Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega is under scrutiny for supposed links to Colombia’s FARC guerillas. In one “partially decoded” February e-mail supposedly recovered from the computer of late FARC commander Raúl Reyes, fellow FARC director Iván Márquez wrote that Ortega could send via Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez “some old caucheras they are keeping there [in Nicaragua], and he believes still function.” Cauchera is said to be code for rifles.
Also named as a potential arms supplier is one “Ramiro,” of El Salvador’s left-opposition FMLN, identified by Spain’s El País as Luis Merino, Communist Party representative to the Central American Parliament. Most of the figures are identified through code names. “Ángel” supposedly refers to Chávez. “El Amigo” is Víctor Sheiman, a high-ranking security official in Belarus. (El País, May 10)
Last week, Ortega sent a Nicaraguan military transport plane to Ecuador and pick up two Colombian women who survived the March 1 raid—Doris Torres Bohórquez, 21, and Martha Pérez Gutiérrez, 24. The two women have been granted amnesty in Nicaragua for “humanitarian” reasons. The Nicaraguan government is providing the women with housing and medical attention. Ortega has already given asylum to Lucía Morett, a Mexican university student who also survived the raid, and who arrived in Nicaragua in April. Four other Mexican students and ex-students from the Autonomous National University of Mexico were killed in the raid. (IPS, May 14)
An anonymous US State Department official told Costa Rica’s Nica Times that Washington is keeping close tabs on Ortega’s alleged support of FARC. “The decision to designate any country a state sponsor of terrorism is not undertaken lightly,” the official told Nica Times. “Right now there is no [such] determination with Venezuela, the same will go for Nicaragua. You can’t make a decision about something like this until you’ve assessed the information.” He also said: “[W]e’re very interested about what Interpol is going to do about this. There’s a lot of information coming off those laptops. Some have compared it to one-third the holdings of the US Library of Congress.”
Whitehouse spokesman Sean McCormack said last week that the information on the computer includes “serious allegations about Venezuela supplying arms and support to a terrorist organization.” McCormack did not mention Nicaragua, but said that when all the information is analyzed, there will be “deep implications for the people of the region as well as states in the region.”
Nica Times notes that Ortega in the past has referred to Reyes and the FARC’s top commander Manuel Marulanda as “dear brothers,” and says he facing a “FARC-gate scandal.” Nicaragua’s Judicial Commission has announced it will call Ortega before the National Assembly to testify on his involvement with FARC. (Nica Times, May 23-9)