San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Fabio Gadea Holds First Campaign Rally in Nicaragua

MANAGUA – Presidential hopeful Fabio Gadea, the 79-year-old radio personality who many hope will be the “consensus candidate” unifying the majority opposition against President Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista Party in 2011, held his first public rally Sunday in the Pacific port town of Corinto, where hundreds of supporters poured into the streets in a show of support.

Gadea, a former southern front contra who lived in exile in Costa Rica for eight years during the first Sandinista revolution, told the crowd that the only thing he is promising them as candidate for president is “a revolution of honesty.”

“Some of you will say, ‘What is this man doing coming to Corinto? Is he going to be a candidate who offers everything and delivers nothing?’ No, I am not going to make promises. I come here to offer you a dream that you can achieve. I am here to offer you something that will change the face of the Nicaraguan nation. I come here to offer you something that no other candidate will offer you: honesty,” Gadea told the crowd, according to a press release.

Gadea and the crowd

Hundreds of people turn out to support Fabio Gadea Sunday in Corinto. Photo courtesy of MVE.

Gadea, who is perhaps best known in Nicaragua for his folksy radio personality “Pancho Madrigal,” as well as his “Love Letters to Nicaragua,” which he began during his days in exile, has become the elderly “new face” of Nicaragua’s political scene.

In an interview last month with The Nica Times, Gadea said he plans to travel around the country, but said it wouldn’t be a typical Nicaraguan campaign with large public rallies and T-shirt giveaways – a traditional campaign stunt that he calls “stupid.”

“I’ve always traveled around the country to do my radio program. And the people around the country know me more than any of the other candidates. They know the other candidates because they offered (the people) promises and gifts, but they know me because they’ve always listened to me on the radio for 50 years,” Gadea told The Nica Times. “That’s because they love me, and not because I am going to give them a campaign hat.”

Gadea’s candidacy was proposed last August by former presidential hopeful Eduardo Montealegre, who is viewed by some as the kingmaker pulling the strings behind the scenes. Gadea’s candidacy presents a frontal challenge to Liberal Constitutional Party boss and former President Arnoldo Alemán, who is calling on the upstart candidate to square off against him in an inter-party primary election to decide which of the two men should be the true “consensus candidate.”  

Gadea, however, has refused the offer. And although his candidacy has already been endorsed by minority parties on the right and left, some have raised questions about Gadea’s qualifications and wonder if he’s really the best candidate to reform the country’s conservative and intolerant political culture (NT, Editorial, Sept. 24).

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