|Birth Day:||November 11, 1945|
|Birth Place:||La Libertad, Nicaragua|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
He was a part of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and was even arrested for trying to rob a branch of Bank of America.
Ortega was first arrested for political activities at the age of 15, and quickly joined the then-underground Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). In 1964, Ortega travelled to Guatemala, where the police arrested him and turned him over to the Nicaraguan National Guard. After his release from detainment, Ortega arranged the assassination of his torturer, Guardsman Gonzalo Lacayo, in August 1967.
He was imprisoned in 1967 for taking part in armed robbery of a branch of the Bank of America. He told collaborators that they should be killed if they did not take part in the robbery. Ortega was released in late 1974, along with other Sandinista prisoners, in exchange for Somocista hostages. While imprisoned at the El Modelo jail, just outside Managua, Ortega wrote poems, one of which he titled "I Never Saw Managua When Miniskirts Were in Fashion". During his imprisonment, Ortega was severely tortured. While he was incarcerated at El Modelo, his mother helped stage protests and hunger strikes for political prisoners; this resulted in improving the treatment of incarcerated Sandinistas.
Ortega married Rosario Murillo in 1979 in a secret ceremony. They moved to Costa Rica with her three children from a previous marriage. Ortega remarried Murillo in 2005 in order to have the marriage recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, as part of his effort to reconcile with the church. The couple has eight children, three of them together. Murillo serves as the Ortega government's spokeswoman and a government minister, among other positions. Ortega adopted stepdaughter Zoilamérica Narváez in 1986, through a court case.
When Somoza was overthrown by the FSLN in July 1979, Ortega became a member of the five-person Junta of National Reconstruction, which included Sandinista militant Moisés Hassan, novelist Sergio Ramírez, businessman Alfonso Robelo, and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, the widow of a murdered journalist. In September 1979, United States President Carter hosted Ortega at the White House, and warned him against arming other Central American leftist guerrilla movements. At the time, Ortega spoke truthfully when he denied Sandinista involvement in neighboring countries. When Ortega questioned the Americans about CIA support for anti-Sandinista groups, Carter and Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher said the reports were false. After the meeting, Carter asked Congress for $75 million in aid to Nicaragua, contingent on the Sandinista government's promise not to aid other guerrillas.
In 1980 the Sandinista government launched the massive Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign, and claimed the illiteracy rate fell from 50% to 13% in the span of five months. These figures are disputed, as many "unteachable" illiterates were omitted from the statistics, and many people declared literate were found to be unable to read or write a simple sentence. The UNESCO awarded Nicaragua the Nadezhda K. Krupskaya prize in recognition of its efforts. The FSLN also focused on improving the Nicaraguan health system, particularly through vaccination campaigns and the construction of public hospitals. These actions reduced child mortality by half, to 40 deaths per thousand. By 1982, the World Health Organization deemed Nicaragua a model for primary health care.
The FSLN came to dominate the junta, Robelo and Chamorro resigned, and in 1981 Ortega became the coordinator of the Junta. As the only member of the FSLN National Directorate in the Junta, he was the effective leader of the country. After attaining power, the FSLN embarked upon an ambitious programme of social reform. They arranged to redistribute 20,000 square kilometres (5 million acres) of land to about 100,000 families; launched a literacy drive, and made health care improvements that ended polio through mass vaccinations, and reduced the frequency of other treatable diseases. The Sandinista nationalization efforts affected mostly banks and industries owned by the extended Somoza family. More than half of all farms, businesses, and industries remained in private hands. The revolutionary government wanted to preserve a mixed economy and support private sector investment. The Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) opposed the Sandinistas’ economic reform. The main organization of Nicaraguan big business was composed of prosperous families from the Pacific coast cities, who dominated commerce and banking. Ortega took a very hard line against opposition to his policies: On February 21, 1981, the Sandinista army killed 7 Miskito Indians and wounded 17.
In 1981, United States President Ronald Reagan accused the FSLN of joining with Soviet-backed Cuba in supporting Marxist revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries, such as El Salvador. People within the Reagan administration authorized the CIA to begin financing, arming and training rebels as anti-Sandinista guerrillas, some of whom were former officers from Somoza's National Guard. These were known collectively as the Contras. This resulted in one of the largest political scandals in US history, (the Iran–Contra affair). Oliver North and several members of the Reagan administration defied the Boland Amendment, selling arms to Iran and using the proceeds in order to secretly fund the Contras.
