1 minute read

Daniel Ortega: 1945—: Former Nicaragua President, Revolutionary

Relinquished Presidency To Chamorro

In the February 1990 elections under the Arias agreement, with international monitors in place, Ortega and the FSLN lost overwhelmingly to the UNO (Union of National Opposition), a right-centrist coalition led by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, whose husband, Pedro Chamorro, was assassinated by the Samoza regime in 1978 for voicing dissent against the Somoza dictatorship. Ortega relinquished the presidency the following April, blaming the U.S. attack on Panama for his defeat. "It wasn't a completely free election because there was open interference from the United States, from President Bush, in the form of financial and political support to our opponents, as well as threats that the blockade would not be lifted and all the rest of it if UNO didn't win. The decisive moment was the invasion of Panama," he explained to CNN.

Since losing the 1990 election, Ortega has remained an influential leader in the Sandinista movement and Nicaraguan politics, remodeling himself a more democratic leader with the intention of meeting capitalism halfway. The FSLN has remained his personal tool, using strikes and the army to indirectly influence the politics of Nicaragua. However, the FSLN leadership has become more corrupt and undisciplined with time and Ortega's subsequent bids for office have all ended in defeat. His platform remained similar to his old model—defending socialist ideals and fighting for a just and free world—but in line with the new reality. Still, he lost an election bid in 1996, with 39 percent of the vote to Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo's 49 percent.

Ortega faced a personal defeat in 1998 when his adopted stepdaughter Zoilamerica Navaez, a militant Sandinista, accused him of sexually abusing her from 1978, when she was eleven, until her marriage in 1990. Ortega and his wife vehemently dismissed the accusation and supporters branded the incident a CIA plot. The incident threatened to destroy his political career. When he toured the barrios, Ortega required an assembly of guards to divide angry loyalists from protesters brandishing placards that read: "Ortega Violador" or "Ortega Rapist." However, he was never prosecuted and the case was dismissed in 2003, when the Nicaraguan Supreme Court upheld a judge's verdict that Navaez had waited too long to pursue the allegations.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerDaniel Ortega: 1945—: Former Nicaragua President, Revolutionary Biography - Learned Rebellion At An Early Age, Rose To Position Of Power, Led Sandinistas To Victory