The state of the country's military is reflected in the conclusion by U.S. officials that Nicaraguan officers supplied the SA-7 shoulder-fired missiles that were intended to be sold to Colombian narco-terrorists last month. The purchasers were actually undercover Nicaraguan police and U.S. drug agents. The sellers caught in the sting stayed behind bars only for a short time before Sandinista lawyers got them released.
The message of disapproval from Washington is being delivered personally this week on a mission to Managua by Rose Likins, a tough foreign service officer who serves as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. She is known to speak bluntly and will express outrage at the use of extra-parliamentary maneuvers to return to effective power the Sandinista former president, Daniel Ortega.
Ortega is collaborating with the disgraced President Arnoldo Aleman, the Liberal Party stalwart convicted of massive corruption who is under house arrest and is virtually a free man. They have combined to thwart the efforts of the Bolanos government to destroy the Soviet surface-to-air missiles Nicaragua collected during Sandinista rule.
The return of the Sandinistas 15 years after the voters of Nicaragua dismissed them comes at a time when the anti-American, anti-capitalist Chavez is arming Venezuela. In addition to the widely publicized purchase of 100,000 AK-47 automatic rifles from Moscow, Chavez is also buying 24 Super Tucano combat aircraft from Brazil.
Leftist presidents in Brazil and Chile turn a blind eye to the Bolivarian Revolution. The situation goes virtually unnoticed on Capitol Hill. At her confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was criticized by Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd and Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee for being unkind to Chavez (who has profanely and inexcusably attacked her). President Bush hardly ever mentions Latin America, but Rice brings a voice to the Cabinet that appreciates the infection spreading throughout America's backyard.