- Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega Daniel Ortega in 2008 President of Nicaragua Incumbent Assumed office
10 January 2007
Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo Preceded by Enrique Bolaños In office
10 January 1985 – 25 April 1990
Vice President Sergio Ramírez Preceded by Junta of National Reconstruction Succeeded by Violeta Chamorro Junta of National Reconstruction In office
18 July 1979 – 10 January 1985
Preceded by Francisco Urcuyo Succeeded by Office abolished Personal details Born 11 November 1945
La Libertad, Chontales, Nicaragua
Political party FSLN Spouse(s) Rosario Murillo Religion Roman Catholic
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra (Spanish pronunciation: [xoˈse̞ ðaˈnje̞l o̞rˈte̞ɣa saˈβe̞ðɾa]; born 11 November 1945) is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional or FSLN). Politically a socialist, his policies in government have seen the implementation of leftist reforms across Nicaragua.
Born into a working class family, from an early age Ortega developed a hatred of the ruling President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, who was widely seen as a dictator, and became involved in the underground movement to oppose Somoza's regime. Joining the Sandinistas, he also travelled to Cuba to receive training in guerilla warfare from Fidel Castro's Marxist-Leninist government. After the Nicaraguan Revolution resulted in the overthrow and exile of the Somoza's government in 1979, Ortega became a member of the ruling multipartisan Junta of National Reconstruction and was later elected president, serving from 1985 to 1990. At the time a Marxist-Leninist, his first period in office was characterized by a controversial program of land reform, wealth redistribution and literacy programs. Such leftist reforms damaged U.S. economic interests in the country, gaining hostility from the U.S.'s governing Reagan administration, who funded a right wing militia, the Contras, to overthrow Ortega's government.
Ortega was defeated by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in the 1990 presidential election, but he remained an important figure in Nicaraguan opposition politics, gradually moderating in his political position from Marxism-Leninism to democratic socialism. He was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 1996 and 2001, before winning the 2006 presidential election. In power, he has made alliances with fellow Latin American socialists, namely Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and signed Nicaragua up to the left wing Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
Ortega was born to a poor class La Libertad, department of Chontales, Nicaragua. His parents, Daniel Ortega and Amy Saavedra, were in opposition to the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. His mother was imprisoned by Somoza's National Guard for being in possession of "love letters" which the police stated were coded political missives. He has two brothers, Humberto Ortega, former General, military leader and published writer, and Camilo Ortega, who died during combat in 1978.
Ortega was arrested for political activities at the age of 15, and quickly joined the then-underground Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). He was imprisoned in 1967 for taking part in robbing a branch of the Bank of America while brandishing a machine gun, but was released in late 1974 along with other Sandinista prisoners in exchange for Somocista hostages. While he was imprisoned at the El Modelo jail, just outside of Managua, he wrote poems, one of which he titled "I Never Saw Managua When Miniskirts Were in Fashion". During his imprisonment, Ortega was severely tortured. After his release, Ortega was exiled to Cuba, where he received several months of guerrilla training. He later returned to Nicaragua secretly.
Ortega married Rosario Murillo in 1979 in a secret ceremony (conducted by a Spanish priest turned guerrilla fighter) and moved to Costa Rica with her three children from a previous marriage. Ortega remarried Murillo in 2005 to have the marriage recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. The couple has eight children, three of them together. She is currently the government's spokeswoman and a government minister, among other positions. Ortega adopted stepdaughter Zoilamérica Narváez in 1986, through a court case.
Sexual abuse allegations
In 1998, Daniel Ortega's adopted stepdaughter Zoilamérica Narváez released a 48-page report describing her allegations that Ortega had systematically sexually abused her from 1979, when she was 11, until 1990. Ortega and his wife Murillo denied the allegations. The case could not proceed in Nicaraguan courts because Ortega had immunity to prosecution as a member of parliament, and the five-year statute of limitations for sexual abuse and rape charges was judged to have been exceeded. Narváez took a complaint to the Inter American Human Rights Commission, which was ruled admissible on 15 October 2001. On 4 March 2002 the Nicaraguan government accepted the Commission's recommendation of a friendly settlement. As of 2006 Ortega continues to deny the allegations, but Narváez has not withdrawn them.
