Dante Mossi (right) boasts of being one of the few officials who still has access to Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega. (Photo 19 Digital)
The current president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), Dante Mossi, arrived on time for the appointment this Thursday. On February 20, the Nicaraguan Manuel Orozco challenged Mossi to hold a debate on the accusations made against the regional bank after becoming the main financial support of the Daniel Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua. Mossi almost immediately accepted the proposal and the date was set for this Thursday, March 16 at 9:15 in the morning, Washington time.
Orozco is director of the Migration, Remittances and Development Program of the Inter-American Dialogue, and Ryan Berg, director of the Americas Program, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, joined the debate. Both Orozco and Berg accuse Mossi of having a complicit relationship with Ortega.
They are not the only ones. The Nicaraguan opposition maintains a widespread criticism of the role that Dante Mossi has played in the presidency of CABEI, a position he reached in December 2018, supported among others by the Daniel Ortega regime.
The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) is an organization that was born in 1961 as a result of the unionist winds that existed in the region. Its founding members are Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. In its growth, other partners such as the Dominican Republic, Panama, Belize, Mexico, Taiwan, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Cuba and South Korea have been integrated.
CABEI has an “authorized capital” of 5,000 million dollars for its operations, according to its Constitutive Agreement, updated as of February 5, 2021.
This Thursday’s debate was promoted by the Inter-American Dialogue and participated in it, in the order of photography, Manuel Orozco from the Inter-American Dialogue; Gabriela Frías, CNN journalist and moderator; Dante Mossi, president of CABEI; and Ryan Berg, director of the Americas Program.
Mossi assumed the executive presidency of the bank in the midst of the crisis of the Ortega regime, when the international community began to turn its back on him for the serious human rights violations he carried out to stay in power.
While cooperation withdrew and loans from multilateral organizations decreased, CABEI increased its cooperation with the Nicaraguan regime. Currently, 26 percent of CABEI’s operations are destined for Nicaragua, which makes it its main financier. In the last five years, CABEI has allocated approximately 3.5 billion dollars to Nicaragua.
According to official data, CABEI approved 403.5 million dollars to Nicaragua last year, out of the total 1,871.6 million that it allocated for regional financing.
“For me there are facts that, from the perspective of a Nicaraguan, portray the management of Dante Mossi,” says economist Enrique Saénz. The first, he says, is “the magnitude of the loans to the dictatorship compared to other Central American countries,” including loans to the Police, an institution sanctioned by the United States for human rights violations.
Sáenz adds that one of the destinations that Mossi boasts about is supporting the electric power sector in Nicaragua. “And what do we find? That the main beneficiary of these credits, as a private energy businessman, is Ortega himself. How can so many millions be invested, indebting the country in investments in energy if neither generation nor consumption increased? Obviously because there are sectors that are fraudulently and murkily benefited”, says the economist.
Mossi has not hidden his sympathies for the Ortega dictatorship. In July of last year, in statements to journalist Marcos Medina, from the Nicaraguan Channel 12He said that the sanctions against the Ortega regime seemed “unfair” to him and assured that this institution was looking for “protection” mechanisms to alleviate the sanctions that the international community imposed on it.
“There is a sanctions regime that is unfair, because a person is accused and tried without due process, but these are the rules of the international game. So, what CABEI does is look for protection mechanisms, how to continue providing this financing, without violating international provisions, ”he said on that occasion, although in the debate this Thursday he stated that his words were“ misquoted ”.
In May of that same year, while participating in the inauguration of the current Costa Rican president, Rodrigo Chaves, Mossi told the Voice of America that “CABEI is not a human rights body” when asked if he took into account the human rights violations to establish financing lines for the Nicaraguan dictatorship.
“There are appropriate instances and in this case CABEI is not a human rights instance. I would urge people who have claims, validated or not, to go to these instances to present their cases,” said Mossi.
Dante Mossi Reyes, is an economist of Honduran origin, who served for 15 years at the World Bank, which he joined in 2003. Before that, he was an official for 10 years of the Honduran government in the administrations of the Liberal parties of Honduras (PLN). and National of Honduras (PNH).
“He has a Ph.D. in Economics with a specialization in Public Finance from Vanderbilt University; a master’s degree in Economics with a specialization in Econometrics from Duke University and (is) a graduate of the Electrical Engineering degree from the National Autonomous University of Honduras”, describes the official CABEI website.
In 2018, the CABEI Board of Directors appointed Dante Mossi as executive president in a surprise move in which the votes of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador were allied, which at that time were chaired, respectively, by Daniel Ortega, the now convicted Juan Orlando Hernández, and the current fugitive and now Nicaraguan citizen, Salvador Sánchez Cerén.
The former US ambassador to Panama, John Feeley, current executive director of the Center for Media Integrity in the Americas, called Mossi “the banker of dictators” during an event organized in Washington last September by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Dante Mossi has not hidden his sympathies with the Daniel Ortega regime. (Photo EFE/ Gustavo Amador)
Feeley asked the United States Department of the Treasury to go after the money and investigate the operation of CABEI “led by an individual named Dante Mossi, who has become the banker of dictators.”
During the debate this Thursday, Mossi argued that the loans granted by CABEI are not a decision of its executive president, but of the “countries that own the bank” and are governed by the institution’s internal regulations. He recalled that CABEI was born when the majority of countries in Central America were governed by dictatorships and “that’s how it survived.”
He highlighted Ortega’s management of “electricity coverage” in Nicaragua and claimed as his own advantage being one of the few officials who have access to Daniel Ortega with whom he says he maintains “very honest dialogues.”
Mossi refused to call Daniel Ortega a dictator, whom he recognizes as “an elected leader.”
“It doesn’t matter what I think. I met Daniel Ortega and his wife. I call him president because he is. Who am I to say that it is not, when the international system says that it is? ”, She stated in the debate with Orozco and Berg, moderated by Gabriela Frías, an economic journalist for CNN.
At the end of this year, the new election of the CABEI executive president will take place through the votes of the partner countries and Dante Mossi seeks his re-election. “I’m evaluating it,” he said in the debate.
“Mossi has played a role of supporting the Ortega Murillo dictatorship, with the policy of granting him loans left and right and therefore he should not be re-elected,” says Oscar René Vargas, also an economist. “In my opinion, CABEI should grant the loans taking human rights into account.”
Enrique Sáenz says that he finds a contradiction when Mossi’s speech says that “the bank does not have political issues or human rights as a reference, but publicly confessed that it helped Ortega to evade the impact of the sanctions because the sanctions violated the human rights!”
It points out that according to the US laws known as the Nica Act and Renacer, “Mossi’s public confession clearly classifies him as an economic actor also subject to the application of sanctions” like other officials and collaborators of the Daniel Ortega dictatorship.
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