Date: Tue, 26 Nov 96 19:15:01 CST
From: NY Transfer News Collective <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Nicaragua: Some Reflections on the Elections/Humerto Ortega
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
Some reflections on the elections
By Gen. Humberto Ortega (translated by Toby Mailman), via NY Transfer
News Collective, 26 November 1996
[The following appeared as a paid ad in Barricada, November 25, 1996,
Managua, Nicaragua, published amidst calls by various sectors, including
political parties and the National Assembly, for the resignation of the
entire membership of the Supreme Electoral Council. In addition, Daniel
Ortega has reiterated on various occasions that the FSLN, while
recognizing the "legality" of the election of the Liberal Alliance and
Arnoldo Aleman as president, it does not recognize the "legitimacy" of the
new government. Recently in a television interview on "Esta Semana" with
former Barricada editor Carlos Fernando Chamorro, Ortega said how the FSLN
deals with the new government will depend on the actions of the Executive--
that is, Arnoldo Aleman. -- TM]
1. THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS SINCE 1979
Although in a brief and general manner, I refer below to the difficult
road leading up to the current democratic process which today we
Nicaraguans are attempting to strengthen and develop to the benefit of our
July 19, 1979 -- the overthrow of the Somoza regime after the historic
popular insurrection led by the Sandinista revolutionaries and patriots --
initiated the irreversible, although complex and painful, democratic
process which is currently being constructed in Nicaragua, promoted by an
unbreakable nationalist, sovereign spirit of broad freedom in search of
economic development with social justice.
The profound political, economic and social contradictions accumulated
during nearly a century, resulting from another historic revolution -- the
liberal revolution of Gen. D. Jose Santos Zelaya -- and the interference
of the North American government of President Ronald Reagan, radicalized
and polarized Nicaraguan society, submitting it during the decade of the
1980s to a devastating war which accentuated the country's very poor and
underdeveloped condition, the legaly of the last century of various
economic and political regimes in Nicaragua.
In the framework of the Esquipulas Central American peace process,
Nicaraguans, represented by the Sandinista forces and the
counterrevolution, achieved peace with the historic Sapoa agreement in
March, 1988. Peace assured the electoral process of 1989-90, installed as
an essential element of democracy by the revolution in 1984 through fair
and transparent elections which carried to the presidency of the republic
Sandinista leader Commander of the Revolution D.Daniel Ortega Saavedra.
With all kinds of unrestricted support from the revolutionary government
of then-president Daniel Ortega to the elections of 1990, current
president D. Violeta Barrios was carried to the presidency of the
republic, also through transparent and exemplary elections. These
elections made possible, for the first time in history, the civic and
democratic transfer of power achieved through arms in a just and historic
The process of peace and reconciliation was strengthened with the 1990
elections and the installation of the government of D. Violeta Barrios.
However, because of the political polarization and deep distrust among
Nicaraguans due to the recently ended political and military conflict of
the decade of the '80s, among other factors, the democratic process, has
proceeded with serious deficiencies and without the required speed which
the majority of Nicaraguans desired.
The period of 1990-96 brought very important achievements and advances for
the process of Nicaraguan democracy, such as the culmination of the peace
process, the reduction and professionalization of the armed forces,
reforms to the constitution, strengthening of democratic liberties,
reintegration of Nicaragua into the international economic and financial
community, reduction of foreign debt, macroeconomic advances, stability in
control of inflation and devaluation of currency, among other things.
The above-mentioned positive aspects were offset, negatively, by slow
economic reactiviation, absence of a national strategy for development,
the dramatic fall of financing for producers, the serious increase in
unemployment, poverty and misery, instability of property ownership, the
high cost of living, weakening of health care, of education, increase in
crime, rapes, prostitution, drugs, criminal gangs, and corruption in
2. THE OCTOBER 20 ELECTIONS
The institutional strengthening of the Nicaragua state and political and
ideological depolarization are two aspects of crucial importance to assure
the basic conditions which would permit the new president of the republic
of Nicaragua to govern in a less complex context.
The main aspiration of the voters in the past elections, independent of
who wins, is for immediate attention to the most urgent and serious
problems which threaten Nicaragua on the economic and social planes, in
search for a solution, although gradual, to those problems.
