- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

The former head of the Nicaraguan resistance said in Washington yesterday that he fears U.S. policies toward Nicaragua are paving the way for a return to power by left-wing Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega in the November elections.

Adolfo Calero, feted by the Reagan administration during the Cold War struggles in Central America, also said former allies in the U.S. government were not returning his calls.

“They have clammed up and refused to see me,” Mr. Calero told The Washington Times. He said he thinks he is getting the cold shoulder because he is “presenting a different picture of the situation” in Nicaragua than what U.S. officials wanted to hear.

A State Department official said he had never heard of Mr. Calero and could not comment on his statements.

Mr. Calero and colleague Rafael Aguirre-Sacasa said U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Paul A. Trivelli was actively encouraging the emergence of a third party for the November elections, which threatened to split the conservative vote.

A third party could act as a spoiler, presenting a “very serious danger” that Mr. Ortega’s far-left party could retake the presidency through the ballot box, they warned.

Nicaragua’s past left-wing and right-wing governments have been unable to change the country’s status as one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere — and one of the most corrupt.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters on April 18 that Mr. Trivelli had met with representatives of the governing Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), and that the United States was engaging with all parties in Nicaragua that are interested in transparent, democratic elections.

The current Nicaraguan president, Enrique Bolanos, took office in 2002 after a landslide victory over Mr. Ortega. But Mr. Bolanos’ own PLC members joined forces with the Sandinistas when he allowed the government to prosecute Liberal Party leader Arnoldo Aleman on corruption charges.

Aleman is serving a 20-year sentence for fraud and money laundering.

“We have been pleased to see strong grass-roots opposition to Aleman and his corrupt politics, and we urge the Nicaraguan people to continue to reject discredited figures of the country’s political past as represented by Aleman and former dictator Daniel Ortega,” Mr. McCormack said.

Mr. Calero and Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa, however, doubt that the apparent U.S. favorite, the National Liberal Alliance-Conservative Party led by Eduardo Montealegre, can defeat the Sandinistas.

“The American ambassador has been making statements saying there is room for a third party, but we know that third parties never win elections; they just change the result,” said Mr. Calero, who turns 75 this year.

“We would be shooing in Ortega,” he said, adding that the Sandinista leader could then team up with leftist Presidents Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Fidel Castro in Cuba.

“We would be building up a cadre of enemies of the United States,” Mr. Calero said.

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