Daniel Ortega was sworn in for another term as Nicaragua's president Tuesday while his wife, Rosario Murillo, became the new vice president, giving a married couple the reins of power for the first time in the Central American country's history.
Ortega, a 71-year-old former Sandinista guerrilla fighter, took the oath in Managua with the presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Taiwan in attendance.
He let his wife speak first.
“I want to say to Nicaraguan women, here we are, we are going forward together and we have the future ahead of us winning the spaces that we deserve,” Murillo said.
Ortega and Murillo were elected in November with 72.5 percent of the vote, but with a high rate of abstentions. Their party won 71 of the 92 seats in parliament.
Ortega alluded to when he entered power in 2007 with the country's business community against him. “The businessmen and a segment of the country were scared of our return because of the seizures, the war, the chaos, but we have shown that it's not like that,” he said.
Nicaragua could face economic challenges in Ortega's third 5-year term amid a steep drop in aid from Venezuela, which has funded many social programs. A law is also being considered in the U.S. that could block Nicaragua's access to loans from international lending organizations, pushed by American legislators critical of a lack of government transparency.
Sociologist Oscar Rene Vargas, a dissident Sandinista, predicted Ortega will struggle with economic difficulties. And he criticized the married couple administration installed by Ortega, who was one of the leaders of the rebel movement that ousted the four-decade Somoza family dictatorship in 1979.
“A new dynasty has begun,” Vargas said.
Violeta Granera, head of the opposition Broad Front for Democracy, said critics of Ortega will continue to be in the streets demanding that the country return to its institutions and rule of law.
“Nothing changes here,” she said. “The abstention in November was a clear message that the population calls for free, transparent, competitive and observed elections.”