San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A ‘Revolution’ of Capitalism & Corruption

In 1979, the Sandinista Revolution overthrew 42 years of Somoza family rule in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas came to power promising democracy to the Nicaraguan People.

What Followed was a decade of death, destruction and privation in this sad country.

One of the first acts of the new government was to form alliances with the Soviet Union, Cuba, East Germany and Bulgaria – four of the most oppressive regimes on the planet. This decision was made before the Sandinistas faced any resistance to their revolution by forces within or outside the country.

The results were predictable.

Nicaragua by the late 1980’s had virtually been destroyed by war, massive food shortages, political oppression and a complete collapse of the economy. By the end of the decade, Daniel Ortega had become the unopposed leader of the Sandinista Revolution.

To gain political legitimacy – and, he hoped, desperately needed foreign aid – Ortega called for a presidential election in 1990. He was convinced “el pueblo” would support him. They didn’t.

The Nicaraguan people had had enough of Ortega and the revolution. Ortega was voted out of power. What followed was a succession of corrupt and incompetent governments and two more failed attempts by Ortega to reclaim the presidency.

In 2006 Ortega was elected president with 38 percent of the popular vote. How does someone become president when 62 percent of the people vote against him?

Troubling question, isn’t it?

In the past three years of Ortega’s second presidency, two things have become very clear:

First of all, Daniel Ortega and is wife Rosario Murillo – a full partner in Daniel’s rush to dictatorship – are not Sandinistas. It is unlikely they ever were. The Ortega- Murillo family has only one goal: expanding their wealth and power.

And second of all, to meet this goal the Ortega-Murillo family is focused on turning Nicaragua into a Cuban-style police state with themselves in the position of “maximum leaders.”

And what have they done to accomplish this? They have blatantly violated the Nicaraguan Constitution many times. Just recently Ortega had the constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court, which is under his personal control, declare null and void Article 147 of the Constitution, which says a person cannot serve two consecutive terms as president.

The Constitution also states that only the legislative National Assembly has the authority to reform the magna carta. Ortega clearly could not get enough lawmakers to support his reform effort, so he had his judges do it for him. The fact that this is illegal didn’t seem to bother him.

Then there was the case of the November 2008 municipal elections, when Ortega refused to allow impartial outside observers. Not surprisingly, the election sparked widespread allegations of massive vote fraud. So much so that many donor countries – from the European Union to the United States – cut off tens of millions of dollars in aid to Nicaragua.

After the election, much of the political opposition tried to hold peaceful protest marches. But every time they tried they were set upon by thugs armed with morteros, rocks and machetes. The police stood by and did nothing to stop the attackers.

Ortega’s friends this time around are Cuba, Venezuela, Russian and Iran. Over the past three years, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Nicaragua, which has gone directly into bank accounts controlled by Ortega and Murillo. It seems none of this money has benefited the government of Nicaragua.

The Ortega-Murillo family now controls virtually all the levers of power in Nicaragua.

The Supreme Court, The Supreme Electoral Council, and the Prosecutors’ Office. And if the National Assembly tries to object, Ortega just issues a presidential decree.

There is virtually no difference between the power and wealth of the Ortega – Murillo family and the Somoza family of the past.

¡Viva La Revolución!


Howard Cox moved from Costa Rica to Nicaragua seven years ago. His wife is Nicaraguan and they have built a house and reside in Granada

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