San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

EDITORIAL: Enter Stage (Extreme) Right

The possibility of a 2011 electoral rematch between Daniel Ortega and Arnoldo Alemán has generated all the excitement of the Freddy versus Jason movie – the exhausting 12th edition in the endless “Friday the 13th” cinematic franchise.

While truly devout slasher-movie fans lined up to see the gory 2003 release, most people stayed at home and rolled their eyes in exasperation: “Really, Hollywood? That’s the best you could come up with?”

Next year’s presidential race here could generate a similar response among most Nicaraguans.  The polls show that more than 50 percent of voters would stay at home rather than turn out to show their support for Ortega or Alemán. And people watching Nicaragua from afar can only roll their eyes in exasperation: “Really, Nicaragua? Is that the best you could come up with?”

Indeed, Nicaragua’s political scene, similar to a Hollywood horror flick franchise, is in desperate need of a new plotline.

The difference is that Hollywood, at least, finds attractive new faces to bring into otherwise tired stories. Nicaragua, on the other hand, keeps rolling out the same people to play the same roles.

The 2011 presidential race – which promises to be a gory affair in its own right – looks like it will star Daniel Ortega in his sixth consecutive appearance as the Sandinista candidate – a role he apparently feels he was born to play. And not to worry, Gentle Reader: even If you missed the first five installments of Ortega’s electoral hexology, you’ll still be able to figure out the plot of the next one.

However, before the marquee could be set, there’s been a wrinkle in the casting. Enter stage right: Fabio Gadea. Actually, make that enter stage “extreme right.”

Gadea’s early appearance on Nicaragua’s political scene has added an element of drama to the tragi-comedy of next year’s elections. But fans who are expecting Gadea to ride onto the stage wearing a white hat to save the day – or those hoping for an award-winning performance – will most likely be disappointed.

Gadea is not the dashing young hero that’s going to defeat the villains. He’s more like the grumpy Wilford Brimley character who yells and mumbles and shakes his fist at a world that’s changing faster than he can understand.

The biggest flaw of the Sandinista government is not its arbitrary rule, its incompetency or its insatiable quest for power (although those are all pretty close runners-up). The Sandinistas’ biggest problem is its intolerance.

Behind the ironic rhetoric of peace and unity and reconciliation, the Sandinista government has acted with increasingly worrisome degrees of vindictiveness and pettiness, creating an atmosphere of intolerance, fear, division and mistrust.

Now presidential hopeful Fabio Gadea comes along speaking of the need for unity and reconciliation from the right. But here’s the spoiler alert: Gadea is no more tolerant than Ortega. And if voters are truly hoping for a government of peace, unity and national reconciliation, they better start looking for another candidate.

Gadea, in his own words, has demonstrated that his political and social views are…well, those of an angry 79-year-old man. He said in his interview with The Nica Times that the Sandinistas wouldn’t be part of his unity government, essentially promising a continuance of the same “you’re out, we’re in” policies that have kept Nicaragua polarized and incapable of serious progress for decades.

In addition to his political intolerance, it’s his intolerance towards diversity which is even more worrisome.

In one of Gadea’s so-called “Love Letters to Nicaragua” dated July 20, the presidential hopeful rails against homosexuals in hateful terms, and displays his ignorance by claiming that homosexuality can be treated with “modern science.” He also blasts Argentina for legalizing gay marriage.

And that’s from one of his “love letters.” One can only imagine what tone Gadea would employ in one of his “angry letters.”

For as much as Nicaragua wants and deserves a strong opposition candidate capable of uniting the country, Gadea is not the right person for the job. His presidency would not help Nicaragua come together and move forward.  

Nicaragua has suffered enough from the alternating abuses of intolerant left- and right-wing governments. It’s time to stop the pendulum somewhere near the middle.

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