From Time magazine:
Past scandals? Yes, Alemán has a few. In fact, he’s currently serving a 20-year jail sentence for embezzling and laundering some $100 million from the coffers of the second poorest nation in the hemisphere. Transparency International awarded him the dubious distinction of including him in its list of the World’s Ten Most Corrupt leaders of all time. (To his credit, he only ranked ninth, ahead of former Philippine President Joseph Estrada, who stole a paltry $80 million.).
Popularity? Not really; Alemán consistently polls as the least popular public figure in Nicaragua.
Clean bill of health? Not exactly. At 61, Alemán is obese and reportedly in frail health, suffering from ten different chronic illnesses.
But none of that seems to deter Alemán’s revived presidential ambitions, nor does he appear too concerned about the legal provision that prevents prison inmates from running for office. Instead, Alemán is out on the road campaigning in old form, with more optimism than Orphan Annie, more money than Daddy Warbucks, more jolliness than Santa Clause and a political charisma that — pound for pound — rivals Bill Clinton. And in Nicaragua, that combination trumps reality.
[…] Alemán’s self-confidence is stroked by a posse of yes-men who refer to him as their “maximum leader,” but his insurance is rooted in a secretive power-sharing pact he forged in 2001 with the nation’s leading powerbroker, President Daniel Ortega, in which the leaders agreed to divvy up power in state institutions.
In March, Alemán’s already loose conditions of house arrest were further relaxed to allow him the freedom to travel the country. And now that President Ortega needs opposition support for his government’s agenda, Alemán, who controls the second biggest legislative bloc in the National Assembly, is cashing in a few more chips. On April 19, Sandinista and Liberal lawmakers combined to pass a law reducing the prison term for money laundering to five years, which Alemán conveniently will complete next December.
Oh yeah, and the law is retroactive, meaning Alemán could now finish his soft sentence 15 years ahead of schedule and run for President in 2011. Free at Last! Free at Last!
But the hawkish Alemán, who speaks wistfully of the repressive days of the Somoza dictatorship (which Ortega overthrew as leader of the Sandinista insurgents), was never a typical prisoner. He has spent more of his jail sentence in a hospital bed recovering from a minor finger surgery (three months to be exact) than he spent behind bars. And now that full freedom appears to be just around the corner, he has valiantly cast aside concerns for his own health for the good of his party’s.
Nicaragua is also re-establishing ties with NKorea h/t Noisy Room.Net. Not very consistent with the desire of not following Venezuela’s radicalization.
Related posts: Nicaragua was with Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Haiti (host of the event) in the meeting where all of these counties announced that thy were retiring themselves from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund -except Haiti, that is-.