September 3, 2008


Ortega's last straw in Nicaragua: The Sandinista president has gone too far in prosecuting 83-year-old poet Ernesto Cardenal. (Stephen Kinzer, September 3, 2008, LA Times)

A bitter political-cultural confrontation that exploded in Nicaragua in late August could mark the final end of the passionate romance between the world's leftist intellectuals and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. [...]

Despite Ortega's recent slide into authoritarian rule, and despite his glaring failure to address the urgent needs of an impoverished nation, the Sandinista cachet continues to give him an air of celebrity in some circles. His denunciations of American imperialism (issued even as he deals easily with the U.S. military and the International Monetary Fund) still warm the cockles of many hearts.

That has changed in recent days. On Aug. 22, in a crude act of political revenge, a Sandinista judge dredged up an old case that had been dismissed three years ago against Ernesto Cardenal, the 83-year-old poet who is one of Nicaragua's most beloved figures. Intellectuals from around the world, including many with pro-Sandinista pedigree, have angrily protested what they see as a transparent effort by Ortega and the Sandinistas to humiliate and punish Cardenal.

During the wild days of revolutionary rule and Contra war in the 1980s, Cardenal -- a priest and liberation theologian as well as a poet -- served as Ortega's minister of culture, and he did much to spread the Sandinista mystique around the world. The sin for which he is now being punished is that during a visit to Paraguay last month, he had the temerity to call Ortega a "thief" who runs "a monarchy made up of a few families in alliance with the old Somoza interests."

...who still worship Lenin, Che, Mao, Ho, and Allende and Mr. Kinzer thinks they'll turn on an enemy of Reagan?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 3, 2008 10:49 AM
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