Ortega Saavedra, Daniel

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Ortega Saavedra, Daniel

Daniel Ortega Saavedra (ôrtā´gä sävāŧħ´rä), 1945–, president of Nicaragua (1979–90, 2007–). As a university student, he joined (1963) the clandestine Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN; see Sandinistas), a Marxist guerrilla coalition that opposed the Somoza dictatorship. In 1967, he was arrested and spent seven years in prison. Head of the Sandinista junta that took power following the 1979 revolution, he was elected president in 1984. As president, he attempted to consolidate the revolution along Marxist lines but was opposed by the United States and U.S.-backed guerrillas, the contras. He was unexpectedly defeated for reelection (1990) by Violetta Barrios de Chamorro, who led a coalition of opposition parties. Ortega subsequently twice lost in presidential elections, in 1996 to Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo and in 2001 to Enrique Bolaños, but in 2006 he again won the presidency, against a divided center-right opposition. His second government was marked by the use of government spending, street violence, judicial chicanery, and extraconstitutional presidential decrees in an attempt to expand the Sandinistas' hold on political power. He was reelected in 2011, again against a divided opposition.

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