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Nicaragua and Daniel Ortega Saavedra (1984)

Daniel Ortega Saavedra was born in La Libertad Nicaragua in 1945. Initially, Ortega pursued a career in law, studying at the Central American University in Managua Nicaragua; however, Ortega abandoned his studies in 1963 when he joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front (or the FSLN). Ortega quickly rose through the ranks of the FSLN and was appointed head of urban resistance campaign after just four years, in 1967. However, later on that same year, the Somoza regime captured and imprisoned him for seven (7) years. After his term of imprisonment had expired Ortega was exiled to Cuba, though he secretly returned home shortly.

In 1979 Somoza resigned as a result of mounting pressure from the FSLN and other organizations. That same year, Ortega lead a successful junta called the Government of the National Reconstruction whose transitional government successfully held power until national elections were called five years later, in 1984. In 1984, Ortega, running on the FSLN ticket, won the presidency of Nicaragua with nearly sixty (60) percent of the vote. Once in office, Ortega led the nation towards a policy of international neutralism by not relying too heavily on any nation or group of nations for support. In fact, while trying to raise capital to fuel the nation’s reconstruction, Ortega sought aide not just from wealthy Western European nations, but from the Latin America as well.

Congruent to the transition of power in Niagara, a significant shift in foreign policy for the United States was taking place as well. With the end of the Carter administration and the beginning of the Reagan administration, the United States stopped pushing its foreign policy with economics (embargoes and aide packages) and began to use military and diplomatic pressures. As the American supplied and trained Contra presence slowly increased in Nicaragua, Ortega was forced to begin diplomatic talks with the United States. The talks concluded with a peace treaty in the late 1980’s. In 1990, Ortega lost a reelection bid to Chamorro. He became Secretary General of the FSLN in 1991 and ran again for the presidency in 1996, only to loose by ten (10) percentage points to Arnoldo Aleman. Ortega has continued to be an active critic of the “Nicaraguan government’s policies and “international aggressors” and is the FSLN’s most influential member, leading most student protests, worker’s strikes, and other political maneuvers.” (1)

By Daniel L. Gordon
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum

Quote (1) and Source: http://library.thinkquest.org/17749/ortega.html?tqskip1=1&tqtime=0606

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