Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Venezuela: Pro-Chavez Rally is Largest Rally Ever Held

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez flood Caracas's streets during Chavez's closing campaign rally in Caracas November 26, 2006. The rally was said to be the largest in the countries history, estimated at 2 million by the City. It was the final Chavez rally before the election this Sunday.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy seems to know something the rest of the world does not. Despite the huge margin of victory predicted by polls, the US has urged Venezuelan residents to stockpile food, water and medicine in case of "public disorder" following the vote. Chavez has accused the opposition forces of planning disruption after the vote but it has been denied up to this point.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Clear Choice for Ecuador: Correa Vs. Noboa

Sunday's Presidential election in Ecuador has slid under the radar thus far, but not for want of drama. While I don't buy into the right's whole Chavez vs. Bush thing, 2006's big 4 elections have split even thus far (Fox/Garcia and Evo/Ortega), so if 43-year old Rafael Correa would sneak up and win, it'd clearly tip the scale in favor of the leftist camp.

The election is unepectedly tight. A 17-point Noboa lead has seemingly evaporated by election eve. Most recent polling is trending Correa, who was up 6-8% in pre-election polling! I think it's anyone's race though as there are large numbers of undecideds. Which way ex-President Lucio Guitierrez's supporters vote will likely seal the results.

Noboa, the heir to a billion-dollar banana fortune, often gives away his money at campaign stops, often publicly prays and says the Lord sent him to rid the world of Communists, and promises everything for everyone - a true populist. He says he deserves the Presidency (laughingly) "Because I am one of the poor and I am the candidate of the poor. Because God has told me to be president," he said. His opponents say he makes money off the backs of the poor, and Human Rights Watch found him companies to be using child labor as recently as 2002.

Correa has been blasted by the predictable themes of the status quo loving elites - that he is radical, Chavez loving communist who would scare off the (US) investment and ruin the country. Correa defines himself as a "humanist, leftist Christian" - part of the "new Latin American left" that is removing the neo-liberal model and "Washington Consensus" imposed on the region. "I am a humanist because politics and economy should serve the people, Christian because I am nurtured by the church's social justice teachings, and leftist because I believe in equity, justice and the supremacy of work over capital," he says.

Maybe I am biased because Correa graduated (PHD in economics) from my alma matter but he seems smart, energetic and willing to alter capitalism's orientation under US domination. I wholeheartedly support him versus Noboaita - as the Ecuadorians call the plump Noboa.

There are certainly strong divides, both in foriegn and domestic policy. Correa wants to negotiate the debt (a la Argentina), take State control over the oil and gas production (a la Bolivia) and use the State to create jobs and improve infrastructure by having a popular assembly rewrite the constitution (a la Venezuela). He also would not renew the lease of the US's largest South American military base at La Manta.

For this, Correa has gotten the attention of US policy makers. But the involvement has had to be covert as Ecuadorians are proud people who would not take kindly to any public involvement. Correa says he has evidence of CIA involvement in last month's first-round election. All eyes will be on the ballots this time for sure. Any monkey business could further destabalize the divided country, which has had 8 Presidents in 11 years.

'Dale Correa'

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Miami: Families of Cuban Terrorists Get Anti-Terror Money

The families of a Bay of Pigs CIA pilot and a mercenary/arms dealer were awarded $91 million (Cuban) dollars Monday as the first beneficiary of a 2002 anti-terror law that allows the transfer of seized dollars from (5) designated "terrorist states" to families of "wrongful deaths."

From the Miami Herald piece unbelievably titled Castro Victims Awarded $91M:

A New York federal judge on Friday ordered JP Morgan Chase Bank to turn over $91 million in frozen Cuban assets to a South Florida family and others who had won huge damages claims against Fidel Castro's government for having executed two relatives more than four decades ago.

The judge ruled that $23.9 million must be released within days to Janet Ray Weininger, of Palmetto Bay, the daughter of CIA pilot Thomas ''Pete'' Ray, who was shot down during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and later executed by the Cuban government.

''I would give everything I have to get my father back in my life,'' said Weininger, who was 6 years old when he died. ``These scars will always stay with me, but now I can focus on some good coming from this.''
"This is the final justice, but it would have been so much better if Mom had been alive,'' said Bonnie Anderson

Umm, What tha???