The Contra war claimed 30,000 lives in Nicaragua. The tactics used by the Sandinista government to fight the Contras have been widely condemned for their suppression of civil rights. On March 15, 1982, the Junta declared a state of siege, which allowed it to close independent radio stations, suspend the right of association, and limit the freedom of trade unions. Nicaragua's Permanent Commission on Human Rights condemned Sandinista human rights violations, accusing them of killing and forcibly disappearing thousands of persons in the first few years of the war.
At the 1984 general election Ortega won the presidency with 67% of the vote and took office on January 10, 1985. In the early phases of the campaign, Ortega enjoyed many institutional advantages, and used the full power of the press, police, and Supreme Electoral Council against the fractured opposition. In the weeks before the November election, Ortega gave a U.N. speech denouncing talks held in Rio de Janeiro on electoral reform. But by October 22, the Sandinistas signed an accord with opposition parties to reform electoral and campaign laws, making the process more fair and transparent. While campaigning, Ortega promoted the Sandinistas’ achievements, and at a rally claimed that “Democracy is literacy, democracy is land reform, democracy is education and public health.” International observers judged the election to be the first free election held in the country in more than half a century. A report by an Irish governmentary delegation stated: "The electoral process was carried out with total integrity. The seven parties participating in the elections represented a broad spectrum of political ideologies." The general counsel of New York's Human Rights Commission described the election as "free, fair and hotly contested." A study by the US Latin American Studies Association (LASA) concluded that the FSLN (Sandinista Front) "did little more to take advantage of its incumbency than incumbent parties everywhere (including the U.S.) routinely do." However some people described the election as "rigged". According to a detailed study, since the 1984 election was for posts subordinate to the Sandinista Directorate, the elections were no more subject to approval by vote than the Central Committee of the Communist Party is in countries of the East Bloc.
Possible explanations for his loss include that the Nicaraguan people were disenchanted with the Ortega government as well as the fact that already in November 1989, the White House had announced that the economic embargo against Nicaragua would continue unless Violeta Chamorro won. Also, there had been reports of intimidation from the side of the contras, with a Canadian observer mission claiming that 42 people were killed by the contras in "election violence" in October 1989. This led many commentators to assume that Nicaraguans voted against the Sandinistas out of fear of a continuation of the contra war and economic deprivation.
In the 1990 presidential election, Ortega lost his reelection bid to Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, his former colleague in the junta. Chamorro was supported by the US and a 14-party anti-Sandinista alliance known as the National Opposition Union (Unión Nacional Oppositora, UNO), an alliance that ranged from conservatives and liberals to communists. She ran an effective campaign, presenting herself as the peace candidate and promising to end the US-funded Contra War if she won. Ortega campaigned on the slogan, "Everything Will Be Better," and promised that, with the Contra war over, he could focus on the nation's recovery. Contrary to what most observers expected, Chamorro shocked Ortega and won the election. Chamorro's UNO coalition garnered 54% of the vote, and won 51 of the 92 seats in the National Assembly. Immediately after the loss, the Sandinistas tried to maintain unity around their revolutionary posture. In Ortega's concession speech the following day he vowed to keep "ruling from below" a reference to the power that the FSLN still wielded in various sectors. He also stressed his belief that the Sandinistas had the goal of bringing "dignity" to Latin America, and not necessarily to hold on to government posts. In 1991, Ortega claimed elections were “an instrument to reaffirm” the FSLN's “political and ideological positions,” and also “confront capitalism.” However, the electoral loss led to pronounced divisions in the FSLN. Some members adopted more pragmatic positions, and sought to transform the FSLN into a modern social democratic party engaged in national reconciliation and class cooperation. Ortega and other party insiders found common ground with the radicals, who still promoted anti-imperialism and class conflict to achieve social change.
On September 9, 1994, Ortega gained more power after taking over Sergio Ramirez's seat in the Asamblea Sandinista (Sandinista Assembly). Ramirez had served as chief of the FSLN's parliamentary caucus since 1990, but Ortega came to oppose his actions in the National Assembly, setting the stage for Ramirez's removal. Historic leaders, such as Ernesto Cardenal, a former minister of culture in the Sandinista government, rejected Ortega's consolidation of power: “My resignation from the FSLN has been caused by the kidnapping of the party carried out by Daniel Ortega and the group he heads.” The party formally split on January 8, 1995, when Ramirez and a number of prominent Sandinista officials quit.
Ortega ran for election again, in October 1996 and November 2001, but lost on both occasions to Arnoldo Alemán and Enrique Bolaños, respectively. In these elections, a key issue was the allegation of corruption. In Ortega's last days as president, through a series of legislative acts known as "The Piñata", estates that had been seized by the Sandinista government (some valued at millions and even billions of US dollars) became the private property of various FSLN officials, including Ortega himself.
