U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Latin America to remain alert on the presence of Russians in the region, with links to authoritarian leaders in Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, who “sell arms, propagate lies, disseminates all kinds of propaganda.”
At the start of a tour in South America, the top U.S. diplomat also called on the region to be cautious with the presence of China, which “often injects corrosive capital.”
While visiting Paraguay on Saturday, Pompeo spoke with Voice of America about the United States’ approach regarding Nicaragua.
Pompeo said, “We want the Nicaraguan people to have all the great things that they’re entitled to, that they so desperately want, and [President Daniel] Ortega and his wife both need to change their ways in order to give Nicaragua that very opportunity.”
After calling China a hypocrite, Pompeo urged the countries of the region not to tolerate Russia escalating tension in countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua.
In the case of Nicaragua, Pompeo recalled that Russia opened a police training center and a satellite complex near the capital in recent years.
“Like China in Venezuela, the results of Russia’s participation in Nicaragua, to put it mildly, are not good. The citizens of Nicaragua are suffering. They are suffering at the hands of a leadership that is dedicated to flagrant abuses against human rights, represses freedom of expression and refuses to admit its own extraordinary incompetence,” said Pompeo.
In fact, this week a mission composed of Russian officials concluded a meeting to address several cooperation programs, which will include the delivery to Nicaragua of more than 550 buses for urban and interurban use. It is not known if these are donated. Another meeting of a mixed commission was scheduled for 2020 in Moscow.
In January of this year, another Russian mission was also in the country, when agreements related to disaster prevention were signed. And although Daniel Ortega faces a serious problem of financing public spending, so far Russia has not handed over any funds.