By James Blears
In past years, people from various regions in Nicaragua have been invited to the capital Managua for the massive celebrations there. But this year, they've been soberly ordered to stay home, and moderately celebrate with candy-filled pinatas. It's a sign of hard, violent, reactionary, and radically changing times.
The brutal, bankrupt, and greedy dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza and his family was overcome in 1979, by the will of the people and the brutally efficient force of Sandonistas, who assassinated him in Uruguay a year later. A cynic by birth, privilege, and legacy, he once callously uttered: "I don't want an educated work force. I want oxen."
Now, all these years later, the once vibrant, decisive guerilla leader, and now ageing, ailing, and diminishing President Daniel Ortega and his ambitious wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, are doggedly clinging to power.
A politically-fatal mistake of raising contributions, while slashing pensions, in a poor and perpetually struggling nation, lit the fizzling, crackling fuse of an unstoppable trouble.
And then, it considerably worsened with a brutal and heavy-handed security forces crack down, which has cost more than three hundred lives in less than three months.
The official Opposition Alliance says: "There's nothing to celebrate and much to lament."
Daniel Ortega, who's Presidency has another three long years to run, says he won't step down. Only time will tell if this is an imperious roar or a political death knell whimper.