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Nicaragua divided over death of revolutionary leader

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Borge told me the next Sandinista government, which returned to power in 2007, would implement “more realistic” policies and not repeat the mistakes of land confiscations, nationalizations, or mandatory military service. And so far, despite a couple of notable stumbles, the Sandinista government of today has clearly set a different tack than it did in the 1980s.

René Núñez, president of the Sandinista-dominated National Assembly, said Borge was a man who “dedicated his life to the liberty of Nicaragua.”

“He defended Nicaragua; he was Nicaragua,” Núñez said.

Several foreign countries have also paid their respects, including El Salvador, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Taiwan. But some in Nicaragua and abroad are remembering Borge for his intolerance, alleged rights abuses, and violent repression of dissidents. Online forums for Nicaragua’s daily newspapers as well as Facebook pages related to Nicaragua reveal a wide range of comments expressing anger and hatred for Borge, and frustration that he was never held accountable for his alleged crimes – including allegations of prisoner torture, an indigenous massacre, and the bombing of a 1984 press conference that killed six people, including American journalist Linda Frazier.

Borge denied involvement in all those cases.

Borge was a complicated man in a complicated country. He was a man with a style all his own; in later years he often dressed in strange “Dr. Evil” outfits that were so unfashionable they were cool. While his loyalty to family was expressed in love, generosity, and kindness – even adopting the son of fallen revolutionary martyr Germán Pomares to raise as his own – his loyalty to the revolution was often displayed as dogmatic intolerance, repression of the opposition, and chilling capacity for violence.

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