How the hell is it a "wrongful death" when Cuba executes one of the leaders of a foriegn invasion and a counter-revolutionary arms dealer? I could see a wrongful death when the invading force kills civillians, but not the exact opposite scenario. Is the law that bad or was it the judge?

Readers of this blog should know that this is not the first time Cuba and "terrorism" have strangely mingled (a florida professor has been bugged under Patriot Act, Cuba gets more Office of Foreign Assets resources than al-qaeda... but actual Cuban terrorists get coddled and harbored in this country).

Here, the new law's astoundingly low burden of proof shows why it's great to have the House and Senate back. The result is that the US steals $91 million from the Cuban people - although that is just a pittance over the cost of the Embargo in a year.

I would love it if the Cubans would steal millions in say US movie and music rights for every wrongful death the Americans have casued the Cuban people. Cubans have never harmed any American who was not actually at war on its soil.

Read the rulingyourself and read how they dance around the facts that the law does not apply to countries not designated as terrorist at the time of the 1961 event, why they don't need to determine whether the executions in Cuba were "acts of terror" and what Cuban telephone company money has to do with the Bay of Pigs.

Colombia: Telesur Reporter Jailed for "rebellion and terrorism"

Telesur correspondent wrongly detained for "rebellion and terrorism"

Reporters Without Borders has protested against the arrest and questioning in Bogota of Freddy Muñoz, correspondent in Colombia for the international Latin-American channel Telesur, for “rebellion and terrorism”. The organisation called for his release.

Muñoz, 36, was seized on 19 November 2006 by Colombian intelligence agents from the Administrative Department for Security (DAS) after he landed in Bogota on his return from the Venezuelan capital Caracas where he had attended a training workshop. He had left a week earlier with no trouble.

His lawyer, Tito Gaitán, told Agence France-Presse that the journalist had been arrested on the orders of the prosecutor’s office for “rebellion and terrorism”. Freddy Muñoz himself, speaking from prison, pointed the finger at the Colombian and US governments.

In 2005, Telesur broadcast interviews with guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), seen as terrorist organisations by Bogota and Washington. The TV channel also broadcast footage of demonstrations against President Alvaro Uribe, who at the time expressed his “disquiet”, while the United States called it “provocation”.

“The arrest of Freddy Muñoz is a simple case of misuse of power,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “If it turns out that it was indeed linked to be the broadcast a year ago on Telesur of interviews with the guerrillas, then the Colombian government has made itself guilty of a press freedom violation. How can a journalist interviewing an alleged terrorist become a terrorist in his turn? If this is the argument, it is absurd and dangerous. Freddy Muñoz must be released,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Telesur was founded at the instigation of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in a bid to counter the influence of the north-American TV news channels. Its headquarters is in Caracas and it is funded by the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay. It has ten bureaux and 19 correspondents in Latin-America.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Venezuela: Unemployment Drops 22% in year

There has been increasing realization in the world's press that neo-liberal free market policies do not have a monopoly on the label pro-growth. The experience of Venezuela since the employer-led strikes in 02-03 has been one of the most booming economies in the world. In one year, car sales are up 70%, as is the stock market, GDP growth is 10&, poverty is down 30%, and now we learn that unemployment is down 22%.

Though most reports put all the credit with the booming oil market, certainly the Bolivarian economic and social policies of Hugo Chavez must receive some acknowledgement. The health, education, food and cooperative policies have put more money in the hands mass of Venezuelans, stimulating demand where there was little previously. Massive investment in infrastructure, like new train lines and bridges has created jobs and facilitated the movement of goods and services. All in all, it is not difficult to see why Chavez is set to roll on December 3rd.

Venezuela's October jobless rate falls to 8.9 pct
CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov 17 - Venezuela's October jobless rate fell to 8.9 percent from 11.4 percent in same month a year earlier, the National Statistic Institute (INE) said on Friday.

Venezuela, the fourth-largest exporter of oil to the United States, has reported falling unemployment in recent months as high energy prices spurred growth in gross domestic product of 10.2 percent in the third quarter.

Unemployment was 9.5 percent in September 2006.

