Santos heads to Iran, Spain, Italy

(posted Feb. 15, 8:00 p.m.)- Following the conga-line exit of European donors from Nicaragua, Foreign Minister Samuel Santos left today on a three-country tour of Spain, Iran and Italy in search of replacement aid and investment.

Garrulous first lady Rosario Murillo announced Santos’ trip during her daily soliloquy to the Sandinista propaganda outlets.

The most provocative stop on Santos’ amazing journey will be in Tehran, where the white-haired foreign minister will meet with his Iranian counterpart and other officials from the Islamic government, presumably to try to figure out what happened to all the unfulfilled promises of Iranian investment and aid and to push again for bilateral debt relief.

Nicaragua still owes Iran some $164 million from 1986, when Iran sold Nicaragua some oil and the Sandinistas said “bill me later.” Iran has refused to pardon the debt, despite the chummy rhetorical relationship between Presidents Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Daniel Ortega.

Murillo didn’t offer any further details about Santos’ visit to the beleaguered Islamic nation with a penchant for Uranium-enrichment.

In Spain, Santos is reportedly going to meet with government representatives to review Spanish aid for Nicaragua. Spain was one of the few countries to send a high-level government official to Ortega’s inauguration in January.

Santos will also meet with representatives of Spanish power company Unión Fenosa, Nicaragua’s unpopular electricity distributor. In 2007, the Sandinista government acquired 16% of Unión Fenosa.

 In Italy, Santos is reportedly going to meet with representatives of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, which runs food security programs in Nicaragua.

Making up for lost aid?

Santos’ hat-in-hand trip to Europe and the Middle East comes a month after another round of aid cuts from Germany and—still unofficially—Finland.

Both countries’ governments have made statements saying that the decisions to cut aid are based on Nicaragua’s poor democratic performance. The Sandinistas, however, insist it’s due to the European economic crisis.

According to Nicaraguan economist Adolfo Acevedo, since the return to power of President Ortega, Nicaragua has lost bilateral cooperation from Sweden, England, Denmark, Norway, Holland and Germany. Finland will make its position official next month.

“There are two basic reasons for the pullout,” Acevedo says. “The fist reason is due to the budget crisis; European nations have decided to accelerate the process of diminishing the global amount of assistance and reorient aid to poorer countries on the planet.”

Nicaragua, he said, is no longer on that list, despite being the second poorest country in Latin America.

“And the second reason,” Acevedo says, “is the perception that Nicaragua’s democracy has deteriorated by legal and human-rights standards.”

Acevedo said he expects the pullouts to continue.

The reduction in European loans and aid from 2009 to 2010 alone was $139 million, Acevedo said.

“It’s difficult to know how much each of those two factors weights on each particular country, but it’s certain that both are combining to accelerate the reduction of bilateral cooperation from Europe,” the economist said.


  • Jaime Silva

    The beggar with stick in chief!

  • gotothebeach

    Talk about propaganda=bulls**t. I am so sick and tired of goverments and media trying mine and every one with an 8Q over 70 to believe their statements. Why not continue their “Give us a Donation/Aid Tour” and go to Portugal, Greece and Ireland while they are at it?
    To make us believe that THESE paticular nations are in better ecconomic condition than Germany or Finnland is absurd. Does the reading or listenning public think that this or these “press” releases are going to get these countries to BORROW more from the EU or IMF so they can go further in debt to GIVE it to Nicaragua?
    When they say they don’t give FREE money in aid to Nicaragua because in doing so violates their Aid policies might be the reason they have withdrawn FREE support. The whole world is broke except for a modest 1%, so expecing dinaro without some strings attached is pretty naieve.

  • Concerned

    Makes one wonder if the talk nice about Iran and others is Ortega’s way of paying interest on money he has no intention of repaying? 25 year past due invoice? Just too funny for words.

  • Pingback: U.S. Embassy concerned over property rights()