Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oliver North Back in Nicaragua

Daniel Ortega leads in the race for president of Nicaragua, this some twenty years after North and others (Iran-Contra felons that now work in the Bush administration) tried to introduce American style capitalism there with guns and cocaine. I guess the Nicaraguan want their old ways back and along comes North to remind them, I am sure, what happened the last time they tried to exist as a socialist nation.

North: "The anti-American leftists in Latin America are using elections -- not revolutions or military coups -- to take and then solidify power."

Oliver North back in Nicaragua as Old Foe Leads
By Catherine Bremer - Reuters

MANAGUA, Nicaragua - U.S. Cold War warrior Oliver North, famous for his role in funding Nicaraguan rebels in the Iran-Contra affair, is back in the fray in the Central American nation's tense presidential election.

North, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marines, was in the Nicaraguan capital on Monday to give his backing to the ruling Liberal Party's conservative candidate, Jose Rizo.

North said he was worried by opinion polls that show his former enemy Daniel Ortega, who led the left-wing Sandinista government during the 1980s civil war against Contra rebels, could bounce back to power in the November 5 election.

"I think that ought to have everyone concerned," North told Reuters before meeting Rizo at a luxury hotel in Managua.

"It's good to be back," he said when greeting the candidate, describing him as an "old friend."

North was at the center of the scheme in the 1980s to support Contra rebels in Nicaragua with the funds from secret arms sales to Iran.

The Iran-Contra scandal almost brought down the government of then President Ronald Reagan, but North's conviction for his part in the scheme was eventually overturned.

Two decades later, he is still controversial in Nicaragua. Sandinista loyalists see him as a symbol of U.S. aggression in a war that killed an estimated 30,000 people and wrecked Nicaragua's economy, while others say he is a hero.

"Oliver North is a person who ... risked his political future for Nicaragua," Rizo said on Monday.

Later, North placed a wreath at a civil war memorial.

Leftist parties were furious. "It's shameful that this man is being welcomed when we know what he represents," said Carlos Mejia, the vice presidential candidate for a Sandinista splinter group.

Ortega came to power in a 1979 revolution that ended a U.S.-backed dictatorship. He ruled through the 1980s, but was voted out in 1990 after years of devastating civil war.

This year's election is his third attempt to regain power and recent polls show him with a chance of seizing victory in the first round, helped by a divided conservative vote between two candidates.

North earlier this month urged Washington to intervene.

"The anti-American leftists in Latin America are using elections -- not revolutions or military coups -- to take and then solidify power. It's a tactic that seems to have escaped the striped-pants set in our State Department," he said in an October 9 editorial in the Washington Times.

"Hopefully, the most recent polls will wake up Washington before it's too late," he said.

U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli, who favors Rizo's conservative rival Eduardo Montealegre, said North was a private citizen and not speaking for Washington.

Rizo briefly used North's editorial in a TV campaign ad, but denied on Monday receiving campaign support from North or any other foreigner.


Also see Iran-Contra and the Israeli Lobby


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