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Back To The Dictatorial Future In Central America? Nicaragua, Guatemala Stoke Concern

Guatemalan military vehicles surround the anti-corruption mission in Guatemala City on Friday.

Many Central America observers say this past weekend was disappointing for democracy in the region. In Nicaragua and Guatemala, critics charge the country’s presidents are behaving like the dictators of Central America’s past.

On Saturday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega kicked a U.N. human rights mission team out of his country for saying what so many others already have: that Ortega, his security forces and pro-government thugs are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of anti-government protesters this year.

The U.N. team issued its report last week. It reportedly infuriated Ortega – who protesters say has turned Nicaragua into a corrupt dictatorship. Since April they’ve called for his removal from office, but he has refused to budge. Ortega said the U.N. report ignored violence against his supporters.

In Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales shut down his country’s widely applauded U.N.-sponsored anti-corruption mission, or CICIG. CICIG was investigating alleged financial crimes by Morales’ presidential campaign. And it requested Morales be stripped of his immunity from prosecution.

Morales had army vehicles surround the CICIG’s headquarters as he announced its closure.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to take up the Central American crises this week.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.