But in the absence of a post-cold-war sponsor, Nicaragua’s opposition is struggling to coordinate an electoral offensive against Mr. Ortega, whose approval ratings rose to 45 percent last month with the help of his Venezuelan-financed response to flooding that killed scores of people and forced thousands to flee their homes.
Mr. Ortega’s critics contend that he is disregarding the Constitution and turning his role as the largest Central American beneficiary of Venezuela’s leftist president, Hugo Chávez, into political capital for next year’s vote in November.
“Chávez is propping up Ortega’s dictatorship,” said Fabio Gadea, a presidential contender who led a contra radio station from exile in Costa Rica in the 1980s. He argued that the United States had “lost vigor” in its own backyard and done little, beyond cutting $62 million in aid, to stave off Mr. Ortega’s advances.
“Times have changed,” Mr. Gadea added. “The ones who must defend democracy are us, the Nicaraguans.”
Convinced that the election will not be fair, another former contra has gone further, taking up arms in the mountains near the Honduran border.
“The government keeps violating the Constitution as much as it wants,” José Garmendia, also known as Comandante Yahob, recently told a local newspaper. Though his financial backing is limited to meager donations from a mayor in the north, Mr. Garmendia said he would hunker down until support grew, arguing that “only a rebellion can save us from the abuses of Daniel Ortega.”
Nicaragua has spent the past two decades trying to heal from the civil war that tore the country apart and left 35,000 people dead. Mr. Ortega, elected in 2006 with a former contra as his running mate, has distributed roofing materials, pensions and property titles to families of contras who turned in weapons as part of a 1987 peace accord.
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This is interesting. I'm iffy on Ortega, but I really fucking hate the Contras. And any thought of US intervention in Latin America makes me go D: D: D: D: D: so...