by Charles Norman Todd
Here’s an interesting power play: The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick threatened the business community in Nicaragua on Wednesday. Who was that? Yes, you read it right: the business community in Nicaragua was threatened by the U.S. State Department.
Zoellick offered an ultimatum: either stop supporting political parties we don’t like, or else the United States will cease to do business with you. The ultimatum came on the second day of Zoellick’s trip in which he said, gathered before a group of business men and women, “Your opportunities will be lost.”
In particular, Zoellick opposes (on behalf of the United States) a coalition that has emerged between political parties on the left and the right who have come together for the joint purpose of unseating Nicaragua’s President before the 2006 elections.
Surprise, surprise. Zoellick claims he is justified in interfering in Nicaragua’s affairs because the Bush administration wants to “preserve democracy.”
But it gets even better. Nicaragua has still not ratified CAFTA – that pernicious piece of neoliberal investor rights protection that has masqueraded as a so-called “free-trade agreement”. Although opposition to CAFTA has waned somewhat in recent months, Nicaragua’s National Assembly remains nonetheless unable to come to an agreement. Thus enter Zoellick, dispatched by his boss to Nicaragua to champion the cause of democracy by casually dropping threats. Indeed, Zoellick even said that if Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is elected in the presidential election next year that the U.S. would reduce its economic aid. Hence: the U.S. is really concerned with democracy as long as it goes our way.