By Eric Robinson
Nicaragua has decided to shoot itself in the foot again.Nicaragua is still licking its wounds and trying to forget several horrific experiences, including two massive earthquakes, a US trade embargo, and a brutal civil war, all in order to finally build a reputation as a tourist destination.
During his first week back in office since 1990, President Daniel Ortega has forgotten his center left campaign promises, and is cozying up to such charmers are Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Castro regime in Cuba. Leaders of his private sector are trying to remain confident, yet squirming in their seats that the position he is trying to cement with notorious left wing zealots and Muslim extremists will damage both trade and tourism with the biggest economic force on the planet, their neighbour to the north, the United States.
Understandably, Nicaragua has to a lot to blame the US for, regarding it’s interference with the internal affairs of the country over much of the last century and a half beginning with the laughable, short, arrogant military dictator, William Walker, who had plans of enslaving Nicaraguans, and was eventually lynched in 1856. Beginning in the 1920’s, and for five decades, the US supported the brutal right-wing dictator, General Anastasio Somoza Garcia and son, who were characterized by brutality, tyranny and corruption. Then later, the US supported the death squad contras involvement in the bloody Central American War. Following the election of Ronald Reagan as US President, the Americans, under the banner of fighting communism, began a program of destabilization in Nicaragua, helping the ‘Contra’ guerrilla forces in Honduras and Costa Rica and mounting an economic boycott. The Contra war caused serious difficulties for the FSLN government. Repeated attempts to negotiate a settlement foundered upon the opposition of the USA, which was determined to bring down the Sandinistas.
In the general election on November 5th, 2006, seemingly matured central-left Daniel Ortega finally won again the presidency with 38% of the popular vote. However, in his first 24 hours in office starting January 10th, 2007, he quickly revealed his true leftist colours and signed a leftist economic and social pact promoted by Venezuela’s Chavez called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) with Cuba, Bolivia, and Venezuela.
During the ALBA signing ceremony in Nicaragua, on January 11th, Chavez stole the microphone for two hours of history lessons, and rhetoric screaming “Death to the US empire, if it doesn’t die, we will.” He promised Nicaragua could forget about it’s oil problems, and will build a 150,000 barrel per day refinery allowing Nicaragua to be a net oil exporter. This received ovations from the invited crowd. There’s two sides to this gift horse! Trying to mitigate possible damages, right-wingers and business people are cautioning that the ALBA agreement may be unconstitutional, requiring approval of the National Assembly.
Then three days later, on January 14th, 2007, he signed an informal and non-specific cooperation agreement with Iran’s Ahmadinejad. The visit of Ahmadinejad is being viewed as another sign Ortega is willing to forge relations with governments that are on hostile terms with the United States, Nicaragua’s biggest trading partner, go figure! Taking revenge on the United States will only result in massive economic problems.
Ortega can’t change the admitted mistreatment by the United States of the past, and should only deal with the present and future. The US has a whole new administration whose principal aim is to destroy global terrorism. Ortega may have a lot of explaining to do if he watches his economy crumble during his term as president. Investors are outwardly optimistic, but inwardly scared silly about the recent events, hoping things will pass and Ortega comes to his senses. Yikes!
Personally, I think his mind was made up decades ago, and little will change it.
I was exploring the possibility of buying a hotel around San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua in 2004. I’m glad I decided on the Adventure Inn between San Jose and the airport in Costa Rica. Our newly returned president, Oscar Arias, seems to have his head screwed on correctly.