Thursday, 31 March 2011


Sandinistas oppose Libya bombing

President Daniel Ortega has sent Fr. Miguel D'Escoto to New York to coordinate the efforts of Nicaragua and other countries to stop attacks on Libya and find a peaceful solution to the conflict there. D'Escoto was Foreign Minister during the first Sandinista government and served as President of the UN General Assembly during its 2008-2009 session. D'Escoto denounced the US-led military operation against Libya saying that the UN "has intentionally been converted into a castrated organization by the imperialists so that it can't block their imperial dreams." He called the international body, "An arm of death in the hands of the imperialists."

Hundreds of Sandinista supporters, mostly Young Sandinistas, members of the Nicaraguan Committee in Solidarity with Libya, marched three times in five days past the Libyan embassy to the office of the UN Development Program (UNDP). D'Escoto said the marches were "in solidarity with the Libyan people before the imperialistic military aggression guaranteed by the UN." Demonstrators chanted "No to war; yes to peace," disrupting traffic, but the demonstrations were otherwise without incident. Marchers accused the US, France and England of using the UN as an "instrument" to start an "unjust war totally violating international law, the right to life, and contrary to self-determination of the people." They also accused the press of ferociously attacking Libya, its people and its leader in the service of "the centers of power" to justify foreign military aggression. Janina Guerrero, president of the Nicaraguan Association for the Promotion of Peace, said that an international peace commission should be formed headed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The right-wing newspaper, La Prensa, was dismissive of the demonstrators, saying they were there on the orders of the government and they didn't even know who Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was. Earlier in the week, President Daniel Ortega sharply criticized US President Barack Obama saying that at the same time he was touring Latin America offering cooperation and interchange, he was ordering the bombing of Libya. He called Gadaffi a "brother in the good times and the bad." He called the situation in Libya "tragic" and appealed for a peaceful resolution. (La Prensa, Mar. 22, 24, 25; Radio La Primerisima, Mar.22, 24, 26; El Nuevo Diario, Mar. 26)


Libya Taps Nicaraguan as Its Envoy at the U.N.

A former Nicaraguan foreign minister who once called President Ronald Reagan “the butcher of my people” has been appointed to represent Libya at the United Nations after its delegate was denied a visa, the Nicaraguan government said on Wednesday.

Nicaragua said the former minister, Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, 78, an outspoken critic of the United States and a Catholic priest, would replace the Libyan diplomat Ali Abdussalam Treki, who had been unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgam, defected in late February after denouncing Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi during a Security Council meeting during which he pleaded for international help to save Libya from bloodshed.

The Nicaraguan government of President Daniel Ortega, a leftist who has frequently sparred with the United States and has forged close ties with Colonel Qaddafi, said it sent a letter to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on Tuesday to inform him of the appointment. Before he defected, Libya’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, also notified Mr. Ban. But the United Nations said on Wednesday that it had not received official notice.

In its letter, the Nicaraguan government said that Mr. D’Escoto would “support the Libyan brothers in their battle to ensure respect for sovereignty and self-determination — both of which are being violated by the powerful, who once again threaten the independence and peace of the people.”

But Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, said Mr. D’Escoto was not an American citizen — even though he was born in Los Angeles — and was in the country on a tourist visa, which did not permit him to act as the representative of a foreign government. She said he would need to leave the country and apply for a different visa if he were to take up the post.

“I do think it’s curious,” she said, “that somebody who represents seemingly nobody is holding a press conference in a U.N. facility. If he reports to be or acts like a representative of a foreign government on a tourist visa he will soon find his visa status revoked.” Mr. D’Escoto has scheduled his first news conference for Thursday.

A former president of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. D’Escoto was foreign minister under Mr. Ortega from 1979 to 1990. His tenure included the period when the American-financed contra rebels tried to overthrow Mr. Ortega’s Sandinista government.

The unlikely alliance between Libya and Nicaragua can be traced in part to a kinship between Mr. Ortega and Colonel Qaddafi, diplomats said. Mr. Ortega has said that he sought the Libyan leader’s help in financing his presidential campaigns.

As president of the General Assembly, Mr. D’Escoto did not hold back from making oblique critiques of Washington. In his inaugural speech as president in June 2008, he said that United Nations members had to unite against “acts of aggression, such as those occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In a radio interview in June 2004 after the death of Mr. Reagan, Mr. D’Escoto called the former president a “liar” and “international outlaw” and accused him of being responsible for the deaths of 50,000 Nicaraguans. “I pray that God in his infinite mercy and goodness forgive him for having been the butcher of my people,” he said.

The son of a Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States, Mr. D’Escoto has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Some United Nations diplomats said he was unlikely to help overcome Libya’s status as a pariah. In his previous role at the United Nations, they said, he had shown himself to be viscerally anti-American. Others said he had tamed his anti-Americanism.

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