Nicaragua: The Other Side

In 2003, Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica, appealed to the Constitutional Court (Sala IV), claiming that the article that prohibited the re-election of a president and vice-president was in violation of basic human rights guaranteed by the same Constitution, which declares that all laws must apply equally to every citizen.  The Constitutional Court ruled 5-2 in favor of Arias, who was subsequently re-elected by a suspicious margin in a controversial election.

In 2009, Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, as a result of an election staged in 2006, appealed to the Supreme Court of Nicaragua, asking it to revoke the article that prohibited his re-election, where he used the same arguments as Arias.  After studying the case, the Nicaraguan Supreme Court followed the example of Costa Rica and declared the article unconstitutional, thereby opening the way for Ortega to be a candidate for re-election in 2011.

The opposition parties in Nicaragua immediately decried that decision and claimed that it was a “Sandinista trick,” pointing out that the non-Sandinista members of the Court did not participate in the decision (failing to mention that several of them had left the country deliberately, leaving a legal quorum of only Sandinistas in attendance, in order to claim they were not part of the decision). In February 2011, the U.S. Embassy began to let it be known that the November elections in Nicaragua would turn out to be fraudulent. Since that time, the U.S. Embassy and all of the opposing groups in the country have not tired from proclaiming that Ortega’s candidacy had been illegal and that his re-election, if it occurred, would be fraudulent.  Interestingly enough, the U.S. Embassy never commented on Oscar Arias’ candidacy and re-election, since he was, and remains, “their man” in Costa Rica. By the way, Arias is currently under investigation for massive fraud during his last presidency. The main accusation against him being that while president, he  granted a license for gold mining in northern Costa Rica to a Canadian company in spite of the fact that under the nation’s law, only the Legislative Assembly can grant such a license. It is expected that he will soon be indicted and probably will join the past three presidents in jail, in spite of his Nobel Peace Prize.

As the campaign progressed throughout the year, Liberals and Conservatives never stopped attacking each other, even while formulating a strategy to rid the nation of the Sandinistas.  Former president (and convicted embezzler) Arnoldo Alemán, became the candidate for the Conservatives (PLC), while the owner of a radio chain in Nicaragua, Fabio Gadea, became the candidate for the Liberals (PLI).  The MRS (Movimento para la Restauración del Sandinismo), made up of ex-Sandinista dissidents, didn’t have enough numbers to be able to legally field a candidate, so it allied itself with the PLI.  Enrique Quiñones, former contra leader, launched his own candidacy.  He eventually attracted something like 0.33% of the vote.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the status of international observers of the elections.  In 1996, Ortega had lost to Alemán in elections that were flagrantly fraudulent, with boxes of ballots being found on riverbeds throughout the country.  However, groups like the Carter Center and the OAS validated the elections, leading the Sandinistas to lose confidence in the standards of international observers.  The U.S. Embassy kept hammering at the need for observers to avoid fraud, never responding to Ortega’s question about international observers in the U.S., which has never permitted the presence of or a role for international observers in its own elections, recalling that the fraud in 2000 (Florida) and in 2004 (Ohio) was flagrantly visible to the whole world.

Eventually, Ortega’s government allowed the European Union (EU) and the Organization of American States (OAS) to send observers, plus a group of highly respected Latin American Election Observers.  The Embassy insisted that it should be allowed to have “official observers,” but this favor was not granted.

Public opinion polls showed throughout the year that Ortega was widening his lead against the opposition to the point that two weeks before the November 6 elections, CID-Gallup (the Gallup Institute affiliate in Central America) declared that Ortega would attract nearly 53 percent of the vote, that Gadea would attract only around 20 percent,  Alemán, 3 percent, with the rest undeclared.  The margin of error was stated to be 2.5 to 3 percent, which is what all similar polls identified.

On November 6, more than 70 percent of registered voters went to the polls in elections that were marked by a near-total absence of violence and conflicts.  (In Tule, San Juan Province, a group of PLI supporters attacked a voting place and one person was killed.)  When the votes were counted, the FSLN (Ortega and the Sandinistas) got 62.66 percent of the votes; PLC 5.67 percent (Arnoldo Alemán); PLI (Fabio Gadea) received 31.13 percent.

