State Department Cable Accuses Ortega of Receiving Drug Money

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A classified U.S. State Department cable released by the organization WikiLeaks alleges that Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista party have regularly received campaign finance money from known international drug traffickers.

According to a copy of the cable published by the Spanish newspaper El País, this money was usually given “in return for ordering Sandinista judges to allow traffickers caught by the police and military to go free.” The document, dated May 5 2006, specifically identifies former Director of State Security Lenin Cerna as the chief culprit, claiming that he worked with Sandinista Supreme Court judges such as Rafael Solis and Roger Camillo Arguello to broker deals with crime syndicates. The cable goes on to detail one incident in which Arguello allegedly developed a “complicated scheme” to distribute $609,000 from a Supreme Court account to upcoming FSLN electoral campaigns and the personal accounts of Sandinista judges.

In another case, Daniel Ortega himself stands accused of sheltering the infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar for several months in Nicaragua after the latter ordered the killing of the Colombian Minister of Justice. In exchange, Ortega and his party received “large cash payments” from Escobar, according to the cable. Although these allegations have already been publicly leveled against Ortega’s government by his political opposition, it remains to be seen what effect the released cable will have on his popularity.

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