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    Nicaraguan revolutionary back in power  
Time: 2006/9/5 reading: 1121

Wearing his signature white button-down shirt his military fatigues abandoned the balding 61-year-old Ortega isn't the same fiery revolutionary who allied with the Soviet Union and fought off the U.S.-backed Contra rebel insurgency. He has promised moderate economic and social policies and continued ties with the U.S.

But none of those pledges made it into his inaugural speech late Wednesday, a fiery, leftist rally that included Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian leader Evo Morales.

"With unity there is strength," Ortega said. "With unity comes victory!"

 President Bush and Chavez are fighting for influence in this former Cold War battleground, both promising aid while pushing vastly different prescriptions for one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere.

Chavez, who arrived just hours after he was sworn in for another six-year term in his own country, has promised the impoverished nation 32 desperately needed electricity plants, low-interest loans to the poor from a branch of his state development bank and help in improving the Nicaragua's health and education systems.

The Venezuelan leader told thousands of Ortega's supporters that his "heart was overflowing with joy" to see Nicaragua in the hands of the Sandinista leader. He then gave Ortega a golden replica of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar's sword, and called for his allies to "unite our swords to bring justice and freedom to our people."

Morales, for his part, welcomed Ortega to the growing club of Latin leftists.

"We have three, four five commanders who will liberate Latin America," Morales said.

All three called for the quick recovery of Cuba's ailing

 Fidel Castro and pledged to form a coalition of leftist leaders who would fight to nationalize natural resources.

Castro's health prevented him from attending, but Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, one of the Cuban revolution's oldest surviving leaders, said the communist leader sent his "utmost support."

The U.S. has reluctantly welcomed Ortega's promises to respect private property and continue free trade agreements.

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