The ability of the new president of the republic to govern over the
current crisis Nicaragua in harmony with the different national leaders,
and at the same time to strengthen our democratic direction requires,
first the correction of the seriously negative tendency produced by
political and ideological polarization during this electoral campaign, and
the institutional weakening, particularly of the Supreme Electoral
Council, which puts at risk the democratic path that, Nicaraguans have
been constructing with so much sweat and sacrifice since 1979.
The governability that Nicaragua needs beginning January 10, 1997, when
the new government takes office, requires in the first place the
strengthening of political and moral legitimacy of the new government and
the other authorities -- elected, ironically, through an electoral
management discredited for its incompetent functioning and for having
permitted fraudulent actions which, although limited, have put the
the results at risk and Dr. Arnoldo Aleman's victory in doubt.
In various meetings I have had with both foreign and national
personalities, including international observers, I have confirmed the
deteriorating image of the Supreme Electoral Council. Some reasons for
this, among others, include:
- The lack of necessary support by the government of Mdm Violeta Barrios.
- The Electoral Law which politicized the Supreme Electoral Council.
- Administrative disorder in both the Supreme Electoral Council and the
Departmental Electoral Councils, which allowed for an interminable list of
- Citizens' ballots strewn about in the streets, garbage dumps, in
private houses ... was an offense embarrasing to Nicaraguan before the
- The still-fragile institutionalization of the Nicaraguan state was also
weakened, while the President of the republic not only tolerated the
abuses by her minister of education, who politicized courses in public
schools and publicly manipulated the patriotic festivals for political
interests, but unfortunately she herself became involved in the contest
when more care required greater responsibility on her part.
- Institutionality was weakened and the country was polarized even more
when Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo and the church hierarchy took sides in
the electoral campaign, the same which COSEP [High Commission of Private
Enterprise] openly abandoned an itself an impartial stance, which
institutions such as the church and private enterprise require to
contribute to much-needed national stability.
- The appropriate political climate was weakened when the spokesman for
the United States Department of State, in a disrespectful and interfering
manner, intervened in Nicaragua's domestic affairs and contradicted the
constructive position taken publicly by the U.S. Ambassador at that time,
John Maisto, on the Nicaraguan elections.
It is satisfying that institutions such as the army and the police played
a professional, apolitical and determining role during the October 20
3. NATIONAL STABILITY, GOVERNABILITY, LEGITIMACY, CONCERTATION
National stability is essential in order to carry Nicaragua forward, and
for stability, the governability of the country is vital. It is
indispensable that the new government and elected authorities enjoy the
basic minimum of political legitimacy and support. Consequently, with the
exercise of an honest and efficient government, the legitimacy destroyed
by the fundamental incompetence of the Supreme Electoral Council, can be
With the aim of national stability, governability and basic legitimacy of
the new government over which Dr. Arnoldo Aleman presides, it would be
appropriate for the full Supreme Electoral Council to resign, so that the
new authorities of the country can take steps immediately to give Nicaragua
a new Supreme Electoral Council -- more professional and competent, not
politicized, which would give confidence to all Nicaraguans, thus
strengthening the institutionality of the Nicaraguan state.
Once the crisis of the Supreme Electoral Council is resolved, harmony is
imperative to confront adquately the complex contradictions existing in
the economic, social, political and governmental areas. For this it is
necessary to seek national concertation, with a strong patriotic spirit of
national unity, from all the sectors of Nicaraguan society, leaving behind
the excesses which polarized us and wounded us so during the electoral
I publicly thank the Sandinista National Liberation Front, its leadership,
and especially its secretary general, Commander Daniel Ortega, for having
given me the opportunity to contribute in the search for significant and
strategic achievements which Sandinism obtained in this historic election
period. I thank those who, in solidarity and disinterestedly, with
creativity and tenacity, assisted my efforts.
The FSLN did not lose, although it did not win; and the great task,
although complex and difficult, for all of us Nicaraguans to mature toward
democracy is still a very firm conviction for the Sandinistas.
Within this spirit, and attempting to interpret the hopes of Nicaraguan
society, and particularly those most affected by the crisis -- the poor
and the middle levels -- I make a sincere call to the country's leaders,
principally Dr. Arnoldo Aleman, president elect of the republic, and to
the secretary general of the FSLN, Commander Daniel Ortega, to apply all
eagerness, patriotism and intelligence, toward Nicaragua a political
climate that will facilitate the urgent task of reactivating vigorously
our national economy.
LET US MAKE NICARAGUA ADVANCE; THE PEOPLE WILL REWARD US WISELY AND JUSTLY
IF WE SUCCEED.