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11-07-2006, 11:37 AM
US fails in effort to derail Ortega presidential bid
Analysts say a leftist Nicaragua will add to anti-American sentiment in the region.
By Tom Regan | csmonitor.com

In what critics call another sign of waning American influence in Central and Latin America, an "all-out" effort by the United States to convince Nicaraguans not to elect former Sandinista president Daniel Ortega to a second term has apparently failed.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the "high-profile" push to stop Mr. Ortega included warnings – made by a former US ambassador, members of Congress, and even Oliver North, who was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra scandal in the '80s – that the US would cut off its $220 millions of aid if Ortega was elected.

"They did everything but threaten to invade," said Mark Weisbrot, a Latin America expert at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

The American campaign against Ortega hit a crescendo shortly before Sunday's vote. US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez warned that all US aid for Nicaragua could be at stake. Other officials said the country could be left out of the Central American Free Trade Agreement and that remittances sent home by Nicaraguans living in the United States could be blocked.

By contrast, [Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a friend of Ortega's] promised to step in with economic aid and cheap oil for a leftist Sandinista government. In the end, many voters decided to give Ortega another chance.

"Nicaraguans worry that bad relations with the United States can have really negative consequences," said William LeoGrande, a professor at American University in Washington. "But some were offended (by the US interference) on nationalistic grounds and were more likely to vote for Ortega."

The Scotsman reports that Oliver North, now best known as a commentator for the conservative Fox News channel, urged the country's voters not to return to the "bad old days."

"My hope is that the people of Nicaragua are not going to return to that. That's not good for your country. That's not good for my country," the former aide to President Ronald Reagan said.

The Scotsman also reports that while Harvard-educated banker Eduardo Montealegre – Ortega's US-backed main opponent – and US officials claimed voting irregularities, 18,000 international observers (including former US President Jimmy Carter) who observed the election, and Nicaraguan election officials, reported no problems.

The Los Angeles Times reports that, although Mr. Montealegre said the election is not over until the last vote is counted, Ortega seems to have an insurmountable lead with more than 60 percent of the votes counted, allowing him to avoid a runoff election where his opponents would most likely unite against him. The Times writes that an Ortega victory would be "a blow to the Bush administration."

Mr. Weisbrot and Robert Naiman reports for The Huffington Post that the failed effort by the US to undermine Ortega is the clearest example yet of "plummeting US influence in Latin America."

The Associated Press reports that Nicaruagans living in the US (about 227,000 according to the latest US census), some of whom fled during Ortega's first term in office in the '80s, worry that his re-election means a return to the chaos of the past. But others say it may serve as a wake-up call to the country's opposition parties that they need to respond better to the needs of the country's citizens.

"It doesn't surprise me that Ortega would win after three consecutive governments that have fomented corruption in this nascent democracy," said Miami community activist Deborah Centeno, 47, who came to the US from Nicaragua 22 years ago. "The people of Nicaragua have repeatedly asked for democracy, but the leaders have not responded." ...

Centeno said she did not support Ortega, who left office in 1990. And she is skeptical of the alliances he has made with former political opponents, as well as his recent spiritual reawakening and his promises not to return to his Marxist past.

"Still, everybody deserves a second chance," she said. "But be careful. We are going to be watching you."

The Washington Post reports that analysts in Managua say that Ortega is too pragmatic now to try and implement some of the measures of his first presidency, including confiscation of private property and press censorship.

"Ortega is not going to be stupid and commit the mistakes of the past," said Emilio Elvarez, an analyst and critic of the Sandinistas. "He knows that the Soviet parachute is gone and that he is totally dependent on the assistance of the United States, the International Monetary Fund and foreign investment."

Instead, Mr. Elvarez predicted that Ortega would try to reach out to Nicaragua's impoverished populace with more modest measures, such as raising taxes to pay for salary increases for low-level government workers and for increased spending on education.

AP looks at the growing number of left-of-center governments in the region, although only two – Cuba and Venezuela – have a truly harsh relationship with Washington.

Ray G.
11-07-2006, 11:58 AM
Wow, your hatred for American conservatives reaches so far you'd support a drug kingpin dictator.

11-07-2006, 12:02 PM
Wow, your hatred for American conservatives reaches so far you'd support a drug kingpin dictator.

Seems like a dislike of America in general. He seems to only post news about America failing.

11-07-2006, 12:02 PM
Wow, your hatred for American conservatives reaches so far you'd support a drug kingpin dictator.

As usual, you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.
It was Ollie North that ran drugs in Nicuragua as part of the send money to Iran deal.

11-07-2006, 12:50 PM
wow, the people who had their farmers killed by the mercenaries we funded didn't want to vote the way we wanted them to. Shocking

11-07-2006, 12:53 PM
And if you recall, Ollie North lost his bid for office back in the 90s.

HA HA HA, Ollie. Life's a bitch sometimes.

11-07-2006, 12:56 PM
Heaven forbid America doesn't overthrow another elected official to install a dictator.

Doc Randy
11-07-2006, 01:03 PM
Wow, your hatred for American conservatives reaches so far you'd support a drug kingpin dictator.

Are you implying that Daniel Ortega is/was a drug kingpin dictator?

I'd love to see your sources on this one...

11-07-2006, 01:06 PM
Are you implying that Daniel Ortega is/was a drug kingpin dictator?

I'd love to see your sources on this one...

Maybe he's thinking of Panama's Noriega.

11-07-2006, 01:11 PM

11-07-2006, 01:13 PM


Brad N.
11-07-2006, 01:29 PM
Maybe he's thinking of Panama's Noriega.

that's what I assumed. Otherwise someone needs to brush up on their Iran/Contra history.