Russia pushed back against U.S. attempts Wednesday to rally the U.N. Security Council against Nicaragua, with Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. accusing the Trump administration of resuming “colonial traditions” in its call for more robust international oversight of the Central American nation.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the new president this month for the Security Council, used the sessions to call on the Security Council to confront the deadly violence that has left 300 people dead in Nicaragua. But Russia and other supporters of Nicaragua accused the council of meddling in the affairs of a sovereign nation.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vassily Nebenzia, said the United States may want people to think it cares about Nicaragua, but is merely deploying “subversive policies” toward Managua that date back 30 years.
“We call on Washington to eschew the colonial traditions and attempts to influence the situation in Nicaragua,” said Nebenzia, noting the Iran-Contra affair, when senior members of the Reagan administration secretly funded Nicaraguan rebel groups fighting the Sandinista-led government.
Haley responded after the meeting.
“I will remind you that the ones who took opposition on the human rights issues were Russia, China and Bolivia,” Haley told reporters. “I don’t think there is any surprise there.”
Russia, along with Bolivia and China, led this week’s effort to block the Security Council from holding the meeting at all. The diplomats argued the United Nations should not be interfering in Nicaragua’s internal affairs if they don’t “threaten international peace and security.”
Bolivia has long been an ally of Nicaragua, but Russia and China also have interests in the small Central American nation. Russia is building its security relationship with Managua, selling the Managua government tanks and weapons and got approval to build a law enforcement center near the Pacific coast.
China has also been investing in Nicaragua, including investors developing plans for a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal, which would compete with the Panama Canal and has fueled dreams in Nicaragua of eventually becoming a global shipping power.
Other countries such as Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Kuwait also expressed concern about improperly meddling in Nicaragua’s affairs, but chose not to call for a vote that could have derailed the meeting.
Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Denis Moncada accused members of the Security Council with interfering with its internal affairs and violating the U.N Charter since many members agreed that the issues didn’t threaten international security.
More than 300 people have been killed since the Ortega government responded with military force to student demonstrations over cuts to pension benefits. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report last month blaming his government for the violent repression of opposition protests. Ortega accused the U.N. team of fueling the violence and kicked out the human rights team.
Russia hit on a sensitive subject. Washington has a long history of meddling in Latin America, including throwing its support for military regimes and efforts to overthrow leftist governments.
Haley said the United States cannot ignore what is happening in Nicaragua as it “continues to decline into a failed, corrupt and dictatorial state.” She repeatedly pointed to Venezuela as a potential example of why the international community must pay greater attention.
“Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro are cut from the same corrupt cloth. They are both students of the same failed ideology. And they are both dictators who live in fear of their own people,” Haley said.
© 2018 McClatchy Washington Bureau
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