INE President Elias Eljuri said in a statement the unemployment rate could fall to 7 percent by the end of the year. The statement did not say what was driving unemployment down.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

U.S. Cuba program Criticized in Report

In a report likely to feed critics of President Bush, congressional investigators said poor management and inadequate oversight hamper a U.S. government program designed to encourage democracy in Cuba.

The report also criticized USAID for awarding about 95 percent of the grants non-competitively and said the agency had failed to follow up after grants were awarded to "correct weakness" in the program.

The report, U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba Needs Better Management and Oversight, said the lack of adequate controls had increased the risk of "fraud, waste [and] abuse."

GAO investigators found that one U.S.-funded group ostensibly providing humanitarian aid to dissidents spent taxpayer funds on a "gas chain saw, computer gaming equipment [including Nintendo Game Boy and Sony Playstation units] and software, a mountain bike, leather coats, cashmere sweaters, crab meat, and Godiva chocolates."

LA Times: Bring the Cuban Terrorist to Justice

Ernesto Diaz-Rodriguez, General Secretary of the anti-Castro group Alpha 66, speaks to Cuban anti-Castro activist Luis Posada Carriles on a mobile phone during a homage ceremony for Carriles in Little Havana, Miami, last week.

Despite the fact the editorial board of the LA Times apparently is going along with the Bush Administration excuse that Venezuela would torture Mr. Posada (though no evidence to that effect was ever shown), at least they come out strong in favor of justice for this murderer.

The U.S. must not release a man accused of blowing up a Cuban jetliner. A third-party country could be the answer.

November 15, 2006

IT IS TIME TO BRING Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to justice. Dithering on the part of the U.S. is leaving the nation open to charges of hypocrisy in the war on terror — specifically, to the charge that some forms of terrorism are more acceptable than others.

The 78-year-old Posada is lionized by hard-line anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Miami. He stands accused of conspiring to blow up a Cuban airliner in 1976, causing 73 deaths. He denies involvement, but newly declassified documents place him at planning sessions for the attack.

Posada has boasted of bombing hotels in Havana that resulted in one death and 11 injuries. In 2000, a Panamanian jury convicted Posada and three other terrorists of plotting to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro, and they were jailed. Outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, however, pardoned the four — some believe as a favor to the White House.

A naturalized Venezuelan citizen, Posada was arrested in spring 2005 for entering the U.S. illegally. An immigration judge has since blocked his deportation to stand trial in either Venezuela or Cuba because of concerns about the fairness of any proceeding in those countries. The Bush administration now faces a choice between trying Posada in this country or setting him free in February.

Letting him walk would clearly be an outrage, and trying him in a U.S. courtroom after refusing to hand him over to Venezuela would create a perception problem across Latin America. The State Department has approached a few countries to take Posada, but all have refused.

It isn't clear whether Spain is one of these nations, but the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero should be encouraged to resolve this impasse. Madrid is a credible interlocutor between Washington and Latin America, and Spanish courts have a recent tradition thanks in large measure to crusading magistrate Baltasar Garzon, who pursued former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, among others — of aggressively taking on cases of universal jurisdiction.

Washington should broker a deal that allows Posada to be tried in a third country whose principled neutrality is not questioned in this case — even if it means upsetting some Cuban Americans in Miami or putting up with some embarrassing revelations about CIA activity among the exile community.

The alternative is for the U.S. insistence that nations band together to fight the war on terror to sound hypocritically self-serving.

Brazil: Which Way Will She Go?

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, hugs Argentine filmmaker Fernando Birri, accompanied by Culture Minister Gilberto Gil during the ceremony of Cultural Merit Medals in the Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, on Wednesday

The direction of Brazil under Lula's last term is an item of some intense speculation. Key questions include will he continue to back Chavez, will he sign a trade agreement with the US and whether he will open the spigguts of the treasury to spur economic growth.

So far Lula has kept his (more conservative) economic team around, but he and his close advisors have made some relatively balsy statements. The latest has Lula ordering hise economic team to double growth in the next few years, from its current lackluster 2.5% to 5%. Increased spending on public works seems inevitable. What else is still a mystery.

For more of my take, check postings here and here from Mr. Andres Oppenheimer's blog.

