Sunday, 7 September 2008

Nicaragua: Vendetta against Cardenal

Artists are protesting about an alleged vendetta by Nicaragua's Sandinista government against poet Ernesto Cardenal. Cardenal, who is 83, could now face jail after refusing to pay a fine in a defamation case which was first thrown out, then mysteriously re-opened.

Artists accuse Sandinistas of vendetta against revered poet (Guardian)

I don't know enough about Nicaragua to have a balanced viewpoint on its political life, but it is amazing to see how Daniel Ortega has gone from the darling of the left to a highly controversial figure, regarded with suspicion as a traitor, and even confronted with accusations of sexual abuse which, as he is immune from prosecution, he has not faced in court.

It seems particularly poignant given that I've just finished reading The Jaguar Smile by Salman Rushdie (first published 1987, I picked mine up in a second-hand bookshop, but it's apparently still in print), a slim account of the author's trip to revolutionary Nicaragua in 1986. I've never read any of Rushdie's more famous works (ah, confessions, confessions...), but this one is a light yet informative travelogue, highly readable, and features both Ortega and Cardenal, among others. It gives a good insight into the high hopes of the left for Nicaragua; Rushdie was unconvinced by the regime's censorship of the media but otherwise charmed by the guerrilla government. He is now among the previous supporters of the Sandinistas who have turned against their recent incarnations ('Intellectuals condemn authoritarian Ortega').

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