Daniel Ortega, another thorn for Bush? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-05-2006, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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Daniel Ortega, another thorn for Bush?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...500811_pf.html

Quote:
Nicaragua Balloting Said to Go Smoothly

By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, November 6, 2006; A18


MANAGUA, Nicaragua, Nov. 5 -- Daniel Ortega, the former Marxist revolutionary who last came to power at the head of a guerrilla force in 1979, remained locked in a close race to regain the presidency tonight as election officials predicted it would take them until early Monday to finish tallying the results.
Amid fears of ballot-rigging and allegations of meddling by U.S. officials, more than 17,000 Nicaraguan and foreign observers -- including a team of monitors led by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter -- fanned out across the lush countryside to ensure the fairness of the vote.
Apart from concerns about delayed openings and long lines at many precincts, the consensus among observers was that turnout among Nicaragua's more than 3 million registered voters was high and that balloting proceeded smoothly.
"The climate has been calm, and there is no reason to think this will change," Gustavo Fern?ndez, chief of the 200-member Organization of American States observer mission, announced at a news conference in Managua.
Head of the Soviet-backed government of the Sandinista National Liberation Front from 1979 to 1990, Ortega was the bane of the Reagan administration, which trained and funded insurgents known as contras in a failed effort to topple his government.
Despite subsequently moderating his image by embracing Catholicism and pronouncing himself a supporter of a market economy, the mustachioed leader has twice failed to win back the presidency since voters swept him from office in 1990.
This time, however, Ortega's chances are considered high because of a splintered opposition and new rules his Sandinista party helped engineer that permit a candidate to win a first-round vote with as little as 35 percent of the ballots and a five-point lead.
Ortega has consistently led opinion polls with as much as 33 percent, well ahead of his strongest competitor, Eduardo Montealegre of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance.
Montealegre, 51, a former banker and minister in recent governments of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), broke with his old party after its boss, former president Arnoldo Alem?n, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on corruption charges.
Also running are Jos? Rizo, 62, of the PLC; Edmundo Jarqu?n, 60, of the dissident Sandinista Renovation Movement; and, in last place, Eden Pastora, a former Sandinista commander.
If Ortega fails to win the first round, few analysts believe that he could win the runoff, which would be held in mid-December.
U.S. officials, alarmed by the prospect that Ortega could achieve a first-round victory, issued a stream of warnings about possible economic consequences for Nicaragua.
Ascenci?n Velasquez, 42, a bricklayer who cast his vote for Rizo in a working-class neighborhood of Managua, said he had taken those statements to heart.
"If Ortega wins, it's going to be back to the disaster of the 1980s, embargo by the United States, shortages of everything, no jobs," he said.
But Jos? Guido, 36, who lives in a Managua trash dump -- where he and hundreds of other families make their living picking through refuse for food and recyclables -- noted that Nicaragua was already in bad shape.
"Daniel is the only one who cares about us," he said, swatting at the flies buzzing around the polling center. "I'm so hopeful that he will win and take us out of this misery."
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-05-2006, 10:55 PM
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Something similar could easily happen right next door in Mexico. The richest of the Countries South of the US border, where not much 'trickles down.' All it would take is for a charismatic leader to promise something to all those who have nothing.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-06-2006, 05:24 AM
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If he comes to power peacefully and democratically what's to complain about? I'd say that is the greatest achievement in a nation, when would-be military dictators take-off the uniform, put down their guns and run for office.

B
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-06-2006, 06:41 AM
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I agree with you here. But it is not always that simple. After all, Hitler was elected by an overwhelming majority. But the World would have been spared a lot of pain, and been better off without him. Too bad he was not a talented painter, history might have taken a different turn. Who knows.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-06-2006, 06:49 AM
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The Right has been the bad guy in Central America for a long time. Hispanic culture infuses a certain murderousness into the authoritarian set. In Guatemala alone, it is estimated that 400,000 people were essentially massacred by the right wing in that country. The Contras were also not a buch of nice guys. It would be nice to see the two factions have a decent election, no matter who wins. Nicaragua is actually becoming somewhat of a beacon for democracy, since the Sandinistas remained peaceful during their years out of power. Let's see if the Right can do the same.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-06-2006, 07:19 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Botnst
If he comes to power peacefully and democratically what's to complain about? I'd say that is the greatest achievement in a nation, when would-be military dictators take-off the uniform, put down their guns and run for office.

B
Ah yeah like Hamas or the PLO, they were elected too but they did not fit some vision the US had for that region so those elections are "irrelevent". How about Chavez? How about Allende?
We always have a complaint Bot if it is not "in the design".
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-06-2006, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Botnst
If he comes to power peacefully and democratically what's to complain about? I'd say that is the greatest achievement in a nation, when would-be military dictators take-off the uniform, put down their guns and run for office.

B
Yeah, just like Chile, remember?

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-06-2006, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teutone
I agree with you here. But it is not always that simple. After all, Hitler was elected by an overwhelming majority. But the World would have been spared a lot of pain, and been better off without him. Too bad he was not a talented painter, history might have taken a different turn. Who knows.
And if Castro had only been a better baseball player...

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-06-2006, 07:38 AM
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There was a good piece on All Things Considered last week on this topic. I particularly like how Newt Gingrich very plainly laid out the five elements that together create a viable democracy - it's suprisingly difficult to see what it takes referenced in such a way, since most people think of a democracy as simply meaning "free elections".

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=6430389
Former House Speaker Newt Ginrich says that in its efforts to promote democracy, the Bush administration has failed to explain the full meaning of democracy, beyond free elections.

"The rule of law, independent judges, the right of free speech, the ability to fire those to whom you loan power, and private property -- unless you have all five of those in place, you don't have a viable democracy," Gingrich says.


Interestingly, nearly every country in the world refers to itself as a democracy, including Cuba, Iran and even North Korea, which is officially named the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. In fact, only five countries in the world say they are not democratic. The overwhelming majority of nations hold some form of democratic elections.

...

Last year, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told an audience in Cairo that for 60 years, "the United States pursued stability at the expense of democracy" in the Middle East.

The speech appeared to be a kind of acknowledgement of past American sins. The United States did indeed sponsor some nasty regimes, and even a few coup d'etats. But retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich says that the aim of U.S. policy has not changed radically.

"U.S. foreign policy supports the spread of democracy to the extent -- and only to the extent -- that the spread of democracy is supportive of other U.S. interests," Bacevich says.


Those U.S. interests, he says, include trade agreements and strategic alliances, but also the very real desire for stability.

Former House Speaker Gingrich argues that spreading democracy helps the United States diffuse some of the negative feelings about America in the Muslim world.

"The anger that gets directed at us is actually anger diverted from dictatorships," Gingrich says. "Open societies under the rule of law, where people are prosperous, are less likely to have terrorism than places which have greater tension and much greater pressure."

The challenge, of course, is figuring out how to make it work. There is no democracy template. But as Winston Churchill famously noted, democracy is the worst form of government -- except for all the others that have been tried.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-06-2006, 07:52 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks QBNCGAR:
"U.S. foreign policy supports the spread of democracy to the extent -- and only to the extent -- that the spread of democracy is supportive of other U.S. interests," Bacevich says.

And who is supporting these dictatorships? We seem to talk from both sides of our mouths, that's fo sure
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