Nicaragua’s Formal Withdrawal from OAS Criticized as a Step Away from Democracy
The U.S. State Department expressed concern over Nicaragua’s formal withdrawal from the Organization of American States (OAS), referring to it as “another step away from democracy.” The OAS has been a vocal critic of human rights violations under the rule of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who governs alongside his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. However, Ortega has consistently dismissed these criticisms and initiated the two-year process to leave the OAS in November 2021.
Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, took to the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) to condemn the Ortega/Murillo regime’s withdrawal, stating that it further isolates Nicaragua from the international community and distances the country from democratic principles. Neither Ortega’s office nor the government provided any comments regarding the withdrawal.
Despite Nicaragua’s departure, the OAS has affirmed its commitment to closely monitor the country’s democracy and human rights situation. The organization, which Nicaragua has been a member of since 1950, will continue its efforts to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the nation, as stated in a resolution approved by the OAS permanent council earlier this month.
Arturo McFields, Nicaragua’s former representative at the OAS who publicly denounced Ortega and Murillo in 2022, expressed his concerns about the impact of Nicaragua’s withdrawal on the fight for democracy and the defense of human rights. However, he found encouragement in the OAS resolution.
Ortega’s administration has been suppressing critical voices since the widespread street protests in April 2018, which evolved into a referendum on his government. The protests were violently suppressed, resulting in the deaths of 355 people and the imprisonment of hundreds. In response, the government targeted institutions perceived as supportive of the protesters, including private universities, the Roman Catholic Church, civil society organizations, and numerous individuals who were forced into exile.
The decision to leave the OAS was initiated by Ortega’s government shortly after the organization, along with other members of the international community, condemned the flawed elections that led to Ortega’s latest term. The last country to leave the OAS was Venezuela in 2019.