Dark Alliance - the New York Times on Nicaragua

Thursday 16 December 2010 by CEPRID

by toni solo, November 20th 2010

December 10th this year will be the sixth anniversary of the death of Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Gary Webb. Webb wrote a series of articles in the late 1990s revealing that the CIA facilitated large scale narcotics imports from Latin America into the United States during the 1980s. Following those articles, Webb’s career was destroyed by a campaign of professional vilification led by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. But Webb’s account was later vindicated by reports from the CIA and the Justice Department, reports that were barely covered at all by the New York Times.

>From Gary Webb to Judith Miller

The same New York Times that covered up for the CIA by trashing Gary Webb also published false propaganda by writers like Judith Miller used to justify the criminal destruction of Iraq. It is absurd to expect honest coverage of foreign affairs from the New York Times. Blake Schmidt’s November 13th article, "A Dispute in Nicaragua Reopens Old Wounds", confirms that truth and also confirms that Judith Miller-style journalism is alive and well at the New York Times.

Before going on to point out the dishonesty of Schmidt’s article, here is part of the self-exculpatory apology the New York Times editors wrote to their readers following the Miller fiasco buried away on the inside pages of its edition of May 26th 2004. (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0526-15.htm)

"..we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.

The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on "regime change" in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks."

Substitute "Nicaragua" or "Cuba" or "Venezuela" for "Iraq" and you have an exactly similar situation in relation to the New York Times’ coverage of Latin America in general and - in the case of Blake Schmidt’s article - of Nicaragua.

Nicaragua’s political opposition - now very clearly in a minority - spearheaded by embittered, unscrupulous intellectuals like Carlos Fernando Chamorro and electorally-nowhere politicians like Edmundo Jarquin, Chamorro’s brother-in-law, relentlessly promote counterfactual propaganda about Nicaragua. The fundamental propaganda line is that the Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega seeks to impose a corrupt family dictatorship in Nicaragua.

Collapse of the Nicaraguan opposition

Schmidt’s article acknowledges what even right wing political polls confirm. The Nicaraguan opposition parties are in complete disarray, desperately trying to cobble together a plausible candidacy for the November 2011 presidential elections. Schmidt points out that President Ortega has around 45% popular support in national opinion polls. But neglects to note that between 25% to 30% of people when asked how they might vote are undecided.

That means the political opposition in Nicaragua are currently struggling to consolidate support at or below just 30% of the Nicaraguan electorate. Schmidt’s article misleads by omission, what the New York Times editors in their Miller disavowal call "insufficiently qualified" information. The outstanding news story in Nicaragua is the categorical collapse of the Nicaraguan political opposition to the Sandinista-led coalition government. Blake Schmidt and his disingenuous editors at the New York Times take that reality and invert it into a Sandinista push for dictatorship.

An interesting aspect of the New York Times article is that the text focuses almost exclusively on this "Ortega dictatorship" angle. The clear reason for that skewed, counterfactual focus is that in every area of Nicaragua’s national life the current Nicaraguan government has been exceptionally successful. The government has reduced poverty and sustained investment through the worst international recession for decades.

Nicaragua enjoys record levels of exports. The Sandinista government has broadened access to education and health care. Within little more than a year, it had resolved the desperate energy crisis inherited on taking office. It has reactivated the country’s all-important agricultural economy. All this and much more explains Daniel Ortega’s positive poll ratings. None of those achievements figure in Blake Schmidt’s article.

Judith Miller-style invention

The underlying intellectual dishonesty of Blake Schmidt’s article culminates in the article’s last paragraph with a blatant fabrication : "Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo said in an interview that the re-election of Mr. Ortega could lead to dictatorship or conflict, adding that he would step down if Mr. Ortega won again."

Inquiring readers might ask why Schmidt offers no direct quotation if Morales Carazo spoke in an interview. The alleged remarks, if true, would be a devastating indictment by Nicaragua’s Vice-President of the President with whom he currently serves. The answer to this obvious question appeared in Nicaragua’s centre right El Nuevo Diario of November 16th.

There, Vice President Morales Carazo is quoted as follows, " ’I have never said in any interview that the re-election of Ortega could lead to a dictatorship or conflict’ nor ’added that I would step down if Señor Ortega were to win again.’ " (1) So it seems the reason no direct quote appears to back up Schmidt’s account is that his report of the Nicaraguan Vice-President’s remarks is a fabrication.

