San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ortega Meets with U.S. State Dept.'s Arturo Valenzuela

MANAGUA – During a two-day visit that appears to have been more exploratory than substantive, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela visited Nicaragua last week to meet with President Daniel Ortega, opposition leaders and heads of the private sector and non-governmental groups.

Valenzuela limited his public comments, saying that he had had respectful conversations with all parties about issues of common interest, such as security and drug-trafficking. But behind closed doors, Valenzuela allegedly expressed concern about democracy and next year’s elections, calling on the opposition and civil society to take greater responsibility for their future.

Violeta Granera, coordinator for civil society group Movement for Nicaragua, told The Nica Times that Valenzuela was very interested to learn what civil society is doing to help defend democracy in Nicaragua. Granera said civil society leaders told Valenzuela that “There are no conditions for free and transparent elections here.”

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