the morecambe and wise of foreign affairsPosted: January 29, 2012
The fallout from the elections continues to rumble on. The latest squabble is about aid. A handful of countries are taking the opportunity to ditch their support for Nicaragua. The latest is Germany. The Nicaragua Network reported the comments of the German Minister for Economic Co-operation and Development, Dirk Niebel. As he pulled the plug he said
“The Nicaraguan regime must take the consequences of its ever more autocratic form of government.”
The German stereotype (which is totally unfair) of being humourless obviously does not apply to the ironic remarks of Mr Neibel. His comment is a joke worthy of the best stand-up. It comes from a representative of a German government who ,along with France, have demanded that countries in the EuroZone – Portugal, Spain, Italy, and particularly Greece – all ignore the wishes of their electorates, and savagely cut public spending. Why? Because German and French banks made reckless loans to these countries, and they must be protected at all costs. Germany’s commitment to democratic government was further demonstrated this weekend, with their proposal that a European Commissioner should be able to veto any budget proposed by the Greek administration (see here).
A wider sense of perspective was offered in the same report from the Nicaragua Network, this time by the President of the Finnish Parliament, Eero Heinaluoma, visiting Nicaragua last week. He said:
“The people of Finland have given much support to Nicaragua and…. we think that Nicaragua has the right to make its own decisions.”
According to NicaNet Heinaluoma added that while he hoped that Nicaragua would take to heart any recommendations from the EU concerning the electoral system, it seemed to him that the majority of the people of Nicaragua accepted the results of the elections and supported the government.
Heinaluoma’s comments echo a thoughtful piece by Dionisio Marenco, former FSLN mayor of Managua, and close confidante of Daniel Ortega before a serious falling out (see here). He details some of the failings of the electoral system and the CES (Supreme Electoral Council), many of which have been apparent for at least four elections going back to the mid 90s. But he also criticises the strategy of the opposition in the run up to the elections, and highlights the achievements of the Sandinista government for the poorest Nicaraguans.
And what of the United States, increasingly irrelevant but always dangerous? Hillary Clinton made various threatening noises about cutting back aid last week, as much a response to the Republican candidate race as events in the Nicaraguan elections. Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister, Samuel Santos, delivered a robust reply(see Nicaragua Dispatch’s report here on his remarks).
There was also a contribution from “Freedom” House, a US think tank front for hawkish foreign policy (see here for a report, also in the Dispatch, and lively debate in the comments section). Nicaragua has apparently been kicked off Freedom House’s list of democracies, and is now ‘partly free’, sharing the classification with countries like Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela (is there some connection there?). What of Honduras, with it’s 2009 coup, siege election and weekly killings of dissidents? According to Freedom House all is well, a solid democracy and definitely ‘free’. Perhaps the jokers at FH should join Mr Neibel for a comedy double act.