Ortega keeps a grip on the Sandinistas
Monday 25 May 1998
At 53, Daniel Ortega is an older, less inspiring figure. But the former hero of the Sandinista revolution chalked up a victory on a small scale yesterday after being re-elected as leader of Nicaragua's (now opposition) Sandinista Front.
Mr Ortega headed a Sandinista government from 1979 to 1990 after overthrowing the despised Somoza dictatorship, but it was embattled from the start by conflict with the United States and with the right-wing American-backed Contra guerrilla army.
After being forced to the bargaining table, he then lost the country's first post-civil war presidential election to his out-and-out capitalist opponent Violeta Chamorro. Shorn of power, Mr Ortega largely faded from the international scene. But he managed to retain his leadership of the Sandinistas, now flung uncomfortably into the role of a democratic left- wing opposition.
That position, too, came under threat last March, when his 30-year-old stepdaughter went public with accusations that the revolutionary leader had sexually abused her since she was 11 years old. The party hierarchy closed ranks around Mr Ortega over the scandal, although the furore sharpened an incipient power struggle between reformists and hardliners.
Mr Ortega seemed to recognise the ideological confusion in his now dispirited movement in his victory speech, matching old-style revolutionary rhetoric with a cautious promise to abide by democratic norms. "We are committed to revolution, committed to the struggle. Today's challenge is to reform the government through the electoral process," he said.
And two of the new members of the 15-strong central committee were members of the once-despised business class.
Not everyone was convinced that these incremental changes would propel Mr Ortega back into the limelight and power. Among the guests at the congress was Eden Pastora, once famous as the Sandinista "Commander Zero"who seized Nicaragua's national palace in 1978 but who later joined the rebel uprising against Ortega's Sandinista government in the Eighties.
"If they move, they sink, and if they don't move, they sink," Mr Pastora told journalists. "If they re-elect Daniel Ortega, it is not a democracy, and if they don't, they have no leader."
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 The Visit: Trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film is terrifying
- 5 9/11: Iranian General accuses US of organising September 11 terror attacks
General Election 2015: Tories sack candidate who said she would never support 'the Jew' Ed Miliband
9/11: Iranian General accuses US of organising September 11 terror attacks
General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Manny Pacquiao begs Indonesia president to spare life of drug smuggler Mary Jane Veloso about to be executed
Yazidi sex slaves undergoing surgery to 'restore virginity' after being raped by Isis militants
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...