39 years after the overthrow of the Nicaraguan dictatorship by the Sandinista Revolution, the country that once revered Daniel Ortega as a hero is now suffering from his harsh transformation into a tyrant: the president is accused by the population of being an autocrat.
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra, now 75 years old and in his third consecutive term, is compared to the Somozas, a dynasty of dictators he helped to overthrow when he was a revolutionary. The comparison is valid, because since the beginning of the protest in May 2018, more than 300 protesters have been killed and, for each new opposition candidate presented, his removal or imprisonment is decreed.
In 2003 he signed a pact with former Nicaraguan president Arnoldo Alemán (1997-2000) to divide the state's powers between them, and today Ortega controls everything, including the National Assembly (the equivalent to the House of Representatives), the police and the army. After this framework, using the discourse of giving power back to the people, Ortega created the "Citizen Power Council", which actually acts as an internal intelligence service for his regime.
In addition to having named his wife Rosario Murillo as vice president.
The corruption and control imposed by Ortega's dictatorial administration moved tens of billions of dollars. ALBANISA is an example: formed by 51% Venezuelan and 49% Nicaraguan capital, the premise of cooperation was not the country's development or economic efficiency, but politics! As long as Ortega remained in power, control over corruption would be total, "privatizing" about $3.86 billion in oil money.
Even with all the money moved by Ortega and his "partners", Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America, suffering from hunger, lack of basic sanitation and since 2009 has seen changes in its constituents to promote the rise of a tyrant in the power. The protest in 2018 began after a social security reform that increased contributions and reduced pensions. There was a union between social groups: students, indigenous people and the unemployed took to the streets and Ortega's response to the uprising was brute force and violence. Ortega called for the actions of the "Mobs", groups of police and paramilitaries who gained the approval to reprimand the protests with lethal weapons. And in 2019 he introduced crackdown measures against the independent press, sending some 80 journalists into exile.
The president, along with his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, have been undermining Nicaraguan democracy for years, according to critics and human rights groups. They centralized executive power, followed by the weakening of their democratic institutions. People loyal to Ortega and the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) were elected to preside over the Federal Supreme Court, the Public Ministry and even the Supreme Electoral Council.
At least 29 opposition leaders have been arrested and charged with vague violations of so-called "national security", which, according to human rights groups, is a clear sign that the country's strong leader is doing his best to eliminate dissent and crush any competition ahead of the next November 7 general election, a vote in which he hopes to secure his fourth consecutive term as president.
Four of the detained opposition figures are presidential candidates, accused of crimes that are likely to disqualify them from running against Ortega. Posing for a false democracy, Ortega continues to play with his country, creating authoritarian laws, arresting opposition and hunting popular rights. We must fight all authoritarianism.