HAVANA — Cuba's Communist Party newspaper Granma said Tuesday that Nicaragua's Sandinista revolution is entering "a new stage of struggle" after the defeat of the leftist government in elections Sunday.
"There is no doubt that it is a great setback, but it doesn't mean political bankruptcy (for the Sandinistas)," Granma said in an editorial.
"The Nicaraguan revolution has passed through a tough test and is entering a new stage of struggle," it added.
Cuba had been one of the closest allies of the Sandinista government since the 1979 revolution. President Daniel Ortega lost his reelection bid in an upset to U.S-backed candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.
Granma said the surprise victory of Chamorro and her National Opposition Union (UNO) does not necessarily mean a vote against the historic role of the Sandinistas, who led the popular 1979 revolution against dictator Anastasio Somoza.
The paper did not comment on Cuba's relations with the new Nicaraguan government.
Voters were obliged to choose in Sunday's elections between the Sandinistas and "U.S. imperialism," Granma said.
It said the United States had indicated that a victory for Ortega would have meant the continuation of its economic blockade against Nicaragua and of the Contra guerrilla war against the Sandinistas.
"The Nicaraguan electorate was faced with the contradiction that a victory for Sandinismo would not mean the end of the war or the lifting of the blockade or the end of sanctions," Granma said.
It added that International Monetary Fund-style reforms adopted by the Sandinista government have also created discontent among poor sectors of the population.
Another factor, Granma said, is that traditional allies of the Sandinista government in Eastern Europe have been plunged into political and economic uncertainty by what the paper called "historical retrogression," a reference to Western-leaning reforms sweeping the Soviet Bloc.