The indispensable Angus Reid Global Monitor sees trouble ahead for Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. According to a poll in the Managua daily La Prensa, the newspaper frequently shuttered by Ortega during his first, less democratic reign, the former revolutionary's public support continues to dissipate. A plurality of those surveyed—38 percent—rate Ortega's performance as president "bad" or "very bad," versus 28 percent who rank his presidency "good" or "very good." 63 percent of those surveyed said that Ortega was dragging the country in "the wrong direction." As Angus Reid observes, Ortega often speaks with a forked tongue—fiery class warfare for the peasants, moderate economic policies for the IMF crowd:
On Oct. 25, Humberto Arbulú-the resident representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Nicaragua-referred to Ortega's economic policy and stated that the president usually says one thing to appeal to his supporters while his administration implements measures that are different to what he preaches. Arbulú declared: "The president of Nicaragua has the right to say what he wants, but he knows that he can't do everything he says. (…) The private sector knows when the message is for them and when it's not. They heard his speech in the plaza, but they also see the agreement with the IMF."
As one American official said about Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez, pay attention not to what he says, but what he does.
This is good news for the people of Nicaragua, but it doesn't, alas, signify a Latin American trend. Ecuador's increasingly Chavista president Rafael Correa, who has threatened to roll-up the independent press in his country too, won a resounding victory in his quest to rewrite that country's constitution last month. According to the Associated Press, Correa recently "called for new elections and the closure of Congress, buoyed by a vote that apparently gave his supporters a majority in a special assembly to overhaul the constitution."
I reviewed a recent Chavez biography here.