September 25, 2007

IN THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF VIOLETA CHA- morro's term. the United States intervened quietly, pri marily as the most important of several international aid donors, pushing privatization. budget cuts and layoffs, trade liberalization, and other common elements of an IMP-style austerity package U.S. aid also aimed, as it does in ot.her parts of Central America and the developing world, to foster a more conservative and pro-free-market social landscape, by bankrolling private sector think-tanks, business associations and domesticated unions, and by influencing public school curricula. But this summer, under pressure from Sen. Jesse Helms. the Bush Administration withheld over SlOt) million in aid, demanding dnstic reforms in the leadership of Nicaragua's police force and the return of confiscated property, particularly to U.S. cnizens. Sandinistas fear that U.S. demands to "professionalize" the police could lead to more evictions of workers and peasants from Lands in dispute, strikebreaking. andteargassing of protestors. Bush Administration and newspaper portrayals of Chamono "in bed with the Sandinistai' serve to delegitimize bipartisan compromise and the role of the FSLN as a legal political party. The Bush Administration's actions. perhaps a bone thrown to the Republican Right in a difficult election year. were shortsighted even if only U.S. interests are considered. Violeta Chamorro ought to be the U.S. government's dream of a Central American leader. She is pm-business, skillfully coopting revolutionary forces and putting a motherly face on economic reforms that, at least in the short term, devastate the poor. Apparently some policy makers cannot accept Charnorro's firm belief that reconciliation is best for a nation torn apart by war.

Tags: Nicaragua, Violeta Chamorro, US policy, foreign aid

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