San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Disgruntled Lawmakers Split from Montealegre’s Party

Liberal lawmaker Jamileth Bonilla and three other disgruntled lawmakers defected last week from Eduardo Montealegre’s Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) to create their own minority legislative group, called “The Voting Bloc for Unity.”

Bonilla, who has belonged to two different political parties in the last two years – first Arnoldo Alemán’s Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) and then Montealegre’s ALN – told The Nica Times this week that both her former party bosses have become obstacles to a greater Liberal unity.

She said her new voting bloc will strive for “the unity of all Liberals and democrats” by conducting a type of shuttle diplomacy between the PLC and ALN to try to get everyone to work together.

Bonilla, who will head the unity bloc, said her group will continue to oppose the creation of the Councils of Citizen Power (CPCs) and any efforts to reform the Constitution. She will be joined by former ALN lawmakers Ramiro Silva, Eduardo Gómez and Ramón Macías, and several other lawmakers are also allegedly considering joining the new voting bloc.

Bonilla denied that her group’s defection from the ranks of the ALN was part of an Alemán strategy to undercut Montealgre, or part of an Ortega ploy to keep the opposition divided.

Still, the loss of four lawmakers significantly reduces the size of the ALN’s voting bloc by nearly 20%, from 21 lawmakers to 17, and could change the dynamic in the National Assembly. The Sandinista Front has the most votes, with 38 seats, followed by the PLC, with 25. Bonilla’s unity bloc now represents the fourth largest group, followed by the Sandinista Renovation Movement, which has three votes. Two lawmakers identify as independent.

The defection from the ALN has come as the most recent challenge to Montealegre’s opposition leadership.

Political analyst Aldo Díaz said the return of Ortega to the presidency has touched off an internal power struggle in all the political parties, but that Montealegre could be most affected by the turbulence because his leadership is still young and untested. Díaz said that if the new unity bloc grows to eight or nine lawmakers, then there could be an interesting power shift among the divided Liberal family.

In the ALN camp, the writing was on the wall even before Bonilla announced her group’s defection Nov. 29.

Two days earlier, the party released a declaration signed by local party organizers backing Montealegre and demanding that lawmakers elected to the National Assembly on the ALN ticket “put aside their particular interest and defend the nation, which is what the people elected them to do.”

The declaration alluded to Bonilla and company, claiming that the ALN lawmakers who were attacking Montealegre were only benefiting the “dictatorial pretensions of the Ortega-Murillo family.”

Montealegre has blamed reports of his party’s disintegration on opposition who want to create the image of a divided Liberal Alliance.

The truth, he claims, is the opposite, with members of the PLC and Conservative Party joining the ranks of the ALN every week.

“The democrats of this country know that we have to unite,”Montealegre told Channel 12 TV news shortly before his party split.

“We cannot allow the Sandinista Front to win. Daniel Ortega is taking this country to ruin and we have to save it.”


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