If Daniel Ortega Returns in Nicaragua, the Axis of Evil Grows

Sunday is decision day in Nicaragua, where, thanks to generous funding from Venezeula’s evil nutcase Hugo Chavez, former Communist dictator and human rights abuser Daniel Ortega, is leading in presidential election polls.

If you weren’t around in the 80s, or are one of those people who rooted for the U.S. in the Cold War only after it was won, Mark Klugmann, writing on NRO, explains why you should care:

…The Sandinistas, whom we fought for a decade while Reagan was president, are on the verge of returning to power in Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega, their once and (perhaps) future president, appears to be on his way to a highly questionable, and lamentable, victory in the November 5 election.

The latest Zogby International poll shows Ortega in the lead with 35 percent of the vote, significantly ahead of all other contenders. Though a majority of voters are anti-Sandinista, their support is divided among several candidates.

If Ortega’s small plurality holds, that would be enough for him to win outright in the first round, the Sandinistas having pushed through a constitutional reform that allows a candidate with just 35 percent of the vote to win without a run off, if he has a five-point lead. Ortega, an authoritarian thug who in the words of then-Attorney General Ed Meese turned Nicaragua into “a terrorist country club,” giving refuge to the FMLN, the IRA, the ETA, the Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhof, the Tupamaros and others, is standing right on the threshold of recovering his throne……For some in Washington, the Nicaraguan election must look like small potatoes compared to the current crises in the Middle East and North Korea. But, in fact, it is part of the same battle and taking place on our doorstep. Ortega’s terrorist allies in Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea will be watching closely on election night. We should be, too, for the fate of Nicaragua is inextricably linked to that of rogue nations with a manifest strategic interest in controlling a key piece of continental real estate nor far from the United States.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has emerged as the Sandinistas’ new best friend. It is he who sponsors their well-funded electoral machine that may propel them back into office. Chavez has been using Venezuela’s oil money most insidiously, supporting Leftist candidates for election all over Latin America, and incorporating them into worldwide anti-American front.

International revolutionary cooperation is not a new idea. During a state visit by Ortega to Pyongyang in the 1980’s, Kim Il-Sung of North Korea suggested to his guest that their nations work together to render America “powerless.” Now Ortega might be in position to reap what was sowed those many years ago, partnering with Kim Il-Sung’s heir, Kim Jong-Il, the newest member of the nuclear club.

North Korea is already at work building closer relations with the radical Left in Latin America. In September of 2005, the vice president of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly (and sometimes arms dealer) visited both Cuba and Venezuela. In Caracas, he called for Venezuela and North Korea to respond jointly to “American pressure and threats.” Shortly thereafter, a North Korean economic delegation arrived in Venezuela. North Korea, faced with a severe energy shortage, happens to be a leading exporter of missiles. Chavez, flush with oil, is on an arms-buying spree.

The terror connection does not end there, for the Sandinistas are also longtime friends of Iran, another of Chavez’s anti-American cohort. In 1980, even as Jimmy Carter was sending hundreds of millions in aid to the Sandinistas, the Nicaraguans were feting the Iranian foreign minister–this while Americans were still being held hostage in Iran.

In September, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that he and Chavez are like “brothers.” Chavez staunchly defended the Iranian nuclear program at the U.N. General Assembly and vowed in a meeting in Havana that “[u]nder any scenario we are with you … [Venezuela] will stand together with Iran at all times and under any conditions.” That these terrorist alliances may soon have a branch office in the heart of Central America — essentially within walking distance of our undefended border – is a ghastly and terrifying proposition.

In recent days, despite the white-hot battle for control of the Congress, U.S. Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce, Pete Hoekstra, Tom Tancredo and others have sent clear public warnings to Nicaraguan voters about the stakes in their election, reminding them that one of the terrorists serving a life sentence for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was found carrying five Sandinista-issued Nicaraguan passports.

Certainly, a Nicaragua that returns to tropical socialism will be a domestic disaster, as it was during the 1980’s. But a Nicaragua that opens its arms to murderous radicalism poses a threat for America and the world. Daniel Ortega is poised, once again, to place his nation’s people and territory in service to the globe’s most deadly tyrannies.

If warnings fall on deaf ears, and Ortega returns to power, it would be more than a simple repeat of history. The technology and mechanics of terrorism have advanced these twenty years, even as biological and nuclear weapons have proliferated. Moreover, a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran could be in position, with an ally so close to our porous frontier, to wreak the havoc we once thought only the Soviet Union could ever bring home.

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