Democracy swims against the tide in authoritarian world

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The old Nicaraguan revolutionary, with his receding hairline and the goatee that he had finally let turn grey, spoke calmly into the camera as police swarmed toward his house, hidden behind a high wall in a leafy Managua neighborhood.

Decades earlier, Hugo Torres had been a guerrilla in the fight against dictator Anastasio Somoza. In 1974, he’d taken a group of top officials hostage, then traded them for the release of imprisoned comrades. Among them was Daniel Ortega, a Marxist bank robber who would eventually become Nicaragua’s authoritarian ruler.

And on this Sunday in mid-June, amid a clampdown to obliterate nearly every hint of opposition, Ortega had his old savior arrested.

“History is on our side,” Torres said in the video, uploaded onto social media. “The end of the dictatorship is close.”

But recent history is not on Torres’ side. In the last few months, the growing ranks of dictators have flexed their muscles, and freedom has been…

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