US President Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisor John Bolton appears dead set on resuming his decades-long stand-off with Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, hinting that Washington-backed regime change may be in the offing.
“The Ortega regime has sentenced three farm leaders to 550 years in prison for their roles in protests in 2018, where Ortega’s police forces reportedly killed 300 activists. As President Trump said Monday, Ortega’s days are numbered and the Nicaraguan people will soon be free,” the national security advisor to the US president tweeted on Wednesday.
The Ortega regime has sentenced three farm leaders to 550 years in prison for their roles in protests in 2018, where Ortega’s police forces reportedly killed 300 activists. As President Trump said Monday, Ortega’s days are numbered and the Nicaraguan people will soon be free.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) February 20, 2019
The leaders of anti-Ortega protests were given jail terms this week, after they were implicated in the deaths of four policemen and a teacher during a shootout last July.
The Central American nation has been rocked by unrest since April last year, with protesters demanding the resignation of Sandinista party leader Ortega, who has been president since 2007, and convincingly won another five-year term in 2016.
The US has repeatedly backed the uprising against the left-wing government, and last November Bolton made a keynote speech calling for the “crumbling” of what he called the “Troika of Tyranny” – Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba – saying the states represented a “a sordid cradle of communism in the Western hemisphere.”
On Monday, Trump name-checked the same three countries, saying their “great potential” would be unlocked with the collapse of socialism. To expedite the process, Congress last year imposed financial measures that would make it difficult for the economically-stricken Nicaragua to obtain international loans, as well as slapping sanctions on top officials in Managua.
Revenge served ice-cold
Bolton’s history with Ortega goes back to the 1980s. Just as now, Ortega was the leader of Nicaragua, first as he spearheaded the revolution in 1979, and when he was elected president in 1985.
The Ronald Reagan administration spent significant financial resources backing the right-wing Contra rebels during the civil war, which lasted nearly the entire decade.
Bolton, at that time a legal specialist, held a number of senior positions in the Reagan White House, and was more than a witness to its shadowy CIA-aided schemes to bypass a Democrat-run Congress ban on helping the opposition militants.
He reportedly played a crucial part in hobbling both the scope of the Iran-Contra investigation and an inquiry into drug- and gun-running militants, who were enabled by Washington.
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After he returned to prominence under George W. Bush in yet another chapter of an unsinkable career, Bolton failed to dislodge Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the Sandinistas, or Cuba’s Fidel Castro (at one point, he accused Havana of developing biological weapons, without solid evidence). But as a man who with permission from Donald Trump now seems to be steering US foreign policy on dozens of key issues, Bolton has more resources than ever before to settle his lifelong ideological grudges.