Was Reagan Right to Call Daniel Ortega a “Dictator in Designer Glasses”?

In December 1985, Ronald Reagan claimed on his weekly radio tackle that “Nicaragua was an imprisoned nation… condemned by a dictator in designer glasses.” Reagan was referring to Daniel Ortega, just one of the leaders of the Sandinista motion and at the time, the very first elected president of the freshly democratic Nicaragua. Ortega experienced visited the United Nations’ anniversary celebrations and was severely criticized for his pay a visit to to an Higher East Aspect optical store the place he allegedly invested much more than $3,500 in designer sunglasses (about $9,228.68 in 2022’s bucks).

Back then, Nicaragua was the stage of a single of the proxy wars of the Chilly War. Daniel Ortega was a strong supporter of communism, the USSR, and Fidel Castro’s Cuba. In the 1980s, underneath both Carter and Reagan, the US govt funded “the Contras,” rebel teams that opposed the Sandinista Junta of Countrywide Reconstruction Govt, which changed a forty-3-calendar year dynastic dictatorship.

Approximately 40 years later on, in January 2022, Ortega secured yet a different expression in business office, this just one lasting right until 2027. By then, Ortega will have held electricity for fifteen consecutive decades and 26 a long time completely.

How has Daniel Ortega held onto energy so prolonged? In gentle of Ortega’s modern election victory, is Reagan’s characterization of Ortega as a “dictator” of “an imprisoned nation” exact right now?

To response these thoughts, let’s search at a bit much more background and then some political philosophy.

The Return of Ortega

Soon after dropping the elections in 1990, 1996 and 2001, a more pragmatic and professional-major-small business Ortega returned to the presidency in 2007.

At the time, the Nicaraguan Structure prohibited consecutive reelection and confined presidents to two terms. In 2009 a ruling by Nicaragua’s Supreme Court of Justice permitted Ortega to run for reelection, which he won in 2011. In 2013, Ortega proposed a constitutional reform that was permitted by the National Assembly (with a Sandinista bulk) permitting indefinite reelection with a easy majority. He then received the 2016 elections.

In 2018, the place was roiled by protests versus the authorities. Ortega’s military and police responded with extreme drive. The routine purchased medical practitioners to deny health providers to college college students who were being damage in the protests. In accordance to a 2019 Interamerican Courtroom of Human Legal rights report, 328 were killed, 3 lacking, 130 imprisoned, and 88,000 Nicaraguans ended up exiled as a result of the protests.

From that issue on, the repression grew more powerful. All through the 2021 elections additional than 40 political dissidents had been imprisoned, amongst them seven opposition candidates who have been powerful contenders to unseat Ortega. Unsurprisingly, Ortega “won” with 75 percent of the votes (the remaining quarter was divided amongst other candidates accepted by Ortega). Eighty p.c of qualified voters refused to clearly show up for the rigged elections. A CID Gallup poll confirmed that 65 % of the citizens chosen to vote for an opposition prospect.

Ortega has also censored the press and nationalized 5 private universities, consolidating even extra power to suppress dissent.

Tyranny Described

Contemplating this heritage, is Daniel Ortega’s authorities genuine, as his supporters claim, or is it a dictatorship or tyranny, like Reagan explained and Ortega’s opponents agree?

To settle this in a rational, unbiased manner, we should really initially determine our phrases. What is tyranny? What helps make a government just or unjust?

To lose mild on these thoughts, let us flip to just one of the most influential philosophers of authorities in globe record: John Locke (1632-1704).

In accordance to Locke, the proper purpose of the govt is that of a community servant. Federal government need to be “for the people.” So, any ruler who serves himself as a substitute of the public is a tyrant. As Locke wrote in his Next Treatise of Federal government:

“Tyranny is generating use of the electrical power any one has in his hands, not for the great of these who are underneath it, but for his own personal, separate edge.”

This does not suggest authorities can do something it wants so extended as “it’s for the good of the folks.” According to Locke, the mandate of governing administration is strictly restricted to preserving the liberty of the folks. Any govt that systematically violates the pretty liberty it was established to secure is also a tyranny.

Locke believed that any time a federal government was behaving as a tyranny, the ruled experienced the authentic ideal to get rid of and swap that governing administration. He rhetorically questioned:

“…which is most effective for mankind, that the folks really should always be uncovered to the boundless will of tyranny, or that the rulers need to be sometimes liable to be opposed when they mature exorbitant in the use of their energy, and hire it for the destruction, and not the preservation, of the houses of their men and women?”

In 1688, through the Glorious Revolution, John Locke supported the overthrow of King James II. He wrote a treatise justifying this radical action, arguing that even kings are mere “trustees” charged by the persons to defend their liberty. If the governing administration abuses that have confidence in, the stewardship of energy can and must be revoked. “The people,” Locke insisted, “shall be judge.”

In other text, the men and women need to judge regardless of whether their government is appropriately defending their liberty. Centered on that judgment, they have the correct to depose any tyranny and any ruler who denies the individuals that correct by clinging to ability is undoubtedly a tyrant.

Still a Tyrant

Now that we know what tends to make a tyranny, let’s take into account if Daniel Ortega matches the monthly bill.

Is Ortega letting the people decide for on their own no matter if he really should be entrusted with defending their liberty? No. By manipulating the electoral approach and violently suppressing dissent, he is having that preference absent from them.

In rigging the political process, he is also serving himself and his ability clique as an alternative of the public.

And by violating civil liberties, he is flouting the only authentic intent of govt: which is to safeguard liberty.

On all three counts, Daniel Ortega’s routine is “textbook” tyranny, in accordance to the political philosophy of John Locke, the person who pretty much wrote “the book” on tyranny.

And like all tyrannies, Ortega’s is driving the people to flee in droves. Virtually 170,000 Nicaraguans left the state in 2021, the most significant selection given that the socio-political and financial disaster intensified in 2018. In accordance to a CID Gallup survey presented by El Confidencial, 65 % of respondents intend to migrate. Almost a sixth of the complete population in Nicaragua has departed the place.

In the years given that 1985, Ortega has still left at the rear of his designer eyeglasses and communist rhetoric, but has ongoing to follow the oppression attribute of all communist regimes throughout history. Ortega has employed his power to manipulate the political method to remain as president of the nation. Even if there are elections, citizens are not capable to decide on a authentic opposition option to escape the tyranny. Some Nicaraguans are migrating, accomplishing what they cannot do through the political program: choose a various sort of authorities that serves them most effective.

Reagan was and is nevertheless correct: Ortega is a dictator and Nicaragua is an imprisoned country. Not able to shake Ortega’s tyranny, the people are staging a jailbreak.