San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicaragua's Ortega prepares for reelection bid, despite constitutional ban

MANAGUA – After more than year of dropping unsubtle hints, Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) on Monday essentially announced what the rest of the country already knows: Daniel Ortega is going to run as the party’s presidential candidate again this year… for the sixth consecutive election since 1984.

The fact that Ortega’s candidacy is doubly prohibited by the Constitution does not appear to be a concern to the ruling party, which released a communiqué Monday afternoon announcing, “We are preparing with optimism and strength to convoke our people to continue deepening the transformations of conscience in an electoral campaign that proposes that the people, with the Frente and with Daniel, continue to be the president.”

Consistent with the FSLN’s characteristic confusion of state, party and family, the FSLN communiqué was circulated as an official government release, making it appear that Nicaragua’s official state position is that Ortega should continue as president.

The communiqué, written and announced by First Lady and government communications tsar Rosario Murillo, announced that the FSLN’s annual party congress, when the party will officially announce its 2011 presidential candidate, will be held Feb. 12. However, given the fact that the government has already erected “Daniel 2011” billboards and is handing out “Daniel” campaign hats, it’s probably a safe bet that Ortega will continue as the party’s frontman.

“With energy, good will, enthusiasm, serenity, confidence and above all humility, the FSLN will guarantee that the great majority of Nicaraguans vote with their conscience to continue governing Nicaragua with the Frente and with Daniel,” the party/government release says.

Constitutional Remix

Article 147 of the Constitution doubly prohibits Ortega’s announced candidacy since he is the acting president and has already  served two terms (1984-1990; 2007-2012).

But for the Orteguista magistrates in the Supreme Court, who can produce a constitutional remix with the ease of a club DJ, any law can be spun into a Sandinista mash-up.

In a secretive and allegedly illegal court session held in October 2009, Ortega’s judges ruled that Article 147 does not apply to their boss (NT, Oct. 23, 2009). Then, just last week, the same Orteguista magistrates and a group of crony substitute judges convoked another secretive session to ratify the decision and order that it be printed in the official daily La Gaceta.

Opposition judges, who have managed to be absent for every crucial Orteguista offense against the Constitution over the past two years, once again played their tired role of feigning innocence, stomping their feet and pretending to be shocked and disgusted by the illegal behavior of their counterparts.

Only the Catholic Church has taken a strong position on the matter. Monseñor Silvio Báez, auxiliary bishop for Managua, said during his Jan. 23 Sunday Mass that the Orteguistas consistent abuse of the Constitution qualifies as “a sin.”

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