MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Amid calls for the removal of U.S. Ambassador Robert Callahan for allegedly meddling in Nicaragua´s internal affairs, President Daniel Ortega announced last weekend that Venezuela will provide $50 million to create a new “ALBA Solidarity Fund” to complete some of the projects affected by last week´s cancelation of $62 million in development aid.
“Thank God we have ALBA,” Ortega gushed before the Sandinista crowd that included thousands of state workers obliged to attend the Saturday evening rally in Managua. Ortega did not specify whether the Venezuelan aid would be in the form of a grant or a loan that would have to be repaid – as other Venezuelan aid has turned out to be.
Due to serious unanswered concerns over last November´s municipal elections, in which the ruling Sandinista Front is accused of stealing more than 40 mayors´ seats, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) decided June 10 to cancel the remaining $62 million of its $175 million aid compact for Nicaragua (TT Daily News, June 11).
Also lost is an additional $129.2 million in complementary financing that the MCC had secured from the Inter-American Development Bank for road construction.
Ortega this week blasted the MCC program as a “big lie and manipulation” by the U.S. government. He claimed that it wasn´t going to deliver on all its promises even without the cancelation.
The cancelation of the aid has led to a tense situation in which several high-ranking Sandinista officials are calling for Ambassador Callahan´s ouster for allegedly “blackmailing” the government. Meanwhile, other Sandinistas are accusing the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency of funding recent disturbances involving indigenous separatists on the Caribbean coast.
Ortega, for his part, has accused unidentified U.S. embassy staff of traveling around the country to meet with and fund the Sandinistas´ “enemies.” The president said such activity is a crime that “we will continue to document and make a decision about when the time is right.”
Callahan denies that he and his embassy staff are involved in any illegal meddling activity.
See the June 19 print or PDF edition of The Nica Times, a publication of The Tico Times, for more on this story.