Daniel Ortega
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"José Daniel Ortega Saavedra" is a Nicaraguan politician who has been President of Nicaragua since 2007; previously he was leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, first as Coordinator of the Junta of National Reconstruction (1979-1985) and then as President (1985-1990). A leader in the socialism/socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, FSLN), his policies in government have seen the implementation of leftist reforms across Nicaragua.

Born into a working-class family, from an early age Ortega opposed ruling President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, widely recognized as a dictator, and became involved in the underground movement against his regime. Joining the Sandinistas, he also travelled to Cuba to receive training in guerilla warfare from Fidel Castro's Marxism-Leninism/Marxist-Leninist government. After the Nicaraguan Revolution resulted in the overthrow and exile of Somoza's government, Ortega became leader of the ruling multipartisan Junta of National Reconstruction. A Marxist-Leninist, his first period in office was characterized by a controversial program of nationalization, land reform, wealth redistribution and Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign/literacy programs.

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During the meeting with President Carter, we proposed the development of a new kind of relationship with the United States.

We grew up in a situation where we didn't know what freedom or justice were, and therefore we didn't know what democracy was.

One has to bear in mind that during my childhood and adolescence, I suffered the repression of the Somoza dictatorship in every way: economically, socially, as well as at the hands of the police -- because if we went out on the street to play baseball, for example, the police would come and beat us up and put us in prison.

My idol was Sandino, and also Christ. I was brought up a Christian, but I regarded Christ as a rebel, a revolutionary.

The people of Nicaragua were suffering oppression. This made us develop an awareness which eventually led us to commit ourselves to the struggle against the domination of the capitalists of our country in collusion with the U.S. government, i.e. imperialism.

The fact is that the United States is behind what has happened in Nicaragua, and what they did was to promote a confrontation between Nicaraguans.

Of course, the kind of support that Cuba could give us was very limited when it came to building up our army, since they didn't manufacture armaments in the quantities that we required. So we turned to Algeria and the Soviet Union for support.

Without the United States, there simply would not have been an armed uprising in our country.

We had explored the possibility of the French sending us Mirage, and the French were willing; and when this became known, the Americans reacted by announcing publicly that they would not allow those armaments to enter Nicaragua and that they would bomb the Nicaraguan ports.