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Daniel Ortega: 1945—: Former Nicaragua President, Revolutionary

Lost Third Bid For Presidency

Many predicted that the scandal would be his downfall, finally accomplishing what Somoza, Reagan, and the Contras never could. But he bounced back when the corruption of the conservative Alemán government enabled him to take up his cause once again, directing his campaign at the angry and dejected of Nicaragua, the world's poorest Spanish-speaking country. Ortega showed a significant lead the summer before his third election bid in 2001. However, he conceded defeat with 42 percent of the vote to Enrique Bolaños's 56 percent. His third loss could be attributed to a number of factors, including allegations of corruption made against him in relation to the last days of his government in the 1980s, the accusation made by his step-daughter, and U.S. interference in the election campaign, including critical statements made about him by the State Department which linked him to terrorism and highlighted his ties to both the Libyan leader, Moammar Gaddafi, and Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Ortega's critics have given him his due for supporting the electoral process in his effort to reclaim the presidency. "Although he's obsessed with his quest for power, he's committed to doing it democratically," former FSLN Minister of Housing Miguel Vigil told National Catholic Report. "More than any other elected politician we've had in this country, Daniel has a democratic spirit at heart." But after three consecutive losses, it may be time for another leader to take on the cause and for the FSLN to democratize internally and overhaul its image and agenda. However, they believe that Ortega's support will be essential in facilitating these goals.



Economist, October 25, 2001.

Houston Chronicle, April 16, 2003.

Monterey County Herald, March 30, 2003.

National Catholic Report, November 16, 2001.

Newsweek, March 23, 1998.

Observer (London), September 2, 2001.

Time Magazine, October 14, 1996; March 23, 1998.

Washington Post, November 6, 2001.

World & I, March 1, 2003.


"Daniel Ortega interview for Cold War documentary series," CNN, www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/18/interviews/ortega (June 12, 2003).

—Kelly M. Martinez

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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