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Sandinista Priest Takes Helm at UN General Assembly

September 26, 2008

Nicaraguan Roman Catholic priest Father Miguel d’Escoto, President Daniel Ortega’s top foreign policy advisor, took the helm last week as president of the 63rd U.N. General Assembly by calling for a democratization of the global body and accusing some of the five members of the permanent Security Council of having an “addition to war.”

In his opening address of the 63rd annual session of the General Assembly Sept. 16, d’Escoto, 75, said, “The state of our world today is deplorable, inexcusable and, therefore, shameful. What Tolstoy denounced as ‘mad selfishness’ explains why, as trillions of dollars are spent on wars of aggression, more than half the world’s people languish in hunger and destitution. Our priorities, sisters and brothers, could hardly be more confused.”

Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1933, d’Escoto spend his childhood years in Nicaragua before returning to the United States to enter New York City’s Maryknoll Seminary, where he was ordained a priest in 1961. In the 1980s he served as the revolutionary Sandinista government’s foreign minister and was always an outspoken critic of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, even after he died, calling him the “butcher of my people.”

D’Escoto is still one of Ortega’s closest advisors and holds the rank of minister in the president’s cabinet. Foreign diplomats have told The Nica Times, on the condition of anonymity, that d’Escoto is still the power behind Nicaragua’s foreign policy, and that reaching an agreement with the Ortega government means first convincing Father d’Escoto.

Nicaraguan political analyst Luis Humberto Guzmán says he thinks d’Escoto’s election as president to the U.N. General Assembly will help bring more international attention to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

“I think this is not only an important recognition of the Sandinista government from the 1980s, but it’s also a positive for the new government,” Guzmán told The Nica Times this week.

–Tim Rogers

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