Nicaraguan President Defies U.S. in Harsh Crackdown on Opposition

By José de Córdoba and Ismael López

"They are testing the limits of how far they can push," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to The Wall Street Journal.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, 75, who is running for a fourth consecutive term, has launched a broad campaign of repression since early June aimed at decimating the opposition ahead of November elections, according to analysts, human-rights activists and Western governments.

In recent days, police beat one opposition presidential hopeful before putting him in prison. Another would-be opposition candidate was arrested shortly after he filmed a video saying goodbye to his family in case he, too, was detained. A third prominent opposition leader was photographed by police after they stormed his home to arrest him. In the picture, he looked frightened as he stood next to a police commander accused by the U.S. of human-rights violations…

Mr. Ortega’s government, which polls show has grown unpopular with Nicaraguans, may have decided the risks of losing an election are higher than upsetting the international community, said Eric Farnsworth, a former senior U.S. diplomat.

“They are testing the limits of how far they can push,” said Mr. Farnsworth. “They have assessed what the U.S. is willing to do in the region and determined that the reward is bigger than the downside.”…

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