On the one hand sits reported speech - supposedly from an interview and yet without a direct quote - written by an ambitious young reporter, reviewed by editorial staff with long-standing animosity to Daniel Ortega. Against that, is the word of a genial veteran centre-right politician widely respected for his courage, sincerity and honesty across the political spectrum in Nicaragua and, too, in the United States, whose government funded Morales Carazo’s Contra to fight the Sandinistas during the 1980s.

Scene-setting in coordination with the US right wing

The balance there does not tip in favour of the New York Times. Nor is it likely to have been a coincidence that on November 17th following Schmidt’s article, extreme right-wing politicians and organizations held a conference on "Dangers in the Andes" from which Venezuela’s right wing daily El Universal reported comments by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, soon to be chairperson of the Congressional House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Ros-Lehtinen is a long time supporter of Luis Posada Corrales and Orlando Bosch, both self-acknowledged mass murderers. According to El Universal, Ros Lehtinen asserted, "The United States must cooperate with its partners in the region to fight ’the decline of democratic freedoms and human rights,’ led by the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador..." ( http://english.eluniversal.com/2010/11/17/en_pol_esp_ros-lehtinen-critici_17A4742091.shtml)

Schmidt’s article nicely set up the media commentary scene for the "Danger in the Andes" conference. It permitted delegates to answer reporters’ questions about the conference with possible lines like, "well, as the New York Times reported on November 13th, even Nicaragua’s Vice President regards dictatorship in Nicaragua as a real danger....." The timing and high government propaganda content of the New York Times article confirms the view that the Obama administration’s claims to want a new relationship with Latin America are fake. A regional offensive by the US government and its allies is well underway against progressive governments in the region.

Meretricious double standards

The bulk of Schmidt’s article consists of a meretricious, random build-up of facts taken out of context, juxtaposed with opinions cited to reinforce the article’s tendentious underlying double standards. Here, a reasonably thorough but by no means complete analysis follows for those interested enough to look at the nuts and bolts of this New York Times exercise in psy-warfare. But two obvious double standards stand out.

Firstly, while the New York Times and its writer Blake Schmidt take for granted the wheeling and dealing that is an integral part of the US political and legal system, they apply a different standard to Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan opposition deride what they call the "Pacto" or the "Deal" between the Sandinistas and former President Arnoldo Aleman’s wing of the Liberal opposition in Nicaragua. What they are referring to is an operational understanding between those two political forces which continue to represent an overwhelming majority of opinion in the country.

That tacit agreement has enabled Nicaragua’s political and legal system to function since the late 1990s. It is difficult to see what difference there is between that agreement and what the US media approvingly refer to as "bipartisan consensus" in the United States. Schmidt and his editors resolutely omit that fundamental political reality in Nicaragua, making it impossible for anyone not familiar with Nicaragua to understand the events of the last three years.

The second glaring double standard applied in Schmidt’s article is in relation to development cooperation aid from Venezuela. If one looks at development cooperation aid to Nicaragua over the last few years in terms of loans and grants, the country’s non governmental sector has received well over a billion dollars from North America and Europe. But it is hard to see what that money has achieved apart from keeping a cosseted NGO managerial class in overpaid jobs and fancy 4-wheel drive vehicles. Not one cent of that money has been submitted to oversight by the Nicaraguan legislature.

US or European or Nicaraguan corporate media outlets do not comment on that fact. But foreign commentators on Nicaragua persistently parrot Nicaraguan opposition demands that Venezuela’s development cooperation should be subject to oversight by the Nicaraguan legislature. That cooperation has been delivered via solid private sector and cooperative sector investment whose encouraging results are clear and well documented by international organizations like UNESCO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Such double standards permeate Schmidt’s article.

Re-heating the Contra

Schmidt’s article distorts the political reality in Nicaragua right from the start, reporting, "President Daniel Ortega’s push to stay in power using a contested interpretation of the Constitution has reignited the fury of former contras who fought his Sandinista government in the 1980s, with one former rebel taking up arms in the mountains and another vowing to oust him at the polls."

