President Ortega “in Poor Health,” According to Nicaraguan Poet Cardenal
By Dialogo January 27, 2009Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is "in very poor health," and depends heavily on his wife Rosario Murillo to govern; priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal said in a meeting this Monday with a mission belonging to the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and attended by AFP journalists. “Ortega is in very bad health; he has a heart blood disease that does not permit him to be exposed to sunlight for more than an hour per day. That is why all his activities are scheduled for the evening (...), even military parades," said Cardenal to the IAPA delegation, which visited him at his residence in Managua. Cardenal, age 84, spoke about the Sandinista ruler's alleged illness during a meeting with the president of the IAPA, Enrique Santos, and one of the members of its delegation, Robert Rivard from the San Antonio Express-News (USA). The event took place in the presence of journalists, among them AFP reporters. The issue of Ortega's health arose in a conversation that lasted one hour, in which Cardenal talked about several topics with the IAPA delegates, who were visiting Managua to evaluate the situation of freedom of the press in Nicaragua. The Catholic priest said that Murillo has “a great deal of power over (Ortega),” who depends on the first lady “for everything.” The poet placed the responsibility on Murillo for the alleged disagreements between Ortega and his brother, who is the former chief of the Sandinista Army, retired General Humberto Ortega. Cardenal, who supported the Sandinista Revolution which took over in 1979, and who was Minister of Culture during Ortega's first term of office, has become one of the President’s strongest critics in recent years. The IAPA visited the poet Cardenal to find out about his legal situation after the questionable sentence imposed last year by a judge on charges of libel against a German citizen for a trial in which he had been found not guilty years before. “Due to my age, I am not in prison,” but they have "frozen my accounts," complained the priest, who at the end of the meeting showed the IAPA delegates pictures of guerrilla friends who died during the battle against the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship in the 70s.