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Daniel Ortega Wouldn’t Dare

No, he wouldn’t dare face an interchange with journalists, who could throw sliders and blazing fast balls.

It’s not only improbable, it’s unimaginable that President Daniel Ortega would agree to a free exchange with independent journalists. They might do what journalist Andres Oppenheimer did when he interviewed Ortega in 2018. They might rub his nose in every one of the notions that – without waiting for responses or questioning – he calmly tosses out, like a batter from the past. He wouldn’t dare face pitchers who throw sliders and blazing fastballs that tear his arguments to shreds. No way.

Ortega’s public discourses are ever less interesting, due to his insistence on turning his back to the national reality to hide the obvious. In his latest public appearance, he began by recounting the feats of the Literacy Crusade. Among the pillars of this crusade were a number of figures like Jesuit priest Fernando Cardenal, who ended up drastically opposed to him.

Ortega began by speaking of the struggle against ignorance. When imbued with indoctrination, [education] has been one of the historical supports of different dictatorships, with the forced complicity of so many. Indoctrination pushes people towards fanaticism and blindness, provoking distortions of the truth.

The president speaks as if access to higher education hadn’t existed until they arrived in power. So where did all those who are seen as the great cadres come from – those who gave shape and provided depth to the revolution that the people supported so decidedly, ending Somoza’s reign?

These figures were nurtured when public education, headed by Goyena [1857 – 1927], raised a fist high, with guarantees of higher level learning. The Contreras brother, Julio Buitrago, Bayardo Arce, Axel Somarriba, Doris Tijerino, Lenin Cerna and many others studied in that Institute he founded. Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan National Autonomous University, free territory in Nicaragua, consistently cultivated the preeminent figures of the student resistance.

I was a bad student, but my classmates in the Engineering School included Rene Nuñez, Cristian Perez and Omar Hassan. We received classes from professors of the caliber of Otoniel Argüello, Moises Hassan, Werner Kettelhom, Abdel Karim, Roberto Zelaya, Jorge Hayn and Orlando Urroz. These professors had earned doctorates from international universities. But who informs the president of that?

Those who studied Law should feel fortunate that they were guided by Manolo Morales, Roberto Ortiz, Rodolfo Sandino, Edgar Sotomayor, Gustavo Adolfo Vargas, Roberto Argüello Hurtado and other whose wisdom and honesty was impressive. A mixture that is ever more foreign here these days. Of course, since there’s no one to answer to, the president can feel himself the winner of every round, even though the real count may go the other way.

The struggle against poverty hasn’t produced any results. We’ve never been as poor as we are now. All the projects he’s promoted have failed resoundingly. In 1990, the government of Violeta Chamorro received an “inheritance” [from Ortega] of US 12.5 billion dollars in foreign debt. Just try to imagine that for an instant.

Reference was made in his speech to the train, whose disappearance we all watched with sadness. But Ortega didn’t mention that there were no investments registered in the eighties for its maintenance. Instead, they were left with $35,000 dollars a month in losses. As president, he should have been on top of all that and of the burden it would leave.

No backing could be found from international financial organizations for the two publicized attempts at reactivation. They felt it wasn’t worth the trouble, and that forced them to sell off the remains of the train as scrap. This is all described with detailed statistics by Antonio Lacayo, an engineer and minister to the presidency from 1990 – 1995.

Ortega spoke about living with dignity, when we’re all wondering: What’s that? That possibility was confiscated a long time ago without the least consideration for the country. The attack on the growth of the rich and the advantage they took from it is unjustifiable. It runs parallel, though to the sudden and nearly miraculous appearance of the nouveau riche. Those who had nothing in 1979, today strut like peacocks before the astonished gazes of the multiplying ranks of the poor. They can’t understand how they managed to make such great leaps.

Naturally, in a press conference, the president would have to respond to questions about so many outrages. So many people arbitrarily imprisoned; the absence of justice as a consequence of the lack of investigations; the complete loss of international confidence; the brutal repression, and so much more.

So many difficulties have poured down on us. This poor country has been drowned in a crisis that seems to have no end. No, he wouldn’t dare to face such an exchange.

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