Latin American diplomacy has had its hands full. With illegal migrants streaming over borders, Colombia trying to close a contentious peace accord, and Venezuela’s economy and society imploding, it’s hard to know where to focus.
All the better for Daniel Ortega, the graying Marxist rebel-turned-supremo who has quietly transformed Nicaragua from a democratic promise to an almost intractable autocracy.
Thanks to Ortega, Nicaraguan democracy is now nearly an oxymoron. A decade of rules-rigging has neutered the political opposition, silenced critics, and stacked the country’s courts. Partly as a result, this year’s presidential election is Ortega’s to lose. Technically, there are other challengers on the Nov. 6 ballot, but that’s theater. The only political force that counts in Nicaragua is “Orteguismo.”
Such a brazen personalization of power seems out of date in Latin America, which despite a severe economic downturn is more democratic than ever. Kleptocrats are being brought to justice, free and fair elections are the rule across the hemisphere, and authoritarians are on the defensive. …