CID-Gallup announced on Thursday, November 10, that these results were almost exactly what they had predicted, the differences having come from the “undeclareds” at the time of the last polling.  CID-Gallup also proudly announced that it has never failed to call the winner in a Central American ballot dating back to the late 1980s.

In spite of that, the opposition groups began protesting, calling the election a “massive fraud.”  However, there seems to be no objective reality to their claims.  Only 18 of the 12,860 polling places were called into question for irregularities, which represent only 0.13 percent of all the polling locations.  While the PLI claimed that it had copies of the “minutes” of some 4,000 polling places that “proved fraud,” it never managed to present even one of those.

Source: AFP via PBS NewsHour

Claims were made that the IDs for voting were not presented to non-Sandinista voters, but, again, no evidence was presented and, in fact, people were even allowed to vote with their old IDs if they did not have a new one.

The PLI also claimed that 20 percent of its poll watchers did not receive credentials and that 10 percent were not allowed into the polling places to observe.  However, according to the Electoral Law, which was passed under the regime of former president Enrique Bolaños (2001-2006), credentials for poll watchers must be presented to the parties or alliances that are participating in the election, in order to be in line with the law.  It is noteworthy that the PLI alliance, which is making the complaints, handed in their list of observers after the legally established date had passed, and with significant inconsistencies in the data coming from more than 18,000 of its observers.  This would appear to indicate one of two things: either a deliberate attempt to blame the supposed lack of accreditation on the CSE, in order to delegitimize the process, or as an indication of its inability to prepare a list of nearly 26,000 poll observers it had been allocated. Each party printed on the ballot was to present its list of 25,940 poll watchers for accreditation, representing two poll watchers for every polling place.

If some of their poll watchers didn’t obtain their credentials, it was not the fault of the CSE, but rather, that of the PLI itself, and the 10 percent who allegedly were not allowed into the polling places were persons who had shown up without the proper credentials.  If they had been allowed in as observers without the proper credentials, that itself would have provided a firm basis for claims of irregularities.

The OAS observers complained about a “lack of transparency” without ever defining what that term meant, though they added that they had seen no irregularities that would have changed the final results.  The EU made the same complaint, but also agreed that any anomalies that they observed would not have changed the results.

None of the opposition groups have presented any evidence of fraud to the Supreme Electoral Council, as required by law, except public and very raucous denunciations of “fraud.”  This follows the pattern of denunciations of fraud in the 2008 municipal elections, where the U.S. Embassy and opposition parties claimed “massive fraud” in the elections, but never presented any specific evidence to add weight to their charge.

A well-known group called Ethics and Transparency (ET) also decried a “lack of transparency,” but also neglected to say what that meant in concrete terms.  The spokesperson for ET, Carlos Tunnerman, had been an active and respected Sandinista figure during the 1980s, serving as Minister of Education and then as the Sandinista ambassador in Washington.  However, when the Sandinistas lost the elections in 1990, he was stripped of his ministerial positions and soon re-appeared as an anti-Sandinista.  ET does not disclose its sources of funding, but it is well known that USAID and the very controversial National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are principal sources of financial support for ET.

NED is all but totally funded totally by the U.S. Congress and has been notorious for the financial support it has given to right-wing groups in more than 80 countries around the world.  Notably, it has provided several millions of dollars of funding for anti-Chávez groups in Venezuela.

In the 1980s, the Reagan-Bush administration spent more than a billion dollars training and arming the contras in efforts to overthrow Sandinista rule, a campaign in which more than 30,000 Nicaraguans were killed.  After the invasion of Panama in December 1989, and just three weeks before the February 25, 1990 Nicaraguan elections, President George Bush held a press conference in Washington to announce the “return of democracy” to Panama. In concluding his remarks, President Bush said, “I hope the people of Nicaragua are paying attention.”  The U.S. Embassy in Managua allocated at least USD ten million -and conceivably twice that amount- into the campaign chests of Violeta Chamorro, in violation of both U.S. and Nicaraguan law.  The people of Nicaragua eventually voted for an end to the war and elected the U.S.-backed candidate. Once the results were announced, the Sandinistas stepped aside without any violence and accepted the Chamorro electoral victory.

