Arnoldo Alemán was a lawyer, hailing from Nicaragua, who became the 81st President of his country at the age of 51. At a young age he showed a passion for politics and business, and served as a reputed member for organizations like the 'Asociación de Cafetaleros de Managua' and 'Unión de Productores Agropecuarios de Nicaragua'. Soon, he was appointed as the Mayor of his hometown Managua, in which capacity he brought about a lot of positive change. He took up the responsibility of renovating the city which had been in ruins since a massive earthquake had hit Managua. He also served as the President of the 'Liberal Alliance', and soon decided to run for President of the country. He won against the opposition leader Daniel Ortega, and succeeded Violeta Barrios de Chamorro as the President of Nicaragua. His term saw a lot of positive changes, including a whole new transport and communication system, which proved to be quite effective. He also sought to improve the country’s economic conditions by reducing inflation and encouraging foreign investment. However, after Arnoldo’s Vice-president Enrique Bolaños succeeded him, the tables were turned and the former President was slapped with corruption charges. Recently, after the end of Bolaños’ term, Alemán was acquitted of all charges
Childhood & Early Life
José Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo was born to a distinguished lawyer and his wife in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, on January 23, 1946. The Alemán family was well-to-do, and owned a large coffee estate in the city.
He completed his studies in financial law and regional economic integration from the 'National Autonomous University of León' in Nicaragua, in 1967.
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Starting in 1968, he was employed as a lawyer in the banking sector. Later he was appointed as an official during the presidency of Anastasio Somoza Debayle and he remained in the position till the Sandinista junta toppled the government.
In 1980, the Sadinista government imprisoned him for nine months and confiscated his family estate. During the same period, his father passed away, and Arnoldo was unable to go to the funeral service. Once he was set free, the young lawyer moved to United States for a few years.
When Alemán came back to his homeland, he showed a new interest in Nicaraguan business and politics. In 1983, he was appointed as the President of the 'Asociación de Cafetaleros de Managua'.
During 1986-90, he served at leading positions in top agricultural organizations like 'Unión de Productores Agropecuarios de Nicaragua', 'Unión de Cafetaleros de Nicaragua', and 'Consejo Superior de la Empresa Privada'.
He also delivered lectures at the 'Tulane University' and at 'Florida International University', both in the United States.
Arnoldo was appointed the Mayor of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, in early 1990s. During his time as the Mayor, he helped rebuild parts of the city that were destroyed in an earthquake that had occurred over twenty years back.
He was elected as the President of the 'Liberal Alliance', which consisted of political parties like the 'Constitutionalist Liberal Party', 'Liberal Nacionalista', 'Partidos Neoliberal' ('PALI'), and 'Liberal Independiente de Unidad Nacional'.
In 1995, Alemán decided to contest in the presidential elections and thus had to resign from his post as Mayor, according to the law of the country. The next year he competed against the democratic-socialist Sandinista Party leader Daniel Ortega, and won the elections, though there were allegations that the voting was rigged.
During his presidency, Arnoldo took measures to improve the economic conditions of the country. He helped reduce inflation and increase the nation's GDP, by inviting foreign countries to invest in Nicaragua's industries.
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He ensured that damaged roads were repaired and new roads built across the country, thus revamping Nicaragua's transport system. The President also introduced workable plans to build schools in poverty-stricken areas of the nation.
In 2002, the President's term ended, and his Vice President Enrique Bolaños took over the post. Arnoldo was accused of resorting to fraudulent practices and Bolaños revealed to public the corruption that the earlier government had resorted to.
These allegations were confirmed and he was given a sentence of twenty years' imprisonment on charges of fraud, in December 2003. The felonies that he was accused of included misappropriation of national funds and dishonest political dealings.
In 2009, when the Sandinista leader Ortega was president, Alemán was acquitted of all charges and he was released. This resulted in vehement protest from the public and suspicions of an alliance between the two politicians surfaced.
Despite being accused of corruption, this politician was popular during his term, because of the improvements he brought about in the nation’s education, economic and transport systems.
Awards & Achievements
Alemán was felicitated by the governments of Colombia and Spain with ‘Orden Nacional al Mérito’ and ‘Orden de Isabel la Católica’ respectively, both being the nations’ highest honours.
Personal Life & Legacy
Arnoldo was married to Maria Dolores Cardenal Vargas, who succumbed to cancer in 1989. Maria is survived by two sons and two daughters.
He got married on October 23 1999, this time with Maria Fernanda Flores Lanzas—the couple have a son and two daughters.
In 2004, this political leader’s net worth was estimated to be 100 million dollars.
This former President of Nicaragua is famous for his slogan, "Obras, no palabras!" (Actions, not words!).