Nicaragua’s Ortega plays opposing roles at weekend summits

After sitting quietly through a Friday evening meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, President Ortega flew to Venezuela on Saturday to criticize US meddling

 After sitting politely and quietly through last Friday’s dinner summit with U.S. President Barack Obama, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega flew to Venezuela on Saturday to assume a more revolutionary posture by condemning perceived U.S. aggressions against the continuation of the “Chavista” government by second-string successor Ricardo Maduro.

“Today, more than ever, we are with Chávez, we are with the Bolivarian Revolution, we are with the fight for peace that’s being waged by the people, this country, we are for justice, we are for liberty,” Ortega said Sunday afternoon, during a commemoration of the two-month anniversary of Chávez’s death to cancer.

Taking the liberty to speak on behalf of “the people of Latin America, the people of the Caribbean and, in particular the people who are part of ALBA and Petrocaribe,” Ortega expressed hemispheric solidarity with Maduro’s government, which he said “is facing an onslaught from the historic enemies of revolutionary processes.”

Daniel Ortega and Barack Obama (CCC/C.Perez)

The “historic enemy,” whose president was Ortega’s dinner companion the night before, is accused of taking an aggressive stance against Venezuela by calling on its government to respect democracy and human rights.  

In a recent interview with Noticias Telemundo, Obama said his government wants Venezuela to be able to “choose their own leadership in fair and free elections in a democratic process that is credible.”  

The U.S. president denied that his government has “tried to interfere in any way with what happens there.”

“What we’ve said is, let’s make sure that the rules are being followed, that people are not being thrown into jail or intimidated, that the press is allowed to report fairly on what happens, that the ruling party doesn’t resort to intimidation in terms of skewing results,” Obama said.

The U.S. president declined to comment on whether the U.S. government will join the rest of the hemisphere in recognizing last month’s election results in Venezuela, which have been decried as fraudulent by opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

Obama did, however, call Venezuela’s recent espionage charges against detained U.S. citizen Timothy Hallet Tracy, “ridiculous.” Venezuela claims Tracy, a 35-year-old self-proclaimed documentarian, was funneling money to opposition students in an effort to provoke a “civil war.”

“When you want to do intelligence work in another country, all those big powers do this type of spying—they often use the facade of a filmmaker, documentary-maker, photographer or journalist,” Venezuela’s Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez told government-run TV on Sunday.

Venezuela accuses Obama of inciting ‘dogs of war’

Venezuela on Saturday responded to Obama’s brief comments about its democracy with an angry and grandiloquent statement that accuses the U.S. of “meddling” and reminds the U.S. president of Venezuela’s “novel public policies that allow everyone who lives in our dignified country to have more and better guarantees to gain access to civil rights, political rights, economic rights, social rights, cultural rights and the collective rights of the people.”

In a lengthy prepared statement released by the Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Relations, the Venezuelan governmentblames Obama for worsening bilateral relations and “confirming to the world the policy of aggression that you and you government maintain toward our nation.”

Venezuela went on to accuse Obama of trying to incite “the dogs of war” to spark violence and create chaos in Venezuela to “justify imperialist intervention.”

“Know this, friends of the world: The son of Liberator Simón Bolívar and Comandante Chávez are ready to defend our rights to be free against any imperial domination,” the statement reads. “Compatriots, we raise the slingshot of David to confront the new aggression by Goliath!”

Politics make bad dinner conversation

Despite echoing Venezuela’s revolutionary bravado during this weekend’s Petrocaribe summit in Caracas, Ortega was on his best behavior 24 hours earlier during his roundtable dinner with Obama and the other presidents of Central America. Instead of bringing David’s sling to the summit, Ortega brought his dinner napkin and an earpiece to listen to the translation of Obama’s table talk.

President Ortega skipped out on Barack Obama’s meeting with Central American business leaders

Other than a few brief comments offered to the press upon his arrival at Costa Rica Juan Santamaría Airport on Friday afternoon, President Ortega’s participation in the Central American summit with Obama appeared to be minimal. Even when the conversation turned to topics on which Ortega had reason to boast about his country’s impressive gains in recent years—advances in clean energy technologies, increased trade and investment under CAFTA, and citizen security—the Nicaraguan president remained mostly quiet.

Costa Rican news outlets reported that Ortega was one of the few presidents who declined to give any comments upon exiting from the closed-door meeting with Obama. Hours later, Ortega hastily departed Costa Rica to fly to Venezuela, skipping out on a meeting that Obama and several of his colleagues held with Central American business leaders to discuss ways to increase investment and joint development initiatives in the region.

While Ortega’s participation in both summits suggests he is still trying to straddle the growing divide between Venezuela and the U.S., it becomes strange theater when he tries to play both roles in the same 48 hours.

