Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega (left) and Commander in Chief of the Nicaraguan army General Julio Cesar Aviles greet soldiers after his oath at Revolution Square in Managua, Nicaragua, February 21, 2020. (Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters) A strongman in power for decades clings desperately to his office.
Daniel Ortega has ruled Nicaragua for approximately 32 of the past 40 years — first as part of a five-man junta after the Marxist Sandinistas ousted the former dictator, Anastasio Somoza, in 1979, and later as president (from 1984 to 1990 and again from 2007 to the present). He has no intention of giving up his power anytime soon.
I’ve been told by numerous sources, including several former Ortega associates, that 1990 was a critical year in Ortega’s evolution as a dictator. That was the year Violeta Chamorro, widow of a highly respected newspaper editor who had crusaded against the Somoza dictatorship, defeated him in Nicaragua’s presidential election.
Chamorro was able to pull off a victory because Ortega, confident that most Nicaraguans supported the Sandinista revolution, failed to rig the election. That night he reportedly got a call from Fidel Castro, who is said to have told him: “Never forget this lesson: Once you gain power, you do not allow free elections because the Fascists might win.”
In recent days Ortega has shown the world how well he remembers that lesson. In power for the past 14 years, Ortega is running for a fourth consecutive five-year term and has taken his control of the election, planned for early November, far beyond the interference and manipulation that occurred in his two previous reelection campaigns.
Unlike the earlier campaigns, when he still retained some popular support, Ortega is now loathed by a large percentage of Nicaraguans and would likely lose against any of his principal opponents in a fair election. That’s why he began the process of rigging the election at the end of last year by legally limiting political rights, then deepened the rigging in May, when he packed the electoral oversight body with members of his party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front
Continue reading on National Review