José Daniel Ortega Saavedra (; born 11 November 1945) is a Nicaraguan politician. He is the current President of Nicaragua (since 2007), a position he has held previously between 1985 and 1990. A leader in the 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 developed a hatred of the ruling President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, who was widely recognized as a dictator, and became involved in the underground movement to oppose Somoza's regime. Joining the Sandinistas, he also travelled to Cuba to receive training in guerilla warfare from Fidel Castro's Marxist-Leninist government. After the Nicaraguan Revolution resulted in the overthrow and exile of the Somoza's government in 1979, Ortega became a member of the ruling multipartisan Junta of National Reconstruction and was later elected president, serving from 1985 to 1990. At the time a Marxist-Leninist, his first period in office was characterized by a controversial program of land reform, wealth redistribution and literacy programs. Such leftist reforms damaged U.S. economic interests in the country, gaining hostility from the U.S.'s governing Reagan administration, who funded a right wing militia, the Contras, to overthrow Ortega's government.
Ortega was defeated by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in the 1990 presidential election, but he remained an important figure in Nicaraguan opposition politics, gradually moderating in his political position from Marxism-Leninism to democratic socialism. He was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 1996 and 2001, before winning the 2006 presidential election. In power, he has made alliances with fellow Latin American socialists, namely Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and signed Nicaragua up to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
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