presidency, are the main contenders in the race for the presidency ”. They are Yani Rosenthal for the Liberal Party, Juan Nasry Asfura for the National Party and Xiomara Castro for the Libertad y Refundación Party founded after the 2009 coup. political alliance such as that of 2017 and, with the legal loopholes of the new electoral institutions, the elections appear to be an obligatory process, but useless, given that this is the Honduran autocracy ”, said Ávila.
Bewilderment over signed treaties
Join EL PAÍS now to follow all the news and read without limits
The appearance of Juan Orlando Hernández and Daniel Ortega in Managua caused confusion. “We have a surprise, a good surprise, is that we are meeting the delegation of the brother people and Government of Honduras, a delegation headed by its president Juan Orlando Hernández, we welcome him to our homeland,” said the Sandinista leader. At that time it was thought that both nations will open borders so that Nicaraguans can go without restrictions to the neighboring country to get vaccinated against covid-19, as has happened in recent weeks.
In the absence of doses in Nicaragua, its citizens flock to the border towns to receive vaccines after the Hernández government so ordered. However, the meeting between the presidents had nothing to do with it and, instead, the signing of border delimitation decrees of both countries, dating from 1960, with the rulings of the international court and which maintained strong tensions between Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
The great absentee at the meeting was Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, who currently has a dispute with Honduras in the Gulf of Fonseca, a border area shared by the three nations. The fight is for Conejo Island, a rock of less than a square kilometer and both countries have been fighting for their sovereignty for several years. Opponents in San Salvador and Tegucigalpa argue that the conflict between Hernández and Bukele is a “smokescreen” to distract from the internal problems of each country.
Hours after the signing of the Ortega-Hernández treaty, Bukele launched a message on Twitter, quoting one from the Honduran Presidential House: “What do you think the New York Times, the Washington Post and its related media if I had signed this same identical geopolitical treaty with Ortega? Exactly. What were the Democrats saying in the White House?
The meeting between Ortega and Hernández has caused all kinds of suspicions on social networks. Users try to understand the background of such a surprising and unusual meeting. In short, many agree that both authoritarian leaders overlap, attempting a confrontation with Bukele to divert the focus of their elections without credibility and competition. While others believe that the Honduran president tries to “ensure his asylum and Nicaraguan nationality” for when he leaves power, as have other ex-presidents fugitives from justice such as Mauricio Funes, sheltered by Ortega-Murillo impunity.
Subscribe here to the newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of the region