Dr. Dawg

Hold the applause for Daniel Ortega

| Disqus Comments

Ortega and Obando y Bravo.jpg

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega will undoubtedly win a third term in office next week. Despite gasps of horror on the Right, that’s nothing for any progressive to celebrate.

Once upon a time Ortega was a principled socialist, a revolutionary whose Sandinista movement overthrew the murderous and corrupt Somoza regime and for years managed to hold off murderous US-funded and armed proxies. The contras, as they were called, funded in part by Iranian blood money, liked to throw bombs into daycare centres, schools and clinics. Then-president Ronald Reagan called them the “moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.”

Nicaragua is a small and very poor country, and could not sustain its defences against the contra bandits indefinitely. Ortega lost power in 1990: war-weary Nicaraguans saw this as the only way of stopping the carnage.

But Ortega remained as an opposition leader, and regained the presidency in 2006 with the help of the very Roman Catholic Church that had actively worked to unseat him during his Sandinista days. All he had to do was throw his support behind the passage of the most draconian anti-abortion laws on the continent—and he did so enthusiastically. Then-president George Bush applauded from the wings.

Thanks to Ortega, it is illegal to perform abortion under any circumstances in Nicaragua, even to save the life of the mother. It’s also illegal to provide any medical care to a pregnant woman that might harm the fetus.

So, for example, a cancer victim may not legally receive chemo or radiation therapy if she is pregnant.

The lives of women and young girls many of whom are children have been put at considerable risk by the Ortega regime. An Amnesty International report noted last year:

According to a survey of media reports between 2005 and 2007; 1,247 girls were reported in newspapers to have been raped or to have been the victims of incest in Nicaragua. Of these crimes, 198 were reported to have resulted in pregnancy. The overwhelming majority of the girls made pregnant as a result of rape or incest (172 of the 198) were between 10 and 14 years old.

The organization also found an increase in maternal deaths since the introduction of the ban.

In the first 19 weeks of 2009, some 16 per cent of all maternal deaths were as a consequence of unsafe abortion compared to none in the same period in 2008.

Maternal deaths indeed rose steeply after the new Ortega, now professing Christianity instead of Marxism, came to power for the second time. Improvements in over-all maternal care have reduced the overall maternal death rate since, but back-alley abortions continue to account for a high percentage of those deaths.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least eighty women died as a result during the first eleven months after the ban. Women are also being denied other obstetrical services: for example, the HRW report quotes an obstetrician as saying, “since the law was signed, [public hospitals] don’t treat any hemorrhaging, not even post-menopausal hemorrhaging.”

In a country already infamous for condoning domestic assault, this murderously anti-choice regime pretty well makes Nicaragua a Latin American version of the Republic of Gilead. I for one will be keeping my hands firmly in my pockets when this misogynist ex-progressive makes his victory speech.

Return to the home page

blog comments powered by Disqus

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 6, 2011 9:50 PM.

Political opportunism in Vancouver was the previous entry in this blog.

Is criticizing Israel "anti-Semitic"? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 6.3.6