Ortega and Murillo, the presidential couple with an iron grip on Nicaragua

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A antheral checks his telephone portion walking by a banner promoting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo arsenic statesmanlike predetermination campaigning begins, successful Managua, Nicaragua, September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Maynor Valenzuela/File Photo

Nov 5 (Reuters) - When Daniel Ortega mislaid Nicaragua's statesmanlike predetermination to Violeta Chamorro successful 1990, the decision near a heavy people connected the leftist leader. Battling 16 years to regain the presidency, his opponents accidental helium is present determined to clasp powerfulness astatine immoderate cost.

Recent years person borne that out. In April 2018, aft wide thoroughfare protests against Ortega's regularisation enactment his presidency successful jeopardy, the erstwhile Marxist guerrilla sent successful the constabulary and paramilitary forces to crush the protesters.

More than 300 radical were killed and thousands injured successful the crackdown.

Three years later, Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, again employed authoritarian tactics to support a grip connected power: imprisoning dozens of opponents, including 7 candidates for the presidency.

The United States and European Union person said they bash not expect Sunday's predetermination to beryllium escaped and fair.

"Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo's extremity is to region immoderate imaginable doubts astir their endurance successful power," said Tiziano Breda, an expert astatine the International Crisis Group deliberation tank.

Murillo, who is besides the authorities spokeswoman, did not respond to a Reuters petition for comment.

Ortega, whose 2nd stint successful powerfulness began successful 2007, is present poised to enactment arsenic Nicaragua's person until 2027.

A changeless companion has been Murillo, who helium joined successful 2005 and made vice president successful 2017. The 70-year-old writer has go 1 of the astir arguable and ubiquitous figures successful Nicaragua, the 2nd poorest state successful the Americas.

With Ortega seldom making nationalist appearances, Murillo has go the look of the government. She appears regular connected vigor and tv channels controlled by her family to tout the government's enactment and obstruction against governmental foes. Neither speaks astir wherefore they are seeking re-election.


Ortega, calved connected Nov. 11, 1945, was raised successful a middle-class household that opposed the authorities of dictator Anastasio Somoza.

In 1963 helium dropped retired of assemblage and joined the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). In 1967, aged 22, Ortega was jailed for a slope robbery, spending 7 years successful situation until helium was released successful a captive speech with high-ranking officials of the Somoza government.

Murillo is from Nicaragua's elite. Born successful 1951 to a household of fabric farmers, she is related to General Augusto Sandino, a Nicaraguan revolutionary who gave his sanction to the FSLN.

After studying successful Britain and Switzerland, Murillo aged 18 joined the FSLN guerrillas warring Somoza.

As good arsenic speechmaking and penning poems, she hid guerrilla fighters successful her location successful Managua. Murillo was concisely imprisoned by the Somoza authorities and went into exile successful Costa Rica successful 1977, wherever she became romantically progressive with Ortega.

In 1979, Ortega and Murillo returned to Managua to assistance the Sandinistas overthrow Somoza, the past dictator of a U.S.-backed household dynasty established successful the 1930s. The mates person since had 7 children.

"The 2 of them are antithetic but complementary, and erstwhile they get together, they're the harmful and unscrupulous unit that governs Nicaragua," said Fabian Medina, writer of a biography of Ortega, "Prisoner 198."

"Ortega is passive, introverted, backed by his years of imprisonment and guerrilla warfare successful the Sandinista Front and with zero empathy for the suffering of others. Murillo is impetuous, vindictive, outgoing and with inexhaustible energy."

Murillo, known for her gaudy hippie-style outfits and utilizing flowery spiritual connection successful speeches, is owed to win Ortega if helium cannot decorativeness his term. For years rumors person circulated that Ortega is successful mediocre health, diplomats and analysts say.


Ortega archetypal tasted existent powerfulness successful 1981 arsenic caput of the junta which governed Nicaragua aft the Sandinistas successfully overthrew Somoza. In 1984 the state held its archetypal antiauthoritarian elections successful astir fractional a period and Ortega won by a landslide. International observers declared the elections credible and fair.

Washington did not privation a Marxist authorities successful its 'backyard' and supported and funded the right-wing 'Contras,' equipped insurgents that attempted to overthrow the FSLN. Ortega and the Sandinistas became planetary heroes for the left, seen by galore arsenic the plucky David lasting up to the U.S. Goliath.

But the Contra war, on with Washington's economical embargo against Nicaragua and the Sandinistas' mismanagement, laid discarded to the economy, which eroded Ortega's popularity and led to his decision successful the 1990 statesmanlike elections. Further runs astatine the presidency failed.

Ortega's estimation was dealt a large stroke successful 1998 erstwhile Zoilamerica Ortega Murillo, Murillo's girl from a erstwhile marriage, accused Ortega of sexually abusing her since she was 11. Murillo called her girl a "madwoman", a "liar" and a "traitor." Ortega has ne'er spoken publically connected the subject.

Ortega rode retired the ungraded and successful 2006 was elected president again. Those who knew the mates accidental thing changed from that point.

"Without governmental power, they cannot survive," Zoilamerica, speaking from exile successful Costa Rica, told Reuters earlier this year.

Reporting by Diego Ore Editing by Ana Isabel Martinez, Drazen Jorgic and Rosalba O'Brien

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