Oddly Enough

Nicaragua's Ortega says crisis is God punishing U.S.

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega gestures during a meeting with lawmakers at the National Assembly building in Managua October 7, 2008. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

MANAGUA (Reuters) - Nicaragua’s leftist President Daniel Ortega, a U.S. foe since the Cold War, said God was punishing the United States with the financial crisis for trying to impose its economic principles on poor countries.

“It’s incredible that in the most powerful country in the world, which spends billions of dollars on brutal wars ... people do not have enough money to stay in their homes,” former Marxist guerrilla Ortega said in a speech late on Thursday.

“God is punishing the United States,” for imposing flawed economic policies on developing countries around the world, said Ortega, who first governed Nicaragua in the 1980s when his Sandinista government was locked in a war with U.S.-backed Contra rebels.

The Sandinistas were voted out of office in 1990 but Ortega returned to power in a 2006 election. Since then, the ex-rebel has spoken out against U.S. “tyranny” in Latin America and irked Washington by allying himself with anti-U.S. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Many Latin American countries adopted pro-market economic policies promoted by Washington in the 1990s but they have done little to reduce poverty.

Ortega said the current crisis would hit remittance flows to Nicaragua, as immigrants sending money home to relatives lose their jobs in the United States due to the slowdown.

Nicaraguans abroad send home between $800 million and $1 billion dollars (472 million and 590 million pounds) a year, according to the country’s central bank.

Reporting by Ivan Castro, Writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by David Storey