Ex-Sandinista says Nicaragua's ruling party persecuting him

MEXICO CITY (AP) " A Roman Catholic priest and noted poet who once served in Nicaragua's Sandinista government is claiming that the party is persecuting him, after he was hit with an $800,000 judgment in a lawsuit.

Ernesto Cardenal split with President Daniel Ortega's Sandinista party in the 1990s, after accusing Ortega of monopolizing power. Before that, Cardenal had served as a guiding light for the leftist Sandinista movement and was minister of culture.

The judgment against the 92-year-old Cardenal came in a lawsuit by a manager of a nonprofit group run by Cardenal until 1999. The manager claimed damages and pay, saying her employment contract was violated.

The lawyer who filed the suit represented Ortega when his step-daughter accused him of sexual abuse in 1998.

In a post on his Facebook page, Cardenal said: "The political persecution is unceasing on the part of a judicial apparatus that is at the orders of the current government's political interests."

"If I had remained silent in the face of political attacks like this, who will be next? Until the point in which you won't be able to find a voice opposed to the current political dynasty," he added.

Ortega helped lead the Sandinistas' 1970s uprising against dictator Anastasio Somoza and served as president until losing an election in 1990. Since returning to the presidency in the 2006 election, he has engineered a series of legal changes allowing him to remain in power indefinitely, leading his opponents to warn of a return to dictatorship. Ortega's wife, Rosario Murillo, now serves as vice president.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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