In 1996, losing to Arnoldo Alemán in an openly fraudulent election, the Sandinistas did not resort to violence.

The opposition forces, and the U.S. Embassy, vigorously joined forces, claiming that the Sandinistas have “rigged the process.”  But no mention was made that the electoral laws were put in place during the government of Enrique Bolaños.  It was under those procedures that the Sandinistas won the elections in 2006, and again in 2011.  Any “rigging of the system,” if that was the case, was done before they had come to power.

The Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a rabid anti-Castro Cuban-American, denounced this year’s elections before the final results were in, declaring them fraudulent and calling for the U.S. not to recognize an Ortega victory. The State Department later issued a statement calling into question the results of the election and the validity of the FSLN government.  It should be noted that the State Department raised no issue about the widely condemned elections in Honduras in 2009 after the military coup that exiled the elected president, Manuel Zelaya.

Virtually every country in Latin America refused to recognize the results of those elections and only after substantial lobbying by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the U.S. able to secure the re-admission of Honduras into the OAS.

In the days following the ballot, there were increasing confrontations between the defeated opposition groups and the National Police. Some of these melees resulted in serious injuries on both sides, and several fatalities. On Saturday, November 12, the PLI convoked its followers for a mass protest in Managua, demanding that the government annul the elections and hold new ones. Pro-Sandinista activists insist that there has been a clear effort under way to provoke confrontations that would require significant repression by the police. To date, a national consensus exists believing that the security forces have behaved professionally and have not allowed themselves to be provoked.

The United States has been actively promulgating the “fraud line” throughout the hemisphere.  The largely conservative media in a number of Latin American countries have been denouncing the elections as questionable since Monday, November 7.  The New York Times reported on the elections from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, not bothering even to send a reporter to Nicaragua, and repeated denunciations of fraud by oppositions groups, including declarations that “Sandinistas voted two or three times,” without any supporting evidence.  The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal repeated similar sentiments.  On the other hand, it comes as no surprise that Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro praised both the electoral process and the results.

Luis Yánez, Chief of the Mission of Observers of the European Union, was categorical in his affirmation, stating,  “As for me, I want to be clear.  If the question is whether Señor Ortega and the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) won the elections, or lost, I ask, What is the definition of the famous word “fraud”?  For politicians, fraud is to make the loser the winner and the winner the loser. In this case, it is indubitable that the FSLN and Mr. Ortega won these elections.” (El Nuevo Diario, November 9, 2011).

But the cries of fraud continue, unabated.  Sergio Alvarez, National Attorney (fiscal nacional) of the PLI, declared to the Managua press on November 20, that between 450,000 and 500,000 votes had been stolen by the Sandinistas, without offering any credible evidence of such a massive theft.  The date for presenting specific charges of irregularities in the election to the CSE already had passed.  Alvarez then proceeded to state, “We cannot be hasty in finding proof and present it in an arbitrary manner, without being sure this proof is truthful.  We are in the process of gathering and validating information in order to be critical and just in our evaluations….We will continue a process of permanent denunciations of all of these arbitrary acts.” (Nuevo Diario, November 20, 2011)

It would appear that, once more, the U.S. is defining democracy in an arbitrary and self-serving approach.  It does not like Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, therefore their massive electoral victory on November 6 must have been fraudulent.  Besides, denouncing Ortega in Miami can only be good for the shifty political scene, be it for the Republicans or Democrats.  The simple fact that the Ortega administration has done more for the poor majority of the country in the past four years and ten months than any government in the history of the country is irrelevant to Washington.  The fact that the people, including many in the countryside who have been “liberals” for decades, voted for the Sandinistas is impossible on its face for the U.S.