And while I'm on Brazil, why not share this nuggets:

Communists for a Day, from Intl. Herald tribune
With President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visiting Venezuela and the nation's vice president undergoing medical tests in New York, Rep. Aldo Rebelo of the Communist Party of Brazil was named acting president in a ceremony late Sunday.

Rebelo did little revolutionary during his day in office Monday, attending a luncheon at the Sao Paulo Jockey Club and awarding a medal to Brazilian New York City Marathon winner Marlison Gomes dos Santos.

But the communist leader told reporters that his appointment was "proof of Brazil's democratic maturity."

Under Brazilian law, the vice president is named acting president during the president's absence and the chief of congress is next in line.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cuba: Lesser Effects of the Embargo

Raysel Sosa holds the Nikon Coolpix digital camera sent to him by Cuba's President Fidel Castro in Havana November 7, 2006. Sosa won the camera in an international painting contest but Nikon refused to give Sosa the camera because it contains U.S.-made parts, which are prohibited from being exported to Cuba due to an embargo. Castro later sent the camera to Sosa.

Cuba: US Embargo Voted down 183-4 at UN

NEW YORK - The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to urge the United States to end its 45-year-old trade embargo against Cuba after defeating an Australian amendment calling on Fidel Castro's government to free political prisoners and respect human rights.

It was the 15th straight year that the 192-member world body approved a resolution calling for the U.S. economic and commercial embargo against Cuba to be repealed "as soon as possible.''

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque told the assembly "the economic war unleashed by the U.S. against Cuba, the longest and most ruthless ever known, qualifies as an act of genocide and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and the charter of the United Nations.''

Delegates in the General Assembly chamber burst into applause when the vote in favor of the the resolution flashed on the screen -- 183-4 with one abstention. That was a one-vote improvement over last year's vote of 182-4 with one abstention. Joining the United States in voting ''no'' were Israel, Marshall Islands and Palau, while Micronesia abstained.

The assembly voted on the resolution soon after adopting a resolution to take ''no action'' on the Australian amendment, which meant it could not be added to the Cuban draft. That vote was 126-51 with five abstentions.

Venezuela: The MSM "Assasination" of Hugo Chavez

The Op-Ed Assassination of Hugo Chávez
Commentary on Venezuela parrots U.S. propaganda themes

By Justin Delacour for FAIR - Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

After televangelist Pat Robertson publicly called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frias (700 Club, 8/22/05), the editors of several major newspapers were quick to denounce his outrageous incitement to violence. However, in criticizing the conservative televangelist, the prestige press overlooked its own highly antagonistic treatment of Venezuela’s president, which surely contributed to the heated political climate in which Robertson made his threat.

Even so-called “moderate” columnists have contributed to the deterioration of U.S.-Venezuela relations by distorting the Venezuelan government’s domestic and foreign policy record. Robertson may indeed be “just a garden-variety crackpot with friends in high places,” as the New York Times opined (8/25/05), but the televangelist’s erroneous characterization of Venezuela’s president as a “strong-arm dictator” is hardly distinguishable from, say, Thomas Friedman’s contention that Chávez is an “autocrat” (New York Times, 3/27/05).

In studying the opinion pages of the top 25 circulation newspapers in the United States during the first six months of 2005, Extra! found that 95 percent of the nearly 100 press commentaries that examined Venezuelan politics expressed clear hostility to the country’s democratically elected president.

Consistent with the U.S. media’s habit of personalizing international political disputes, commentaries frequently disparaged Chávez as a political “strongman,” treating him as if he were the country’s sole and all-powerful political actor. U.S. op-ed pages scarcely mentioned the existence of Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly, much less its independent legislative role. Commentaries almost invariably omitted the Venezuelan government’s extensive popular support, as evidenced by Chávez’s resounding victory in the August 2004 referendum on his presidency.

Mainstream newspapers rarely publish commentaries by political analysts who sympathize with the Chávez government’s policies of extending education, healthcare, subsidized food and micro-credits to the country’s poor. It’s nearly impossible to find a U.S. op-ed page with commentary like that of Julia Buxton, the British scholar of Venezuelan politics, who argues (Venezuelanalysis.com, 4/23/05) that the Chávez government “has brought marginalized and excluded people into the political process and democratized power.”

