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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le Nicaragua en rouge et noir

by Catherine Ceiba

Nicaragua in Red and Black

Translated Sunday 12 November 2006

Presidential elections. Although the final results are not yet in, the supporters of Daniel Ortega have started to celebrate the victory of the Sandinista ex-guerilla leader of the FSLN.

Unless something unexpected happens, Daniel Ortega should logically be re-elected president of Nicaragua in the first round of the Nicaraguan presidential elections. The ex-guerilla of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) received 38.59% of the votes, according to the latest count of 61.8 % of the polling stations, ahead of his main rival, the ultra-conservative Eduardo Montealegre of the Liberal Alliance of Nicaragua (ALN) (30.94%). With 22.93% of the votes, the other right-wing candidate of the Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC), José Rizo, has little chance to reverse the trend.

Sixteen years after having agreed to elections and “laid down arms” in front of the right-wing Violeta Chamorro, the candidate supported and financed by the United States, Daniel Ortega should preside over the destiny of the poorest country of Latin America, after Haiti. A success that the most optimistic are referring to as a Pyrrhic victory.

The Sandinista Front of 2006 is no more the party which entered Managua in 1976, after triumphantly toppling the bloody dynasty of the Somozas. Since then, the FSLN has become splintered as a result of internal divisions and external pressures, mostly originating in the United States. The emblematic figures of the party have nearly all left and, tarnished by corruption scandals, the Sandinista Front has also paid dearly for its compromised alliances with the ultra-liberal right of the country.

Finally, the radical political changes in the political agenda of Daniel Ortega himself greatly confused the election of November 5. Fervent Catholic to the point of promoting a law prohibiting abortion, he also has appointed an ex-Contra mercenary as his senior advisor. Opportunist or tactician who learned his lessons from past failures to the point of allying himself with the devil? What will Daniel Ortega do once in power? Some praise his reassuring discourse with foreign investors, others point to his strong verbal attacks against the misery which creates gangrene in his country, since the return of the right in power.

Whatever, he incarnates still today, especially in the eyes of the poorest of the poor, the Sandinism of yesterday. He is a symbol of anti-imperialism and of national sovereignty. This movement enjoys great popularity as can be seen in its influence in the large cities of the country, in popular organizations as well as in the army.

Following this election, despite the millions invested by Washington who had threatened a new cold war if the FSLN won, the election of Ortega is the victory of a people rejecting the policies of privatization in education, healthcare, electricity, which had all previously been part of the public sector. The shock wave spreads beyond Central America. Nicaragua should become a new partner in the alliance Havana-Caracas-La Paz.

The return of Ortega, is, in any case, a slap in the face of the United States, which never stopped interfering in the internal affairs of Nicaragua.

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