By Lizzie Phelan
Economic advisor to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Bayardo Arce, has criticised threats from the United States that hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Nicaragua could be cut off accusing them of an "abuse of their imperialist power".
His comments come after new US Ambassador to Nicaragua, Phyllis Powers, said that the US State Department waiver for Nicaragua, an instrument used by international aid organisations to decide whether a government is worthy of financial support, could be under threat this year.
The waiver is made up of two parts, a transparency and property waiver. The transparency waiver is related to whether the country in question, in this case Nicaragua, has given a true and fair view of the state of its economy and financial affairs. The property waiver refers to any outstanding dispute between the Nicaraguan Government and US citizens that would have a negative effect on the US view on Managua.
If not granted, the transparency waiver would affect bilateral US aid. Nicaraguan based journalist and political analyst, Toni Solo, said that should the property waiver be denied the impact would be much greater. “[Denial of the] property waiver would trigger a set of administrative processes that would lead the US to intervene in the decision making process of international financial organisations about whether or not Nicaragua should receive credits. Those credits from institutions like the World Bank, IMF and the Development Bank of Central America are extremely important for Nicaragua to help bridge its annual budget deficit.”
Arce said: "The waiver is an invention of American politics, an abuse of their imperialist power where America stands as the supreme judge deciding who in the world is transparent, who is efficient, who is fighting in the right way against drug trafficking and who respects people’s properties."
He criticised some Nicaraguans living in the US who lobby the US government to demand that cooperation with Nicaragua is conditional and warned that the potential loss of aid could affect Managua’s ability to cooperate with the US against drug trafficking, as the government would have to ensure that the welfare of the Nicaraguan people would not be affected by the reduced budget.
“While our people are affected in education, health, food, we would not be able to keep spending the same so [the US] does not receive the drugs [US citizens] consume," Arce said.
Solo said the suggestion that Nicaragua’s fiscal affairs were not transparent was an indirect attack on the trade and aid cooperation relationship between Nicaragua and Venezuela, which when initiated had to be conducted via private companies because of attempts by the opposition, which previously were dominant in the National Assembly, to undermine the FSLN party and its relationship with ALBA.
“Powers' comments indicate an attempt by the United States to force Nicaragua to choose between a stable relationship with the United States and its strong relationship with ALBA members like Venezuela and Cuba.
"If push comes to shove, Nicaragua will definitely demonstrate loyalty to the ALBA countries."
He added that should the US decide to deny the waiver it would be a “serious regional development that would probably force a situation where Nicaragua and its Latin American allies would either have to come up with the money or force Nicaragua to suffer the consequences of its determination to defend its sovereignty and autonomy in terms of its relations with ALBA countries.”