Thursday, November 09, 2006


It is hard for those of us who witnessed first-hand the attempt to build a new kind of society in Nicaragua in the 1980s not to feel deeply moved by the election of Daniel Ortega, even acknowledging the difficulties and failures of the FSLN. The Sandinistas, for all their faults, ended brutal dictatorship and brought literacy, democracy, the abolition of the death penalty, land reform and ground-up energy for development to a people trapped in despair. The US-backed insurgency helped destroy many of these gains, and ensured the state over-militarised in both attitude and economic terms. The 1990 post-defeat descent to corruption disillusioned radical Christian participants in the experiment, especially, and with the growth of conservative religious forces inside the country and continued US pressure from without, it will be interesting to see what Ortega can achieve. Activists say that grassroots initiatives and international solidarity campaigns to back better aid, fair trade and just debt and finance polices will play a not insignificant role in helping to moving a social justice agenda. The US Nicaragua Network has already pledged its support. The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign in Britain and equivalents in other parts of Europe will be doing likewise.

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