The Sandinista revolution (1979–1990)
When Somoza was overthrown by the FSLN in July 1979, Ortega became a member of the five-person Junta of National Reconstruction, which also included Sandinista militant Moisés Hassan, novelist Sergio Ramírez, businessman Alfonso Robelo, and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, the widow of a martyred journalist. The FSLN came to dominate the junta, Robelo and Chamorro resigned, and in 1981 Ortega became the coordinator of the Junta. As the only member of the FSLN National Directorate in the Junta, he was the effective leader of the country
In 1981, United States President Ronald Reagan accused the FSLN of joining with Soviet-backed Cuba in supporting Marxist revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries such as El Salvador. People within the Reagan administration authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin financing, arming and training rebels, some of whom were former officers from Somoza's National Guard, as anti-Sandinista guerrillas. These were known collectively as the Contras. This also led to one of the largest political scandals in US history, (the Iran Contra Affair), when Oliver North and several members of the Reagan administration defied the Boland Amendment to sell arms to Iran, and then used the proceeds to fund the Contras. Between 1980 and 1989, over 30,000 Nicaraguans died in the conflict between the Sandinista government and the Contras.
At the 1984 general election Ortega won the presidency with 67% of the vote and took office on 10 January 1985. According to many independent observers, the 1984 elections were perhaps the freest and fairest in Nicaraguan history. A report by an Irish governmentary delegation stated: "The electoral process was carried out with total integrity. The seven parties participating in the elections represented a broad spectrum of political ideologies." The general counsel of New York's Human Rights Commission described the election as "free, fair and hotly contested." A study by the US Latin American Studies Association (LASA) concluded that the FSLN (Sandinista Front) "did little more to take advantage of its incumbency than incumbent parties everywhere (including the U.S.) routinely do."
33 percent of the Nicaraguan voters cast ballots for one of six opposition parties—three to the right of the Sandinistas, three to the left—which had campaigned with the aid of government funds and free TV and radio time. Two conservative parties captured a combined 23 percent of the vote. They held rallies across the country (a few of which were disrupted by FSLN supporters) and blasted the Sandinistas in harsh terms. Most foreign and independent observers noted this pluralism in debunking the Reagan administration charge—ubiquitous in the US media—that it was a "Soviet-style sham" election. Some opposition parties boycotted the election, allegedly under pressure from US embassy officials, and so it was denounced as being unfair by the Reagan administration. Reagan thus maintained that he was justified to continue supporting what he referred to as the Contras' "democratic resistance".
Interim years (1990–2006)
In the 1990 presidential election, Ortega lost to Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, his former colleague in the junta. Chamorro was supported by the US and a 14-party anti-Sandinista alliance known as the National Opposition Union (Unión Nacional Oppositora, UNO), an alliance that ranged from conservatives and liberals to communists. Contrary to what most observers expected, Chamorro shocked Ortega and won the election. In Ortega's concession speech the following day he vowed to keep "ruling from below" a reference to the power that the FSLN still wielded in various sectors. He was also quoted saying:
...We leave victorious... because we Sandinistas have spilled blood and sweat not to cling to government posts, but to bring Latin America a little dignity, a little social justice.
— Daniel Ortega
Ortega ran for election again, in October 1996 and November 2001, but lost on both occasions to Arnoldo Alemán and Enrique Bolaños, respectively. In these elections, a key issue was the allegation of corruption. In Ortega's last days as president, through a series of legislative acts known as "The Piñata", estates that had been seized by the Sandinista government (some valued at millions and even billions of US dollars) became the private property of various FSLN officials, including Ortega himself.
Ortega's policies became more moderate during his time in opposition, and he gradually changed much of his former Marxist stance in favor of an agenda of democratic socialism. His Roman Catholic faith has become more public in recent years as well, leading Ortega to embrace a variety of socially conservative policies; in 2006 the FSLN endorsed a strict law banning all abortions in Nicaragua.
Ortega was instrumental in creating the controversial strategic pact between the FSLN and the Constitutional Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Constitucionalista, PLC). The controversial alliance of Nicaragua's two major parties is aimed at distributing power between the PLC and FSLN, and preventing other parties from rising. "El Pacto," as it is known in Nicaragua, is said to have personally benefited former presidents Ortega and Alemán greatly, while constraining then-president Bolaños. One of the key accords of the pact was to lower the percentage necessary to win a presidential election in the first round from 45% to 35%, a change in electoral law that would become decisive in Ortega's favor in the 2006 elections.
