But what the Nicaraguan-Iranian relationship lacks in substance, it makes up for in rhetoric.
“Our two countries have common interests, enemies and goals,” Ahmadinejad said during his first visit in 2007, after touring a poor slum in Managua. “We may be far apart, but we are close in heart.”
Sandinista official Jacinto Suarez, the party’s secretary of international relations, said Ahmadinejad will be “welcomed” back here on Tuesday, and that Nicaragua sympathizes with Iran’s plight. “Iran is being demonized and persecuted – the country is a prisoner of the new colonial wars,” Suarez told wire service Acan-Efe.
Sandinista officials stress that Nicaragua is a sovereign nation that can confederate with any country it wants, including Iran.
Despite the concerns abroad, Ortega is riding a wave of popular support here.
The former revolutionary was recently reelected with a commanding 62 percent of the vote, and Nicaragua’s economy – feathered with $500 million of annual largess from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez – is growing steadily. The ruling Sandinista Front, a well-oiled political machine whose apparatchiks operate in lockstep obsequiousness, also won a supermajority in the legislature, giving Ortega full control over all four branches of government. Even the president’s public-approval rating is uncommonly high, despite opposition claims that his reelection was illegal.
But critics claims some of Ortega’s foreign policy moves – such as recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, backing Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi until the bitter end, and publicly expressing its “profound condolences for death of dear leader Kim Jong-il” – appear to driven more by contrarian instinct than national interest.