Rosario Murillo, Daniel Ortega, Nicolás Maduro and Miguel Díaz-Canel during the Nicaraguan’s inauguration in Managua. An Iranian official accused of terrorism participated in the event (Reuters)
Daniel Ortega organized a provocative staging with a high symbolic value. He followed, in painstaking detail, the book of other dictators who hugged him smiling on his day of glory. Miguel Díaz-Canel and Nicolás Maduro sheltered the 76-year-old Nicaraguan head of state, who will rule the Central American country for the fifth time in his life, although this time without annoying politicians in sight.
The image that traveled the world revealed the isolation to which Ortega submits his people, even though his original plan was to introduce his old and new partners. He confirmed – in just an hour and a half of ceremony – that the democratic return will from now on only be a dream for those who ended up in prison for facing it at the polls and for those who had to face the always vinegary path of exile.
Because in addition to the dictators of Cuba and Venezuela, the veteran head of the Sandinista National Liberation Front had the brilliant idea of giving a place of maximum consideration to two other delegations whose governments are the antipodes of individual freedoms: Iran and China.
The delegate of the Beijing regime, Cao Jianming – vice president of the People’s Assembly – was put on a plane by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the express request of Ortega. He wanted to show the rest of the planet his veneration for the Asian giant. He sat him on his right, very close to him, during the show set up in Managua. When his presence was announced, a spontaneous jubilation seized the audience. The leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), very respectful of protocol and forms, had to get up twice to greet and revere those who applauded him euphorically as if it were Mao Tse-tung himself. So much obsequiousness will translate into dollars … that will go away. Because Cao was wearing his mask to avoid getting COVID-19, nobody knew in the colorful act what his reaction was.
Instead, the Iranian Mohsen Rezai being there was more than a provocation. Iran’s Vice President for Economic Affairs was Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s delegate to Nicaragua. And he was also, in 1994, a key piece in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of Latin America: AMIA. That July 18, 85 people were murdered in Buenos Aires. For this attack, the Argentine justice requested his international arrest in 2006.
Since then, it is to be believed that Interpol should be behind in their footsteps. Last Monday, when Ortega, Díaz-Canel and Maduro were hugged in front of the television cameras, the international police led by Jürgen Stock and stationed in Nicaragua did nothing. Some ill-wishers suspect that an alleged influence of the Chinese regime over the body makes it lazier on some issues. Nor was the Argentine ambassador Daniel Capitanich noticed uncomfortable for having Rezai in front of him. The diplomat remained in his place while the presence of the fugitive was announced among the most relevant guests. Funny how the Latin American brotherhood finds a limit when it comes to Iran.
The rapprochement with Tehran deepens thanks to Maduro. The Chavista is a great contributor to Iran’s oil needs. Both of them generous to each other, they are partners in the oil trade that has “ghost” tankers navigating the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In Venezuela, the delegates of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard – of which Rezai was a part and which is considered a terrorist group – operate with total freedom.
For years, XXI Century Socialism knew how to give its members, in addition, passports and documentation so that they could move freely through its territory and thus conduct business to finance all kinds of operations. Including those that contemplated the presence of Hezbollah in the region.
In his enthronement speech, Ortega repeatedly referred to the United States as the “Yankee Empire.” Candid idea, taking into account the opening of doors – and boxes – that the Nicaraguan boss made to China and Iran. Resentful by the increase in the sanctions imposed by the European Union and Washington that holiday, he spoke about freedom and demanded that once and for all “a true democracy” be installed in those countries that accused him so much. In Nicaragua today 171 political prisoners are in captivity, some of whom were to compete for the presidency in the last elections. They couldn’t do it while behind bars. The underestimation of general intelligence seems to find no borders in some Latin American leaders.
Beijing, for its part, has always promised megastructures in Latin America. And Ortega is seduced by the arsenal of money that could represent competing with Panama for the canal trade. That engineering feat would involve years, billions of dollars, a monumental environmental impact, and incalculable concessions. A black hole for the future of Nicaraguans, thus posed.
Chinese businessman Wang Jing sent the Central American dictator a letter on November 12 congratulating him on his electoral victory. Wang is a billionaire who appears as one of the sponsors of the ambitious Grand Canal that he is trying to guide hand in hand with the dictator’s son, Laureano Ortega Murillo, also sanctioned by the United States. For that, the businessman – the Chinese man – created the company HKND Group.
Since 2013 the interoceanic project sleeps. But now in Managua they would seem determined to wake him up and get him moving. Ortega Murillo – Advisor for Investments, Trade and International Cooperation – has been euphoric in recent days. Radiant. He has already signed several nebulous agreements with Xi Jinping’s envoy upon the inauguration of his father, whom he called “Comrade Cao.” Beijing celebrates. It could count on a military base in central America before a shovel digs the first well to plow through the canal.
However, the fine print should be read. Or just open your eyes. China’s effectiveness in this type of pharaonic endeavor does not have a good track record. Ecuador can attest: the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant is one of the biggest energy, ecological and financial headaches in the country. Port activity is not the strong suit of Chinese engineering, nor is the dredging of rivers or canals. It is a mystery what could happen to the Grand Canal, which could become Nicaragua’s “great anchor”.
Ortega’s red carpet arrived days after a new meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was held in Buenos Aires on January 8, a forum created by Cuba to counterbalance the Organization of American States (OAS) . Argentina was in charge of its leadership this year. Strictly speaking, the group will not publicize any achievement in the area of human rights for Latin Americans and will only allow the pariah states of the subcontinent, such as Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba, to give a voice. Beijing will also take advantage of this vehicle to get involved in the region. It was thus established in a document signed in december passed to allow the Asian regime to exploit strategic areas: security, agriculture, 5G, energy, infrastructure and communications, among others.
In this rarefied context, the Center for a Secure Free Society He warned of a new “authoritarian wave” in Latin America, fostered in large part by China, Iran and Russia, which played a secondary role during Ortega’s inauguration, perhaps more doomed to suppress protests in Kazakhstan or threaten to destabilize Europe.
Those exocontinental countries, noted the think tankThey are “capitalizing” on what they see as a new scenario in the region. According to the report, not only the heads of the Nicaraguan, Maduro and Díaz-Canel encourage that expectation. In 2021, the elections made possible the coming to power of Pedro Castillo in Peru and Gabriel Boric in Chile. The first one visited the Beijing embassy as soon as he took office, in a peculiar and bizarre gesture of rapprochement that surprised diplomacy manuals. The Chilean, for his part, is an active anti-Israel militant who calls for a boycott of his products, which moves Tehran.
From the FTAA to CELAC: the historical clumsiness of Latin America and its mania for repeating mistakesYair Lapid, Foreign Minister of Israel, with Infobae: “Iran is the main sponsor of terrorism in the world”The shady mechanisms of Venezuela and Iran to traffic oil and circumvent sanctions