2006 Presidential election
A presidential election was held on 5 November 2006. In the run up to the election, FSLN presidential candidate Ortega converted to Catholicism and publicly "reconciled" with Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo; he also selected former Contra leader Jaime Morales Carazo as his vice-presidential candidate. Ortega won the election with 37.99% of the votes cast, fewer—both in absolute numbers and as percentage of all votes—than in his previous three attempts. The Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) won 28.30%, the Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) won 27.11%, the Movement for Sandinista Renewal (MRS) 6.29% and the Alternative for Change (AC) 0.29%. The FSLN was the party out in force to celebrate a victory on the following night. International observers, including the Carter Center, judged the election to be free and fair. Ortega was congratulated by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Fidel Castro of Cuba. Chávez, who spoke by telephone, chanted "long live the Sandinista revolution!" The White House confirmed on 8 January 2007 that U.S. President George W. Bush also had called Ortega to congratulate him on his election victory.
Herty Lewites—who was also running for president before his death in July 2006—suggested that Ortega's pact with Alemán had given Ortega de facto control of the bodies responsible for administering the election, and thus that Ortega would most likely have won. Under the old law, Ortega would have gone to a second round against Eduardo Montealegre (he would have needed 45% instead of 35%.)
Second presidency (2006–present)
Presidential styles of
Reference style Daniel Ortega, Presidente de la República de Nicaragua Daniel Ortega, President of the Republic of Nicaragua Spoken style Presidente Ortega President Ortega Alternative style Señor Presidente Mister President
Soon after his inauguration, Ortega paid an official visit to Iran and met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ortega told the press that the "revolutions of Iran and Nicaragua are almost twin revolutions...since both revolutions are about justice, liberty, self-determination, and the struggle against imperialism." Since the start of his second presidency, various measures have been introduced to combat hunger and to improve access to healthcare, education, credit, and social security. In addition, other reforms have been carried out, including an enhancement of labour rights, the introduction of low-interest loans and training for female micro-entrepreneurs in rural areas, and the distribution of transport subsidies, scholarships, medicine, land titles, and housing materials throughout the population. Altogether, these policies have helped to reduce high levels of poverty and inequality in Nicaragua.
In June 2008 the Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council disqualified the MRS and the Conservative Party from participation. In November, 2008, the Supreme Electoral Council received national and international criticism following irregularities in municipal elections, but agreed to review results for Managua only, while the opposition demanded a nationwide review. For the first time since 1990, the Council decided not to allow national or international observers to witness the election. Instances of intimidation, violence, and harassment of opposition political party members and NGO representatives have been recorded. Official results show Sandinista candidates winning 94 of the 146 municipal mayorships, compared to 46 for the main opposition Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC). The opposition claimed that marked ballots were dumped and destroyed, that party members were refused access to some of the vote counts and that tallies from many polling places were altered. As a result of the fraud allegations, the European Union suspended $70m of aid, and the US $64m.
With the late-2000s recession, Ortega said that capitalism is in its "death throes" and the Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America (ALBA) is the most advanced, Christian and fairest project. He also said God was punishing the United States with the financial crisis for trying to impose its economic principles on poor countries and said God was rewarding Nicaragua with an increase in GDP (PPP) to $2,600 per-capita from $1,800 a decade ago. "It's incredible that in the most powerful country in the world, which spends billions of dollars on brutal wars ... people do not have enough money to stay in their homes."
During an interview with David Frost for the Al Jazeera English programme Frost Over The World in March 2009, Ortega suggested that he would like to change the constitution to allow him to run again for president. In Judicial Decision 504, issued on October 19, 2009, the Supreme Court of Justice of Nicaragua declared portions of Articles 147 and 178 of the Constitution of Nicaragua inapplicable; these provisions concerned the eligibility of candidates for President, Vice-President, Mayor, and Vice-Mayor. For this decision, the Sandinista magistrates formed the required quorum by excluding the opposition magistrates and replacing them with Sandinista substitutes, violating the Nicaraguan constitution. The decision was widely denounced by the opposing parties, the church and human rights groups in Nicaragua 
While supporting abortion rights during his presidency during the 1980s, Ortega has since embraced the Catholic Church's position of strong opposition. While non-emergency abortions have long been illegal in Nicaragua, recently even abortions "in the case where the pregnancy endangers the mother's life" have been made illegal in the days before the election, with a six-year prison term in such cases, too—a move supported by Ortega.