The fact is that the Sandinista government has built more than 1,800 kilometers of paved roads in the countryside, provided schools for all the children, who were unable to attend classes under the previous governments; built hundreds of free health clinics throughout the country, provided a pregnant cow or sow to some 100,000 head-of-household women in the countryside, made interest-free loans available to the same group; given out nearly a million corrugated steel roofing sheets to poor families, and, at the same time, enabled the business sector to be more profitable than at any time in the country’s history.

Instead of crying fraud forever, the US and the opposition parties need to accept the fact that the Sandinistas won, and relate to Ortega’s government as the legitimate government of Nicaragua.

This article was written by COHA Guest Scholar Fred Morris, who was resident correspondent for ABC-News in Costa Rica from 1977 to 1989. He also was the founder and editor of Mesoamerica, a monthly newsletter published in Costa Rica (in English) from 1982 to 1989. He has been living in Nicaragua for the past three years. In 1974, while living in Brazil and working as a missionary for the United Methodist Church, he was kidnapped and tortured by the Brazilian military because of his close association with Catholic Archbishop of Recife, Dom Hélder Câmara. 

31 thoughts on “Nicaragua: The Other Side

  • December 23, 2011 at 8:33 am
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    Thank you very much for this extensively informing piece, inclusively including the history of frauds committed by US govenors !
    Unfortunately, German parliamentarians are already considering to join the attitude of the US government and pleading to convince the EU parlamentarians to join this attitude too and so do Czechs, so far only the Portguese and the Spaniards are expressively against it.
    Apart from right or wrong, it is a truism not only for education scientists that sanctions never work in favor of the better solution.
    Unless, you prefer more violation and war.

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    • January 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm
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      You still insist Castro is not a dictator? You are daft as a brush,Josie

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  • December 23, 2011 at 8:42 am
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    A pro pos: "Fred Morris, … he was kidnapped and tortured by the Brazilian military because of his close association with Catholic Archbishop of Recife, Dom Hélder Câmara."
    I want to add the following:
    On CountePunch, Dec.21: "Perhaps You're Ready to Sign the Endorsements Now?"
    Four Psychologists at the Gates of Hell
    by ROY EIDELSON, s.: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/12/21/four-psych
    The Coalition for an Ethical Psychology is leading a petition campaign calling for annulment of the APA’s PENS Report. Readers interested in supporting the annulment initiative can read the petition materials, review the current list of organizational and individual signers, and sign on to the petition at http://www.ethicalpsychology.org/pens.

    Direct link to the Petition Campaign: http://ethicalpsychology.org/pens/

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  • December 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm
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    Interesting how all of a sudden Ortgea us a great man… after he caused and directly promoted political instability which instigated economic crisis during 15 years of other presidencial terms… and now, since no one else is willing to make the people of the country suffer and no one else is willing to instigate a country wide crisis… Now ORTEGA IS A GREAT MAN???????!!!!! Seriously???? common!!

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    • December 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm
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      The only economic crisis I can remember, during an Ortega Presidency, was during the eight year 'contra' war against Nicaragua during the 1980s. I should know, because I was living there for five of those eight years. There was an economic crisis, but it was entirely constructed by the US. They imposed an economic blockade against Nicaragua, and even mined the harbour at Corinto, to block oil supplies coming in from Europe. The French were really pissed off about that, when one of their ships was damaged! The absurdity of this blockade extended to the nascent computer technology – you couldn't import Macintosh/Apple computers because they used some of the same operating system algorithms that were used by the US Department of Death (sorry – Department of Defense).

      I'm not Ortega's greatest fans, but the Sandinistas' ability to adapt from a revolutionary guerilla movement to an honest, and effective democratic, political party is something to be admired, not reviled.

      And if you read the article above, more carefully, you will see that the Sandinistas have brought in policies that actually help the more humble people, instead of exploiting them. If you have a problem with that, you are probably living on the wrong planet.

