(posted Feb. 9, 6:30 p.m.)- Sandinista government officials are downplaying reports in the Finnish press that Finland is preparing to pull its $13 million in per annum aid to Nicaragua over concerns about the country’s commitment to democracy and human rights.
Presidential advisor Bayardo Arce minimized the impact that the cut in Finish aid will have on Nicaragua, and said he understands the possible aid cut is due to “financial problems in Europe,” according to La Prensa.
Finnish Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala was quoted in Finish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat saying her government is likely to end its development cooperation with Nicaragua due to concerns over human rights, corruption and lack of transparency in the Sandinista government.
The final decision is expected to be announced in March.
Nicaragua is one of the biggest recipients of Finnish development aid.
If Finland pulls its aid, it would be the second European country to do so following President Daniel Ortega’s controversial reelection three months ago.
In January, Germany announced it was cutting aid to Nicaragua over concerns about democracy.
“The Nicaraguan regime must assume the consequences of its increasingly autocratic form of government,” Germany’s Minster of Foreign Cooperation Dirk Niebel said.
In both cases, the Sandinista government is trying to convince itself that the aid cuts are due to the economic crisis in Europe and are unrelated to Nicaragua’s political situation.