Nicaragua: Ortega complains of election rigging

Daniel Ortega, who ruled the country from 1979 to 1990, was speaking at the headquarters of the FSNL (Sandinista National Liberty Front).He declared that “The United States should not adopt policies of interference in Nicaragua” and that “external and internal forces” engineered the election victory of the Liberal candidate, Enrique Bolanos.

“The Nicaraguan people were denied the chance to choose freely, because the citizens were to vote under threat of blackmail and threats by external and internal forces”, added Ortega.

He accused the United States of controlling the identity of the voters “in a way that was neither controlled or checked”, and made promises to provide documents to people who voted for the government party.

Furthermore, he denounced the practice of voting “with witnesses”. He revealed that after the voting booths were due to be closed, thousands of voters arrived to vote “with witnesses”. In Nicaragua, when a voter cannot prove that he lives in the electoral circuit, he can still vote by appearing at the polling station with someone who vouches for him. Daniel Ortega demands that the number of these votes be counted in an independent audit of the elections.

Opinion polls that the election would be closely run were proven wrong by the result, which showed a lead of nearly 14 percentage points for the Liberals. Senior US officials conducted a propaganda campaign against Ortega in the run-up to the elections and this is thought to have influenced public opinion.

The Sandinistas overthrew the fascist dictatorial regime of Anastasio Somoza in 1979. The Somoza dynasty had led the country through an industrialisation programme in the 1960s and 1970s, which had them in the good books of the USA because the economic growth rate of the country made it a good target for bankers to invest. The industrialisation programme also favoured the elite of Managua.

The workers, however, did not benefit. Forced off their small-holdings by rich latifundia owners who wanted to create enormous plantations, their working conditions in the cities were deplorable. As usual in Latin America, the Unions were violently repressed and by 1973, most of the workers did not earn enough money to eat.

The 1972 earthquake which destroyed large parts of Managua compounded an already bad situation. Somoza squandered the millions of dollars in international aid which had been donated to develop the country. No rebuilding works were undertaken. The unemployment rate in the country was 13% in 1977 and 10% of the population owned the majority of the property.

In 1978, an editor of the opposition newspaper La Prensa was assassinated, shortly before the Sandinistas took power.

The Frente Sandinista de Libertacion Nacional was created by Carlos Fonseca Amador in 1961, under the name of Augusto Cesar Sandina. He was murdered by the Somozas in 1977 but his movement came to power two years later.

The Sandinista regime tried to address the grave economic state the country was in. However, the USA, reticent at allowing a left-wing regime to install itself on its doorstep, funded the Contras, a movement of fascist terrorists who tried to bring down the regime. They caused 30,000 deaths in Nicaragua.

The US Congress, ashamed at the excesses of this movement, voted for aid to be suspended to this movement. However, in 1986, the Iran-Contras Affair surfaced, when it was discovered that US arms were being sold in secret to Iran (to aid this country in its war against Iraq), to in turn provide funds which were sent to the Contras, by the American regime, against the laws of the country.

This arrogance and interfering has happened, and continues to happen, all over South America, a continent with a history of fascist and violently repressive regimes, run by a chosen elite, holding down the people and denying them access to education and properly dignified living conditions.


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