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      • December 24, 2011 at 11:08 am
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        I have a MAJOR problem when I want to get my Cedula and can't because I am not an Orteguista sandinista. As and educated, honest and hard working women, I am hardly the kind of person the FSLN – Orteguistas would like to help get an ID for Voting time. Believe me, I have less fortunate friends and am happy they are helping the poor but you seem to forget that if you are not a militant, they do not HELP YOU AT ALL and actually try to damage what little ability to work you may have. Honestly, I am actually a fan of the FSLN (NON Orteguista) movement.. I live in my country and work daily to provide for my family. I am not a fan of their lies on statistics or their direct intent to silence any free press that prints or airs information or simple stories against the Orteguista Movement.

        Also, in my previous post, I was talking about the FIFTEEN YEARS he was NOT President!! Ofcourse the US helped Nicaragua during the 80's WE (us Nicaraguans) Asked THEM TOO. Who cares how long you lived here, you aren't Nicaraguan and were never told the truth about what was happening… how could you not know that by now? Oh poor Sandinistas had their monoploy board (The whole country) bombarded by the US… how do you think thousands of families felt in the late 70's and early 80's having their parents (my cousins) executed in their front yards!?? or kidnapped for months (my uncle) or bombarded their hours (my parents)… It all happened TO PEOPLE like ME, so ofcourse we cried for HELP and THANK GOODNESS IT Came in time to keep most my family ALIVE.

        How do you think the people of the Atlantic Coast felt when whole villages were executed (the misquito people) Ohhh yeah, that is actually the cause of one of MANY International Cases against ORTEGA, this particular one for GENOSIDE… Or how about him RAPING his own STEP-DAUGHTER… the list goes on…

        Now just because he has no serious opposing party, people are clapping his great efforts because he gave some people roofs, pigs and seeds… seriously?? and by the way, alll those schools you talk about in your article, they were built by President Aleman in the late 90's. All Ortega has done is standardize our poor scholastic program to help keep the people dumb and under his thumb and made sure the volunteer programs from other country trying to help train our national teachers to be better teacher STAY OUT. I guess you drank the whole cup didn't you??

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      • December 26, 2011 at 1:07 am
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        "help the more humble people"… the only true help is the health system (which has improved drastically thanks to the cuban influence on our doctors) If the Nicaraguan government really wanted to "help the poeple" they'd provide quality education and let the kids parents WORK and provide for themselves, not expect us to keep our hands stretched out for any morsels they decide to throw at the general public. Have you even been to Nicaragua since the 80's??

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  • December 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm
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    How much did the Ortega's (or their hired help) pay you to write this "report"????? It's obvious you don't know/understand how deep the corruption lies in Nicaragua… you are oblivious to the truth… you should never have been allowed to publish this mascarade of a report on Nicaragua.

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    • December 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm
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      Can you address this? Give us concrete evidence of this alleged 'corruption'. This is a well researched, authoritative report. If you think you can do better, let us see it!

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      • December 26, 2011 at 12:05 am
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        Etica and Transparencia announce before the end of the Counting of ballets that for a national election to be considered lawful and upstanding, there are 13 notes the country and foreign org must follow. Nicaragua violated 11 of these points. Go ahead and talk to the guy from etica and transparencia, let him give yo the facts. Just because they weren't on the national news and weren't accepted by RRR doens't mean it didn't happen. Go get your facts straight. No evidence of a bad election… talk to the opposing party, they will give you what evidence they have… even though the election is charade handled by the Orteguistas and Roberto Rivas… and if you decide not to actually talk to people who can give you facts… stop lieing in your articles and tell people you just didn't have the guts to write a non biased article…. sandinista follower with no pay!

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        • February 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm
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          Plesiang you should think of something like that

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    • December 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm
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      Have you heard of the psychological condition of being 'in denial' ?

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      • December 26, 2011 at 12:20 am
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        Ofcourse I am in Denial.. I cannot accept another step backwards for this young democracy. Would you?

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  • December 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm
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    I would love to be paid for what I do. Are you willing to make me an offer?

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    • December 24, 2011 at 11:11 am
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      If the Ortega Movement hadn't stolen all my families money in the 80's and taken all my family's farm land and houses, maybe I could pay you… but that is no longer an option is it??

