MANAGUA — Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution late Saturday with a giant rally accompanied by regional leftist leaders.
Thousands of supporters gathered at the Plaza La Fé, north of Managua, to celebrate the Sandinista rebel victory in 1979 over the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, whose family had run Nicaragua like their own estate since 1936.
The most prominent guest was Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose oil-rich nation provides millions of dollars in aid to impoverished Nicaragua.
Maduro said the Sandinista revolution “scored a great triumph over the strategy of imperial domination in the continent” and paved the way for other revolutionary movements.
Guests of honor at the event included the president of El Salvador, former leftist guerrilla Salvador Sánchez Cerén; Honduran President Juan Hernández; Cuban vice president Ramiro Valdés, and former presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and Panama.
Ortega, now 68, was one of the rebel Sandinista leaders that toppled Somoza. He was Nicaragua’s leader 1979-1990, and returned to power in 2007.
Maduro also expressed support for Nicaragua’s plans to build an interoceanic canal to rival the Panama Canal.
In early July, Ortega endorsed a route chosen by a Chinese firm commissioned to dig a $40 billion canal linking the Caribbean and the Pacific.
The canal is expected to create thousands of jobs, a vital boost for this country of six million — the second poorest in the Americas after Haiti — where half of the population lives in poverty.