Monday, May 08, 2006

Ortega Warns of Social Outbreak

Daniel Ortega, Presidential Candidate for the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), today said that the repression of medical unions in Nicaragua may cause a "social outbreak". Ortega's comments come after the Medical Federation last week began protesting abnormally low wages for doctors and nurses in Nicaragua, which run between $200 to $500 a month. When Physicians peacefully occupied the Finance Ministry last week to demand higher pay and better benefits last week, police were sent in to stop the protest. Twenty demonstrators were wounded and 88 others arrested. Elio Artola of the Medical Federation said that the union would go on general strike if doctors didn't receive a 30% pay increase.

Ortega, who was instrumental in toppling the Somoza dictatorship in 1979, said that the strike busting represented a great overstep of Presidential power, as the police were carrying out the work of the executive branch. "The Nicaraguan government is the only responsible for such regrettable, reprehensible events," said the FSLN leader. The Sandinistas will be using their legal and political influence to free the political prisoners being held by the Nicaraguan government. This ordeal is likely to boost support for Ortega in the upcoming elections.

In light of yesterday's news that Hugo Chavez will be pushing for a 25 year term as Venezuela's President, Ortega gives us great hope as a truly democratic leader in Latin America. After crushing the Somoza Dynasty in 1979, the Sandinistas held free and internationally certified elections in which Daniel Ortega was a decisive winner. In 1990, when Ortega was voted out of office he respectfully stepped down as Nicaragua's Head of State, and allowed for a peaceful transition of democratic power. Ortega had the military might needed to stay in power had he wanted to, but he respected the will his people. Chavez needs to rethink his 25 year term limit proposal and take a page from the Sandinista handbook.