The clear impression is that the report refers to large numbers of former Contra fighters. An honest report would have qualified that information - to use the NYT’s own terminology - with adjectives like "some", or adjectival phrases like "a few" or "a small minority of". Thus, Schmidt leaves out the fact that former Contra fighters overwhelmingly support, or at the very least accept, the Sandinista FSLN party leadership against whom they fought over twenty years ago.

The Sandinista government has rapidly met longstanding neglected demands of the great majority of those fighters for land, housing, pensions and financial credit that previous right wing governments did not. Only a minority of former Contra fighters still oppose the government. Virtually none are talking about resorting to taking up arms again, despite Nicaragua’s history since the 1990s being plagued by former Contra fighters taking up arms in order to demand economic concessions from successive governments.

Government popularity

In the next paragraph, Schmidt writes "But in the absence of a post-cold-war sponsor, Nicaragua’s opposition is struggling to coordinate an electoral offensive against Mr. Ortega, whose approval ratings rose to 45 percent last month with the help of his Venezuelan-financed response to flooding that killed scores of people and forced thousands to flee their homes."

The clear implication here is that the US might do well to step in and help the Nicaraguan opposition, in line with the extreme right wing "Danger in the Andes" conference agenda. Schmidt also suggests that President Ortega’s popularity only reached 45% as a result of the government’s effective response to the widespread social and infrastructure problems caused by the untypical rainy season culminating in severe flooding through September.

But President Ortega’s popularity was already up in the 40% range before that flooding and has shown steady improvement through 2009 to date. President Ortega’s popularity - tens of percentage points ahead of any opposition politician - results from the broad range of government policies starting on the first day he took office when he slashed the salaries of Ministers and their senior officials. His government immediately implemented policies of free education and free health services.

Since that time in January 2007, the Nicaraguan government has received substantial funding from all the usual international financial institutions active in the region. Traditional aid donors in North America, Asia and Europe have continued long standing support, despite politically motivated efforts by the US and European governments to suspend aid so as to force political concessions. Foreign cooperation with Nicaragua also comes from a wide range of other investment sources ranging from Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea, to Iran, Libya and Russia, to Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela.

A faithful report on the reasons for President Ortega’s popularity would recognize the solidity and breadth of Nicaragua’s foreign economic, financial and commercial relations. In comparison to the lack-lustre, ideologically hidebound policies of previous administrations since 1990, these relations have been positively transformed under the FSLN government. Schmidt’s article ignores all this broad-based, hard won support, mentioning only aid from Venezuela, as if he were writing from a US State Department propaganda crib.

The Nicaraguan opposition and reconciliation

Apart from the general disinformation from one paragraph to the next, the juxtaposition of remarks tells its own story too. Paragraph three of Schmidt’s report quotes septuagenarian aspiring presidential candidate Fabio Gadea saying “Chávez is propping up Ortega’s dictatorship”. One might have expected some balanced response to that, in the spirit of the New York Times’ alleged anxiety to sufficiently qualify controversial information.

But no. The next paragraph reinforces Gadea’s unlikely claim to be defending democracy. Only much later, in a different context, does Schmidt mention that Gadea is disgraced former President Arnoldo Aleman’s brother-in-law and a leading member of Aleman’s political party all through the abysmally corrupt administrations of Aleman and Aleman’s successor as president, Enrique Bolaños. Fabio Gadea himself omits that Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez also provided not insubstantial development aid to the Aleman administration for infrastructure projects. Schmidt appears to be too ignorant of that history to point it out.

After quoting another factitious threat from the lone former Contra rebel-in-the-mountain, Schmidt tries and fails to link that isolated figure in some meaningful way to the Contra War of the 1980s. He writes, "Nicaragua has spent the past two decades trying to heal from the civil war that tore the country apart and left 35,000 people dead. Mr. Ortega, elected in 2006 with a former contra as his running mate, has distributed roofing materials, pensions and property titles to families of contras who turned in weapons as part of a 1987 peace accord."

Schmidt completely erases the role of the United States in fomenting, financing and directing that war. By imposing ahistorical discontinuities, he misrepresents extraordinarily disparate and complex phases of Nicaragua’s recent history which involved persistent uprisings of one kind or another well into the current century. Schmidt fails to note that President Ortega has indeed successfully reconciled erstwhile bitter enemies who fought each other during that US government fomented war.

