MANAGUA – President Daniel Ortega said the governments of Central America have asked the United States to provide $1 billion in assistance over five years to fight drug trafficking in the region.
Ortega said in an address Sept. 1 marking the 28th anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan Army that the proposal was made last month by Foreign Minister Samuel Santos to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Thomas Shannon.
Organized crime and drug trafficking are “extremely dangerous enemies,”Ortega said, adding that the current assistance provided by the United States to the countries of Central America, including Nicaragua, was “poor and is given in drops, as a result of the imperialist policy that the White House has.”
“Let them send us boats, helicopters, tanks and planes like they sent Honduras, and then we will be willing to cooperate with the United States in a serious manner and with respect for the sovereignty of Nicaragua,” Ortega said.
Ortega noted that “the enormous market for consumption of drugs” was in the United States, and that the problem of drug use in Nicaragua would not be resolved easily by the army and police.
The U.S. Embassy in Managua, for its part, congratulated the army for its 28th anniversary and said the U.S. government was “satisfied with the close and positive working relation that has been built over the years between the armed forces” of both countries. The embassy said the U.S. government donated close to $5 million in materials and humanitarian assistance last year, and didn’t address the request for $1 billion more.