Originally published 10/19/2008
On September 20, a mob supporting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, armed with sticks and machetes, took the streets of León to prevent a peaceful anti-government rally. They stopped traffic, searched buses and cars, and clashed with anti-riot police. A week later, another Ortega mob attacked students chanting “We don’t want violence.” They kicked them and whipped them with belts.A yanqui opposition?The media mostly noticed that Ortega, former Sandinista leader, was turning against several of his leftist allies, now organized as the Sandinista Renovation Movement. Also clear was his use of state institutions, namely the media, to slander his opposition. What few noted, however, was that Ortega had labeled the opposition “puppets of the yanqui empire.” While the motivations of the Nicaraguan government were clearly domestic, the rhetoric invoked the shopworn bogeyman of all-encompassing U.S. power.Was this scapegoating? Ortega certainly never explained how men like Ernesto Cardenal and Sergio Ramírez, true black-and-red Sandinistas targeted by the Reagan administration’s contras in the 1980s and still committed progressives, could be “neoliberal oppressors,” as one Ortega supporter called the opposition.
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