The boys are back in town

Daniel Ortega is back in power in Nicaragua and the United States is less than pleased.

The U.S. government is squirming, and it’s not because the Democrats made large gains during the midterm elections. Daniel Ortega, who once headed the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, has been elected back to power. He has never been in good favor with this country and, despite the fading threat of communism, the United States tried to quash his reelection bid. It now remains to be seen whether vindictive action will be taken.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s administration famously indulged in the Iran-Contra scandal in an effort to throw Ortega out of office. Ortega was relatively unaffected by the attempted coup and he lost a democratic election in 1990.

During the recent election in Nicaragua, Oliver North, one of the key players in the Iran-Contra debacle, traveled south to campaign against Ortega. In addition, U.S. government officials threatened Nicaragua with disciplinary action if Ortega was reelected. Among the threats was the discontinuation of $220 million in annual aid and the removal of Nicaragua from the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

These actions are all surprising coming from a nation that continually encourages democracy around the world. Does the United States only support democracy when the candidates are its close allies? If Nicaragua’s election results somehow jeopardized the safety of the United States, these threats could be justified, but Nicaragua is a small, impoverished nation. This should be very disconcerting to U.S. citizens and proponents of democracy everywhere.

The United States needs to discontinue its tradition of holding grudges against foreign leaders. Today, we continue to see sanctions against Cuba, which remain simply because of animosity toward Fidel Castro. Now, we can only hope that the United States was making idle threats to Nicaragua. It would be foolish to punish an entire nation as a roundabout way of voicing displeasure with Ortega. The United States should be a true proponent of democracy and stop attempting to throw elections. If nothing changes, the United States might find itself with a dwindling list of allies.