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Latin America: Nicaraguan Leader Asks for $1 Billion in Anti-Drug Aid

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has asked the US government for $1 billion to help Central American countries fight drug trafficking. Ortega has sent a formal request for funds to buy helicopters, boats, radar equipment and anything else necessary to fight the drugs war in the region.

The request comes only two weeks after Ortega said he didn't trust the DEA because its operations mask "unexpected interests" and "terrible things." Ortega could well have been recalling his first stint at Nicaragua's leaders in the 1980s, when the US attempted to portray his government as drug smugglers while -- at the least -- turning a blind eye to cocaine running operations connected to the US-backed Contra rebels attempting to overthrow his socialist government.

But Nicaraguan governments since 1990, including Ortega's current government, have cooperated with the DEA in the face of cocaine trafficking organizations using the isthmus as a smuggling corridor.

Ortega said US officials had "reacted positively" to his request, although the US government has not commented officially on the matter. "If the United States government has the luxury of spending more than $400 billion on the war in Iraq, it can give $1 billion to Central America," he said.

The US government has provided several billion dollars to the Colombian government to fight drug trafficking and leftist guerrillas there, and is on the verge on announcing a large anti-drug aid deal with Mexico. Despite his concerns about the DEA and US dislike for his government [Ed: and despite the failure and injustices of the war on drugs and the harm the program will undoubtedly do to people in his country], Ortega seems to want a piece of the anti-drug aid money pie.

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Old wine in new bottles

During the Cold War, any two-bit dictator and ragged mountain man who claimed to need help to fight "communism" was showered with money by the U.S. government, practically just for the asking. Communism may have gone away, but not the desire of our government to build a cadre of "reliable" puppets that dance at the end of a string of dollars. Communism went away and "drugs" slid seamlessly into the crosshairs in the endless, self-perpetuating war that props up the military industries and sustains the world's largest exporter of military and civilian control equipment.

Is it a coincidence that the U.S. is at the same time the world's prime incarcerator? The domestic and foreign policies dove-tail in that the welfare of the people (e.g. medicinal cannabis and adequate pain relief) is ruthlessly suppressed so that the military-authoritarian industry can flourish. It is nothing short of treason.

Harry Fisher

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