(updated April 19, 4:20 p.m.)- MANAGUA—The heads of Nicaragua’s two largest business chambers today rejected President Daniel Ortega’s support for the Argentine government’s decision to nationalize Spanish oil company YPF, and said the Sandinista leader is not speaking for the private sector when he spoke last night “in the name of the people of Nicaragua.”
Yalí Molina, president of the Nicaraguan-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), says Ortega’s comments are totally counterproductive to his own government’s efforts to attract foreign investment to explore for oil in Nicaragua.
“It’s not very convenient for us to be applauding countries that are confiscating,” Molina told The Nicaragua Dispatch. “It’s political rhetoric that doesn’t represent the people of Nicaragua.”
Ortega is only speaking for himself when he congratulates Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for her nationalization, Molina says.
“ It’s like when [Ortega] says the people of Nicaragua support Cuba; what he is really saying is that his government supports Fidel Castro,” Molina says. “It’s the same in this case.”
José Adán Aguerri, president of the nation’s Superior Council of Private Business (COSEP), says Ortega is only making everyone else’s job harder when he makes comments such as last night’s declaration of solidarity with President Fernández.
“This definitely affects us, because the private sector and the government agencies charged with bringing investment into the country have to work harder to give confidence to investors so that this type of political discourse doesn’t [frighten them off],” Aguerri told The Nicaragua Dispatch. “This has been an issue that we in the private sector have been working on for five years. In 2009, we always talked about how the president’s political discourses need to incorporate the reality of the country.”
Aguerri thinks the private sector has been making some progress in taming Ortega’s rhetoric over the years. He stressed that there is no concern in Nicaragua about nationalization, even though Ortega thinks it was such a good idea in Argentina.
“Fortunately, this type of discourse from the president is increasingly infrequent, which I think has translated into more investment,” Aguerri said. “We hope that (last night’s speech) is a unique situation.”
“I want to express in the name of the people of Nicaragua our solidarity with the people of the sister country of Argentina and its President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, because with this decision that she took in relation to this transnational she is exercising the right of the State of Argentina to defend its patrimony,” Ortega said last night, echoing Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s message earlier that day.
Ortega rejected the EU’s reaction to the nationalization, saying the EU has acted with “arrogance, bravado and thuggery against the decision of a sovereign people and government in Argentina.”
“I am sure, I am convinced, that the people of Argentina, who have received the backing o the Latin American and Caribbean communities in their legitimate struggle for their territories occupied by the British Empire—or what remains of the British Empire—also have the solidarity of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean in this battle that they are waging for justice and for the inalienable rights of the Argentinean people,” Ortega said.
The EU must negotiate a way out with the Argentine government, said the Sandinista leader.
“What we can advise the EU is that they should stop their bullying, stop the threats. Look for dialogue, negotiate with the Argentinean government and look for a way out where the legitimate rights of the people of Argentina are recognized,” Ortega said.