Isolated Nicaragua senses opportunity in Honduras crisis
President Ortega has quickly positioned himself – alongside Chávez and Castro – as a champion of democracy.
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For Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, whose government has been on the defensive since last year's alleged electoral fraud, the military coup in Honduras has presented a golden opportunity to go on the offensive.
In the hours following last Sunday's ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, Ortega quickly jockeyed himself into a leadership role in the region's condemnation of the coup.
Taking advantage of the fact that Nicaragua was already scheduled to host a June 29 summit of Central American presidents, Ortega also invited the leftist members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and other Latin American leaders to attend.
Within less than 24 hours, presidents and representatives from 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries had descended upon Managua, converting the city into what the Sandinista government glowingly called "the capital of democracy."
Ortega, seated in the center chair at the banquet table, conducted the meeting as the master of ceremony.
The Sandinista administration, which has been accused of trampling on democracy and isolating Nicaragua from the concert of nations, referred to the meeting as "one of the greatest democratic moments" for their government. Ortega's leadership role was hailed as a "cause of pride for Nicaragua."
"It was a clear manifestation of the international leadership of Nicaragua under President Daniel Ortega," said Vice Foreign Minister Valdrack Jaentschke. "This is a moment of national pride."
For others, listening to Ortega, Chávez, and Castro defend democracy, free elections, and freedom of the press smacked more of irony.