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  • December 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm
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    The FSLN did not take any land from anyone who stayed in the country after they defeated Somoza. They gave a two-year window for those who had fled to Miami with Somoza to return and claim their land. Those who did return still have their land. Those who abandoned the country and their land, lost their land and it was given to peasant cooperatives so they could farm and make a living.

    When Violeta Chamorro won the presidency in 1990, she revoked that process and gave the land back to those who had abandoned it in the early 80s. If your family did not get your properties back it is because you did not ask for them. And because you fled the country with Somoza.

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    • December 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm
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      Land WAS Taken… I have multiple family members who lost land and never left. Tractors were used to detonate land mines (our family nucleous personally lost 6 tractors) we lost more than 3,000 manzanas and my pregnant Mother was escorted out of her house with her 2 children (they didn't shoot us all because my dad was thought dead). I have uncles that lost a lot more in terms of land and equipment.
      So how can you tell ME the FSLN did not take our land??? BTW, Violeta tried to revoke the process and offered junk bonds to people who never recovered their land (LIKE MY FAMILY). My family fled the country yes… BECAUSE WE WERE TOLD TO LEAVE AY GUN POINT!!! It's called REFUGEE STATUS!!! Why do you think we came back in 91 right after Violeta took office… because we understood we wouldn't get murdered on the streets.
      Why don't you try speaking to educated people who were not murdered and escaped to provide a more accurate account of what really happened… not all this romantic guerilla warfare nonsense people love to read about. why don't you write about the families who witness executions and the child military who kept the "FSLN DREAM" alive by sacrificing their lives. Go look at the stats of our population… and the lack of young men between the ages of 30 and 45 in this country. Go interview some poor women who lost all her boys to that stupid selfish war… I would give you positive feedback then…
      Ortega let go of the presidency in 90 because there was nothing left to pilfer in the country.. he had made the country go into severe debt all by his lonesome… what great leader he was back then… taking all the wealth of the country to fatten his own bank account and giving land to his buddies to keep them happy and quiet… thanks to him, we now have many legal problems with land, and he is doing it again by requiring a letter of no Objection for the sale of land… oh poor farmers and co-ops wanted to grow rice on the beach (where there is hardly any fresh water)… yeah right!! give me a break!

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    • January 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm
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      An Uncle of mine Lost 21 manzanas of land just 7 years ago… in 2005 basically taken by Today's so called president Daniel Ortega… check it out… this is what i am talking when I mentioned Ortega distabilizing the country during other presidencies… here is a Concrete example of:
      1) land being taken after the 80's
      2) our now president causing nation wide crisis
      3) you don't know anything about NICARAGUA!! http://archivo.laprensa.com.ni/archivo/2006/marzo
      En febrero del año pasado, otras tres personas murieron baleadas en el municipio de Chinandega, cuando más de cien policías intentaron desalojar a centenares de precaristas que habían invadido la finca Pan Brand, propiedad del productor César Castillo y Milton Castillo.

      Durante el desalojo los precaristas y los efectivos policiales se enfrentaron a pedradas, morterazos y balazos, con el resultado de tres civiles muertos por balas.

      En ese entonces los productores de la zona denunciaron que tras las tomas de tierra estaban militantes del Frente Sandinista, como Walter Arata Munguía, quien supuestamente alentaba las invasiones bajo la promesa de que una vez que ganase el FSLN las elecciones presidenciales, las propiedades serían legalizadas a favor de los precaristas.

      Luego de la muerte de los tres civiles, el secretario general del FSLN, Daniel Ortega Saavedra, llegó al entierro de los precaristas y anunció que demandaría al gobierno por la matanza de los tres civiles, sin embargo todo se quedó en palabras, pues el comandante nunca cumplió.

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    • January 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm
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      The lies in this article are absolutely stunning. I have lived in Nicaragua for the past 10 years and Ortega and his witch wife are now the richest Nicas in the country. Ortega is more corrupt than Somoza ever was. The only man in the country more corrupt than Daniel Ortega is Roberto Rivas.

