TODAY NICARAGUA – Since the date was established, paradoxically the former president of Nicaragua, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, wife of the former director of LA PRENSA and Martyr of Public Liberties, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, assassinated on January 10, 1978, has been the only person who he has not taken possession of his presidential term on that date, as defined by the Political Constitution of the country.
She received the presidential sash on April 25, 1990, while Daniel Ortega – who ordered the raid and seizure of the newspaper’s facilities in August 2021 – this Monday already has five inaugurations on that calendar day.
After the overthrow of the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua on July 19, 1979, with the Sandinista Popular Revolution, in 1980 the Sandinistas installed a Council of State – a corporate body with co-legislative functions – made up of 33 members from among the political organizations. socio-economic and trade union, among them the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party, which called for general elections for November 4, 1984, with the participation of seven parties in which Ortega won.
From that moment on, the Council of State and the Governing Board of National Reconstruction agreed that on January 10, in homage to Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, the presidential inauguration would take place.
The first one carried out was that of Ortega, in 1985, whose term would end at the end of 1990, but the context of the civil war and international pressure forced him to carry out a constitutional reform to bring the elections forward to February of that year. From there, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro was elected.
Established in the Political Constitution
On January 9, 1987, the first version of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua was approved after the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. Article 148 stated that “the president and vice president shall exercise their functions for a period of six years, which shall be counted from their inauguration on January 10 of the year following the election. Within this period they will enjoy immunity, in accordance with the law.”
Eight years later, in the Barrios de Chamorro government, on February 1, 1995, an amendment to the Political Constitution of Nicaragua was approved, establishing the presidential term at five years, leaving Article 148 as follows: “Art. 148.- The President and the Vice-President of the Republic elected will take possession of their positions before the National Assembly, in solemn session and will give the promise of law before the President of the National Assembly.
The President and Vice-President shall exercise their functions for a period of five years, which shall be counted from their inauguration on January 10 of the year following the election. Within this period they will enjoy immunity in accordance with the law.”
Chamorro Cardinal Martyr of Public Liberties and National Hero
Chamorro Cardenal was declared a National Hero through Law 813, approved by the National Assembly on October 3, 2012. In February 2014, in another approved constitutional reform, the preamble to the Magna Carta evokes the name of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal as “Martyr of public liberties”, a title granted by decree of the Council of State in November 1980.
The Nicaraguan sociologist and historian Óscar René Vargas refers that every January 10 the presidential sash is celebrated in honor of the martyr of public liberties. “It was established on January 10 in honor of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, that day he was assassinated, that is why it was established,” he said.
Along the same lines, another historian who asked not to cite it, affirmed that it was established that it should be on January 10, “to always maintain the purpose of paying homage to Dr. Pedro Joaquín”, and added that he is currently reading it. It is paradoxical that Doña Violeta did not take office on January 10: «it is a paradox that the Martyr’s wife could not take office on her anniversary due to the advancement of the elections, that is why she mentioned that ‘I was president of a period and a pregnancy (nine months) ».
On January 10, 1978, at 8:20 a.m., Dr. Chamorro Cardenal, director of LA PRENSA, was shot to death. The crime took place approximately on the Second South-West Street of the old Managua, from where the Nicaraguan Bank was a block and a half below, on the well-known Trébol street.
Dr. Chamorro Cardenal was in his car for his work at the address of this newspaper. He was alone and unarmed as he always used to. The perpetrators of the murder were two subjects who used a sawed-off shotgun to kill him.
Persecution against the Chamorro family and the seizure of LA PRENSA
This 2022 marks the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Chamorro Cardenal, whose parents were Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Zelaya and Margarita Cardenal.
Dr. Chamorro Cardenal’s wife became the first woman in Nicaragua and Latin America to be democratically elected to the post of President of the Republic, after defeating Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega at the polls in 1990.
Today, the former Nicaraguan president, from 92 years old, as a result of the persecution by the Ortega dictatorship, has two of his children imprisoned: the journalist and former director of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCH), Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, and her eldest son Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, who is a former deputy.
While his, another son of hers, Carlos Fernando Chamorro Barrios, director of Confidencial and the Esta Noche and Esta Semana programs, lives his second exile in Costa Rica with his wife Desirée Elizondo, facing the imminent threat of arrest. In August 2021, the Nicaraguan Prosecutor’s Office charged him with the crimes of money, property and asset laundering, appropriation and improper retention and abusive management, within the case against the FVBCH.
Added to them is the arrest of the presidential candidate Juan Sebastián Chamorro, son of Xavier, brother of the Martyr of Public Liberties and who was also the founder of LA PRENSA, and Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, son of Doña Anita Chamorro.
Holmann Chamorro, general manager of LA PRENSA, was arrested a day after the newspaper’s facilities were raided by riot police on August 13, 2021. Until today, the offices remain taken over by the agents.
Ortega’s five inaugurations
After the triumph of the so-called Sandinista Popular Revolution, Ortega in the Plaza de la República on January 10, 1985, took possession of the presidency when he ceased to be Coordinator of the Governing Board of National Reconstruction.
On April 25, 1990, Barrios de Chamorro received from Ortega the presidential sash that he held until 1997. Ortega arrived in an informal red shirt and red and black scarf around his neck and with great difficulty placed the sash on the new president, but on the side contrary to what was established in the protocol: on the left.
On January 10, 1997, at the National Baseball Stadium, Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo took office. During the event, the Argentine singer Palito Ortega, former governor of the Province of Tucumán, sang “I have faith.”
On January 10, 2001, Alemán also handed over the presidency of the national stadium to engineer Enrique Bolaños Geyer, who died on June 14, 2021.
On January 10, 2007, Ortega again assumed the Presidency of the Republic. The inauguration took place at another site, the Plaza de los Non Alineados (NOAL) Omar Torrijos, opposite where his former presidential offices were. At that time, at least 15 presidents and heads of state from different countries participated.
From that moment on, Ortega assumed the presidential sash two more times, on January 10, 2012, and the same date in 2017.
This January 10, 2022, is the fourth consecutive time.
The takeover of the Somozas
On January 1, 1937, Anastasio Somoza García assumed the Presidency of the Republic, whose act was held in the Esplanade of Tiscapa, and thus began a dynastic dictatorship that lasted until July 19, 1979. Through reforms to the Political Constitution of Nicaragua, Somoza extended his mandate from January 1, 1937, to May 1, 1947.
Somoza García, head of the National Guard, remained behind the scenes of the Executive for three years, until taking office again in May 1950. He was there until his assassination in 1956 when he attempted a new reelection.
His father was followed by his son, Luis Somoza Debayle, who delivered the presidential sash on May 1, 1963.
Luis Somoza was preceded by René Shick, who took office on May 1, 1963, until August 1966, the date on which he died of a heart attack, after Shick’s death, Lorenzo Guerrero took office until May 1967.
Anastasio Somoza Debayle, the last member of the dynasty, took office twice: from May 1, 1967, to May 1972; and from December 1, 1974, to 1979.
Between May 1972 and December 1974, the National Government Board (JNG) was installed, known as “the triumvirate”, arising from the agreement between the conservative Fernando Agüero and Anastasio Somoza to smooth a transition process for democratic elections. It was made up of two liberals (Roberto Martínez and Alonso Lovo) and a conservative (Agüero) who was replaced by Edmundo Paguaga.