Ortega Tries to Join the Axis of Evil – will Obama side with Chavez and Castro again?

April 28, 2010 05:41

Supporters of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega were in the streets of Managua last week firing on a hotel, burning cars, and otherwise trying to intimidate opposition members of Congress. The mob was mobilized because the legislature is standing in the way of a Hugo Chávez-style power grab by Mr. Ortega.


Shades of Honduras: Last year Honduran President Manuel Zelaya had similar aspirations, ran into the same problem, and tried the same solution—violence. Fortunately the Honduran military stepped in to stanch the flow of blood by deporting him. U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens was disappointed, but the Honduran democracy was saved. Nicaraguans may not be so lucky.

In a liberal democracy when there are disagreements between the legislature, the courts and the executive, the constitution is the rule book. Each institution jealously guards its privileges while recognizing its limits.

But populist demagogues channeling Mussolini see respect for the rule of law as the stuff of quitters. The elected despot can do what he wants. Institutions that push back get visits from thugs. That’s what has happened in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, and why those countries can no longer be considered democracies.

Nicaragua now hangs in the balance—and there is a lot at stake. Mr. Chávez wants a permanent, reliable ally in Central America. He hoped that would be Honduras. Now his chips are on Nicaragua, with the goal of making the Sandinista paradise part of the 21st-century Bolivarian utopia. Cuba, with its long history of repression, is a valuable partner in this effort. Its armed forces and elite guards are already working with the Chávez government as noted in a press conference last week by retired Venezuelan Gen. Antonio Rivero. Specifically he complained of “courses in sniper training in which Cuban professionals participate.”

If Mr. Ortega gets tenure in Nicaragua you can bet he will be eager to promote the values of his close allies, Cuba and Venezuela, on the isthmus in exchange for their help in holding onto power. Iran will also want to join the cause. An unclassified report from the Pentagon released this month says that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force “maintains operational capabilities around the world” and “recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela.” Mr. Ortega re-established diplomatic relations with Iran after his election in 2006.


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