Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega concedes defeat

Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinistas, conceded defeat after only 5% of the votes were counted in the Nicaraguan elections.

Daniel Ortega was the President of Nicaragua from 1979, when he led the Sandinista Socialist Revolutionary party to power in a revolution, to 1990, when he was defeated by Liberal Party candidate Arnoldo Aleman. Defeated again by Aleman in 1996, this is the third time that Daniel Ortega has lost a presidential election.

This time, however, opinion polls indicated that he may be victorious, due to the rampant corruption in the Aleman government, coupled with a worsening of poverty conditions in rural areas, which was hampering the campaign of Aleman’s Vice-president, Enrique Bolanos.

Bolanos was aided by the United States’ administration, due to senior US officials making speeches attacking Ortega’s less popular policies of the 1980s. Ortega in his turn was hindered in his socially progressive policies in the 1980s, by the Contras. These were armed terrorists, backed by the USA, sent into Nicaragua to fight a bloody civil war which left 30,000 people dead. Ortega’s Sandinistas survived against the Contras but at a terrible cost.

The victory of the Liberal party was received in festive mood by the USA. Richard Boucher, State Department spokesperson, claimed that “The Nicaraguan people have once again shown their unwavering commitment to democracy”. It remains to be seen whether the Liberal party has such a strong commitment to social justice.


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