Ortega himself denies that the abortion legislation outlaws medical procedures necessary to save the woman's life if they result in the termination of pregnancy. "The medical Procedural Code, he says, is not affected by the law, and requires doctors to do what is necessary to save a woman's life if it is threatened by conditions related to her pregnancy." He claims that the accusations that the abortion laws outlaw medical procedures necessary to save the life of the mother are part of "a media war".
On 6 March 2008, following the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis, Ortega announced that Nicaragua was breaking diplomatic ties with Colombia "in solidarity with the Ecuadoran people". Ortega also stated, "We are not breaking relations with the Colombian people. We are breaking relations with the terrorist policy practiced by Álvaro Uribe's government". The relations were restored with the resolution at a Rio Group summit held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on 7 March 2008. At the summit Colombia's Álvaro Uribe, Ecuador's Rafael Correa, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Ortega publicly shook hands in a show of good will. The handshakes, broadcast live throughout Latin America, appeared to be a signal that a week of military buildups and diplomatic repercussions was over. After the handshakes, Ortega said he would re-establish diplomatic ties with Colombia. Uribe then quipped that he would send him the bill for his ambassador's plane fare.
On 25 May 2008, Ortega, upon learning of the death of FARC guerrilla leader Manuel Marulanda in Colombia, expressed condolences to the family of Marulanda and solidarity with the FARC and called Marulanda an extraordinary fighter who battled against profound inequalities in Colombia. The declarations were protested by the Colombian government and criticized in the major Colombian media outlets.
On 2 September 2008, during ceremonies for the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan army, Ortega announced that "Nicaragua recognizes the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and fully supports the Russian government's position." Ortega's decision made Nicaragua the second country after Russia to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. A day after Venezuela recognised the two Republics, Nicaragua established diplomatic relations with Abkhazia, and plans to establish diplomatic relations with South Ossetia—embassies will be opened soon.
When getting in office, Ortega threatened to cut ties with the Republic of China/Taiwan in order to restore relations with the People's Republic of China (like 1985-1990). But he did not do so. However, with a trade show from the PRC in Managua in 2010, he is attempting a two-track policy to get benefits from both sides.
In September 2010, after a US report listed Nicaragua as a "major" drug-trafficking centre, with Costa Rica and Honduras, Ortega urged the US Congress and Obama administration to allocate more resources to assist the fight against drug trafficking.
During the 2011 Libyan uprising, Ortega was among the very few leaders that clearly spoke out in defense of the embattled Muammar Gaddafi. During a telephone conversation between the two, Ortega said Gaddafi was "waging a great battle to defend his nation" and "it's at difficult times that loyalty and resolve are put to the test."
And there is now a reelection with a vote on November 06 and and confirmation on November 16, 2011. </ref>
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- ^ Nicaragua 12.230 - Admissible
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- ^ a b Robert Burbach, CounterPunch, 27 February 2009, Et Tu, Daniel? The Betrayal of the Sandinista Revolution
- ^ BBC Article Second chance for Nicaragua's Ortega
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- ^ Nicaragua recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia
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- ^ aljazeera live blog
- ^ Al Jazeera (24 Februar 2011). Latin America divided over Gaddafi.