Assisted by former determined foe Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, President Ortega has been successful in national reconciliation because he reversed the systematic betrayal of Contra fighters by double-dealing earlier governments whose leaders are now directing Nicaragua’s opposition parties. That is another reason why President Daniel Ortega is so far ahead of those opposition leaders in the opinion polls.

People in Nicaragua generally welcome the steady transformation being made in Nicaragua by the Sandinista government in favour of the impoverished majority. That positive change is being effected regardless of people’s political affiliation. None of this reality is apparent from Schmidt’s account, despite isolated allusions to the Sandinista government’s anti poverty focus. He is self-evidently peddling Nicaraguan opposition and US State Department propaganda.

Presidential re-election and the Supreme Court

Schmidt moves on to the issue of presidential re-election but again fails to provide sufficient qualification for the controversial information he imparts. He writes, "Lacking the votes in Congress to amend the Constitution, Mr. Ortega turned to the Supreme Court. Six judges from the governing Sandinista party ruled that the constitutional ban did not apply to Mr. Ortega, but the ruling immediately caused an uproar because it was made when no opposition judges were present."

In the first place, Schmidt fails to place the issue of re-election in its regional context. Secondly, he fails to acknowledge how the Supreme Court dealt previously with another politically sensitive case, the exoneration of Arnoldo Aleman, permitting him to resume normal political life. That absence of crucial qualifying information operates in line with Nicaraguan opposition propaganda, making President Ortega’s efforts to secure the right to re-election seem extremely sinister.

In fact, US allies like former President Uribe of Colombia and former President Arias of Costa Rica in recent years both used constitutional procedures to secure their right to re-election. Colombia’s Supreme Court eventually found that President Uribe had suborned at least one legislator in order to get sufficient votes to push through a change to the Colombian constitution enabling Uribe to run for re-election. Oscar Arias’s first attempt in 2000 to change Costa Rica’s constitution so as to allow him to run for re-election failed. In 2003, aggressive lobbying by his supporters lead the Costa Rican Supreme Court finally to rule in his favour.

The precedent of the Nicaraguan Supreme Court ruling, exonerating Arnoldo Aleman, in 2009 is important because it was the unusual absence of Sandinista magistrates that made it possible. Similarly , the unusual absence of Liberal magistrates when the Constitutional Division of Nicaragua’s Supreme Court ruled on Daniel Ortega’s right to re-election suggests the strong probability of a tacit agreement by both sides similar to the one very clearly involved in the exoneration of Arnoldo Aleman in January 2009.

One also wonders why Schmidt fails to note that in September this year the Supreme Court sat in plenary session. The session included Liberal party aligned deputy magistrates substituting for absent Liberal colleagues. That plenary session ratified the decision taken earlier by the Constitutional Division in favour of Daniel Ortega’s right to stand for re-election, as well as that of all Nicaragua’s local government mayors.

Nor does Schmidt note that all bar one of the various opposition party aligned officials returned to their posts early in November. In the case of the Supreme Court, not one of the returning Liberal magistrates demurred from a single ruling made in their absence, including the ruling on President Ortega’s right to re-election. That in itself represents yet more confirmation of the tacit agreement between the respective authorities of the Sandinista FSLN party and the Aleman Liberals.

The Constitution and a divided opposition

Schmidt goes on to write "Mr. Ortega then had the Constitution reprinted in September to include an old — and, some argue, expired — clause that sanctioned the extensions. Sandinista judges have also replaced the Supreme Court president with one of their own, rounding out Mr. Ortega’s control of the court."

The facts are that the National Assembly’s Executive Board ordered the reprinting of the Nicaraguan Constitution. Daniel Ortega does not have the constitutional authority to do so. The decision was taken by the Executive Board with, again, the mysterious absence of the Board’s Aleman Liberal party members. This point is important because Schmidt gives the completely false impression that President Ortega consistently violates the Nicaraguan constitution. The opposite is true, he follows it to the letter.