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  • December 25, 2011 at 11:53 pm
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    By the way… we were never Somozitas… Never… we just weren't Greedy Envious Sandinistas either… that was/is my family's great detriment… oh and if you haven't been paid off for your so called report… you should knock on Chayo's door for a pay check… I am sure she'd be happy to pay you with the country's stolen money they keep for personal use… like renting whole hotels in Puerto Rico for a "family vacation" paid by Nicaraguan tax payer's dime.
    As for you… you should go back to where ever you came from and stop writing one sided reports about foreign countries you never did understand.

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  • December 27, 2011 at 9:37 am
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    Thanks, COHA, for a readable, comprehensive and comprehensible article on the 'new' Ortega that I can use with my students. I was a fan of the Ortegas in the '80s, and but eventually leaned toward the Ramirez/Tellez branch of the party, so I'm hopeful about what Ortega can do now that he's back, but I haven't got the blinders on. Since the USG purports to be the world's greatest defender of democracy, I would think the enormous margin by which Ortega was reelected and the fact that none of the international observers can make a credible case for fraud would speak for themselves. But of course when people have lost property in a much-needed redistribution of resources in any country of Latin America they are reduced to the level of passing venomous rumors in a usually futile attempt to destroy a factual article whose claims can easily be checked.

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  • December 27, 2011 at 11:13 am
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    When a government is in power, all details are taken for fact and are public knowledge. When the people are RULED by a militant government, fictitious statistics are published and taken for truth by none understanding outsiders. I hope you guys never truly understand from personal experience, what we are living here in Nicaragua today…

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  • December 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm
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    I like your comments Maria. You seem to have suffered much with your family and I can somewhat empathize with your frustration with comments from Warwick and Mr. Morris. Poor Nicaragua still suffers from U.S. hegemony and influence. Hopefully you keep working toward a new Nicaragua. You are inspirational.

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  • December 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm
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    Ortega is the new Somoza, extending his term in office as long as possible. He finally figured out the key to eternal power by being business friendly, politically authoritarian and demagogic to obscenity. He is a Central American Vladimir Putin, pushing the limits of the acceptable but never violating these so flagrantly that he gives opponents the ammunition to unseat him. Ortega is hardly a social progressive, doing just enough to get elected and then ignoring blatant corruption in government. What was the Supreme Court's reasoning when they deemed term limits inapplicable to Ortega? To this day I haven't heard the true believers give a valid reason for this inexplicable action. His continued acts of provocation towards Costa Rica are completely unacceptable and reminiscent of Somoza's 1956 pseudo war With that same nation. Nicaragua will never truly evolve past one man rule with a troll like Mi Tio Daniel in charge.

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    • December 30, 2011 at 8:05 pm
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      I am too tired of dealing with this kind of commentary to give it much time. Just let me observe that the recent conflicts with Costa Rica have been instigated by Costa Rica, not Nicaragua. When I lived in Costa Rica during the 80s, that country tried to cause problems with Nicaragua several times over the ownership of the San Juan River. The International Court in the Hague has ruled on four occasions that the river belongs to Nicaragua, but Costa Rica keeps trying to make a conflict over this issue.

      The rest of El Jefe's comment is pure blah, blah, blah, not based on any facts.

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      • January 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm
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        Congratulations Fred. Yours is an excellent yet concise comparative analysis of how two constitutions are changed to allow reelection. I am presently living in Costa Rica and was shocked to learn, from your article, that O. Arias claimed his basic human rights were violated by the constitution. For a Nobel Peace laureate it is ludricous to downgrade the concept, definition, and objectives of human rights to a miserable electoral factor. Crime, including money laundry, are on the rise in Costa Rica, that boasts 52 universities for a 4.5million peoples (Canada has roughly 75 universities and colleges for a population of 33 million). Only 4 of these universities in Costa Rica are public with high academic standards. The rest, dubbed university garages, are churning out thousand of graduates with slim chances of decent employment.
        Blessed and fortunate you are for having been closely associated with Archbishop H. Câmara, whose work is largely ignored by the traditional media.
        Hector Almendrades, Canadian, living temporalily in Costa Rica

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  • January 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm
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    I'm afraid Fred that you do not know the facts about the recent conflicts between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, re: the Rio San Juan and Isla Calero. It's all rather simple though Ortega has done his best to obfuscate the matter, rattle swords and delude his people into thinking Costa Rica is trying to take over the San Juan River. This is Ortegan nonsense to bolster popular support. It's clearly politically effective. He has clearly confused you but you should be objective enough to restudy the facts.

