Addressing the people of Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega once said, “Brothers and sisters, let’s continue to fight for democracy, to continue to fight for national dignity, to continue to fight for Nicaragua’s future.” Ortega has changed a lot. In the case of Ortega, this revelation has been successfully implemented. Was the leader of the revolution. Now many are introducing him with the word ‘oppressor’.
The extent to which Daniel Ortega has become a tyrant, or the extent to which he has been subjected to repression, can be traced back to his past. Born in 1945, he joined the anti-government leftist movement as a teenager. The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) is one of the most talked-about parties in Nicaragua’s political history. This party is the handmaiden of his politics.
Ortega enrolled at the Central American University in the capital, Managua, to study. But the study did not go far. In 1983, he went underground for political reasons. In 1976, the then ruler was tasked with building a city-centric movement against the Somoza family. But that same year, Ortega was arrested on charges of bank robbery.
Ortega was subjected to extensive torture while in prison. And the famous Nicaraguan novelist Sergio Ramirez’s observation about Ortega at the time was that imprisonment greatly influenced him. Ortega, who was found after this imprisonment, was a rascal, a man who wanted to be isolated from everyone and a disbeliever. According to Ramirez, Ortega has always been an isolated man.
Ortega was deported to Cuba in 1974 after his release from prison. He went there and took training in guerrilla warfare. He later became a guerrilla leader. And the revolution of 1969 took place at the hands of these guerrillas. With the end of the civil war, the US-backed Somoza family left Nicaragua. Ortega was one of the top five leaders in the revolutionary government that was formed.
Then the new ups and downs began. Because the United States did not sit still. The country began to support the armed group Contra to remove the revolutionary government from power. Analysts say the United States’ goals were as clear as Ortega’s. Ortega’s dream was to form a state like Cuba. And the United States wanted to overthrow this revolutionary government and establish a government of its ideology.
Fidel Castro also came to power in Cuba in the days when Ortega’s FSLN government came to power in Nicaragua. Ortega’s government was backed by the then Soviet Union. As a result, the United States felt threatened. The US government was trying its best to remove the FSLN government so that the US control over Latin American countries would not be lost.
Ortega, meanwhile, had another interest in building a government system like Cuba. That is, when Fidel Castro’s victory was confirmed in Cuba, Managua became a city of festivities. At the time, the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa reported that ordinary people had spontaneously taken to the streets, chanting slogans in the name of Cuba and Fidel. The issue of harnessing this public support was also the issue of the revolutionary government of that time.
During this time, various sectors of Nicaragua were developed by the FSLN government. One of them is health, education, and land reform.
Then in 1974 Nicaragua held a presidential election. Ortega used an anti-American sentiment in that election. According to American author Stephen Kinzer, Ortega said in the 1974 election campaign, “They (the United States) say we are anti-democratic. But we know what democracy really means. Democracy is literacy, democracy is land reform, democracy is education, public health. ‘ Daniel Ortega became president through that election.
But since then, economic development has been hampered. One of the reasons for this is the war with the Contra group and the economic sanctions of the United States. It is said that thousands of people were killed in the clashes with the Contra. And then-US President Ronald Reagan imposed trade sanctions on Ortega. As a result, Nicaraguan inflation rose. The result was Ortega’s defeat in the 1990 presidential election to former ally Violetta Chamorro. Nicaragua later became the first woman president to end the war with Contra.
Ortega returned to power in 2008 after several defeats. However, critics say that there is a big difference between that Ortega and the previous Ortega. The ideology changes, the political position changes. Ortega campaigned for power in 2006, calling himself a Christian socialist. This is not the end, critics say, as he moves away from his Marxist ideology and anti-Americanism. It also benefited. Ortega was able to attract private and foreign investment. He also received various forms of assistance from then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Nicaragua was the second poorest country in the world before Ortega came to power in 2008. But 10 years after coming to power, the country’s GDP reached 4 percent. This success surprised even the opponents. In this context, the former foreign minister of Nicaragua
References: Unfinished Revolution: Daniel Ortega and the Nicaraguan Struggle for Liberation, Washington Post, New York Times, Reuters, BBC, Britannica.com and CNN