U.S. op-ed pages’ collective derision of the Chávez government reveals profound contradictions within the commercial press. While editorial boards parrot official U.S. rhetoric about “democracy promotion” abroad, they have refused to provide space for commentary representing popular opinion in Venezuela. In spite of the fact that recent polls indicate that Chávez’s domestic approval rating has surpassed 70 percent, almost all commentaries about Venezuela represent the views of a small minority of the country, led by a traditional economic elite that has repeatedly attempted to overthrow the government in clearly anti-democratic ways.

In presenting opinions that are almost exclusively hostile to the Chávez government, U.S. commentaries about Venezuela serve as little more than a campaign of indoctrination against a democratic political project that challenges U.S. political and economic domination of South America. The near-absence of alternative perspectives about Venezuela has prevented U.S. readers from weighing opposing arguments so as to form their own opinions about the Chávez government.
Read the specifics

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Venezuela: Chavez with 22 Point Lead in Poll

Despite the best efforts of the capitalist press to say otherwise, Hugo Chavez appears to be sailing towards a resounding victory in next month's election.

International Herald Tribune
CARACAS, Venezuela: With less than a month until the Venezuelan presidential vote, President Hugo Chavez has a 22-point lead over his leading rival, according to a poll commissioned by the state oil company and released Tuesday.

U.S.-based pollster Evans/McDonough Company and Venezuelan company Consultores 30.11 found 57-percent support for Chavez versus 35 percent for challenger Manuel Rosales in what the they said was the largest Venezuelan election poll this year.

Chavez, upon hearing of the results, predicted a "big victory" and said the backing comes in spite of an opposition media campaign to confuse Venezuelans.

The poll indicated that Venezuelans' perceptions of how the country is faring have changed little since they voted overwhelmingly to keep Chavez in power two years ago in a recall referendum, according to the pollsters.

The poll found that 53 percent said they had a positive perception of Chavez's government, while 37 percent said they had a negative perception and the remainder said neither.

Chavez expressed concern that more than a third were negative about his administration, saying, "we still have a lot of work to do."

Asked about Chavez's proposal to construct a socialist state in Venezuela, 43 percent said they either agreed or strongly agreed, while 38 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed...

London Mayor Priases Cuba Achievements

Havana, Nov 7 (Prensa Latina)
Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, praised Cuba´s social achievements and bashed President George Bush for economic war on Cuba and the occupation of Iraq.

According to a report published today by The Independent daily, the Mayor of London also accused President Bush of being elected in a " judicial coup d'état" and attacked the White House for pursuing "economic war" against the Communist state of Cuba.

Livingstone was presented with the key to Havana by his equal, Jose Contino on the first leg of a Latin American tour.

The London mayor said: "What's amazing here is you've got a country that's suffered an illegal economic blockade by the United States for almost half a century and yet it's been able to give its people the best standard of health care, brilliant education. To do this in the teeth of an almost economic war I think is a tribute to Fidel Castro and his government."

Referring to Cuban sports achievements, Livingstone said "though Cuba's only got a fifth of the population of Britain, it gets as many medals in the Olympics as we do. So clearly they're doing something right here about engaging their young people in sport, and that's what I'm really interested in finding out about."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nicaragua: Ortega Triumphs, US Protests

Given the strong words of interference out of Washington in the past few months, the huge result by Ortega in yesterday's Nicaraguan election was stunning (reports had predicted around a 35% tally for Ortega). Unsure how to respond, and trying to pre-empt the other election observers, the US Embassy in Managua challenged the impartiality and transparency of the election early on. The US favored candidate (Montealegre) sounded like he was on the same page and ready for a fight. I doubt the US has much stomach for a fight, but the seeds will be planted early in the attempt to undermine an independent, free-market skeptic south of our border.

The reporting below is compiled from the Guardian and Indepdent

More than a generation after he and the Sandinistas first swept to power in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega appears to have secured a historic victory to become the country's President again. If confirmed, the outcome will be a huge embarrassment to the United States, which actively campaigned against him.