  • gianni & kooky


  • gianni & kooky


    • Erik Jota

      Gianni & Kooky: you’re a few months early. October 22 is International Caps Lock day.

  • mark druce

    He is only acting the way he is after learning from the best, th U.S. He learning to act like a friend, but really being an enemy. The U.S. lies when it says it wants to invest in Nicaragua to help the country. They really want to help themselves and eventually make your culture like the culture of the U.S,

    They deny that they are planning military action against you, yet they have 1,000’s of military and CIA agents in Honduras, El Salvador, and Panama.

    They are saying that they want to educate your youth in modern technology, but they really want to brianwash your youth into forgeting their past for the future as the U.S and the 500 neo-liberalistic corportations which control 80% of the world’s economies believe.

    They are hiding their investments in your nations by working with Canadian firms which they control.

    Soon the Nicaraguan Youth wil be just like the youth of North America, Asia, and Europe. A recent study revealed that over 60% of the these youth anged 18-30 years old believed that they only goal in life is to make the most money you can and become as rich as you can to live the luxury. They do not want to remember the past, just the future. They will tear down historic monuments so they can develop the realistate.

    Yes, he learned well. He learned well from the snaked-tongued Americans.

    • Margarita Lorío

      Hi Mark. Thank for your comment. That is absolutely true. I just hope that our youth won´t become that; I hope that we will rescue our values and have a better future for our children and grandchildren.

      • car

        yes. let us all hope and pray that with christianity, socialism and in solidarity, the youth of nicaragua can grow up to be as poor as their parents, grand parents, great grand parents etc etc.

        or better yet, may the lord shine his light in their eyes and grant them the wisdom to see the truth in the sandinista way–that which croons about christianity, socialism and in solidarity while raping the poor and middle class of what little they have, so that the ruling class of righteous, christian, socialist, in solidarity sandinistas can buy range rovers, bmw’s, mercedes, and build $500k USD mansions all over the country. ah yes! let’s not forget those good goverment workers that have purchased multiple aircraft and luxury vehicles (tax free!) on their enormous government salaries.

    • Roger

      A recent study revealed? I have no idea what you are babling about. Do you beleive that somehow the land of Ruben Dario is the land of moral truth? are you that naive to think that? Do not try to lay blame on lack of a moral compass on the “snaked-tongued Americans” . BTW in case you have not been able to figure it out I AM NICARAGUAN

    • Brewster

      Your comments are very well written

  • sayayuca

    “Ortega hastily departed Costa Rica to fly to Venezuela, skipping out on a meeting that Obama and several of his colleagues held with Central American business leaders to discuss ways to increase investment and joint development initiatives in the region.”
    This statement is not true, no president, but Chinchilla, was invited to that meeting.
    Informe Pastran give us a true accoount of what happened:
    “Pero además, en el foro de empresarios centroamericanos, en donde no hubo intercambio con el Presidente Obama, solo estuvo presente Chinchilla, el resto de mandatarios de la región no fueron invitados… “

  • Ken

    The irony is that Ortega was the most popular president in his home country of all those he rubbed shoulders with (or endured slights from) over the weekend. You may not have to wear a tie when you’re already ahead of everyone else (although I understand that the style shirt Ortega wears is traditionally accepted as an alternative to a tie, even though only a few like Ortega maintain the tradition).

    • Kelvin

      So Ken, what does the suit and tie tell you about his Cuba meeting?


      I think it means that he is confident of not getting strangled in Cuba but wasn’t so confident in Costa Rica. :)

  • Roger

    Sad, to focus on a tie. The people of Nicaragua are still some of the poorest in Central america, the situation only changes names from Somoza to ……. They all take the riches of the country and let the poor suffer. Yes the United States Goverment has for many years influenced the nicaraguan people by it’s ill conceived foreign policy, but at the end of the day it does not matter if the Leader is a dictator puppet or a so called revolutionary leader, they are both just thieves.

  • Carlos Briones

    I would agree that the Nicaraguan first family does appear awkward and a bit out of place.

    I also agree with Roger – that as the poorest country in the hemisphere, I suppose the tieless president seems to properly represent this destitute country.

    Unfortunately, as history dictates, there will be men just as Ortega who, in the next millennium, will continue to represent Nicaragua as such.

  • Federico

    Venezuela does this to gain public support… its a mild form of populism. They appeal to the masses by identify a cause, then they consolidate that identity by picking out a common enemy.

    I find it quite ironic, for all his capitalist enemy, money making imperialists, rhetoric, Ortega is now worth hundreds of millions and is the biggest capitalist in Nicaragua.