Contact — Prof. Brad Roth — firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, a top official of the U.S. Embassy in Managua dismissed Nicaragua as no longer important to the U.S. and told a Nicaragua Network delegation from the United States that he wanted nothing to do with the country’s political parties, all of which he characterized as “feckless, corrupt, nasty and worthless.” Despite these comments by Matthew Roth, the political officer of the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Agency for International Development is funding Nicaraguan groups to provide training in “democratization” and media skills.
Mediaprograms, such as those offered by the International Republican Institute, are supposedly designed to help Nicaraguan media, particularly radio stations, learn to provide fair and balanced coverage. However, leaders of the Association of Nicaraguan Journalists (APN), told the delegation that they intended to teach reporters to oppose the re-election of President Daniel Ortega and to play a double role as reporters and unofficial electoral observers. Jan Howard, the USAID officer for the embassy, acknowledged, “Sometimes they get a little carried away.”
In the 2001 and 2006 presidential elections, the U.S. embassy overtly supported a particular candidate opposed to Ortega. Such public declarations have not been issued this year, although the delegation heard concerns about the possibility of threatening or leading public statements from US officials late in the campaign term as occurred in
2001 and 2006. Such prior statements included threats about the termination of remittances, which many Nicaraguan families rely on. Additionally, the US has urged and even organized a united opposition in past elections. In the current cycle, a representative of the Constitutional Liberal Party implied that the party has privately been encouraged by the US Embassy to withdraw from the race.
The delegation from the Nicaragua Network, which has more than 30 years of experience following Nicaraguan issues, recently concluded a one-week trip to Nicaragua to investigate the role of the United States in the upcoming Nicaraguan elections. The delegation met with officials from the US embassy, Nicaraguan government officials, three political parties and alliances of parties running presidential candidates, and several U.S. and Nicaraguan non-governmental organizations that have received funding from the United States government.