FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dealing with Ortega

by NADIA MARTINEZ

For the Bush administration, it wasn’t just the U.S. elections that brought bad news last week. Citizens of Nicaragua voted Nov. 5 to return former leftist President Daniel Ortega to power.

In what seems like a case of Cold War blues, U.S. officials had unsuccessfully attempted to sway the elections in favor of Mr. Ortega’s opponents. The meddling backfired, however.

Nicaragua, a country ravaged by decades of dictatorship and civil war, is second only to Haiti as the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean. With almost 80% of its population living in poverty, it is hardly a threat to American security interests. And yet right-wing pundits, engaging in outdated and unfounded predictions of democratic regression, went to great lengths to prevent a victory by Mr. Ortega’s Sandinista Party.

Mr. Ortega was a leader of the revolutionary movement against the prolonged and brutal Somoza dictatorship, and he ruled Nicaragua in the midst of a war against the U.S.-backed contra rebels. Since losing the elections in 1990, he has been the target of accusations-from corruption and abuse of power as a member of Nicaragua’s legislative assembly, to sexual abuse by his stepdaughter. But Nicaraguan voters were willing to give Mr. Ortega another chance.

While the Bush administration has managed to keep surprisingly quiet in this year’s dozen or so other Latin American elections, U.S. officials, including Ambassador to Nicaragua Paul Trivelli and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, made public threats of reprisals if Nicaraguans voted for Mr. Ortega.

As election day drew near and Mr. Ortega remained the favorite in the polls, Republican members of Congress stepped up the pressure by threatening to cut off aid and block the millions in remittances that immigrants living in the United States send to their poor families in Nicaragua every year.

Nicaraguans are all too familiar with U.S. economic embargoes and military bullying. They experienced both during the 1980s, the last time the Sandinistas were in the presidency. This time around, voters didn’t budge.

With Mr. Ortega in power, Nicaragua joins the ranks of countries in Latin America whose voters are using the power of democracy to show political leaders their discontent with their governments’ corporate-friendly, free-trade policies.

Latin Americans from Bolivia to Argentina are electing politicians who have been critical of free-market reforms and are promising more socially focused government programs that help the poor.

The Bush administration should take the Nicaraguan election as an opportunity to rethink its policies toward Latin America.

NADIA MARTINEZ was born and raised in Panama. She is co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail