Herty Lewites

Nicaraguan presidential candidate


Herty Lewites Rodríguez, politician: born Jinotepe, Nicaragua 24 December 1939; Tourism Minister 1979-90; Mayor of Managua 2001-05; married Carmen García (two sons); died Managua 2 July 2006.

The death of Herty Lewites, a candidate in Nicaragua's forthcoming presidential election, is a serious setback to Washington's hopes for the region. US policy-makers regarded Lewites, a democratic socialist in the mould of Chile's Michelle Bachelet or Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as the contender most likely to block the return of Daniel Ortega, of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), who was president from 1979 to 1990, and, as a close ally of Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, remains the Americans' worst nightmare in Central America.

Lewites was a Sandinista himself until early last year, when he was expelled from the party for daring to challenge Ortega for the FSLN's presidential nomination. Along with a number of fellow veterans of the guerrilla war against the Somoza family dictatorship in the 1970s, he founded the breakaway Movement to Rescue Sandinismo (MRS), and bid for the support of disillusioned Sandinista voters, who still had left-wing nationalist sympathies but had long since tired of Ortega's authoritarian ways and ruthless determination to regain power, even if it meant making alliances with former political enemies. The MRS subsequently merged with the Sandinista Renewal Movement, founded in the mid-1990s by Ortega's former vice-president, Sergio Ramírez, to form the Herty 2006 Alliance.

Herty Lewites had made his political reputation as FSLN mayor of the capital, Managua, between 2001 and 2005. He proved a competent manager and notable conciliator, in a country of ferocious political antagonisms. His popularity led him to believe that he had the right to challenge Ortega, who still ruled the Sandinista party with an iron fist, despite repeated failures at the ballot box.

But Ortega had no intention of letting go, and engineered Lewites's expulsion from the FSLN in February last year, after denouncing him as an "agent of US imperialism". Lewites regarded such rhetoric as outmoded, and argued for a non-confrontational relationship with the United States, where hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans live and work, many of them as illegal immigrants.

US attempts to persuade Lewites to join forces with a centre-right candidate, Eduardo Montealegre, in a "Stop Ortega" alliance failed, but, if Lewites had survived, the two men would probably have combined to defeat Ortega in the inevitable run-off election. Now prospects are much more uncertain, and Ortega leads in the opinion polls. Nicaragua's current president, Enrique Bolaños, is strongly pro-American, and the "loss" of Nicaragua, through an Ortega victory, would be seen in Washington as a disaster.

Herty Lewites was born in Jinotepe in 1939, the son of a Jewish immigrant from Poland, Israel Sol Lewites, and a Nicaraguan mother, Ana María Rodríguez, who brought Herty up as a Catholic. He joined the underground resistance to the Somoza dynasty in 1958, while he was working in his father's chocolate factory in Jinotepe. He subsequently spent long spells in exile, first in Brazil and later in Mexico, before becoming a member of the clandestine FSLN in 1969.

He was given the job of setting up solidarity committees in the US, where he was arrested in 1973 while trying to buy arms to send back to the rebels in Nicaragua. He spent a year and a half in prison, before moving to Mexico, then Cuba and Venezuela. He returned to Nicaragua before the final victory of the FSLN guerrillas led by Ortega over President Anastasio Somoza, working as a liaison officer with the foreign press and a logistics commander.

Ortega appointed Lewites tourism minister, and he was part of the FSLN regime that defied the US-backed "Contra" rebels throughout the 1980s. In 1990, when Ortega was defeated by a right-wing presidential candidate, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, Lewites was elected to the National Assembly for the FSLN. But by the mid-1990s he had become estranged from Ortega, and founded an independent movement to back an unsuccessful attempt to become Mayor of Managua in 1996.

By 2000 he was back in the FSLN fold, and finally won the mayorship of the capital. He was expelled from the Front soon after his term ended in January 2005.

Colin Harding

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments