Latin America

Contra Ortega


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.

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  1. Sounds like he’s more popular than GW Bush.

  2. re: ecuador–correa ridding his country of congress is a good thing, as it is a branch that has a reputation for corruption and does not represent the peoples interests. he is calling for a constitutional assembly that will be more directly accountable to the people who vote them in. correa is also calling for a new court. As per correa, the new top court should “guarantee the necessary and efficient separation of all the powers of the state.” This is hardly chavez. btw, a president who doesnt act upon what he states is considered news???????

  3. Where is this trend in Latin American politics coming from?

    Backlash against George Bush?

    Were the governments in power for the last few years particularly conservative, and this is a reversion to the norm?

  4. Agreeing with the IMF is a good thing?

  5. Wait, this is Bush’s fault how?

  6. Got a better theory, SA?

  7. Backlash against George Bush?

    What has he done in Latin America to merit a backlash?

    Seriously, I thought our policy in Latin American these days was basically one of benign neglect, leavened only with tepid support for free trade and drug war subsidies.

  8. RC,

    Backed two coups against elected presidents and ramped up support for aerial spraying and paramilitary enforcement.

    Mind you, I’m asking here. There might be some other explanation entirely, such as the past 10-15 years being an unusual period and this being a reversion to the norm – perhaps the turn towards globalization hasn’t worked out as well for the general public as was originally promoised. Or maybe this is just noise.

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