MANAGUA – President Daniel Ortega this week said he wants to build a “relationship of respect” with the United States, a country he refers to as the “empire.”
In a speech in the northern department of Jinotega, Ortega said the new U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua, Robert J. Callahan, will be arriving here soon and that his government will be ready to receive him when he does.
“As soon as the North American ambassador arrives we need to be ready to receive his credentials,” Ortega said.
The president added that when Nicaragua named Arturo Cruz as its new ambassador to the United States last year, he was received in Washington right away, which Ortega considers “a gesture of respect.”
“The important thing is to create relations of respect, which means that we aren’t going to remain quiet about the things that are incorrect about the United States policy,” Ortega warned. “I am not going to be embarrassed about our principles. We say that we are anti-imperialists…I say it when I talk to them and I say it in public.”
Callahan, due in Nicaragua later this month, is the former right-hand man to erstwhile U.S. Ambassador to Honduras and Contra war architect John Negroponte.
Ortega, in referring to his government’s relationship with the United States in the recent past, said that a relationship of respect can only be achieved if the Sandinista government maintains its principles and speaks honestly and frankly with the U.S. government, including criticism.
That same principle, however, apparently does not apply at home, where Ortega has lashed out at those who criticize his government, calling the opposition “devils, sellouts, oligarchs and counterrevolutionaries.”
Even religious leaders have spoken out in recent days against Ortega’s increasingly barbed attacks against his critics, calling the president’s venomous outbursts “dangerous.”
“Here we all have different opinions – not even each of the five fingers on the hand is the same, and all Nicaraguans don’t think the same,” said Catholic priest Bismarck Conde, during last Sunday’s mass at the Managua Cathedral, according to daily La Prensa. “Those who are against his presidential administration are going to publicly express what they think, and if that makes them an enemy, that is dangerous.”