Similarly, Alba Luz Ramos assumed the functions of the outgoing President of the Supreme Court in June 2010 since she was the most senior magistrate. It was an uncontroversial procedure consonant with long standing practice. Aleman Liberal party aligned magistrates subsequently abandoned normal working while continuing to negotiate their demands with their Sandinista colleagues. Luz Ramos was confirmed as President by her colleagues on the Supreme Court in October. That election was ratified by the reincorporation to the court of the previously absent Liberal magistrates in early November, with no demurral on their part as regards serving under Luz Ramos.

In fact, every constitutional, legal or legislative move by the Sandinista government so far has been invariably in strict accordance with the letter of the Nicaraguan Constitution. The clause referred to by Schmidt was one included in the Constitution to facilitate a period of transition in 1990 when the national elections were brought forward from November to February so as to facilitate an end to the decade-long war. The early transition meant that the periods of various senior official posts would expire, leaving those offices in an institutional limbo. While other components of that Constitution were duly revoked by the legislature, that clause was never revoked, remaining valid until it is.

The Nicaraguan opposition have completely failed to use their de facto majority in the National Assembly to resist the FSLN government’s astute political and legal strategy. But none of that fundamental context figures in Schmidt’s report. At no point does Schmidt mention that, on paper, the Nicaraguan opposition have a majority in the legislature, albeit short of the two-thirds majority needed to change the Constitution. That is the root cause of the political impasse that has dogged Nicaraguan political life ever since the 2006 national elections.

Even so, the Nicaraguan opposition have failed to mobilise effectively around that majority. Their failure stems from the bitter division of the two main opposition currents - one supporting Eduardo Montealegre, and one supporting Arnoldo Aleman - over strategy. Aleman’s supporters have a bipartisan stop-go working relationship with the Sandinistas. By contrast, Eduardo Montealegre’s supporters have little influence in Nicaragua’s institutions and have done all they can to sabotage normal institutional life in the country. It is impossible to make sense of events in Nicaragua over the last two years without understanding that reality.

Yet another omission in Schmidt’s article is that the two main opposition leaders are both in trouble over corruption charges. Despite his January 2009 exoneration, Arnoldo Aleman still has other corruption charges pending. Eduardo Montealegre is currently using his parliamentary immunity to avoid indictment for multi-million dollar fraud on charges resulting from an investigation by the country’s independent audit body, the Office of the Controller General.

Ever since January 2007, the country’s legislature, the National Assembly, has persistently held boycotts of the legislature’s working sessions, sometimes for months on end. All of this context explains yet further why Daniel Ortega is relatively popular, while opposition politicians are so discredited. Without that context, Blake Schmidt’s article offers a hopelessly skewed account of political events in Nicaragua over the period about which he is writing.

Rather than offer a coherent narrative of recent developments, Schmidt presents an aleatory concatenation of quotes and events which only make sense given the false "Ortega dictatorship" logic he imposes on them. He harps regularly on occasional episodes of reported intimidation by Sandinista demonstrators. But he makes not a single mention of various incidents since 2007 in which Liberal Party politicians have used extremely violent demonstrations by their supporters to try and get their way.

Finale - egregious omission and misrepresentation

Perhaps the strangest aspect of Schmidt’s reporting is that he mysteriously cuts off his account at the very point that the opposition officials who had boycotted Nicaragua’s institutions for several months returned to normal working. This happened over a week before the byline on Schmidt’s article in the New York Times. That political shift is a major development in Nicaraguan politics because it indicates a dramatic change in the Liberal opposition parties’ strategy.

Schmidt similarly omits to mention that all the opposition political parties legally eligible to participate in the presidential elections of 2011 have registered with the Supreme Electoral Council. All the Nicaraguan opposition political parties have been saying for months they would never participate in the 2011 electoral process unless the electoral magistrates were changed. The electoral magistrates have not changed. Even so, all the eligible Nicaraguan political parties have duly registered with the Supreme Electoral Council.

The bewildering accumulation of misinformation by omission in Schmidt’s article continues right into the final paragraphs with a summary account of the role of Venezuelan development cooperation within the ALBA framework. Schmidt observes , "Mr. Ortega, who was president in the 1980s but lost an election in 1990 as Soviet support waned, has received at least $1.4 billion from Mr. Chávez in oil, aid and investment to fuel his fight against poverty and illiteracy, figures from the central bank show."

