As much as the turbulence in Venezuela dominates news from Latin America, there are also ominous developments in Nicaragua. They could lead to a stronger dictatorial fist ruling that Central American country and its enhancing already strong alliances with rogue nations such as Iran.
Since Marxist strongman Daniel Ortega won the presidency in 2006, more than 80,000 refugees have fled Nicaragua out of fear of losing their lives. These range from Roman Catholics and Jews to journalists, and small businessmen.
Their common denominator is they are people who have opposed the onetime "Commandante Ortega" who first came to power in 1979 following a revolution backed by Russia and China and was unseated as president in an internationally watched election in 1990.
"And it will grow worse, as Nicaragua increasingly moves toward becoming another North Korea," Rafael Estrada, a Nicaraguan businessman living in the U.S., told Newsmax last week.
Estrada wants to do something about the mounting crisis in his homeland. He recently launched a group known as "Nicaraguans for Security and Prosperity" to help the victims of Ortega's reign who want out.
His organization works to resettle refugees from Nicaragua in Costa Rica, Panama, Spain, the U.S. — any country that will legally take them in. "Nicaraguans for Security and Prosperity" looks at each case of refugees individually and helps them resettle. Estrada’s group is a 501-c-3, meaning it has tax deductibility as a charitable organization.
Estrada's organization also promotes and teaches democratic principles, the concept of the free market, and corruption-free public administration. It is essential Nicaraguan refugees understand these things, he told us, "if they are to return to a post-Ortega Nicaragua."
A graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, and onetime deputy sheriff in the Prairie State, Estrada is the great grandson and great grand-nephew of two Nicaraguan presidents. He fully expects the ranks of those seeking asylum abroad will mushroom as Ortega tightens his grip on Nicaragua.
Assistance of anti-Ortega refugees comes at a time the strongman is moving closer to Iran. Last year, Mario Barquero Baltodano, Nicaragua's ambassador to Tehran, told the "Iran Daily" the relationship between his country and Iran "[e]xcellent! We are friendly countries and respect each other. In multilateral organizations, such as the UN, we always support each other."
The ambassador also pointed out "the two states have many historical similarities. Both sides' revolutions – the Islamic Revolution and the Nicaraguan Revolution – produced victories in the same year (1979)."
The bond between Nicaragua and Iran is yet another reason Nicaraguans not enamored with Ortega are fleeing. But they will return when Ortega is finally gone, Estrada predicts, "and we will make sure they have the tools with which to rebuild a free Nicaragua."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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