The Corner


Nicaragua Now. Ortega Still.

Edipcia Dubón in Mexico City, February 26, 2019 (Jay Nordlinger)

That woman in the picture above is Edipcia Dubón. She is an interesting, brave, and touching person. She is a Nicaraguan, born in the Sandinista 1980s. She, her father, and other relatives had great hopes for the Sandinistas. So did many other Nicaraguans. But the Sandinistas turned out to be another dictatorship, which Nicaraguans were all too used to, in their sad, unfree history.

In 1990, Nicaragua held a free election, thanks to U.S. and U.N. pressure, and voters chose Violeta Chamorro as president. Hers was the first democratic government in Nicaragua ever. The country enjoyed a hiatus — a hiatus from dictatorship for 16 years (under three different presidents, including Chamorro).

Edipcia Dubón studied economics. Her country was desperately poor — the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti. Did it have to be that way always? Could Nicaragua experience any relief?

In 2006, something remarkable happened: Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista dictator from the 1980s, returned to power. He did so in a clever way — even an ingenious way. And he would rule (again) with similar cleverness. This time around, he was not so much a Sandinista as a typical Latin American strongman or caudillo — with an especially sinister streak (and a wife to go with it).

Edipcia Dubón ran for office and was elected a deputy in the National Assembly. Then she was kicked out — not by the voters but by the Ortega regime. Soon, she had to run for her life, like lots of other Nicaraguans. Some 80,000 of them have gone into exile.

I write about this in a piece today, “Nicaragua in Hell: Ortega’s crackdown and people who resist it.” Venezuela gets the attention, where Latin America is concerned. But Nicaragua deserves attention too — and, frankly, the two countries are intimately connected. No Maduro (and before him, no Chávez), no Ortega.

History can be a funny thing, and not ha-ha. The Ortega regime was a big concern of America’s when I was in high school and college. I cut my teeth on this regime, so to speak. And now, in 2019, the age of the smartphone . . .

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