- ^ Washington Post article
- La Voz del Sandinismo (Spanish)
- Office of the President
- Extended bio by CIDOB Foundation (in Spanish)
- Daniel Ortega: Sandanista leader, Nicaraguan president September 1997
- Remember Daniel Ortega? He's back. September 15, 2005
- An old-school Ortega keeps the pink flag flying November 2, 2006
- Leftward Tilt: Political Shift in Latin America 2007
- Intellectuals condemn authoritarian Ortega June 24, 2008
- Et Tu, Daniel?: The Betrayal of the Sandinista Revolution by Roger Burbach, March 1, 2009
Political offices Preceded by
Member of the Junta of National Reconstruction
Junta of National Reconstruction
President of Nicaragua
President of Nicaragua
IncumbentNotable figures of the Cold War Soviet Union United States People's Republic of China Japan West Germany United Kingdom Italy France Finland Spain People's Republic of Poland Canada Philippines Africa Eastern Bloc Latin AmericaJuan Domingo Perón · Jorge Rafael Videla · Leopoldo Galtieri (Argentina) · Getúlio Vargas · Luís Prestes · Leonel Brizola · João Goulart · Castelo Branco (Brazil) · Salvador Allende · Augusto Pinochet (Chile) · Fidel Castro · Che Guevara (Cuba) · Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) · Rómulo Betancourt (Venezuela) Middle East South and East AsiaSheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bangladesh) · U Nu · Ne Win (Burma) · Pol Pot (Cambodia) · Indira Gandhi · Jawaharlal Nehru (India) · Sukarno · Suharto · Mohammad Hatta · Adam Malik (Indonesia) · Kim Il-sung (North Korea) · Syngman Rhee · Park Chung-hee (South Korea) · Muhammad Ayub Khan · Zulfikar Ali Bhutto · Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (Pakistan) · Chiang Kai-shek · Chiang Ching-kuo (Taiwan) · Ho Chi Minh (North Vietnam) · Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam) Fall of Communism Internal conditions International relations Reforms of socialism Events by countryEastern Bloc countries: Albania · Bulgaria · Czechoslovakia · East Germany · Hungary · Poland · Romania · Soviet Union · Yugoslavia
Former Soviet Republics: Armenia · Azerbaijan · Belarus · Estonia · Georgia · Latvia · Lithuania · Kazakhstan · Kirghistan · Moldova · Russia · Tajikstan · Turkmenistan · Ukraine · Uzbekistan
Other countries: Afghanistan · Angola · Benin · Burma · Cambodia · China · People's Republic of the Congo · Ethiopia · Mongolia · Mozambique · Nicaragua · Somalia · South Yemen
Communist leadersRamiz Alia · Heydar Aliyev · Yuri Andropov · Aung San · Siad Barre · Leonid Brezhnev · Fidel Castro · Nicolae Ceauşescu · Konstantin Chernenko · Mikhail Gorbachev · Károly Grósz · Hua Guofeng · Erich Honecker · Enver Hoxha · János Kádár · Nikita Khrushchev · Kim Il-sung · Milouš Jakeš · Wojciech Jaruzelski · Mathieu Kérékou · Mengistu Haile Mariam · Slobodan Milošević · Denis Sassou Nguesso · Saparmurat Niyazov · Daniel Ortega · Kaysone Phomvihane · Pol Pot · Tôn Đức Thắng · Phoumi Vongvichit · Ne Win · Deng Xiaoping · Todor Zhivkov Anti-communist leadersCorazon Aquino · Sali Berisha · Willy Brandt · Vladimir Bukovsky · Violeta Chamorro · Chiang Ching-kuo · Viacheslav Chornovil · Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj · Václav Havel · John F. Kennedy · Helmut Kohl · Vytautas Landsbergis · Pope John Paul II · Zianon Pazniak · Augusto Pinochet · Ronald Reagan · Lee Teng-hui · Margaret Thatcher · Harry S. Truman · Lech Wałęsa · Boris Yeltsin · Zhelyu Zhelev Democracy movementsChinese democracy movement · Civic Forum · Democratic Party of Albania · Democratic Russia · Sąjūdis · Rukh · Solidarity · Popular Front of Latvia · Popular Front of Estonia · Public Against Violence · Belarusian Popular Front · National League for Democracy · National Opposition Union · United Nationalist Democratic Organization · National Salvation Front · Union of Democratic Forces EventsPeople Power Revolution · Revolutions of 1989 · April 9 tragedy · Black January · Baltic Way · 1988 Polish strikes · Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 · Removal of Hungary's border fence · Polish Round Table Talks · Hungarian Round Table Talks · Pan-European Picnic · Monday demonstrations in East Germany · Fall of the Berlin Wall · Malta Summit · German reunification · January 1991 events in Lithuania · January 1991 events in Latvia · 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt · Yemeni unification · Chilean transition to democracy Post-collapse
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