Nicaragua in Trouble
Many thought with the collaspe of the Soviet Union communism would die, but instead it has come back with a vengeance. It looks like Nicaragua will fall again to the brutality of communism:
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - The U.S. government bluntly threatened Nicaraguan leaders to abandon a pact between two opposition chieftains or cost their country international aid and trade while losing their own ability to travel freely around the world.
The declaration at a news conference here by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick was the strongest support yet for President Enrique Bolanos, whose anti-corruption campaign drove his own party's lawmakers to oppose him.
Bolanos' cleanup crusade led to a 20-year sentence for his predecessor, Arnoldo Aleman, and outraged the majority of legislators from his own Constitutionalist Liberal Party, which is dominated by Aleman.
The Liberals, pressing for Aleman's release, have aligned themselves with their historic enemies, the Sandinista Front, to pass laws stripping Bolanos of power while splitting control of appointments to the courts, electoral agencies and comptroller's offices.
U.S. officials have long denounced Sandinista Front leader Daniel Ortega, the target of a U.S.-backed guerrilla war in the 1980s. But Zoellick's words were clearly aimed at backers of Aleman, a former U.S. ally.
Nicaragua "is threatened by a creeping coup," Zoellick said. "It is threatened by corruption. It is threatened by a clique of caudillos," using the Spanish word for political bosses in a reference to Aleman and Ortega.
"There's going to be no deal here with Aleman on the part of the United States," Zoellick said, branding the former president as "a convicted criminal."
Zoellick said a US$175 million (euro147 million) American grant and other funds would be blocked if Nicaraguan leaders continued to support Aleman and Ortega and said the United States would work to halt aid from other sources.
"If you have a corrupt process where you remove a democratically elected president from power," he said, "well, then you're not going to get the US$175 million."
Zoellick noted that the United States already has removed the visas of Aleman and several of his relatives and allies and threatened that others, too, could face international travel bans.
"The United States will not welcome corrupt people to our country," Zoellick said. "We will take actions to block them. You can expect more such actions.
"And we will not stop with the United States," he added, promising to use "no-safe-haven" agreements with other leading industrial and Latin American nations to keep such people from traveling.
Zoellick singled out Aleman personally, saying "his family is not welcome in the United States. He is not welcome in the United States," and adding "we're going to everything we can to make sure he's not welcome anywhere else either."
He said leaders of the governing party need to decide "if they want to go down that path" of following Aleman "and frankly cut off their relations with the United States."
Many of the Liberal Party leaders had been exiled to the United States during the Sandinista era of the 1980s and others have close business and family ties there.
Zoellick said Aleman was "a criminal" who had been convicted because "he stole tens of millions if not more from his country." Ortega, he said, "has never accepted democracy."
Under a pact reached in the late 1990s, Aleman and Ortega agreed to have their parties split control over the courts, electoral organs and other agencies - effectively freezing out small parties.
While many polls show that Aleman and Ortega are deeply unpopular with the general public, they have managed to maintain hold of their parties and laws they encouraged have kept most rivals off the ballots.
On Monday, the U.S. Embassy confirmed that chief prosecutor Julio Centeno, a close friend of Aleman, and two of Aleman's daughters had been stripped of their visas.