Re: [Nicaragua] Riots after pension reform: down with Ortega!

Subject: Re: [Nicaragua] Riots after pension reform: down with Ortega!
From: (RS Wood)
Newsgroups: dictator.america
Organization: The Dictator's Handbook
Date: Apr 27 2018 21:52:02
On Mon, 23 Apr 2018 01:24:35 +0000
NewsBeanie <> wrote:

Title: Nicaragua president scraps pension cuts after deadly riots
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:29:00 -0400

President Daniel Ortega revokes pensions and social security cuts after at
least 25 people die in riots.

Time to retireRiots threaten Nicaragua’s autocratic president

Daniel Ortega’s corrupt regime resorts to violence to stay in charge

Daniel Ortega’s corrupt regime resorts to violence to stay in charge
Print edition | Leaders
Apr 26th 2018

AMONG Latin America’s handful of autocracies, that of Daniel Ortega in
Nicaragua once stood out for its stability. Mr Ortega was the most
prominent leader of the revolutionary Sandinista regime of the 1980s,
but lost an election in 1990. He later forged a dirty deal with a
conservative rival that let him return to power with just 38% of the
vote in 2006, and has since clung to office by nobbling democratic
institutions. At the last election in 2016, he banned the main
opposition. Nicaragua thus joined Venezuela, the only two Latin
American countries to have regressed from democracy to dictatorship.

Mr Ortega rules by combining left-wing rhetoric with mainly right-wing
policies, letting the private sector and the Catholic church do what
they like and avoiding quarrels with the United States. He has kept his
political base among the poor thanks to roughly $5bn in Venezuelan aid.
He has made his wife, Rosario Murillo, vice-president. Corruption has
flourished. All this carries a whiff of the Somozas, the brutal,
thieving dictators whom the Sandinistas overthrew in 1979. Nevertheless
it has worked. The country, ravaged by civil war in the 1980s, has been
at peace. The economy has grown strongly.

But on April 18th something snapped. After years of his government
plundering the national pension pot, Mr Ortega imposed by decree a 5%
cut in pensions and raised contributions. Furious citizens rioted (see
article). Police and pro-regime thugs responded with clubs and bullets.
Almost three dozen people were killed. The government silenced several
television channels. A degree of calm returned only after Mr Ortega
cancelled the decree.

Mr Ortega’s problems may have just begun. Everything indicates that the
ruling couple have lost the consent of their people. It is often
forgotten that authoritarian governments tend to depend even more on
popularity than democratic ones do. Mr Ortega has neutered the
institutions that might serve as shock absorbers against popular ire.
In this predicament authoritarian rulers can negotiate, or dig in and
tough it out. Which will Mr Ortega pick?

He has offered to talk to the private-business lobby and the church.
They should insist on a broader dialogue. This cannot only be about
pension reform. It should include, at the very least, an investigation
into the recent deaths, an independent audit of the government’s
accounts and of aid money, the restoration of political freedoms and
the reform of the Ortega-nobbled electoral authority and supreme court.

Ortega family values

Unfortunately Mr Ortega is unlikely to go along with much of this. Aged
72, he appears to want to install Ms Murillo as his successor. The
chances are that he cannot do that democratically. After several years
of rapid growth, the economy has started to slow. The fiscal accounts
are under pressure. Unlike his friend Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Mr
Ortega has no oil. His economy depends on the confidence of investors
and lenders. All this suggests harsher repression may not work.

In one sense, Mr Ortega is not alone. His fellow populist caudillos in
Latin America are each in varying degrees of trouble. Having lost
majority support, Mr Maduro abolished Venezuela’s parliament and is
dragging his country to socioeconomic catastrophe. In Ecuador Rafael
Correa lost control after he sponsored a successor who has adopted more
moderate and democratic policies. In Bolivia Evo Morales may face
electoral defeat if he insists on trying to prolong his more than a
decade in power at an election in 2019. Sooner or later people tire of
caudillos. Mr Ortega faces a stark choice: retreat while he still can,
or risk plunging his country into far deeper turmoil.

Date Subject  Author
23.04. * [Nicaragua] Riots after pension reform: down with NewsBeanie
27.04. `* Re: [Nicaragua] Riots after pension reform: down with RS Wood
01.05.  `- Re: [Nicaragua] Riots after pension reform: down with RS Wood

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