In the 1996 campaign, Ortega faced the Liberal Alliance (Alianza Liberal), headed by Arnoldo Aleman Lacayo, a former mayor of Managua. The Sandinistas softened their anti-imperialist rhetoric, with Ortega calling the U.S. “our great neighbor,” and vowing to cooperate “within a framework of respect, equality, and justice.” The image change failed, as Aleman's Liberal Alliance came first with 51.03% of the vote, while Ortega's FSLN secured 37.75%.
In 1998, Daniel Ortega's adopted stepdaughter Zoilamérica Narváez released a 48-page report describing how, she alleged, Ortega had systematically sexually abused her from 1979, when she was 12, until 1990. Ortega, his wife Murillo and their other children denied the allegations, as did many Sandinistas who believe it is politically motivated. The case could not proceed in Nicaraguan courts, which have been consistently allied with Ortega, because Ortega had immunity from prosecution as a member of parliament, and the five-year statute of limitations for sexual abuse and rape charges was judged to have been exceeded. Narváez took a complaint to the Inter American Human Rights Commission, which was ruled admissible on October 15, 2001. On March 4, 2002 the Nicaraguan government accepted the Commission's recommendation of a friendly settlement. Ortega continued to deny the allegations and Narváez withdrew the accusations in 2008, though she later renewed her complaints shortly after. Following the 2016 election, Narváez continued to make the accusations saying that she had become an outcast of her family.
Ortega was instrumental in creating the controversial strategic pact between the FSLN and the Constitutional Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Constitucionalista, PLC). The controversial alliance of Nicaragua's two major parties is aimed at distributing power between the PLC and FSLN, and preventing other parties from rising. After sealing the agreement in January 2000, the two parties controlled the three key institutions of the state: the Comptroller General of the Republic, the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Electoral Council. "El Pacto," as it is known in Nicaragua, is said to have personally benefited former presidents Ortega and Alemán greatly, while constraining then-president Bolaños. One of the key accords of the pact was to lower the ratio necessary to win a presidential election in the first round from 45% to 35%, a change in electoral law that would become decisive in Ortega's favor in the 2006 elections.
Ortega's policies became more moderate during his time in opposition, and he gradually changed much of his former Marxist stance in favor of an agenda of democratic socialism. His Roman Catholic faith has become more public in recent years as well, leading Ortega to embrace a variety of socially conservative policies; in 2006 the FSLN endorsed a strict law banning all abortions in Nicaragua. In the run-up to the 2006 elections, Ortega displayed his ties to the Catholic Church by renewing his marriage vows before Cardinal Miguel Obanda y Bravo.
In 2006, Daniel Ortega was elected president with 38% of the vote. This occurred despite the fact that the breakaway Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) continued to oppose the FSLN, running former Mayor of Managua Herty Lewites as its candidate for president. Ortega personally attacked Lewites’ Jewish background, compared him to Judas, and warned he “could end up hanged.” However, Lewites died several months before the elections.
During his reign as president starting in 2007, Ortega has been described as taking "full control of all four branches of government, state institutions, the military, and police", and in the process dismantled "Nicaragua’s institutional democracy" (journalist Tim Rogers); taking under his control "every aspect of government ... the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the armed forces, the judiciary, the police and the prosecutor’s office" (journalist, Frances Robles); "aggressively dismantled all institutional checks on presidential power" (Human Rights Watch).
When seeking office, Ortega threatened to cut ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) in order to restore relations with the People's Republic of China (as in the period from 1985 to 1990). But he did not do so. In 2007 Ortega stated that Nicaragua did not accept the One China Policy of the PRC government and that Nicaragua reserved the right to maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. He reassured President Chen Shui Bian in 2007 that Nicaragua would not break diplomatic relations with Taiwan. He explained that during the Reagan administration the United States imposed sanctions on Nicaragua. But cutting ties with Taiwan was a sad and painful decision because of the friendship between Nicaragua and Taiwan's people and government. Ortega met with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou in 2009 and both agreed to improve the diplomatic ties between both countries. However, with a trade show from China in Managua in 2010, he is attempting a two-track policy to get benefits from both sides. In 2016 Nicaragua and Taiwan signed an air services agreement and Ortega stated that Nicaragua's free trade deal with Taiwan had benefited both nations. Taiwan increased its investment in Nicaragua. In 2017 Ortega reaffirmed Nicaragua's diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
In June 2008 the Nicaraguan Supreme Court disqualified the MRS and the Conservative Party from participation in municipal elections. In November 2008, the Supreme Electoral Council received national and international criticism following irregularities in municipal elections, but agreed to review results for Managua only, while the opposition demanded a nationwide review. For the first time since 1990, the Council decided not to allow national or international observers to witness the election. Instances of intimidation, violence, and harassment of opposition political party members and NGO representatives have been recorded. Official results show Sandinista candidates winning 94 of the 146 municipal mayoralties, compared to 46 for the main opposition Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC). The opposition claimed that marked ballots were dumped and destroyed, that party members were refused access to some of the vote counts and that tallies from many polling places were altered. As a result of the fraud allegations, the European Union suspended $70m of aid, and the US $64m.
