(posted Jan. 28, 2:00 p.m.)- Nicaragua was well represented by three members of the first family during last weekend’s first bi-regional summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the EU.
Accompanying President Daniel Ortega to the summit in Chile were first lady Rosario Murillo and their daughter, Camila Ortega Murillo, whose role in the government is unclear despite her increasingly frequent appearances at official events.
Nicaragua’s spot at table was marked by two name plaques for the presidential couple, while the first daughter sat in the second row next to the other Nicaraguan delegates, Trade Minister Orlando Solorzano and OAS Ambassador Denis Moncada.
During his 20-minute address to the assembly, Ortega talked about a wide variety of loosely related topics, from nuclear arms, drug trafficking and peace talks in Colombia, to Mexico’s historic support for revolutionary processes, the 20th century wars in Central America, and Puerto Rico’s “fight for liberation and independence.”
Ortega expressed his solidarity with Venezuela’s convalescing President Hugo Chávez, called for an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, and expressed his support for Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands.
Ortega: CELAC can learn from ALBA
Ortega called CELAC a “victory for the people” and said the regional body can learn from other integration initiatives, such as the Venezuelan-led Bolivarian Alliance for Our Americas (ALBA).
ALBA, Ortega said, is not about handouts or gifts, but about “energizing” smaller economies “so they can get out of poverty.”
“Venezuela is not giving away petroleum. We pay for 100%,” Ortega said.
The benefit of the arrangement, he explained, is in the terms of payment, which requires Nicaragua to pay only 50% up front and allows the country to invest 25% of their oil bill in social programs and infrastructure projects. The preferential terms of repayment have allowed Nicaragua to maintain macroeconomic stability, Ortega told the crowd.
But ALBA is not just an oil business, Ortega said. “This is a complementary project to strengthen our economy,” he said.
The president noted that ALBA is also allowing Nicaragua to invest in renewable energy technology and export agricultural products to Venezuela, which is having a hard time feeding itself.