Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Daniel Ortega: Nicaraguans' puzzling choice

Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is sworn in as president of Nicaragua in this 1985 file photo in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/La Prensa, file)By Uri Ridelman

I am really disgusted and puzzled by the electoral results of the Nicaraguan presidential election. I can't believe that the Nicaraguan people have decided to give Daniel Ortega a second chance.

It is as if they have already forgotten all the suffering that this clown put them through in the 1980's.

I was a kid in Costa Rica during Ortega's first stay in power and still remember the numerous T.V newscasts showing the disgraceful conditions that Nicaraguans were living in under the government of Ortega.

What I ask myself is: If I haven't forgotten that, how is it possible that it seems that most Nicaraguans have?

Don't they remember the war? The land confiscations? The suffering that this power-thirsty leftist put them through to defend his ridiculous revolutionary ideals?

Don't they teach history in the Nicaraguan schools? Have Nicaraguans in 16 years forgotten what it was like living under the rule of the Sandinistas?

I know that corruption has been constant in Nicaraguan politics and the presidents that have ruled the country since Ortega left, but why think that Ortega is going to be any different?

Given his past record why believe in anything he has to say? I would think that if we consider his past he has the potential to be even more corrupt than his predecessors.

Ortega used a populist approach to win this election. He promised to work for the lower classes and battle poverty through "peace, love and unity."

He claims to be a changed man, and has repeatedly said he is not the Marxist revolutionary who fought U.S.-backed Contra rebels, a war that left 30,000 dead and the economy in shambles.

He has toned down his leftist rhetoric and pledged to continue free-trade policies but I don't buy any of it.

Apparently neither does the American governement because he is "a tiger who has not changed his stripes" according to the US ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli.

Travelli in fact recently claimed that an Ortega victory would lead to "the introduction of a Hugo Chavez model" in Nicaragua and will affect bilateral ties.

I agree with him and in fact I believe that Ortega will try to find a way to remain in power once the end of his presidential term approaches. I think he will try to tweak the constitution or come up with some sort of political alliance to remain in power past 2012 just as Chavez is trying to do in Venezuela.

Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, who also happened to be in power during Ortega's previous term, doensn't agree with me. He said that the election was transparent, that democracy has been consolidating across the region and that Nicaragua is no exception.

Arias, who had a tense relationship with Ortega, also thinks the Nicaraguan leader is a different politician than the one that ruled in the 1980's.

I really hope that Arias is right and Trivelli is wrong. That Ortega is indeed a changed man, that he has left behind his Marxist ideals and won't try to become a dictator once his next term concludes because if there's something that the people of Nicaragua at least deserve after decades of bloodshed is to live in peace and freedom.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think Arias pretty much had to say what he said. He is, after all, going to have to deal with Ortega.

It is a tragedy, however.

Uri R. said...

I think you are right on the money anonymous.

revaz said...

I've been very skeptical of Daniel due to his past as well. Charges of corruption and even rape are difficult to digest.

All we can do now that Ortega is elected is give him a chance. The first 100 days will say alot, as one writer put it.

35% of Nicaraguan aid and FDI comes from the US. They can't afford to cut CAFTA and they won't.

If Daniel is smart he will play to both the music of Chavez and Bush. Take the free oil, but keep the western investors happy by not acting belligerently.

That's my wishful thinking. Thinking that Daniel can be a pragmatist like Lula.

I know he's in it for the power, all I can do is hope that he doesn't prove the Reaganites right.

Uri R. said...

Revaz: that's my hope too but to be honest I think that as you said that's mostly wishful thinking.

Even if he dances with both Chavez and the U.S he will affect Nicaraguan society in a wat that may take it back 20 years as he will look for ways to concentrate power and squander political opposition to a minimum so that he can stay in power beyond 2012.

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