Across Nicaragua, graffiti plastered houses, walls, and public buildings. The most prevalent campaign slogan everywhere was: “Daniel 5:25.” Intended to be a simple instruction on how to vote, it literally meant, “Vote for Daniel Ortega, the 5th position on the ballot, on the 25th day of September.”
But Christians in Nicaragua saw a hidden meaning that only God, the author of humor, could orchestrate. For Daniel 5:25 in the Bible reads, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.: Christians wondered if Daniel Ortega had unwittingly proclaimed the prophecy against his own rule. The church waited, hoping the prophecy would bring an end, not only to the economic and social destruction of Mr. Ortegas communist reign, but also an end to the oppression of the church.
That was 1989. Under the communist Sandanistas, Nicaragua, once the bread basket of Central America and a net exporter of food, had become a food importer and had dropped to an economic level second only to that of Haiti in this hemisphere. It was a nation where communist spies were sent into churches to seek out anti-Sandinistas, a nation nearly devoid of foreign missionaries, and a country where the celebration of Christmas and Easter was outlawed by the communist government. Yet, for the first time in two generations there was guarded hope in the humid tropical air because Nicaragua had scheduled its first free election.
Nicaraguans faced their second free national elections Oct. 20. International observers were there again to see that the elections went forward as planned, but in the run-up to the elections, an air of uncertaintywith incumbent President Violeta Chamorro stepping down and Mr. Ortegas entry into the raceremained.
Even the most pessimistic political soothsayer did not predict the extent of Mr. Ortegas 1989 loss. He received less than 20 percent of the popular vote, a thunderous victory for Mrs. Chamorro and the 14-party UNO coalition.