The Fall and Rise of Daniel Ortega


It looks like the former Sandanista strongman with the designer glasses, Daniel Ortega, is going to become the next president of Nicaragua, 16 years after being driven out of office.

From the AP:

Early results from Sunday's presidential election gave the Sandinista leader a strong lead over his four rivals. His victory, if confirmed by final results, would expand the club of leftist Latin rulers led by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who has tried to help his ally by shipping cheap oil to the energy-starved nation.

Ortega, who led Nicaragua from 1985-1990, has repeatedly said he is not the Marxist revolutionary who fought U.S.-backed Contra rebels, a war that left 30,000 dead and the economy in shambles.

But while he has toned down his leftist rhetoric and pledged to continue free-trade policies, the United States remains openly wary of its former Cold War foe. Washington has threatened to withhold aid to the nation, fearing a return to the socialist economic policies of the 1980s.

More, including promises by Ortega that he is no longer a socialist but in fact welcomes foreign investment and markets, here.

What explains his win? The fact that Oliver North went south of the border to campaign against him? That Bianca Jagger, a former fan, campaigned against him? That his Roy Disney-like brother Humberto, former Sandanista defense minister, campaigned against him? It's tough to figure out, and thankfully, we don't really have to.

The Wash Post recently ran a good rundown on all the flips and flops Ortega has made over the years. Read it here.

And read this great piece about Nicaragua by Glenn Garvin, a contributing editor to Reason and the TV critic at the Miami Herald who covered Latin American for that paper and the Wash Times back in the 1980s.