Filed Under:

Daniel Ortega Seeks Re-Election In Nicaragua

Play associated audio

Nicaragua has a constitutional ban on sitting presidents running for re-election. But Daniel Ortega is doing just that, and he looks set to win an unprecedented third term.

This is an election filled with shifting ghosts. Characters from all sides of Nicaragua's tumultuous recent history are involved in the campaign.

Ortega, the former Marxist guerrilla and longtime Sandinista leader, is promising neoliberal reforms and a pro-business environment to attract foreign capital.

Ortega is leading in the polls — but legal scholars say he is ineligible to run.

His leading challenger is Fabio Gadea, a former Contra who in the 1980s fled to Costa Rica to set up an anti-Sandinista radio station.

Also in the race is ex-president Arnoldo Aleman. After Aleman left office in 2002, he was convicted of having stolen $100 million in government funds. The conservative politician's conviction was eventually overturned in 2009.

Former Sandinista guerrillas are denouncing the current Sandinista leader, saying Ortega is becoming a dictator.

Questions About Ortega's Candidacy

Monica Baltodano was a fighter with the Sandinistas in the late 1970s during their guerrilla offensive to oust the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. She says the current elections in Nicaragua are a farce and a ploy to keep Ortega permanently in power.

Ortega tried repeatedly to get the National Assembly to amend the Constitution to lift term limits. When that failed, six pro-Sandinista members of the 15 member Supreme Court met in a hastily called session in 2009 and ruled the country's term limits invalid.

Baltodano is now calling on voters to go to the polls to cast a "null" vote in protest. "We are calling on people to mark across the entire ballot," she says; this way the ballots can't be used by anyone.

In a sprawling market in Managua, some vendors echo Baltodano's statement that this election is a farce.

But there is also genuine support for Ortega.

Elias Jose Gutierrez Amador, who sells bags of charcoal for roughly a dollar a bag, says he is going to support Ortega because Ortega has done a lot for the country.

Gutierrez says Ortega helped people after recent floods. Other people in the market say Ortega is providing free roofing, medicine and other services to the poor and because of this, the Sandinista leader will have their votes Sunday at the polls.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Rolling The R's' Is A Story About Coming Of Age And Coming Out

Rolling the R's tells the stories of restless teenagers in the disco era in a gritty neighborhood in Hawaii. Author R. Zamora Linmark discusses the book's impact, 20 years after it first came out.
NPR

'Sweetbitter' Is A Savory Saga Of Restaurant Life And Love

Oysters, cocaine, fine wine, love triangles: Stephanie Danler's debut novel Sweetbitter follows a year in the life of a young woman working at a top-tier Manhattan restaurant.
NPR

Trump Rolls Into Washington For Biker Rally

The presumptive Republican nominee for president addressed Rolling Thunder, the annual gathering of motorcyclists, on Sunday. The group seeks to raise awareness of veterans' issues.
NPR

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, She Channeled Her Ups And Downs Into Texts

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Natalie Sun about her project, textingwithcancer.com. The website won a Webby award, and documents her pessimism and optimism while undergoing chemotherapy.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.