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Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 96 19:15:01 CST
From: NY Transfer News Collective <>
Subject: Nicaragua: Some Reflections on the Elections/Humerto Ortega
Article: 1406

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]


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 entire nation.

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 revolutionary process.

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 general.


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 serious irregularities.

- Citizens' ballots strewn about in the streets, garbage dumps, in private houses ... was an offense embarrasing to Nicaraguan before the world.

- 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 elections.


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 recovered.

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 campaign.


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.