The current president of Nicaragua is seeking reelection at all costs for a fourth consecutive five-year term, a company for which he has not skimped on political reforms that legitimize him and on arrests of opponents, including seven presidential candidates. So we ask ourselves, who is Daniel Ortega? And what happened to his revolutionary struggle against the tyranny of a dictator?
To unravel the figure of Ortega it is necessary to go back to the 1970s, the last in which the Somoza dynasty was in power in Nicaragua. Three of them, a father and two sons, ruled with an iron fist for 42 years, under the sign of inequality and the subjugation of the people, with the backing of the United States.
But Antonio Somoza, the last of the family clan to be in charge, was the cruelest. According to Mónica Baldotano, historian and former commander of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, “Somoza led genocide operations against the Nicaraguan people, once they rebelled. So he dropped bombs at cities and for his behavior lost the support of the United States. ”
If in Cuba the Revolution of Fidel Castro had overthrown dictator Fulgencio Batista from power, why wouldn’t the same thing happen in Nicaragua?
In part, with this inspiration, the Sandinista National Liberation Front party was born, founded in 1961 by Carlos Fonseca, as a left-wing political-military organization that took the name of Augusto Sandino, the patriot who, beginning in the 20th century, fought as a guerrilla against the US intervention in Nicaragua.
Among the ranks of the Sandinista Front was the young guerrilla Daniel Ortega. The revolutionary participated in several operations by the Sandinistas until in 1967 he was imprisoned for robbing a bank, which cost him torture and seven years in prison.
But in 1974, a Sandinista commando that kidnapped senior Somoza officials managed to exchange and exile him. While Ortega was in Costa Rica, the Sandinistas, with the support of the people, advanced an armed struggle in the countryside and in the cities, with several sources of insurrection between 1978 and 1979.
Having lost the support of the United States, and with a siege from neighboring countries, Somoza had no choice but to flee the country. A year later he was assassinated in Asunción, Paraguay.
The Sandinista revolutionaries entered Managua on July 19, 1979 and formed a Government Junta
Daniel Ortega was repatriated to compose said board, which had the mission of rebuilding the country mired in poverty and hopelessness. 50,000 people had died in the war against Somoza, the infrastructure was in shambles, and the country owed $ 1.6 billion abroad.
The following years were of intense revolutionary reforms to favor the poorest. Nationalization of industries and banking, agrarian reform and education reform, among other advances. In this context, the Sandinistas held general elections in 1984 and the FSLN candidate, Daniel Ortega, won the elections and became president.
But in the shadow of the revolution a counterrevolutionary project was growing, of former soldiers of the National Guard, supported once again by the United States. According to the historian Baldotano, “with the coming to power in Washington of Ronald Reagan, a period of violent aggression against the revolution was inaugurated, which was asphyxiated not only militarily but also economically.”
Indeed, after the blockade imposed by Reagan in 1981 against a decaying Nicaraguan economy, added to the violence between the revolutionaries and ‘the Contra’, the Sandinista Front lost the elections in 1990.
Daniel Ortega regained power in 2007
Ortega, determined to retake power, continued to lead the Sandinista Front and ran unsuccessfully in other presidential elections until in 2007 he was again elected as the leader of the Nicaraguans.
Over the years he built, for many in the opposition, “a totalitarian project”, in which he used to modify the constitution in order to be reelected. Since his return to power, his government has been accused of being corrupt and committing serious human rights violations. His marriage to Rosario Murillo, now vice president of the country, consolidated as a feared duo that has Nicaragua plunged into a deep crisis.
According to Baldotano, “Ortega has become an absolutist dictator who totally controls all powers and who has been able to launch the police, but also armed groups of civilians to attack and murder hundreds of Nicaraguans; and hundreds of those captured have been subjected to cruel treatment, torture and rape ”.
What Baldotano said is part of the social outbreak of April 18, 2018, which began with a protest by pensioners against reforms to the social security system. The protests led to a month of massive demonstrations that made it clear that thousands of people were fed up with the Ortega government, the same government that violently repressed the protests for which more than 300 citizens died and thousands were injured.
In conclusion, according to Mónica Baldotano, historian and former commander of the Sandinista Front in the 1979 revolution, “Daniel Ortega not only betrayed the revolution but because of his actions, he is a worse dictator than Somoza.”