The general consensus is that President Ortega lost the 1990 election because people were sick of the US government fomented Contra war and the terrible suffering and privation people in Nicaragua endured as a result. But that general consensus among Nicaraguans is inadmissible to the New York Times. Schmidt rewrites Nicaraguan history and also offers a cartoon strip account of the development cooperation relationship between Venezuela and Nicaragua.

In January 2007 Nicaragua joined what is now the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA), a regional trade and development cooperation framework of eight countries led by Venezuela and Cuba. Nicaragua has benefited from a complex set of agreements negotiated with its ALBA partners. Schmidt truncates that formal process into the personal whim of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Despite the crude caricature, Schmidt is right to report that ALBA has indeed helped Nicaragua with well over US$1 billion in development cooperation support of various kinds since January 2007.

A genuine report would compare the amounts other bilateral and multilateral development cooperation resources have contributed over that same period. These add up to several billion dollars more. Schmidt gives the impression that President Ortega is damagingly dependent on Venezuelan development cooperation when that is not the case. The current Sandinista government has a broad range of development cooperation agreements with a number of countries and international financial institutions of which, admittedly, Venezuela’s is perhaps the most important.

But the importance of Venezuela’s development cooperation lies not in the amount but rather in the terms on which it is offered, based on socialist inspired humanitarian solidarity and cooperation and an impulse for regional integration. Here too Schmidt spins another Nicaraguan opposition-made yarn, "The money has expanded Mr. Ortega’s political base and given him more of a stake in the economy through a network of companies that blur the lines between his Sandinista party, the state and the private sector, said Francisco Lainez, who founded Nicaragua’s central bank."

It is undeniable that corporate funded political processes in the United States have led to massive government (ie. taxpayer) bailouts of private sector businesses. That reality has shown the utter confusion in the United States between political parties, the State and the private sector. In any healthy political body that would certainly be cause, not just for legitimate concern, but for widespread criminal prosecutions. It is far from clear why similar concerns to those prompted by the collapse of the US economic system should be raised by Venezuela’s and Nicaragua’s application of ALBA’s sustainable development model.

The ALBA model leverages the benefits of long term credit productively invested by Nicaraguan and Venezuelan joint venture companies operating in full compliance with Nicaraguan law. The funds channeled into development cooperation programs and commercial investments in the agribusiness and energy sectors are supervised by the relevant ALBA institutions. Contrary to what Schmidt’s chosen quote implies, the companies are owned neither by Daniel Ortega nor by the Sandinista FSLN party.

Close to the ignominious end of his extended disinformation exercise, Schmidt throws out another gratuitous distortion of events in relation to disputes over mismanagement in a few of Nicaragua’s municipal authorities. Schmidt refers to the Nicaraguan coordinator of the World Bank related Social and Economic Investment Fund (FISE), Nelson Artola, averring "He also leads the Sandinistas’ carrot-and-stick approach to building political support for Mr. Ortega’s re-election, distributing Venezuelan aid and government funds to mayors who publicly back Mr. Ortega. Less compliant mayors have been ousted, with the police dragging one from his office in June after an eight-day standoff."

Schmidt neglects to point out that FISE is in fact a body funded in large part by the World Bank. The Sandinista government’s administration of FISE is different from that of previous administrations in that it is much less corrupt and far more successful. Schmidt’s reference to disputes with elected mayors has to do with the Sandinista government’s attempts to improve local democracy, educating elected local government representatives about their powers when faced with inefficient or corrupt mayors.

In at least two of the cases referred to by Schmidt the mayors were members of the Sandinista FSLN. Schmidt’s interpretation once more turns the reality upside down to reinforce his article’s false argument that President Ortega’s FSLN government is undemocratic and heading for a dictatorship. That argument is topped off in the article’s final paragraph by Schmidt’s disgraceful misrepresentation of the views of Nicaragua’s Vice President Jaime Morales.


1. “No dije que si se reelige Ortega habrá otra dictadura” Edgard Barberena, El Nuevo Diario - 15/11/2010 - “Nunca he dicho en ninguna entrevista que la reelección del señor Ortega puede llevar a una dictadura o conflicto” ni “agregué que me apartaría si el señor Ortega ganara nuevamente”.

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