Nicaragua: Ortega pleads for a relationship of “understanding” with Washington

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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega pleaded Monday for a bilateral relationship of “understanding” with US President-elect Joe Biden after four years of tensions with his predecessor Donald Trump.

“We call on the US government and in particular the new President Biden to work for a policy of respect and understanding” towards Nicaragua and Latin America, he said in a televised address.

“By taking this direction, the United States would gain a lot of respect,” he added for Biden, who is due to take office on January 20.

Mr. Ortega, socialist president in power since 2007, has maintained strained relations with Washington, which has imposed sanctions on more than twenty of his relatives and collaborators for acts of corruption and human rights violations.

These sanctions were reinforced in 2018 after the forceful crackdown on protests calling for the resignation of Mr. Ortega, which resulted in a death toll of 320 according to human rights organizations. He claims that it was an attempted coup.

Washington included Nicaragua in what has been dubbed the “troika of tyranny,” along with Venezuela and Cuba.

Mr. Ortega told the United States and the European Union, which also imposed sanctions on him, that they must “understand that we do not accept to be nobody’s colony, that they let us to work”.

The United States is pushing for electoral law reform ahead of the presidential election scheduled for November in Nicaragua, in which Ortega is expected to run for a fourth term.

The president, without mentioning his possible re-election, spoke of the “continuity” of his work and called for unity in view of a “new stage of revolution (and) reconciliation”.

Mr. Ortega, whom his opponents accuse of authoritarianism, corruption and nepotism, led a junta at the head of the country from 1979 to 1984, then was president from 1985 to 1990. After 16 years in the opposition, he returned to power in 2007.

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