Daniel Ortega Seeks Re-Election In Nicaragua | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
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/.

WAMU 88.5

Arlington Artisphere Likely To Close Next Summer

With Arlington's county government tightening its belt, the county manager is recommending that the Artisphere arts center in Rosslyn close up shop next year.

NPR

A History Lesson On The Philippines, Stuffed In A Christmas Chicken

Rellenong manok is a deboned chicken filled with a jumble of ingredients. If it seems hard to pin down how this dish got all its fillings, it's because of the complexity of the Philippines' culture.
NPR

GOP Sens. Rubio, Paul Square Off Over Cuba Policy Shift

Rubio, appearing on ABC's This Week, lashed out at Paul, who has expressed support for opening trade with the island nation after a decades-long embargo.
NPR

Obama Calls North Korean Hack 'Cybervandalism'

On CNN's State of the Union, the president expanded on earlier remarks he made criticizing a decision by Sony Pictures to pull distribution of The Interview.

Leave a Comment

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