[Marxism] Pastor Valle-Garay: On the Nicaraguan elections

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 1 06:31:25 MST 2006

Pastor Valle-Garay represented the Sandinista National
Liberation Front in Canada before and after the triumph of
the Sandinista revolution in 1979, when he was appointed
Ambassador and Consul General of Nicaragua in Canada, where
he served his country until 1989. Today Valle-Garay teaches
at York University in Toronto, Canada, and writes opinion
columns for Cuban publications Granma International and 
La Jiribilla as well as El Nuevo Diario (Nicaragua), Toronto
Hispano and Correo Canadiense in Toronto. I asked his 
views on the upcoming presidential elections in Nicaragua. 
Here is his response.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Some comments on the Nicaraguan elections
by Pastor Valle-Garay
November 1, 2006

What elections? Nicaragua wallows in political quicksand and heads
into a bottomless pit. Ortega's candidacy is a farcical operetta
characterized by pacts with the devils. He has now completed the turn
around from revolutionary fighter to consummate, wealthy oligarch.
His supporters are a Who's Who of the worse reactionary element in
the nation, precisely the element that the original FSLN and the
Nicaraguan revolution fought to destroy. Ortega and the oligarchy are
now one and the same. Undistinguishable from one another and twice as
corrupt as before.

Some of the most prominent among Ortega's new associates are 
Arnoldo Alemán, the ex president and leader of the Constitutional Liberal
Party (Somoza´s political party). Alemán was condemned to 20 years in
jail for robbing Nicaragua blind during his presidency but thanks to
Ortega's generosity he now serves his sentence in his palatial home.
Ortega's candidacy has been also blessed, literally, by Cardenal
Obando y Bravo, an ignorant minion of the Vatican who became
Nicaragua's first Cardenal as a Papal reward for his hatred of Ortega
and the FSLN. Both of these vociferous, sworn enemies of the FSLN now
support Ortega's presidential bid. How long will the honeymoon last
is hard to tell. Perhaps for as long as Ortega remains President.
It's the way of the jackals. Once they clean the carcass, they move
on to another kill.

Unfortunately for Nicaragua, Ortega will probably win. It's
practically guaranteed by the Ortega-Alemán pact which presently
allows them to govern Nicaragua from below, the powers behind the
throne as it were. The pact with the devils allowed them to divide
among themselves the absolute control of the Supreme Court, of the
National Assembly (Parliament) and of the Supreme Electoral Council
and, just as importantly, the pact established that in order to win
the elections the successful candidate would only require a
laughable, absurd 35% "majority" at the polls. Ortega is not going to
get that majority from the majority of Nicaraguans or from the
rank-and-file of the FSLN. He'll get it from the poor and the
ignorant and from people who are afraid for their jobs and their
future if they vote for anyone but Ortega.

Single-handedly, Ortega has managed to destroy the FSLN. In his
maniacal obsession to become Nicaragua's president after three
consecutive loses at the urns, Ortega expelled from the FSLN every
reasonable, sensible, honest militant of the FSLN who dared announce
his candidacy. Ortega's irrational move left the FSLN badly fractured
and profoundly divided. It has attracted unwanted attention from the
White House and only token support from the Latin American left while
the Nicaraguan private sector detests him more than ever. Under these
circumstances, it is difficult to tell who is Ortega going to govern.
That´s what happens when a beautiful revolution is hijacked by
individuals without principles.

The most unfortunate thing, next to his chances of winning, is the
sudden death of Herty Lewites, leader of the MRS (the Movement of
Sandinista Renovation). Lewites could have won the elections and
would have reunified the Sandinista family. Edmundo Jarquin, a world
renowned economist succeeded Lewites. Jarquin is clean, nice,
brilliant and ugly however he also joined the electoral campaign too
late to be a successful contender. The other candidates are elitist
trash. Like Ortega. Funny thing. The more I think about this guy, the
more he resembles George W. Bush. Power mad. No brains. Just brawn.

What do I think of the elections? It's like choosing between an
earthquake, a hurricane and a tsunami. Nicaragua has been hit by all
three with a vengeance. This one will be of catastrophic proportions
and the people in the second poorest nation in the Hemisphere have no
protection at all. This time Ortega won't be able to blame the
Washington. He has no one to blame but himself and his presidential
death wish. That will be the tragedy of Nicaragua on November 5,

In regards to your observation about the FSLN gone to hell, you are
absolutely right. As a result of Ortega's megalomania the best of the
FSLN militancy left or was expelled by Ortega. Some were top members
of the original nine founders of the FSLN such as Comandante
Guerrilleros Victor Tirado, Luis Carrion and Henry Ruiz; other
commanders of the Sandinista revolution that have left include Dora
Maria Tellez; Hugo Torres; Joaquin Cuadra and Monica Baltodano. 

