"This report discusses Nicaragua's current politics, economic development and relations with the United States and provides context for Nicaragua's controversial November 6, 2016, elections. After its civil war ended, Nicaragua began to establish a democratic government in the early 1990s. Its institutions remained weak, however, and they have become increasingly politicized since the late 1990s. Current President Daniel Ortega was a Sandinista (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, FSLN) leader when the Sandinistas overthrew the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979. Ortega was elected president in 1984. An electorate weary of war between the government and U.S.-backed contras denied him reelection in 1990. After three failed attempts, he won reelection in 2006, and again in 2011. He is expected to win a third term in November 2016 presidential elections. As in local, municipal, and national elections in recent years, the legitimacy of this election process is in question, especially after Ortega declared that no domestic or international observers would be allowed to monitor the elections and an opposition coalition was effectively barred from running in the 2016 elections. [...] Currently, Nicaragua is part of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America. Tensions rose recently when Nicaragua expelled three U.S. officials. Other U.S. concerns include violations of human rights, including restriction on citizens' rights to vote, government harassment of civil society groups, arbitrary arrests and killings by security forces and corruption. The Administration and some Members of Congress have expressed concern about Nicaragua's relationship with Russia, especially recent military purchases."
CRS Report for Congress, R44560