The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 45           November 27, 2006  
Nicaraguan president-elect Ortega
reassures businessmen, landowners
Nicaraguan president-elect Daniel Ortega, reiterating his campaign promises, has assured businessmen that his government will encourage foreign investment, support a free trade agreement with Washington, and not allow any land takeovers by peasants. Ortega, candidate of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), won Nicaragua’s November 5 presidential elections. He will take office January 10.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Washington looks to establish "positive relations" with the new Nicaraguan government.

Ortega beat out five other candidates, taking 38 percent of the vote. The opposition to the FSLN was split between Liberal Alliance candidate Eduardo Montealegre, a Harvard-trained banker who received 29 percent, and José Rizo of the former ruling Constitutionalist Liberal Party, who received 26 percent. The Montealegre wing had broken away from the Constitutionalist Liberals after former president Arnoldo Alemán was convicted on corruption charges.

In July 1979 a popular uprising led by the FSLN overthrew the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship and established a workers and farmers government. To try to overturn the revolution, Washington organized a counterrevolutionary army, known as the contras, who were eventually defeated after a massive effort by working people in a six-year war.

Despite this victory, the FSLN leadership retreated from the anticapitalist road they started down in 1979, and by 1989 had transformed the organization into a bourgeois electoral machine, leading to the demise of the workers and farmers government. They increasingly advocated policies that relied on market mechanisms and deepening integration of the Nicaraguan economy into the world capitalist market. Having demobilized and disillusioned working people, the FSLN lost the presidential election in 1990.

In this year’s elections, the FSLN campaign slogan was “Jobs, Peace, Reconciliation.” Ortega issued denunciations of “savage capitalism” while pledging to maintain the basic free-market policies of the previous government. In a show of “reconciliation,” Ortega’s running mate was Jaime Morales, a former leader of the contras.

The day after winning the election Ortega assured businessmen that their investments were safe. "No one is going to allow seizure of property big or small. We need to eradicate poverty, but you don't do that by getting rid of investment and those who have resources," he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

“We will not promote or accept land seizures,” Ortega said November 11, speaking before 1,000 farmers who supported his campaign. “We must respect property.” Instead, he said, the government would buy land for peasants, which they would have to pay “little by little even if it is with a sack of corn.” Nicaragua remains one of the most impoverished countries in the Americas.

Ortega has made peace with Catholic church hierarchy in Managua, which actively opposed the revolution throughout the 1980s. At a mass attended by Ortega, Managua archbishop Leopoldo Brenes called on the defeated candidates to work "as a team" with the new government.

On October 26 the Nicaraguan legislature approved a bill banning abortions under all circumstances. Opponents of a woman's right to choose abortion, including leaders of the Catholic church, pushed for the bill, which Ortega supported.  
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