San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Central American Leaders React to Ortega Victory

MANAGUA – Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, Salvadoran President Tony Saca and Guatemalan Vice-President Eduardo Stein pledged their cooperation to Nicaragua’s future government this week, as they contemplated the growing certainty of an Ortega win.

By Tuesday night, Ortega’s victory was all but finalized following the acceptance of defeat of his closest challenger.

For Arias, Ortega is already a familiar face – the Tico President’s first term in office (1986-1990) coincided with the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s last four years in power, and the two leaders worked together during the Central American Peace Process during that same period.

Arias this week said he is willing to work with Ortega once more.

“We’ll work together again as we did 20 years ago – no longer for Central American peace, because it’s peaceful now, but rather to move the countries ahead,” Arias said Monday in a statement.

Like other leaders, Arias praised Nicaragua’s growing tradition of popular elections.

“They have had four (elections) with the imperfections any electoral system has, but the truth is that I’m sure the Nicaraguan people will be satisfied with the result,” Arias said. “I believe democracy has been consolidated a great deal in the whole region. Nicaragua is no exception.”

Saca’s response was somewhat lukewarm. “I’m not going to get into evaluations of whether it’s positive or not,” said Saca, who has close ties with the current U.S. government.

“The only thing I can say is that I’m obliged, as the President of a neighboring country, to respect the decision the Nicaraguans have made.

“If Mr. Ortega is the winner, we’ll work hand-in-hand with him on an issue no one should stop working on: the issue of integration,” he added.

The Salvadoran head of state said he would call the winner and invite him to visit.

According to Guatemala’s Stein, the Central American Presidents will “scrupulously respect” the results. He expressed confidence that the Sandinista government will respect private property and regional economic compromises “As a low-income, highly indebted country, (Nicaragua) has just negotiated debtforgiveness mechanisms… they will honor those commitments,” he said.


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