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Why Nicaragua’s ‘Tropical Spring’ Failed to Unseat President Daniel Ortega

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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega speaks to supporters.

One year ago, Nicaragua’s government was on the verge of collapse.

Protests against President Daniel Ortega exploded nationwide on April 19th, 2018, after the government quietly passed a tax on retirees’ pension checks. Demonstrators barricaded highways and main roads, paralyzing Nicaragua’s economy.

By May of 2018, 70 percent of Nicaraguans wanted Ortega—who has grown astonishingly rich ruling Central America’s largest country—to resign.

“This is not a dialogue,” student activist Lesther Alemán told Ortega during a May of 2018 televised negotiation with the government. “This table is to negotiate your exit, and you know it very well because the people have demanded it.”

Today, Ortega is back in control. Alemán and hundreds of other opposition leaders fled the country. And at least 50,000 Nicaraguans, including dozens of reporters, have escaped to neighboring countries.

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