On March 6, 2008, following the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis, Ortega announced that Nicaragua was breaking diplomatic ties with Colombia "in solidarity with the Ecuadorian people". Ortega also stated, "We are not breaking relations with the Colombian people. We are breaking relations with the terrorist policy practiced by Álvaro Uribe's government". The relations were restored with the resolution at a Rio Group summit held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on March 7, 2008. At the summit Colombia's Álvaro Uribe, Ecuador's Rafael Correa, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Ortega publicly shook hands in a show of good-will. The handshakes, broadcast live throughout Latin America, appeared to signal that a week of military buildups and diplomatic repercussions was over. After the handshakes, Ortega said he would re-establish diplomatic ties with Colombia. Uribe then quipped that he would send him the bill for his ambassador's plane fare.
On May 25, 2008, Ortega, upon learning of the death of FARC guerrilla leader Manuel Marulanda in Colombia, expressed condolences to the family of Marulanda and solidarity with the FARC and called Marulanda an extraordinary fighter who battled against profound inequalities in Colombia. The declarations were protested by the Colombian government and criticized in the major Colombian media outlets.
On September 2, 2008, during ceremonies for the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan army, Ortega announced that "Nicaragua recognizes the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and fully supports the Russian government's position". Ortega's decision made Nicaragua the second country (after Russia) to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. A day after Venezuela recognised the two Republics, Nicaragua established diplomatic relations with Abkhazia, and followed this by establishing diplomatic links with South Ossetia. Embassies have been mooted, but as of 2013 these had not opened.
Before the National Sandinista Council held in September 2009, Lenin Cerna, the secretary of the party organization, called for diversifying its political strategies. He declared the FSLN's future depended on implementing new plans, “so that the party can advance via new routes and in new ways, always under Ortega’s leadership.” Ortega gained power over the selection of candidates, allowing him to personally choose all candidates for public office.
During an interview with David Frost for the Al Jazeera English programme Frost Over The World in March 2009, Ortega suggested that he would like to change the constitution to allow him to run again for president. In Judicial Decision 504, issued on October 19, 2009, the Supreme Court of Justice of Nicaragua declared portions of Articles 147 and 178 of the Constitution of Nicaragua inapplicable; these provisions concerned the eligibility of candidates for president, vice-president, mayor, and vice-mayor—a decision that had the effect of allowing Ortega to run for reelection in 2011.
Ortega emphasized peace and reconciliation in his campaign, and selected a former Contra leader, Jaime Morales Corazo, as his running mate. The FSLN also won 38 seats in the congressional elections, becoming the party with the largest representation in parliament. The split in the Constitutionalist Liberal Party helped allow the FSLN to become the largest party in Congress; however, the Sandinista vote had a minuscule split between the FSLN and MRS, and that the liberal party combined is larger than the Frente Faction. In 2010, several liberal congressmen raised accusations about the FSLN presumably attempting to buy votes to pass constitutional reforms that would allow Ortega to run for office for the 6th time since 1984.
In September 2010, after a US report listed Nicaragua as a "major" drug-trafficking centre, with Costa Rica and Honduras, Ortega urged the US Congress and Obama administration to allocate more resources to assist the fight against drug trafficking.
With the late-2000s recession, Ortega in 2011 characterised capitalism as in its "death throes" and portrayed the Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America (ALBA) is the most advanced, most Christian and fairest project. He also said God was punishing the United States with the financial crisis for trying to impose its economic principles on poor countries. "It's incredible that in the most powerful country in the world, which spends billions of dollars on brutal wars ... people do not have enough money to stay in their homes."
Ortega was re-elected president with a vote on November 6 and confirmation on November 16, 2011. During the election, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) blocked both domestic and international poll observers from multiple polling stations. According to the Supreme Electoral Council, Ortega defeated Fabio Gadea, with 63% of the vote.
