Monday, November 06, 2006

election day pics and a few thoughts

Voting Site in Managua, Sunday morning

Thumbs up to these Nica voters
Just about an hour ago, the Nicaraguan electoral governing body released its third update, in which Daniel Ortega continues to lead the count (now with 40% of the vote tallied) by about an 8% margin. Whether he wins outright with the required 40% or scrapes by with a 5% margin, it appears likely (barring evidence of fraud or a drastic turn in the remaing vote to be counted) that Ortega will be Nicaragua's next president. It remains to be seen if his campaign rhetoric preaching peace, reconciliation, love, and concern for the poor will be matched by his behavior once in office (the new president takes office in January). I honestly don't know what to think. The world is much different now than it was in 1979. The threat of communism is dead. The revolutionary spirit which captured the Nicaraguan imagination 20 years ago is mostly just a memory for this country's young population. On the minds of most people here? The economy, unemployment, poverty, educational opportunity, trade, and infrastructure. How will Ortega's socialist agenda affect these important areas of Nicaragua's future? Will foreign investment dry up out of fear? Will corruption continue to mark government dealings or will there be a renewed commitment to "un pacto limpio", a key component of the dissident Sandinista movement which broke off the Frente recently? Will Ortega work with his opponents in a spirit of compromise for the bienestar del pueblo, or will he ignore the 60% of the population who voted against him? Will he respect the free press even if it critiques him, or will he attempt to shut down media who expose his faults? No one knows.
Many people wrote off Ortega long ago, thinking his place in history was already written. But, perhaps there is a different end to his story. I am willing to wait and see. A quote I read today captures the heart of the matter:
"History will judge societies and governments - and
their institutions - not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful, but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless
." (Cesar Chavez)
Whatever happens, Nicaragua and its people are in God's hands. I am not afraid. My faith is in the goodness and mercy of Christ, not the winner of this election.

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