Foreign Policy Balancing Act
An article in the Chicago Tribune talks about President Ortega's foreign policy balancing act. It is a fairly decent article. While it has a bit of rhetoric, it is good enough for me to abort my project of writing a similar one for NicaLiving.
In his first seven months in power, Ortega has expanded free trade with his country's former enemy, the U.S., while landing high-profile projects funded by Venezuela and Iran. His Sandinista party holds a minority of seats in the National Assembly and has no easy answers to revive one of Latin America's poorest nations, so he has been looking for help anywhere he can get it.
While the article does a fairly good job of talking about the current balancing act, it doesn't get into why the 2007 version of FSLN rule appears to be working better than the 1980s version. It mentions that Ortega says he has changed but there is a lot more than has changed as well.
- The cold war is gone. Ortega working with countries such as Iran and Venezuela cannot be labeled as "a communist plot" because there is no monolithic US enemy.
- The US government has too many other quagmires to be able to provoke another war in Nicaragua.
- Where people get their news has changed. The US-based mainstream corporate media has been dropping in importance as alternative sources (such as here) spring up on the Internet.
- World opinion has changed. Other countries are more willing today to promote their nationalism over kissing up to the US government.
- It is hard for the US to take "pure" positions when one of its biggest trading partners is China, for example.
- The 1980s embargo forced Nicaragua to seek other trading partners. Many of those are still here making US action less important. (This is not to say that a US embargo today would not be a huge problem but less than the 1980s and becoming less every day.)
Direct trade with China, regional trade, ALBA, alliances in the Middle East, ... all make it possible for Nicaragua to try to do what it best nationally. While I don't want Ortega's job (and don't agree with everything he has done), he certainly recognized that balancing is necessary and is working hard to make it happen.