Leaked cables say Nicaragua govt took bribes
MEXICO CITY: U.S. diplomats accuse Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government of taking bribes from drug traffickers and receiving "suitcases full of cash" from Venezuelan officials, according to confidential documents released this week by WikiLeaks. The leaked documents from the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua, allege that Ortega has used drug money to finance campaigns for the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The money from international drug traffickers is "usually in return for ordering Sandinista judges to allow traffickers caught by the police and military to go free," reads a May 5, 2006, cable from an embassy official.
The official said that in one 2005 case, a Supreme Court judge "coordinated a complicated scheme to make 609,000 dollars in drug money seized from two Colombians 'disappear' from a Supreme Court account."
Another Sandinista judge accused of complicity in the bribery scheme, Rafael Solis, denied that he took bribes, telling local Nicaraguan television station Channel 63 that the WikiLeaks documents are "baseless and have no credibility." Spokespeople from Nicaragua's foreign ministry and vice president's office declined to comment on the cables, while Ortega's communications department did not release an official reaction.
Another cable dated May 8, 2008, describes Ortega as a "willing follower" of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The cable refers to Ortega as a "Chavez ' Mini-Me.'" The report says Ortega uses Venezuelan oil money to fund Sandinista campaigns and that "several unconfirmed reports indicate that Ortega will have as much as 500 million dollars at his disposal over the course of 2008." -Ap