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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

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