The Shadow of the Caudillo
hen this memoir was originally published, twenty years
passed since the 1979 triumph of the Sandinista Revo-
lution, one of Latin America’s major twentieth-century events.
With the publication of this new edition, I believe that the book
deserves some opening remarks, given that the Sandinista Front
again came to power following Daniel Ortega’s electoral victory in
the November 2006 elections.
The revolution lasted for a decade of illusions and confronta-
tions, culminating in a defeat at the polls for that same Daniel
Ortega in 1990. I stood beside him then as his vice-presidential
candidate. Violeta Chamorro won that election in the midst of a
war that was nearing its end. Ever since then, Daniel has continued
to run repeatedly as a presidential candidate. He was defeated in
1996 by the Liberal Party’s caudillo, Arnoldo Alemán, and then in
2001 by Enrique Bolaños, also from the Liberal Party. That was
until his fourth opportunity, when he finally managed to secure a
victory. From an international perspective, this triumph could eas-
ily be perceived as part of the new Left that has risen to power in
several Latin American countries. This shift marks the failure of
the neoliberal economic model imposed at the end of the cold war,
which also coincided with the end of the Sandinista Revolution.
However, Nicaragua’s case is really quite different, even though it
would also be impossible to assert any homogeneous model for the
experiences being lived in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela,
Bolivia, or Ecuador.
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