    First, Costa Rica fully recognizes that the Rio San Juan belongs to Nicaragua but that Costa Rica may navigate the river. Ortega knows this and only the very ignorant imagine there exists some dispute over the ownership of the river. This is not an issue at all between either of the two nations. It's merely a red herring tossed about to incite the uniformed Nicaraguans.

    What happened is simply that Ortega decided to invade Isla Calero which all maps, treaties, and historical documents clearly show belongs to Costa Rica. Nicaragua itself has always recognized this and their own maps have shown it, till they decided it may serve them to try and take possession of this little slice of swamp land. Why they calculated this strategy leads to varied interesting speculations that may lead right into Iran, Libya, Venezuela and elsewhere.

    This entire subject is all laid out in thoroughly objective detail by Luis Daniel and Gerardo Víquez González at Actas Alexander: http://actasalexander.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-a

    It is written in Spanish. Be patient as a scholar and carefully examine the varied chapters. There are lots of maps, copies of the actual treaties, etc.

    While the International Court at the Hague examines the current conflict it has ordered that Nicaragua remove its troops from the disputed area and given only Costa Rica authority to enter the area to examine environmental conditions. This is primarily what Costa Rica sought when it filed with the Court its compliant against the Nicaraguan invasion. Get Nicaragua's troops out. As the Court examines all the facts it will find that the disputed area clearly belongs to Costa Rica.

    Paz.

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    • January 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm
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      José, you are factually wrong about this matter. The NIcaraguan army removed its troops from the island long before the Court gave its provisional ruling–in favor of Nicaragua. And you will soon see that the final result of the Court's declarations will be that the island is Nicaraguan.

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  • January 5, 2012 at 11:30 am
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    Wow, seems to me that you have been fed the lies of the Sandinista government. It is easy to write a report based on what they present to you, those "facts" that you present in your article are clearly bais to Ortega. If you were even present in the "elections" that just past then you would have realized that even the dead voted in the elections. The violence that occur throughout the whole country, and the fact that the OAS and EU observers were even allowed to finish their visits to voting sites is more then enough to say that those "elections" were fraudulent. The Carter Center didn't get an invite because Ortega knows that if they would have been present they would have called fraud just like in Panama during the 80s. If Ortega had nothing to hide then why did he change the title of observers to acompañamientos. Even Roberto Rivas said himself that if someone was to say something bad about the elections they were immediately going to be taken out of the country. So much for democracy. Next time you write about Nicaragua check your sources because you clearly don't have an accurate vision of the present situation.

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    • January 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm
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      Who is "Living in Nicaragua?" I have been living here for several years and have observed matters as closely as possible. Of course there was some corruption in the electoral process. Nicaragua is still part of Latin America. (Or should I say, of the Americas, having seen the results of the 2000 and 2004 elections in the US). But the important point is the one I pointed out in the article–the comment by the head of the European Union observer team: There were irregularities (perhaps–my comment–some dead people voted). But none of the irregularities were sufficient to have changed the outcome of the election, which was an overwhelming victory by Ortega and the FSLN. That is the real issue. In the US, without the fraud of 2000, Al Gore would have been president, as he clearly got 500,000 more votes than Bush, even with the fraud in Florida. But if you take away all of the "dead people" votes, the FSLN still won handily.

      As for violence, there was very little on election day. There was more a week later when PLI supporters began attacking opponents.

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  • February 4, 2012 at 2:31 am
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    COHA would be wise to not allow authors like Mr. Morris to damage its reputation by producing this kind of biased material. Having an angle is fine, but purposely misleading your audience is a problem. On another note, the tone of this article is immature and provokes the lack of serious attention that the content deserves.

    Reply

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