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Aleman and Ortega: "The Pact"

In 2003, former President of Nicaragua Arnoldo Alemán was convicted of corruption, having been accused of embezzling millions. Another former President, Daniel Ortega, was hungry to return to power but lacked the votes. It looked as if both of them were in for a long decade of frustration and/or imprisonment.

In 2006, however, Ortega was elected president and in early 2009 Alemán’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. Why the sudden turnaround for these two men? Many Nicaraguans believe that they have had a secret power-sharing pact with one another since as early as 1997 (no date is known, as neither man has publicly acknowledged “the pact”).

Alemán is one of the most despised public figures in Nicaragua, but he controls a very large voting bloc in the legislature as well as a great deal of money. Ortega also controls many votes in the legislature and has great influence with the Sandinista bureaucrats that he put in their positions back in the 1980’s. Alone, they have limited influence, but by working together, they have taken over the nation.

The deal has paid great rewards for both men. Alemán commanded his bloc to vote for electoral changes which allowed Ortega to win the 2006 election with only 38% of the vote, and they also let Ortega and his minions get away with blatant fraud in the 2008 municipal elections. Meanwhile, the Ortega-controlled Supreme Court first changed the penalty for money laundering to five years (retroactively, to benefit Alemán) and then threw out his conviction altogether. Ortega saw his own legal problems – his stepdaughter publicly accused him of sexually abusing her in the 1980’s – disappear before a friendly Sandinista judge while Alemán and his bloc kept conspicuously quiet on the matter.

There is evidence to suggest that the Pact is not yet done. The two have united to ban any sort of opposition and outlawed political parties seen as having the potential to challenge them. There are plans in place to create a new model of government, in which a President would control foreign affairs and a Prime Minister would be in charge of domestic affairs. This would be perfect for the spotlight-loving Ortega, who as President could travel the world, attending summits and giving fiery anti-US speeches. It would also suit Alemán, the detail-oriented control freak who loves nothing more than the minutiae of governing.

Alemán and Ortega are both extremely unpopular in Nicaragua, and most of the people despise “el pacto,” as it is known. The people of Nicaragua dread the possibility of both men becoming entrenched in power, but as long as these two marginal political figures keep the faith, there may be no one to stop them in the near future.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Nicaragua : History, History, José Daniel Ortega Saavedra, History of Leon and the North West, The History of Nicaragua, The History of the Corn Islands, Augusto Sandino, Islas Solentiname History, Río San Juan History and Granada and Around History.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
04 Mar 2009

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