For four years and eight months, Virgilio Godoy was labor minister in the Sandinista government, a sociology professor who moved from the classroom to the chambers of power to take part in a revolution.
Then last summer he resigned and became the Independent Liberal Party candidate for president, running against Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista government he had helped build. The reason why is one man's story of disillusionment with the revolutionaries who took over Nicaragua in July 1979 with the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza.
"The Sandinista National Liberation Front has failed," Godoy said in a recent interview. "It is now necessary to return to what we had at the beginning. Nicaragua fought to get liberty, and doesn't have it. Nicaragua fought to get well-being, and doesn't have it. Nicaragua fought to get unity, and doesn't have it."
Godoy complained that in 1979 the revolution was conceived of as a broad national campaign embracing Somoza opponents from all across the political and economic spectrum. Instead, he added, it has evolved into a Marxist-oriented process shaped by the Sandinista Front alone, without consideration for the concerns or aspirations of the others.
Similar complaints have been cited by other associates of the Sandinista Front who have parted company with the revolutionaries in charge here.
Eden Pastora, for example, became famous as the Sandinistas' "Commander Zero" but now heads an insurgent guerrilla force and is referred to here as "the traitor." Arturo Cruz, who is seeking to run for president on a bitterly oppositionist platform, served the Sandinistas as a member of the government junta and ambassador to Washington. The head of the main counterrevolutionary group sponsored by the CIA, Adolfo Calero, was jailed for opposing Somoza and actively supported the 1979 upheaval.
"The FSLN the Spanish initials of the Sandinista Front believed it triumphed and not the Nicaraguan people," Godoy declared. "They thought they had the right to impose a philosophy and economic system that the majority of the Nicaraguan people rejected."
Godoy, 50, said he remained in the government because he thought he could be a "moderating factor" in decisions that had to be made as the country rebuilt and reoriented following the chaos of the 1979 civil war. During his time in office, he offered his resignation "dozens of times" to protest Sandinista decisions, Godoy said.
But in retrospect, Godoy declared, his hopes of offering moderate advice to the Sandinista National Directorate were the fruit of "a romantic spirit" and did not substantially alter the course of the revolution because they were not considered seriously.
"Everything came out of one source, which was the Sandinista National Liberation Front," he said.