San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinchilla blasts Ortega for Gadhafi support

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla on Wednesday criticized his Nicaraguan counterpart, Daniel Ortega, who expressed support for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi amid protests from the Libyan people that have been suppressed by government violence.

“This gesture by the president of Nicaragua in some way reflects the values with which decisions are being made in Nicaragua,” Chinchilla said on “Nuestra Voz,” a radio program on Radio Monumental.

Chinchilla said that Ortega’s support of Gadhafi “puts in a clearer context the decisions of the government of Nicaragua, which has taken the time to ignore rules of civilized coexistence between countries by to invading Costa Rica,” referring to Nicaragua’s incursion into Isla Calero along the border between the two countries.

Ortega offered his solidarity to Gadhafi on Monday during what Ortega described as “tense moments in the Arab nation.” On the Nicaraguan government’s website, Ortega said he has communicated by phone with the North African ruler. Ortega referred to Gadhafi as fighting a “great battle” in defending his country’s unity. Ortega said unrest in Libya is a “terrible situation, where all types of conspiracies exist.” The comments were made at an event honoring Nicaraguan revolutionary Augusto Cesar Sandino.

Human rights groups say more than 200 people have died as Libyan security forces crack down on protesters. However, protesters appear to have taken control of the eastern half of the country. Gadhafi reportedly has stayed in the country’s capital, Tripoli, which is still held by pro-Gadhafi supporters. Gadhafi last week denied reports he fled to Venezuela.

Ortega was awarded the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights in 2009, a Libyan award named after the country’s leader. Other Latin American leaders to win the award are Fidel Castro (1998), Evo Morales (2000) and Hugo Chávez (2004).

Of those leaders, Ortega has been most vocal in supporting Gadhafi. Chávez has remained surprisingly silent on the issue.

Meanwhile Chinchilla, who wrote about Ortega’s “hate campaign” against Costa Rica in an editorial in The Miami Herald last week, continues to lambaste Ortega in the media.

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