(posted Feb. 20, 8:20 p.m.)- Rumors that President Daniel Ortega is preparing his guillotine for Tourism Minister Mario Salinas continue to swirl as the tourism minister himself ducked questions today about his future as the head of INTUR.
Following a meeting with hoteliers on Monday afternoon to revealed INTUR’s new county promotion strategy for 2012, The Nicaragua Dispatch asked the tourism minister about his own future at INTUR. The minister didn’t respond with much clarity or confidence.
“No one knows,” he said with a nervous laugh, as he made his way to the door. “I don’t want to comment on this. Rumors are rumors.”
Last week, both opposition daily newspapers published unsubstantiated reports that Salinas is resigning or getting fired for allegedly questioning the government’s handling of the Punta Teonoste land dispute.
Salinas, one of the most respected members of Ortega’s cabinet, has questioned the manner in which the government handed last week’s actions against Hotel Punta Teonoste. In declarations to the daily El Nuevo Diario, Salinas said, “We are not in agreement with this form of intervention of Punta Teonoste.”
Rumors immediately started that Salinas’ comments had cost him his job.
The minister has avoided the press since the rumor mill started spinning, and not issued any comments or clarifications on the matter. As of Monday afternoon, Salinas was still acting minister of INTUR, but still wouldn’t clarify his job status when asked a simple question.
Salinas’ sudden vagueness about his future contrasts strongly with the enthusiasm he expressed during a recent interview with The Nicaragua Dispatch.
If the rumors of Salinas’ removal prove true, the tourism minister would be the second highly placed official in Ortega’s government to be ousted this month for questioning the behavior of the government and stressing the importance of rule of law.
On Feb. 14, Central Bank President Antenor Rosales resigned unexpectedly after challenging President Ortega’s plans to use part of Nicaragua’s international reserves to help capitalize the new Bank of ALBA, or BALBA.