Nicaragua: Just How Much Money Is Chavez Sending Ortega?
Nicaragua's general election is scheduled for tomorrow. Voters will elect a president, plus 90 seats in the national Congress and 20 in the Central American Parliament are at stake.
While The Economist thinks that Daniel Ortega is set to win an unconstitutional third term and the Miami Herald's asking if Ortega may be headed for a fall, both agree that it is Hugo Chávez's oil-fueled largesse that keeps Ortega in power. Chávez's bonus, in the form of low-interest, long-term loans for half of the money Nicaragua spends on Venezuelan oil, amounts to 7-8 percent of Nicaragua's GDP. That's after Venezuela sells them the oil at below-market prices, which Nicaragua then sells at full market value.
But, as the election nears, Chávez sent Ortega more. The Miami Herald reports, in Spanish (my translation: if you use this please credit me and link to this post):
Ten days from the election, Ortega announced a number of financial incentives from Venezuela, including 1,700 stoves with gas tanks to be distributed to families, a $30 payroll bonus to 130,000 public employees, and building materials for 25,000 homes.This means that Chávez, at the last moment, sent Ortega at least $3,900,000 - and this amount doesn't include the cost of purchasing and transporting the stoves and the unspecified "building materials" - if they even exist.
An act of desperation?