With friends like these…


…Who needs enemies, as the saying goes. So far Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua has accumulated a sad list of congratulators following the Nov. 6 presidential elections, while most Western countries and institutions refuse to comment on or even acknowledge the election events.

Let’s have a look at Nicaragua’s closer friends in the global community, shall we:

The Nicaraguan-Libyan friendship goes back a while, both countries consistently affirming their revolutionary solidarity and trading money for political favors, although that was a rather one-way affair. In February 2011, the Libyan people decided they had had enough of their “Brother Leader” Muammar Gaddafi. While the brother leader was busy slaughtering the opposition through his mercenaries, Ortega decided Gaddafi needed a phone call of solidarity to boost his spirits and remind him of Nicaragua’s staunch support for his regime. In August 2011, Ortega’s office made it known that Gaddafi was more than welcome to come to Nicaragua for exile, if he chose.

With friends like Muammar Gaddafi, you show that depending on and supporting an autocrat who looks like a James Bond villain is just as irritating as it sounds: Never trust a man with a golden gun; they tend to be unreliable to your cause in the hour of their demise.

In May 2007, Ortega suddenly felt the need to renew contact with North Korea, receiving a diplomatic delegation in Managua. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is that place on our planet which viewed from space at night remains dark because its leadership thinks it is more important to have a combined military force of nearly 10 million people than provide basic services such as electricity, food or dignity.

Ortega meets with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007 (ISNA)

Not much is known of North Korea except that it doesn’t trust anyone and chooses its friends and allies carefully. What links these two countries have besides their notion that their own predicament is everyone else’s fault remains anyone’s guess.

With friends like North Korea, you’re probably in a place where you can’t afford to be too picky about your company anymore.

While the death toll among the people protesting against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria has risen well above 3,500 (U.N.) since March 2011, al-Assad found the time to congratulate Daniel Ortega on his November 2011 election victory. Solidarity between regimes is a must: After all it’s the mutual confirming and reinforcing of policies and ideology that provides the warm and fuzzy feeling of not being entirely alone in the dark.

With friends like Bashar al-Assad in Syria assuring you that you’re doing right, you really should pause for a moment of self-reflection.

And what a friend of Latin Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has proven to be. His Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) aims to politically and economically integrate the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Chávez’ money from Venezuelan oil is currently the main drive and incentive for ALBA, however it is cheap, because it is still there despite his political and economic fantasies.

ALBA is not about who’s in, but who’s out. In other words, it is a project that is against other groups as much as it’s for helping the people in the region. There is no such thing as a free meal and becoming part of ALBA comes with a price of admission.

With friends like Hugo Chávez, a man who believes capitalism led to the extinction of life on Mars, nothing can go wrong.

Being drawn both sympathetically and politically towards the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Warsaw Pact early on, Ortega also held in high regard the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) during his first years in power in the 1980s. His appreciation, however, extends far beyond the GDRs life span.

In July 2008 Ortega awarded Margot Honecker the Orden de Rubén Darío. Margot was the Minister of Education of the GDR from 1963 to 1989. She was also the wife of Erich Honecker, General Secretary of the state’s Socialist Unity Party and Head of State. The award ceremony in Managua was Margot Honecker’s first public appearance after she left Europe in 1990 in the wake of the USSR’s collapse.

Honoring a former official from a socialist state that disappeared 18 years ago really tells you a lot about Nicaragua’s current political elite. With friends like Margot Honecker, Ortega shows that the world he lives in ended nearly 20 years ago, and was misguided even back then.

Nicaragua’s choice of company is revealing. Who needs enemies when Nicaragua’s selection of friends does more damage to the country’s reputation than any foe?


Sebastián de Humboldt is in his late twenties and of Nicaraguan descent. He lives and works in Central Europe, but left a good chunk of his heart in Nicaragua.

  • sayayuca

    I respect the opinion of Mr. Humboldt and recognize he is entitled to have it. However, there are thousands, me being one of them, that do not see anything wrong with being friends with any of the leaders or nations mentioned in this article. The more friends you have around the world the better. It is not fair to just point to these, omitting the many others the sandinistas have. Not long ago, the leaders of Italy, France and other european countries were rolling out the red carpet to receive Khadaffi with all the honors. Richard Nixon, out of all american presidents, Nixon, traveled all the way to communist China to develop a relationship thas has through the years proven to be a very productive one to the USA. Let’s not forget the support and the friendship of the USA to the likes of Idi Amin Dada, Augusto Pinochet, Jorge Videla, Alfredo Stroessner, Anastasio Somoza, Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, Blaise Campore, Sadam Hussein, Osama bin Laden (these last two we well know how were they rewarded for their services) and a list that goes on and on and on of unsavory characters.
    The criticism of the order awarded to Mrs. Honecker only reflects a very poor knowledge of the Nicaraguan history, the GDR was one of the most supportive governments to the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 80’s, especially in the education sector. The fact is that the sandinistas waited to be back in power to award the order. It shows that they know how to be grateful and do not forget their friends.

    • http://above howard cox

      Every one of Ortegas “best buddies” are dictators. Being a dictator himself, he is more comfortable with this nasty group.

  • GringoLoco

    “However, there are thousands, me being one of them, that do not see anything wrong with being friends with any of the leaders or nations mentioned in this article.”

    Wow. Just … Wow.

    Do you have posters of Stalin, Attila the Hun, and Hitler in your home?

    True the “leaders” (term used very loosely) in this article haven’t repressed and killed nearly as many of THEIR OWN citizens as Stalin and Hitler but you’d be hard pressed to find any other modern day “leaders” with such a claim to “fame”.

    And the GDR’s greatest “contribution” to the F$LN and the Whoretega regime wasn’t in education, it was in repression of dissent. Lenin Cerdo and the Dwarf (Borge) were trained in all the fine arts of “re-education” by the Stasi.

    At least we can look forward to the CPS being institutionalized in Whoretega’s (illegal) third term…

    • sayayuca

      I have posters of Che Guevara, Augusto Sandino, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega in my house. Do you have one of George W in your house? I’m pretty sure you do.You both share the same amount of brain after all.

      • http://above howard cox

        Is your job as Apologist for Ortega an official government position or do you just love dictators?

  • Erik Nelson

    It is tough for an expat to find out what is really happening in this, our adopted homeland. I am excited by the arrival of Nicaragua Dispatch. Let it be a forum for what is so often elusive, the truth, free of any political or economic agenda. Tell us what is really happening.
    I regret the sniping in the comments section of this website. It is a step away from what I fervently hope Nicaragua Dispatch will always be.