Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega has become what he once fought against

As many as seven presidential opponents have been arrested, and Ortega’s political opponents have fled the country, writes David Harding

Wednesday 27 October 2021 00:01
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<p>Nicaragua's president Daniel Ortega and his wife, vice-president Rosario Murillo, lead a rally in Managua</p>

Nicaragua's president Daniel Ortega and his wife, vice-president Rosario Murillo, lead a rally in Managua

Being cast as a political hero is fraught with dangers. Years ago, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega was hailed by many in the west as just the kind of progressive revolutionary challenging the US that we should all get behind.

His Sandinista movement ousted the dictatorship of the dreaded Somoza family in 1979 and received the ultimate accolade by becoming the title name of a 1980 triple album (ask your parents) by punk royalty, The Clash.

Ortega was the chief liberator of Nicaragua, taking over a country in desperate straits which soon found itself fighting Washington-backed armed rebels, known as the Contras. He is the former altar boy who avenged his mother being imprisoned by the Somozas, by kicking out the hated dictator. Somoza was hunted down and killed in Paraguay. The assassination was codenamed “Operation Reptile”.

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