San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Aguirre Meets with U.S. State Dept.’s Valenzuela

In an effort to put Nicaragua back on the U.S. radar, opposition lawmaker Francisco Aguirre, president of the National Assembly’s Commission on Foreign Affairs and national  secretary of the Liberal Constitutional Party(PLC), traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with the Obama administration’s top officials for Central America.

Aguirre said he met for 40 minutes with Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, and Julissa Reynoso, deputy assistant secretary for Central American and Caribbean affairs.

The April 2 meeting, which was arranged at Aguirre’s request, touched on themes related to Nicaragua’s governability, the unity of Nicaragua’s opposition parties, and the 2011 presidential elections.

Aguirre, who formerly served as foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, said he went to Washington in representation of the PLC and the National Assembly.

“I brought all my sombreros,” he said. Yet considering the meeting focused mostly on concerns about anti-democratic moves by the government of President Daniel Ortega, perhaps it was Aguirre’s opposition leader hat that fit the snuggest during the meeting.

“The meeting was highly substantive; it was not protocolary like many of these meetings tend to be,” Aguirre told The Nica Times this week, upon returning from Washington.

Aguirre said the State Department officials expressed interest in the issue of opposition unity heading into the 2011 elections, but did not offer to help that process.

Though the PLC lawmaker said it was apparent to him that Nicaragua is “not a priority” for the Obama administration within Latin America or even Central America, he said he hopes his meeting with the State Department officials served to put Nicaragua “into the mixing bowl.”

“I think (the State Department) recognizes that Nicaragua could experience a very serious democratic setback that could become very difficult to reverse,” Aguirre said. “And they don’t want that.”

The PLC lawmaker said the main purpose of his meeting was to tell the State Department “Beware, don’t let Nicaragua surprise you later.”

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