Will the OAS Strike Out With Nicaragua?

Monday, July 20, 2009
Thus far, the Organization of American States ("OAS") is batting .000.

First, it ignored the specific terms of the Inter-American Democratic Charter ("Charter") in revoking the 1962 exclusion of the Castro regime from the regional body. Such an irresponsible, ideological act consequently opened the door for the Honduran military to illegally ouster President Manuel Zelaya -- an event that could have been avoided if the OAS had been diligent in questioning the usurpation of Honduras' Constitution and other illegal activities by Zelaya.

Now, the OAS pushes to defend the Charter, but has little credibility.

The futility of the OAS and its Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has even resulted in a "back-bench" view of the current negotiations on the Honduran crisis, as the lead role has been trusted upon Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

So here comes Nicaragua.

Trying to capitulate on the OAS's irrelevancy, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega announced Sunday -- on the 30th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution -- that he would seek a referendum to change the Constitution to allow him to seek reelection.

Article 148 of Nicaragua's 1987 Constitution, as amended in 1995, allows the President to serve for one term of six years.

Calling for a referendum is a populist gimmick by Ortega.

A partial reform of the Nicaraguan Constitution, as would be needed to extend the term limit set by Article 148, can be initiated by either the President (pursuant to Article 191) or 1/3 of the National Assembly.

A referendum is not required. However, approval of such a partial constitutional reform would require 60 percent of the National Assembly.

Undoubtedly, this will be an uphill climb for Ortega. While the Sandinistas hold 38 seats in the National Assembly, the combination of both Liberal Democratic parties hold 45.

Therefore, the referendum ploy -- which can be easily manipulated (as the pre-fabricated results recently discovered in Honduras prove) -- as a means to subvert the National Assembly through fraud and populism.

Will the OAS, once again, be too late?

Strike 3 is quickly approaching.