>– Cuban Foreign Minister Arrives in Nicaragua from El Salvador as Sandinistas Ram Martial Law Bills through National Assembly
– Ortega No-Show at Ibero-American Summit, Seeks Support from Unasur over Military Occupation of Costa Rican Island
– New York-Based Worker’s World Party Sides with Sandinistas in Border Row, Labels Costa Rican President Agent of “US Imperialism”
– UK Authorities Arrest Assange as (Ironically) Chavez and “Mini Me” Ally Correa Praise Whistleblowing Website Founder
Pictured above: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is welcomed by Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega at the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua, on April 14, 2010.
The collusion between President Daniel Ortega and his interior minister Tomas Borge with Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was established in 1984 when a US government sting operation photographed the drug lord and Borge’s henchman Frederico Vaughan loading cocaine onto a C-123 in Managua. Ortega and Borge had extended safe haven to Escobar, who was eventually killed by Colombian police in 1993. The C-123’s pilot was CIA asset/DEA informant/businessman (smuggler) Barry Seal.
In October 1985, Seal testified before the President’s Commission on Organized Crime. A few months later, in February 1986, the Medellin cartel dispatched hitmen to assassinate Seal outside a Salvation Army halfway house in Baton Rouge. In March of that year, President Ronald Reagan, who was determined to solidify Congressional support for the Contras, displayed one of Seal’s sting photos on national television. No mention was made of Seal.
In November 1986 Reagan set up the Tower Commission to investigate (smother?) the Iran-Contra scandal and within several years the major players in the Contra training/supply operation–such as Oliver North and John Poindexter–either received pardons or their convictions were overturned. In early 1990, “Comandante” Ortega lost the presidential election and began 16 years of political hibernation, the Soviet Union collapsed on Christmas Day 1991, and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front gave up its armed struggle in El Salvador in January 1992.
Communism, Americans were told, was dead. The US public forgot about Iran-Contra, the Sandinistas, the Salvadoran civil war, and the Soviet military buildup in Central America. The region’s communists, however, were merely biding their time before striking again, this time at the ballot box.
In 2006, Ortega was re-elected and appointed the aging Borge ambassador to Peru, home to a renewed Shining Path insurgency. In attendance at “Comandante’s” January 2007 inauguration was former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who promised to revitalize the Moscow-Managua Axis. Reports surfaced alleging, too, that communist dictator Hugo Chavez had financed Ortega’s comeback with PDVSA revenues. In 2009, the FMLN, carefully concealing its hard-core Leninist leadership behind a “moderate” frontman, won the general election and became El Salvador’s first leftist government. As with the Sandinistas, rumors abounded intimating that Chavez had financed the FMLN’s “peaceful” takeover of El Salvador.
Over the last four years we have endeavored to find hard evidence implicating the neo-Sandinista regime, like its predecessor in the 1980s, in the illicit drug trade. High-profile drug busts by the Nicaraguan army and police, and indignant rhetoric from President Ortega condemning other regional leaders for complicity in narco-trafficking imply Managua’s sincerity in cracking down on this scourge. However, the anarchic conditions that prevail in the “cocaine paradise” of Bluefields, a town on Nicaragua’s sparsely settled Caribbean coast, suggest that the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front has turned a blind eye to the flow of narcotics from South America to the USA.
Ironically, the Wikileaks scandal has provided this blog with the evidence needed to once again implicate the Sandinistas in the drug trade. Actually, Ortega’s chummy alliance with Chavez, whose top general Henry Rangel Silva is on the US Treasury Department’s “bad list,” suggested this nexus all along.
According to a US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks and reprinted by Spain’s El Pais: “Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas have regularly received money to finance [his party] FSLN electoral campaigns from international drug traffickers, usually in return for ordering Sandinista judges to allow traffickers caught by the police and military to go free.” Another cable from the US embassy in Managua asserts that Nicaraguan officials returned from visits to Venezuela with “suitcases full of money”:
We have first-hand reports that [Nicaraguan] officials receive suitcases full of cash from Venezuelan officials during official trips to Caracas. Multiple contacts have told us that Daniel Ortega uses Venezuelan oil cash to fund the [ruling party’s] municipal election campaigns. Several unconfirmed reports indicate that Ortega will have as much as $500m at his disposal over the course of 2008.
The cables were written and sent months before the November 2008 municipal elections, in which the FSLN won sweeping victories, but later faced widespread fraud allegations. Reuters comments on the Wikileaks revelation: “The Nicaraguan and Venezuelan governments were not immediately available for comment.” I’ll bet.
In May 2006 former US ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli, authored the following cable confirming the existence of the Reagan White House’s anti-Sandinista sting operation 20 years before:
In 1984, Daniel Ortega negotiated a deal with Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar whereby Escobar received refuge for several months in Nicaragua after he had ordered the killing of the Colombian minister of justice. In return, Mr Ortega and his party, the FSLN, received large cash payments from Pablo Escobar.
Interior Minister Tomas Borge and his subordinates went so far as to assist Escobar with the loading and unloading of drugs onto his airplanes in Nicaragua. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) managed to place a hidden camera on one of Escobar’s airplanes and obtained film of Escobar and Ministry of the Interior officials loading cocaine onto one of Escobar’s planes at Managua’s international airport.
But according to a 2010 cable allegedly dictated by Trivelli’s successor, Robert Callahan, Ortega’s alliance with Chavez could be “chilling” as the latter faces domestic challenges to his own presidency in 2012: “There are indications that the Ortega-Chavez revolutionary partnership may be suffering a cold snap. Over three years, Chavez has supplied Ortega with nearly a billion dollars in badly-needed ‘assistance,’ but Ortega’s constant need for operating cash to off-set forfeited donor assistance is likely now wearisome for Chavez, who faces growing domestic economic difficulties.”
