Saturday, 26 November, 2022

Nicaragua breaks ties with Netherlands, bars US envoy

MANAGUA: Nicaragua found itself even more isolated on the international stage Saturday after saying it would deny entry to the ambassador appointed by the United States and then broke off diplomatic relations with the Netherlands, reports AFP.

President Daniel Ortega's government is facing mounting diplomatic pressure over what the United States has called a dramatic deterioration of human rights -- which has seen the jailing of dozens of political opponents, students and journalists.

The latest Nicaraguan moves came a day after the European Union's ambassador was also notified of her expulsion from the Central American country.

Managua cut ties with the Dutch government on Friday evening, describing The Hague as interventionist and neocolonialist after its ambassador, Christine Pirenne, said her country would not fund the construction of a hospital.

In a letter sent to AFP on Saturday, the Dutch foreign ministry condemned the regrettable and disproportionate response.

The Netherlands said it had decided to permanently end funding for the construction of a hospital in Nicaragua -- on hold since 2018 -- because of the deteriorating situation in the field of democracy and human rights.

It said it had given Managua several warnings but now Nicaragua was closing the door. The Nicaraguan government had on Friday blamed the repeated meddling, interventionist and neocolonialist position of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the row.

Earlier in the day, Ortega had lashed out at the European nation.

Those who come to disrespect our people, our homeland, they should not appear again in Nicaragua. And we do not want relations with that interventionist government, Ortega said in reference to Pirenne, who is based in Costa Rica.

The Netherlands closed its offices in Managua in 2013 and conducts all its Central American diplomatic work from Costa Rica.

Before Ortega's remarks, his wife, Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, said on Friday that new US envoy Hugo Rodriguez will not under any circumstances be admitted into our Nicaragua.

Let that be clear to the imperialists, she added, reading a statement from the foreign office on state media.

The US Senate confirmed Rodriguez's ambassador posting Thursday, despite Nicaragua having previously said it would reject him.

Nicaragua said it decided to withdraw its approval of Rodriguez because of disrespectful comments made during a Senate hearing -- in which he described Nicaragua as a pariah state in the region and branded Ortega's government a dictatorship.

Rodriguez had said he would support using all economic and diplomatic tools to bring about a change in direction in Nicaragua, and notably suggested kicking the country out of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement.

On Wednesday, the Nicaraguan government asked European Union Ambassador Bettina Muscheidt to leave the country without giving any reasons, according to local media and diplomatic sources.

Also on Wednesday, Ortega branded the Catholic Church a perfect dictatorship, reflecting ongoing tensions between his government and the religious institution over 2018 protests that Ortega has accused the church of backing.

Those protests were crushed in a crackdown that left hundreds dead.