In January 2014 the National Assembly, dominated by the FSLN, approved constitutional amendments that abolished term limits for the presidency and allowed a president to run for an unlimited number of five-year terms. Although billed as a measure to ensure stability, critics charged that the amendments threatened Nicaraguan democracy. The constitutional reforms also gave Ortega the sole power to appoint military and police commanders.
Ortega has said that Assad's victory in the 2014 election is an important step to "attain peace in Syria and a clear cut evidence that the Syrian people trust their president as a national leader and support his policies which aim at maintaining Syria's sovereignty and unity".
As of 2016, Ortega's family owns three of the nine free-to-air television channels in Nicaragua, and controls a fourth (the public Channel 6). Four of the remaining five are controlled by Mexican mogul Ángel González, and are generally considered to be aligned with Ortega's ruling FSLN party. There are no government restrictions on Internet use; the Ortega administration attempted to gain complete control over online media in 2015, but failed due to opposition from civil society, political parties, and private organizations.
In June 2016, the Nicaraguan supreme court ruled to oust Eduardo Montealegre, the leader of the main opposition party, leaving the main opposition coalition with no means of contesting the November 2016 national elections. In August 2016, Ortega chose his wife, Rosario Murillo, as his vice-presidential running-mate for re-election.
According to the Washington Post, figures announced on November 7, 2016 put Daniel Ortega in line for his third consecutive term as President, also being his fourth term overall. The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) reported Ortega and Murillo won 72.4% of the vote, with 68% turnout. The opposition coalition had called the election a "farce" and had called for the boycott of the election. International observers were not allowed to observe the vote. Nevertheless, according to the BBC, Ortega was the most popular candidate by far, possibly due to Nicaragua's stable economic growth and lack of violence compared to its neighbours El Salvador and Honduras in recent years.
In 2016, Daniel Ortega did not sign the Paris Agreement because he felt the deal did not do enough to protect the climate, although he later changed his mind. Moreover, Nicaragua rejected projects of mining of the Canadian group B2 Gold which could represent a threat to the environment. According to government estimates, Nicaragua has passed from 25% renewable electricity to 52% between 2007 and 2016.
According to Tim Rogers, until the 2018 unrest, as president Ortega presided over "the fastest-growing economy in Central America" and was a "poster child for foreign investment and citizen security in a region known for gangs and unrest". During this time the Ortega government formed an alliance with the Superior Council for Private Enterprise (COSEP), Nicaragua's council of business chambers. However the same unpopular decree which "unilaterally overhauling the social-security tax system" (mentioned below) and precipitated the unrest in April 2018, also broke Ortega's arrangement with COSEP, and along with US sanctions, brought a sharp economic drop that as of mid-2020 is still "crippling" Nicaragua's economy.
In April 2018, student protests over a nature reserve fire expanded to cover an unpopular decree that would have cut social security benefits and increased taxpayer contributions. The protesters were violently set upon by the state sponsored Sandinista Youth. Despite attempts by Ortega's government to hide the incident through censorship of all private-owned news outlets, photos and videos of the violence made their way to social media where they sparked outrage and urged more Nicaraguans to join in on the protests. Tensions escalated quickly, as police began using tear gas canisters and rubber bullets, and eventually live ammunition on unarmed protesters. Authorities were also seen arming Sandinista Youth members with weapons to serve as paramilitary forces. Dozens of student protesters were subsequently killed. Despite the withdrawal of the unpopular decree, the protests continue, with most protesters demanding Ortega's and his cabinet's resignations. As the protests continue, support for the Ortega-Murillo regime dwindles.
On May 30, 2018 Nicaragua's Mother's Day, over 300,000 people marched to honor the mothers of students killed in the preceding protests. Despite the attendance of children, mothers and retirees, and lack of any violence by marchers, marchers were attacked in an event dubbed the "Mother's Day Massacre". 16 were killed, and 88 injured, as "police sprayed the crowd with bullets, government sharpshooters positioned on the roof of the national baseball stadium went headhunting with sniper rifles".
By June 2018 Tim Rogers of The Atlantic magazine described the situation:
Ortega attended the swearing-in ceremony of Nicolás Maduro for his second term on January 10, 2019.
In an interview with Max Blumenthal in August 2019, Ortega stated that he was open to the idea of Bernie Sanders (who had visited him in 1985) winning the U.S. Presidency in 2020 and that Bernie's message "goes in the right direction for the U.S. to become a pole of peace, development, and cooperation."
Daniel's brother is Nicaraguan military leader Humberto Oretga.
Currently, Daniel Ortega is 77 years, 2 months and 26 days old. Daniel Ortega will celebrate 78th birthday on a Saturday 11th of November 2023. Below we countdown to Daniel Ortega upcoming birthday.