MANAGUA – Sandinista government authorities this week downplayed the growing party rift and internal power struggle between Managua Mayor Dionisio “Nicho” Marenco and First Lady Rosario Murillo.
The tensions were made public earlier this month when Marenco denounced Murillo for allegedly trying to “conspire” against him and pressure Managua’s City Council into electing her candidate as a replacement for Vice-Mayor Alexis Arguello, who stepped down from office Nov. 1 to run for mayor next year. Marenco blasted Murillo’s meddling and questioned her leadership role in the party.
Marenco then got his own candidate elected in a vote that has been viewed as an open challenge to Murillo’s growing power, and one that many speculate will prompt the First Lady to try to remove Marenco from office or have him thrown out of the Sandinista Front (NT, Nov. 16).
Marenco this week told The Nica Times that he has received a lot of support from Sandinista sympathizers, and downplayed the escalating scandal, saying it wasn’t “prudent” to speak out against the First Lady. He denied that anyone has asked him to resign as mayor, and said only City Council could vote to have him impeached.
At the municipal government office, the mood was unmistakably edgy this week as officials wait for the other shoe to drop.
“I’m at my party’s disposition,” said councilwoman Marina Cárdenas, who said she was one of the few who voted for Murillo’s losing candidate.
Vice-President Jaime Morales also downplayed the scandal this week, dismissing it to the heat of the tropics and “the salt and pepper of daily life here.”
Marenco, meanwhile, claims no one can throw him out of the Sandinista Front, insisting, “I am a Sandinista and I will die a Sandinista.”
Asked by The Nica Times when the Sandinistas, who tout “reconciliation and national unity,”will start to reconcile their own Sandinista family, Marenco replied: “Good question, but I can’t answer that because I don’t know.”