February 11, 1999
Somoza family returns to Nicaraguan politics
                  MANAGUA (Reuters) -- A member of the once-powerful Somoza family
                  announced the birth of a new Nicaraguan political party on Thursday, 20
                  years after the Sandinista revolution overthrew the family's dictatorship.

                  Gustavo Javier Somoza, whose father, grandfather and uncle ruled
                  Nicaragua for nearly five decades, announced the formation of the
                  Democratic Nationalist Front at a news conference packed with supporters
                  shouting "Long live the Somoza family!"

                  "I am the proud son of Luis Somoza Debayle, I carry that blood," the
                  younger Somoza told some 100 cheering backers. His grandfather, Gen.
                  Anastasio Somoza Garcia, was the dynasty patriarch.

                  The party has yet to be legalised so it can field candidates in the 2001
                  presidential elections and earlier municipal elections.

                  The Somoza family's resurgence is a stunning example of how political winds
                  can change. Thursday's display would have been virtually unheard of a few
                  years ago, when few in Nicaragua openly declared support for the Somozas.

                  But nostalgia for the family has grown during the years of brutal poverty that
                  followed the end of its military rule.

                  "We were better off under Somoza," supporter Carmen Grijalba told

                  Nicaragua's ideological landscape remains strictly polarised between left and

                  The Sandinista Front is the main opposition party to the Liberal government
                  led by President Arnoldo Aleman. The new Somoza organisation's
                  anti-Sandinista stance was clear on Thursday.

                  Somoza was joined by Enrique Quinonez, former leader of the CIA-backed
                  Contra force that rose against the Sandinista regime after it took power in
                  1979 from Anastasio Somoza Jr., who was assassinated in Paraguay the
                  following year.

                  The so-called Contra war lasted until 1990, when Sandinista President
                  Daniel Ortega lost the presidential election to Violeta Chamorro.

                  Somoza said the new party's ideals were "purely liberal, democratic."

                     Copyright 1999 Reuters.