International neighbors in the Western Hemisphere are beginning to indicate their willingness to act on their disapproval of President Danny Ortega’s administration in Nicaragua, which many observers liken to a 21st century dictatorship. Interestingly though, the nation’s Foreign Minister, Denis Moncada (pictured), has written to Marcelo Ebrard, his Mexican counterpart, for assistance.
The Nicaraguan government has said it will resist “coup-mongering” efforts to eject Mr Ortega from power before his third consecutive term in office ends in 2021.
In an interview by telephone from Nicaragua, Mr Moncada told the FT he had written to his Mexican counterpart Marcelo Ebrard “requesting help”. Mr Moncada accused Mr Ortega’s opponents of acting as if the government “were the Somoza dictatorship,” referring to the battle to oust Anastasio Somoza, who ruled for more than 30 years until Mr Ortega helped topple him in 1979. “They are trying to asphyxiate Nicaragua.”
Mr Ortega long allied himself with the business community but corporate leaders broke with him last year over the crackdown on protests. Maximiliano Reyes, the Latin America undersecretary in the new Mexican government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said during a confirmation hearing this week that the country was “willing to participate, at Nicaragua’s invitation, in any mechanism to facilitate and mediate dialogue”.
No formal mediation mechanism has yet been set up but the López Obrador administration has also offered itself as “a bridge of dialogue” in Venezuela, where President Nicolás Maduro has begun a widely repudiated second term with the country in meltdown.
Any mediation in Nicaragua will be difficult. Efforts by the Catholic Church to broker talks between students, business leaders and other protesters on the one side, and the government on the other, swiftly collapsed year. Notwithstanding Mexico’s offer of trying to help resolve Nicaragua’s crisis, Mr Ortega — a former revolutionary— looks increasingly lonely at the start of 2019.