San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Trivelli Overstepped His Role as Ambassador

Dear Nica Times:

Regarding your article “Trivelli: Populist Governments Always Fail” (NT, July 24): The author’s description of the deportment and rhetoric of outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Paul Trivelli demonstrates precisely why current U.S. relations with Latin America are so strained – a U.S. hemispheric policy based more on arrogance and intervention than constructive engagement.

Trivelli’s rhetoric was aimed at discrediting populist governments in general by warning of the dangerous tendencies represented by such leaders as Sandinista President Daniel Ortega. However, a string of officious remarks clearly violated Nicaragua’s autonomy as a sovereign nation.

His performance does not reflect the expected sobriety of a senior diplomat, but instead demonstrates an irresponsible conduct, which reflects the ill-conceived Bush administration policies.

Washington has adopted a policy of hastily sanctioning Latin American nations that refuse to follow its dictated path of “growth and prosperity.” This policy has created adversaries within the region as well as undermined legitimately elected governments that have chosen their own path to development.

The U.S. Embassy’s open support of opposition candidate Eduardo Montealegre, who opposed Ortega in the 2006 election, was a perfect example of the clearly disruptive policy to which interventionist diplomats like Trivelli subscribe. His actions during Nicaragua’s last election were intolerable, completely disregarding that nation’s sovereignty while pushing an unabashed rightist agenda.

In a 2006 statement to the Nicaraguan Magazine Confidencial, Trivelli stated, “What we are trying to do is support the democratic process and tell people that in this country, in the electoral process, there are anti-democratic forces and there are democratic forces.”

This remark begs the question how blatant interventionism in a foreign election or pressing the countries’ conservative parties to unify in order to thwart an Ortega victory can be considered an unbiased “promotion of democracy?”

As repeatedly exhibited by his record, Trivelli has caricatured the traditionally legitimate role of an ambassador by blatantly violating Nicaragua’s constitutional rights by acting as a pro-consul more than an emissary to an independent nation.

It is time for the U.S. to put aside such offensive practices that Trivelli repeatedly has exhibited in his stint in Nicaragua.

Until the U.S. takes a more comprehensive and less officious look at the elements of democracy as it exists today throughout Latin America, the likes of Trivelli will continue to do a great disservice to the democratic bona fides of this country.

Michael Katz

Council on Hemispheric Affairs



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