Is Obama a Sandinista? We’ll find out Sunday

April 17, 2009

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Despite anxiousness among Nicaragua´s business class as to what President Daniel Ortega might say during his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama this weekend in Trinidad, Nicaragua´s former ambassador to Washington, D.C. thinks there´s a possibility for real chemistry between the two.

“I am sure that Obama, in the ´80s, was probably a Sandinista. There could be an emotional link,” former Ambassador Arturo Cruz told The Nica Times yesterday.

Cruz, a respected intellectual and professor at the INCAE business school in Managua, returned to Nicaragua two months ago after completing two years as ambassador to Washington for the Ortega government. Cruz, one of the only non-Sandinistas to serve in the Ortega administration, says the Nicaraguan president has managed to find chemistry with several U.S. officials in one-on-one situations, and wouldn´t be surprised if he does so again with Obama.

“I am a big believer that in politics, everything is personal,” Cruz said. “And watch out if in this meeting between Obama and Ortega there isn´t chemistry, like there was between Obama and (Brazilian President Luiz Inácio) Lula.”

Obama this week invited the leaders of Central America and the Dominican Republic to a private meeting with him next Sunday morning, following this weekend´s Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. Ortega, as president pro tempore of the Central American Integration System (SICA), is the designated head and spokesman for the group.

Some in Nicaragua´s business community are more leery of what Ortega might say, and hope he doesn´t use the meeting as a soapbox to rail against yanqui imperialism.

Róger Arteaga, president of the Nicaraguan-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), said he hopes – for the sake of all Central Americans – that Ortega acts prudently and addresses issues of interest to the region.

“I hope this won´t be a rosary of complaints, reproaches and rhetoric about invasions and colonialism, which doesn´t help to generate jobs or help resolve the problems facing Nicaraguans and Central Americans,” Arteaga said.

Don´t miss next Friday´s Nica Times for full coverage and exclusive interview with Ambassador Cruz.

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