Incidentally, British authorities have arrested the much-maligned founder of Wikileaks, Australian-born Julian Assange, on a European-wide warrant alleging he sexually assaulted two Swedish women. The Wikileaks scandal, which portends the online publication of tens of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables, has provoked official outrage worldwide and a bumper crop of conspiracy theories.
Among conspiratorially minded bloggers, the Wikileaks scandal has morphed into a government-ordered anti-freedom “psychological operation” (psyops). For example, rightist blogger J.N. Kish asserts that “fascist/communist elements” in the US government are using Assange’s transgressions as a pretext to shut down the Internet. At the other end of the political spectrum, leftist bloggers note that one of Assange’s female Swedish accusers is associated with anti-Castro CIA asset Luis Posada Carriles, a Bay of Pigs veteran who is awaiting trial on terrorism charges in the USA.
Among conspiratorially minded leftist politicians, Chavez and his Ecuadorean “mini me” Rafael Correa have lauded Assange for allegedly exposing the international machinations of the “US empire.”
Pictured here: This week in Managua, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met with President Ortega, wife Rosario, and Nicaraguan FM Samuel Santos Lopez.
Meanwhile, Ortega is using his manufactured border row with Costa Rica as a pretext to implement martial law, subvert the November 2011 elections, re-consolidate his Cold War-era communist dictatorship, and build a transoceanic canal with financing from Russia, Venezuela, and Iran. On December 7 the Cuban foreign minister arrived in Nicaragua from El Salvador even as the Sandinistas this week try to ram three bills granting Ortega and the military more power in states of emergency.
Since San Jose has the ear of the Organization of American States, which ordered Managua to remove its troops from Costa Rica’s Isla Calero, at the mouth of the San Juan River, Ortega has sought international support elsewhere. Last Thursday, Nicaragua’s Minister of Development Lumberto Campbell reported that he had a “fruitful exchange” with Guyanan President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is the new president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations, an EU-style international organization founded in 2008. Nicaragua, of course, is in Central America, but the Sandinistas are ideologically aligned with the numerous leftist regimes that populate South America.
The neo-Sandinista regime certainly has no friends in Costa Rica, which closed its embassy in Managua on Monday. Nicaraguan Vice President Jaime Morales, a former Contra rebel, regretted the withdrawal of the Costa Rican diplomats, glibly remarking: “This does not help to solve the problem.” Morales also stated that he was “surprised” that Nicaraguan newspaper La Nacion quoted the Costa Rican president as saying that Nicaragua is an “enemy” country. “I found it strange that this newspaper said that Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla made these statements,” protested Morales.
On the sidelines of the 20th Ibero-American Summit in Mar de Plata, Argentina, this week Chinchilla had this to say about her conniving Nicaraguan counterpart:
What we did speak of, in that telephone conversation, is to agree to instruct our respective ambassadors at the OAS to seek a mutual out from the situation. The surprise came the following day when not only did we not have an agreement, but Nicaragua came up with a last minute document which was a travesty to our interests. That was the last time I spoke to him [Ortega] and from then on I did not want any conversations unless there were witnesses all around.
Chinchilla’s reference to a “last minute document” is the Nicaraguan government’s white paper, The Hidden Truths of Costa Rica, which smears San Jose’s squeaky-clean, army-less eco-tourism image. Ortega, reports Inside Costa Rica, was “conspicuously absent” from the Ibero-American meet-and-greet. Spain has offered to mediate the border row.
Into the Nicaragua-Costa Rica dispute has ventured the New York-based political entity known as the Worker’s World Party. Shilling for the Sandinistas, these US Stalinists gleefully point out: “Costa Rica’s government is aligned with U.S. imperialism. Nicaragua is a member of the Bolivarian Alliance for Our America or ALBA, which includes Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda. The U.S. State Department considers ALBA hostile to U.S. interests.”
After chronicling the main events of the Nicaraguan Civil War, the Workers’ World Party portrays Chinchilla as Washington’s lackey:
An OAS team flew over Calero Island on Nov. 8 and reported that neither the Nicaraguan flag nor its army was there. Nevertheless, the Chinchilla government continues the accusations.
It’s also still fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia against Nicaragua, and the half-million Nicaraguans living and working in wealthier Costa Rica face discrimination. However, Costa Rican groups, unions and political parties are not participating in this and are opposing their government’s actions.
According to the US Stalinists, Chinchilla’s greatest crime against the neo-Sandinista regime was to invite the US Navy into Costa Rican waters this past summer to interdict drug boats. “This has turned Costa Rica into a U.S. military base,” complains the Worker’s World Party, adding: “U.S. troops can move, armed to the teeth, throughout the whole country and enjoy the characteristic impunity to any of their crimes that accompanies these imperialist enforcers throughout the world. Their contract to patrol ends at the end of 2010, but there are many places the U.S. military, once in, has refused to leave.”
Like Latin America’s most strident leftist leaders—Chavez, Ortega, Correa, Raul Castro, and Evo Morales—the US Stalinists view the Washington-San Jose alliance as part of a wider “fascist” conspiracy against the region’s “progressive” governments: “This move into Costa Rica fits with the increased U.S. military role in Latin America, including the re-establishment of the Fourth Naval Fleet, the Pentagon’s deal to use seven military bases in Colombia, the occupation of Haiti, new bases in Panama, and an additional U.S. base in Honduras. It is part of Washington’s confrontation with the ALBA countries, including the recent coup attempt in Ecuador.”