According to an extrapolation based on a sampling of early results by an electoral observer group, Mr Ortega appeared well ahead of his nearest rivals yesterday and poised to avoid a second-round run-off vote. The projection by the Nicaraguan Civic Group for Ethics and Transparency gave Mr Ortega 38.5 per cent, with his nearest rival, Eduardo Montealegre of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance, receiving 29.5 per cent.

Mr Montealegre did not concede defeat, citing irregularities in Sunday's vote. "In a democracy, that is unacceptable. We are going to a second round," he said.

Back since being ousted from the presidency in 1990, in the wake of a brutal civil war against US-sponsored contra rebels and crippling sanctions by Washington, Mr Ortega has reinvented himself as a moderate and devout Catholic. From a social progressive, he has ditched women's rights and income redistribution in his quest to regain power. Nevertheless, his victory, if confirmed, will be hailed by Cuba and Venezuela as a leftward tilt in Latin America.

The U.S. Embassy in Managua said it was too soon to "make an overall judgment on the fairness and transparency of the process." The statement went on to say, “We are receiving reports of some anomalies in the electoral process," including polling stations that opened late and closed early. Roberto Rivas, president of the Supreme Electoral Council, in releasing early results this morning said that he had a communiqué from the United States Embassy which, he said, challenged the impartiality and transparency of the elections.

However, the results were confirmed clean by the Organization of American States, the independent Ethics and Transparency organization and the Latin American Council of Election Experts. Wilfredo Penco, representative of the latter group, said “These elections have been normal, peaceful, transparent and democratic. He added that any attempt to discount the election results, “in particular by foreign embassies, we consider absolutely impertinent.”

Friday, November 03, 2006

Cuba Wins UNESCO Literacy Prize

This program, at work in countries like Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia, has tought over 2 million to read and write for the first time. It's basically an easily transferrable video tape program as I understand. Cuba protested earlier that the UN did not even include the Cuban program on their list of worldwide literacy programs. This recognition assures additional funding and support for it. There remains more than 750 million illiterates in the world in 2006.

Havana, Nov 3 (Prensa Latina) Cuba s project "Yes, I Can" will be awarded the 2006 UNESCO Literacy Prize Friday in Paris, France, its general director Koichiro Matsuura announced.

The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, the highest recognition for worldwide teaching, will be granted to the Latin American and Caribbean Pedagogical Institute in Havana, where the valuable project was conceived.

The three-year-old method has been successfully applied in over 15 countries from Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, benefiting nearly two million people.

With the award, a prestigious jury of experts from the US, Ecuador, South Korea, China, Senegal, and Syria are recognizing the impact of the Cuban educational system by providing free assistance to other countries.

The experts highlighted the Cuban teaching method is innovative, flexible and can be effectively adapted to diverse geographic, cultural, and ethnic situations.

The King Sejong Prize has been awarded to outstanding institutions and personalities since 1990.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

US Does Not Deny Meddling in Nicaraguan Election

AFP - The US State Department sidestepped allegations that the United
States has meddled in Nicaragua's presidential vote to try to thwart a
return to power by leftist Daniel Ortega.

US officials were quoted as saying in Nicaragua that if Ortega won
Sunday's election, US aid could be limited and Washington could block
critical remittances of a total 850 million dollars a year sent home
from the United States by Nicaraguan migrants.

Asked about what was widely taken in Nicaragua as a threat by the US
Agency for International Development, State Department spokesman Scott
McCormack said: "I haven't seen any specific quotes from anybody ...
(but) just as a matter of general United States policy, the course of
any bilateral relationship, the course of any US assistance, of course,
is going to be dictated by the actions of our partners in this regard.

"They're terrorizing people by saying aid and remittances will be cut off. But people have a right to elect whoever they want," said Mario Estrada, 44,
"We threw rocks at William Walker -- we should do the same now," Estrada muttered. "They always interfere in our elections. They act as if we're illiterate."

This nonsense is starting to really irritate people in Nicaragua. It comes a week after the US was scolded by the Organization of American States for meddling. It comes two weeks after U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said an Ortega win could jeopardize Nicaragua’s participation in CAFTA. Last month Republican Congressman Dan Burton visited the country and warned that foreign aid would be cut off if Ortega was elected. Last year US diplomats tried to dictate the composition of the race for President.