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Isolated Nicaragua senses opportunity in Honduras crisis

President Ortega has quickly positioned himself – alongside Chávez and Castro – as a champion of democracy.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, Honduras’s ousted President Manuel Zelaya, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez, and Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa attend a Bolivian Alliance for the Americas meeting in Nicaragua June 29.

Miraflores Palace/Reuters

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Every crisis presents an opportunity.

For Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, whose government has been on the defensive since last year's alleged electoral fraud, the military coup in Honduras has presented a golden opportunity to go on the offensive.

"We are launching a battle for democracy," announced Mr. Ortega at a June 29 meeting of Latin American leaders, flanked by leftist presidents Raul Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

In the hours following last Sunday's ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, Ortega quickly jockeyed himself into a leadership role in the region's condemnation of the coup.

Taking advantage of the fact that Nicaragua was already scheduled to host a June 29 summit of Central American presidents, Ortega also invited the leftist members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and other Latin American leaders to attend.

Within less than 24 hours, presidents and representatives from 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries had descended upon Managua, converting the city into what the Sandinista government glowingly called "the capital of democracy."

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