Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega: from hero to Nero

Originally published at:


“Jude Webber’s excellent profile on the Nicaraguan strongman” appears to be behind a paywall, so let me take a whack at explaining it.

(1) Any authoritarian government without a free opposition descends into tyranny and/or kleptocracy. It’s the nature of the human animal.

(2) The enemy of my enemy (the latter being Ronald Reagan and Ollie North) is by no means necessarily my friend.


good night Juan José

“We were OK with the government before,”

Wow, really? Chavez’s insanity and driving the country to ruin was OK?

This really doesn’t give me much hope for humanity, or the ongoing political crisis in the US.

Used to be a good guy…

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Err, Chavez?


You’re thinking of Venezuela


You get a like just for the headline, Seamus. Could not be more apt and succinct.

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I think that the text if the attribution of the image has some spelling errors.

Also, Ortega’s turn to the dark side is old news. He routinely suppressed protests by savage means for years. Old FSLN guerrillas compare the Cleansing of Estelí by Somoza in which that city was almost razed and depopulated by death squads to the current government’s actions and find that Ortega is worse because Somoza was reacting against an armed, committed force, the FSLN while Ortega is brutalizing unarmed, peaceful protesters with the same kind of death squads. And Somoza basically took credit for what he did unlike Ortega.

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For a real eye-opener on how the world works (and power corrupts), check out The Dictator’s handbook. (author Bruce bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith). It is an excellent read and if I were allowed to have only 3 books, this one would be one of them. Highly recommended.


The original Lord Acton quote is “Power tends to corrupt,” etc. It’s a minor distinction but I think an important one.

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With the added unfortunate bonus that people who have power because of their background in being a big 'ol liberation hero or similar tend to have both a core of loyalists that was forged in adversity; and some sort of cause that just has to be seen to it’s conclusion.

That’s what makes so many post-colonial governments so depressing; above and beyond the.merely corrupt and opportunistic. Many of them were, relatively, the good guys once; and they tend to still have the loyalists longer than they deserve the loyalty.

Always a reminder of how South Africa really dodged a bullet: even if Mandela weren’t generally well regarded(except officially, commie terrorist just wasn’t on board with ‘constructive engagement’); voluntarily leaving power before he wore out his welcome is statesman material; and less common than one would like.

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