ALBA Gold! Another Caudillo Wants to Be Prez for Life


We have noted the anniversary of the moon landing (or, if one believes investigative journalist Whoopi Goldberg, the "moon landing") and the anniversary of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg's failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, though understandably overlooked Sunday's celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. At a parade celebrating this ignominious start of a decade of civil war, Nicaraguan President (and Latin America's number one Gary Glitter impersonator) Daniel Ortega shouted to his followers that Barack Obama was planning to finish what Ronald Reagan started—and Violeta Chamorra thought she finished. "[The Americans] are going to try and invade Nicaragua. Come and try to invade Nicaragua! Come and try and defeat this people! But we will never be defeated."

The Ortega kleptocracy, rejected by voters in 1990 in the country's first honest election in a bazillion years, returned to power in 2006 with a plurality (38 percent) of votes. Now, following the lead of his fellow leftist leaders in the region like Hugo Chavez, Rafael Correa, Manuel Zelaya, and Evo Morales, Ortega wants to stay in power beyond what is constitutionally permitted.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Speaking in front of hundreds of thousands of Sandinista loyalists Sunday at a rally to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the leftist revolution he helped lead, Mr. Ortega called for a constitutional referendum on scrapping presidential term limits.

It's the latest in a series of moves to consolidate power by leftist leaders allied together in the Venezuelan-led Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America (ALBA). Critics decry such measures as undemocratic, but Ortega, Mr. Zelaya, and other leftists say that taking the decisions to the people is the purest form of democracy and that they must band together against the conservative powers that have traditionally run things in the region.

Last year, Brookings Institution scholar Kevin Casas-Zamora warned that, yet again, Nicaragua was on a "downward spiral towards authoritarian rule under Ortega's watch." Not much has changed since the first revolutionary iteration of Soviet-backed Sandismo. I always appreciated that Ortega's thugs so desperately desired democratic legitimacy and so often used the language of democracy when lording over an obviously undemocratic experiment in modern caudilloism. Bayardo Arce, a member of the 1979 ruling junta, told the Washington Post soon after the revolution that "We support freedom of the press. But, of course, the freedom of the press we support will be a freedom of the press that supports the revolution."