Thursday, June 07, 2018

Somoza and Ortega: Brothers in Arms

Nicaragua's La Prensa has an interesting story paralleling the end of Anastasio Somoza's regime with Daniel Ortega's current situation.

Los asesinatos de miles de nicaragüenses en manos de la sanguinaria Guardia Nacional eran el pan de cada día. Nicaragua estaba harta. La formación de una junta con intelectuales y empresarios, la llegada de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, un intento de diálogo con el gobierno de Somoza Debayle, la presión de los Frentes guerrilleros en los departamentos del país. Esto se vivió en los últimos años, meses y días de la dictadura somocista.

But there are major differences. The most important is that the Sandinistas were a well-organized fighting force, whereas the current opposition is not. Right now Nicaragua has protests rather than a guerrilla insurgency. Then the assassination of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro threw gasoline on the fire and got the OAS involved.

I think it's more useful to compare Nicaragua today to more recent examples than to its own history. Bolivia in 2003 comes to mind, when Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada resigned after government violence and months of protests. But there is also the Venezuela example, where Nicolás Maduro has weathered protests up to this point and remains in power. Overall, this is about internal regime cohesion (esp. the army) as opposed to losing a civil war.

Nonetheless, Nicaraguans do have their own history in mind, a most ironic one given Ortega's role back then and the way he compares to Somoza now.


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