Christian Science Monitor Attacks Ortega

On Aug. 25, The Christian Science Monitor published an article entitled, “Nicaraguans say US turns blind eye to abuses of Daniel Ortega.” As with other articles about Nicaragua published by the US corporate press over the past three decades, it would take more words than the original article to debunk all the lies, innuendos, and disinformation. Nevertheless, these press attacks should not go unanswered by solidarity activists. Following are talking points for letters-to-the-editor. Please send a letter to letters@csmonitor.com

Talking points:

The most serious charge in the article is that President Daniel Ortega has taken over the Supreme Court and other government institutions. The facts are:

· During the disastrous presidency of Enrique Bolaños, an overwhelming majority of the National Assembly voted in favor of constitutional and legislative initiatives that shifted power from the executive branch to the legislature. Among the changes were that 25 top government officials such as the magistrates of the Supreme Court and Supreme Electoral Council, as well as a number of agencies such as Human Rights Ombudsman would no longer be appointed by the president, but rather elected by the National Assembly.

· Late last year, due to boycotts and other strategies which have deadlocked the National Assembly, it became obvious that the legislature would not elect replacements for some of the expiring critical positions. President Ortega issued an executive order in January stating that position holders could remain in office until their replacements were elected by the National Assembly.

· Without that decree the judicial and electoral branches would have been decapitated and unable to perform their constitutional functions.

· The Sandinista Party holds a minority of 38 seats in the 92 member National Assembly. Even if a fractious and splintered opposition were able to agree on a single slate they would not have the 56 vote super majority needed to replace justices and other top-ranking officials whose terms have expired. Yet they prefer to try to make the country ungovernable rather than to negotiate with the Sandinistas. For the opposition to accuse Ortega of being a “dictator” under these circumstances is simply irresponsible.

Everyone quoted in the article is from the opposition political class. No Sandinistas were quoted and no ordinary Nicaraguans, much less those whose lives have been greatly improved through Sandinista poverty reduction measures that have been uniformly praised by UN agencies.

The US-funded Contra War in the 1980s was immoral and ruled illegal by the World Court. Is the Christian Science Monitor seriously proposing a new Contra War against the democratically elected Sandinista government when it accuses the US government of turning a “blind eye” to Daniel Ortega?

If Ortega is so unpopular, why do independent polls show him with 2-3 times greater support than his most likely challengers in the 2011 presidential election? The Center for Socio- Economic Research and Consulting (CINASE) released a poll on Aug. 17 (a sample of 1,250 people from urban and rural areas of the Pacific, North and Central parts of Nicaragua interviewed between April and August) which showed that Ortega would win in a three way race against the current declared candidates Eduardo Montealegre and Arnoldo Aleman with 28% for Ortega, 18% for Montealegre and 1.3% for Aleman. Forty- two percent said their party of preference was the Sandinista Party.

Did the Christian Science Monitor accuse former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias of being a budding dictator when he won the right to run for a second term using exactly the same Supreme Court strategy that Ortega used?

The Nicaraguan opposition-owned press accusing Ortega of being a dictator contains as much truth as the tea baggers’ claim that Obama is a socialist.

Feel free to add your own ideas and analysis to your letters. You can read the full Christian Science Monitor article at the link provided above.