Among other top Sandinista militants no longer with the FSLN, thanks to
Ortega, are Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramirez Mercado, former vice
president of Nicaragua; Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, an economist
and a former Minister of Foreign Trade; Nicaraguan poet and write
Ernesto Cardenal, former Minister of Culture; father Fernando
Cardenal, director of Nicaragua's successful Literacy Crusade and
former Minister of Education; Carlos Tunnerman, former Minister of
Education and Sandinista Ambassador to Washington; Dr. Alejandro
Bendaña, former Director of I nternational Relations at the Ministry
of External Affairs and ex son-in-law of Ortega. (Bendaña was married
to Zoilamerica, Ortega's step daughter who still accuses him of
sexually molesting her for many years while still a child); Victor
Hugo Tinoco, former Deputy Minister of External Affairs; writers
Daisy Zamora, Gioconda Belli and Claribel Alegria; Carlos and Luis
Enrique Mejia Godoy, singer sand songwriters whose music carried the
revolution all over the planet and of course the late Herty Lewites,
former Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister
of Tourism and Mayor of Managua. 

This is a relative short but impressive list of valuable members of
the FSLN who were forced out by Ortega's irrational decisions and
power grab as Secretary General of the party. His brother Humberto
Ortega, now a General an another of the founders of the FSLN has
distanced himself from Daniel Ortega. 

Regarding abortion. It's another of Ortega's pathetic, vicious
efforts to win votes by stupidly siding with the conservative,
powerful Catholic church and with the most reactionary members of
Nicaragua´s society who, by the way, when they want abortion on
demand just simple hop a plane and get an abortion in Miami or
Canada. For hundreds of poor, single women and minors as young 
as 12 years old who, as victims of rape have no legal recourse for
theraupeutic abortions, it is a death sentence. Nicaragua is back to
the dark ages of the Inquisition. Doctors who practice abortions will
be sentenced to as many as 30 years in jail, this in a country were
there is a famine of medical doctors. It is just plain criminal.

Don't feel sorry for anything. Ortega gets little or no publicity in
Cuba´s official news media. In fact, my articles criticizing him get
more coverage in Granma and in La Jiribilla, Cuba's newspapers. Cuba
and Venezuela support the ideals of the FSLN. In this spirit they
also while barely tolerate Ortega and his shenanigans. He gets little
or no press in either country. In fact, when Fidel became ill and
Ortega went to to La Habana to visit the Cuban President at the same
time as Hugo Chavez was there, Ortega's visit went largely ignored 
by the Cuban media. I truly believe that Cuba's and Venezuela's
solidarity remain solidly behind the revolution while paying lip
service to Ortega's erratic leadership for the sake of socialist
solidarity. One thing remains certain in my mind: Ortega is no
Hugo Chavez. Nor is he another Evo Morales or a Lula. He will never
be a Fidel Castro, not by any wild stretch of the imagination. 

Neither Nicaragua nor the Latin American left will accept individuals 
who sacrifice revolutionary principles for the proverbial 30 silver pieces. 
Ortega has done that. His days as a popular Sandinista fighter 
(a misnomer since he never fired a shot or fought in the revolution) 
are over.

One more observation. You're right about Cuba's apparent support of
Ortega. It is definitely there. However, it's my feeling that the
support is lukewarm, a matter of solidarity with the socialist cause
rather than with the individual. (I think it has to do with optics
and my Cuban friends are masters of it. Otherwise the whole mess
would play nicely into the hands of Bush. Just imagine the White
House's triumphal glee if it became public that Latin American
socialists started washing their dirty laundry in public. We would
never hear the end of it). Nevertheless Ortega has become an
embarrassment to socialism and socialists everywhere.

It's difficult for even the most committed of socialists to support
individuals whose blind greed for possessions and power leads them to
betray the basic principles of a beautiful revolution. Ortega has
done that buckets. He betrayed the Nicaraguan people and those of us
who supported him. Look at Jaime Morales Carazo, Ortega's choice for
vice president. Some alliance. Morales Carazo still belongs to
Somoza's old Liberal Party and said so to the press only a week ago.
Morales Carazo is a wealthy member of Nicaragua's elite, a personal
advisor and a godfather of Aleman's wedding and the owner of the
mansion where Ortega has lived since the 1980's. (Ortega confiscated
Morales Carazo's mansion for himself and it was not until early this
year that Morales withdrew his claim to have the home returned and
Ortega assured everyone that he had paid Morales for the property.

Everything was just peachy-keen. Now they are buddies). Without the
slightest doubt, Ortega symbolizes oligarchy's worse traits.
Conversely, it i s practically impossible that so many of the bright,
clean, valuable, passionate, still-militant Sandinistas who left the
FSLN because of Ortega could be so wrong. There are just too many to
dismiss them as mere dissidents. On the other hand, there are too few
legitimate brains supporting Ortega. He's now left with a loyal,
greedy bunch who are now suddenly just as illegally wealthy and as as
ruthless as Ortega himself.

On Monday, November 6, the day after the elections in Nicaraguan,
I'll be on national television in Canada. Old stuff. In the past two
months I have been interviewed on Che Guevara´s continous impact 
on young people (the merchandising of a photograph!!!), and on the
latest tirade by Hugo Chávez at the UN as well as his trips to the
Middle east. Earth-shattering questions such as "Why did he go to
Iran?" My reply: "Because he can."

This time CBC-TV, Canada's national television network, has asked me
to comment on the result of Nicaragua's elections and what the future
will bring. It's awful that the North American media actually
believes that we are so damn predictable. I'll probably come up with
something outrageous. Just in case, have you got a crystal ball? Any

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