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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Daniel Ortega: From Bad to Worse

A Perspective I wrote for The Nica Times published Feb. 26 (“A revolution of Capitalism and Corruption”) has caused some controversy. Much of the article was devoted to the 1980s and the Sandinista Revolution.

During that decade, President Daniel Ortega’s decision to pick partners such as Cuba, the Soviet Union, East Germany and Bulgaria – four of the most brutal communist dictatorships on earth – and pursue a path that would turn Nicaragua into a Cuban-style communist police state, brought Nicaragua to ruin. The Nicaraguan people agreed and in 1990 voted Ortega out of office.

In the April 16 edition of The Nica Times, Granada resident Camilo Faciane, an ardent supporter of the Ortega’s, disagreed with my account of history and wrote a counter Perspective in defense of Ortega (NT, Perspective, April 16).

Faciane argued that U.S. President Ronald Reagan was the real problem.

Then, on April 20, Nicaragua exploded in violence again. There has been much violence by Ortega’s thugs since Daniel became president again in 2007. Most of the violence occurred following the internationally criticized municipal elections of 2008.

Whenever the opposition has called for a peaceful protest march, Ortega’s people take to the streets with rocks, machetes and mortars. And the police? They do nothing to stop the attacks.

The most recent attacks were aimed at the opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly who are attempting to slow Daniel’s march to dictatorship.

First, Ortega’s thugs surrounded the National Assembly building and refused to let the opposition legislators enter. When the opposition gave up and decided to move their meeting to the Holiday Inn in Managua, hundreds of Ortega’s thugs showed up at the hotel and attacked and vandalized the building.

They caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the Holiday Inn, terrified the tourists inside, and torched cars belonging to the opposition lawmakers and non-Sandinista TV stations. Again, Ortega’s Police did nothing.

Ortega has not given up his dream of dictatorship. He still idolizes Cuba’s Fidel Castro and wants to be the “maximum leader” of a Nicaragua that looks like Cuba.

Why would anyone want their country to follow Cuba? After 50 years of dictatorship the average Cuban lives under constant oppression and earns $20 a month. Faciane wrote, “President Ortega and the F.S.L.N have brought a lot of progress to Nicaragua, more than any other government in a short amount of time.”

Really? The Nicaraguan Foundation for Social and Economic Development (FUNIDES) reported last month that the number of extreme poor in Nicaragua has increased by about 14 percent from 2008 to 2010. Meanwhile, what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez sent to Nicaragua?

That money went directly to Ortega, and not one penny was ever collected by the Nicaraguan treasury.

Since Ortega has become president again, he has operated as if he were already a dictator. He ignores the constitution, issues illegal presidential decrees and runs a regimen so corrupt that virtually all the members of his inner circle are millionaires.

When I met with Faciane, I showed him the newspaper photos of what Ortega’s thugs did to the Holiday Inn – photographs that ran in newspapers around the world – and

asked how that was going to help his tourism business. He did not answer.

Then I pointed to the pictures of Ortega’s thugs attacking the Holiday Inn with rocks and mortars, and burning cars. I asked him if he supports that type of violence. He tried to avoid the question, but when I persisted he said, “Violence is the only thing the opposition understands.”

With that type of attitude, this poor country has a long way to go to become a democratic country.

The first time Ortega held power he left Nicaragua on its knees. This time he’ll leave this sad country on its back.


Howard Cox moved from Costa Rica to Nicaragua seven years ago. His wife is Nicaraguan and they have built a house and reside in Granada.


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