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Latest update : 2017-04-28

What remains of Nicaragua’s revolution?

In 1979, Daniel Ortega was a revolutionary commander who overthrew Nicaragua's pro-American dictatorship and took power. Today, after a long period in the wilderness, he is running the country again. Since his election in 2006, the country has seen stable economic growth, less poverty and less violence. But Nicaragua remains the second-poorest country in Latin America after Haiti. Our reporters returned to the capital Managua to see what remains of the revolution.

He is the man, they are the couple, and their family are the rulers. Critics say the Ortega dynasty dominates Nicaragua. Likened to a real-life “House of Cards”, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista National Liberation Front have control over the country's congress, its military, its police and its courts. Ortega has won landslide victories, the last in 2016, in elections dubbed by opponents as rigged.

Sitting alongside Ortega is his wife, Rosario Murillo, whom some call the power behind the throne. He first came to power in 1979 as his left-wing Sandinista revolution ended with the ouster of US-backed Somoza dynasty.

Ortega set about reforming the country, with the poor benefiting from redistributed property, better health care and education. Against him, the rebel Contras formed, backed by the US under Ronald Reagan. The resulting civil war saw thousands of people killed.

In 1990 Ortega was voted out by an anti-Sandinista coalition, but in 2006 he was voted back in. Critics say his renewed grip on the country has crushed any opposition.

The president retains strong support among the poor, but he also courts the business elite, and the country has seen stable economic growth, less poverty and less violence. But Nicaragua remains the second-poorest country in Latin America. Many ask what has become of the socialist revolution Ortega was once at the centre of.

Our reporters Laurence Cuvillier and Matthieu Comin returned to the capital.

By Matthieu COMIN , Laurence CUVILLIER

Archives

2017-10-20 Europe

Video: In St. Petersburg, legacy of Nazi siege lives on

As Russia’s cultural hub, St. Petersburg delights millions of tourists every year. Founded by Peter the Great, the city was renamed Petrograd during World War I then Leningrad...

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2017-09-28 Asia-pacific

Video: Indian city of Pondicherry proud of its French touch

Our reporters returned to the Indian city of Pondicherry, in the Gulf of Bengal, a former trading post of the French East India Company. Fifty-five years after it was handed back...

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2017-09-15 Asia-pacific

Video: Dried-up Aral Sea springs back to life

Straddling the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea was once the fourth-largest saline lake in the world, an inland sea of 66,000 square kilometres. But in...

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2017-09-01 Nigeria

Shadow of Nigeria’s Biafra war still looms large, 50 years on

On May 30, 1967, General Emeka Ojukwu declared Nigeria’s southeastern Biafra region an independent state, sparking what would become a bloody civil war that claimed more than one...

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2017-07-07 Americas

From Rust Belt to Tech Belt: US city of Youngstown set on reinventing itself

The US city of Youngstown, in the state of Ohio, once symbolised the glory days of the "Steel Belt", an industrial area in the northeast. For decades, the US steel industry put...

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