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Farcical Nicaraguan Elections

Yesterday, Daniel Ortega was burlesquely elected as President of Nicaragua for his fourth consecutive term. All potential opposition candidates had been either jailed, are in exile or are dead. Reading that news, I remember being present at the July 18, 1980 conference in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood to commemorate the first anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. The principal speaker was the inimitable Argentine novelist/ poet Julio Cortázar who read his poem News for Travelers proclaiming to the assembled, “seen from the sky, this is Managua… Look traveler, its doors are open, the country is one big house…Come on in. You’re in Nicaragua,” There was among the gathered there that night an almost eucharistic sense of promise about the Sandinista Revolution. Because of external military pressure from the U.S. backed Contra forces and internal pressures from increased infighting in the Sandinista leadership, that promise was never realized. Among those revolutionaries, Daniel Ortega was an undistinguished military strategist and an uninspiring speaker lacking the charisma, intellect, force, and moral authority of many others in power. With the deaths of several principle leaders, Ortega’s opaqueness within the Sandinista governing council gave rise to his Stalin-like ascension to power, and allowed him to assume absolute control of the movement, ultimately eliminating all opposition.o the Editor: I apologize. My first submission was sent without my Letter. Perhaps this will be of interest to your readers.


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