Nicaragua facilitated Colombia drug smuggling

Times:

The head of the Sandinista Government in Nicaragua protected one of the world’s top drug barons and helped him to establish trafficking routes through the country, a former high-ranking officer has claimed. During the 1980s Daniel Ortega, the revolutionary leader and current President, gave Pablo Escobar, the head of Colombia’s Medellín cartel, access to drug corridors as well as sanctuary and a military guard, according to the allegations.

Cuba and Panama, then led by Fidel Castro and Manuel Noriega, are also said to have participated in the deal, with Panama acting as a financial and money-laundering centre and Cuba protecting shipments.

The claims have been made by Victor Boitano, a former colonel and member of the Nicaraguan Army’s high command. Speaking to The Times this week Colonel Boitano said: “A mechanism was established here in Managua [the Nicaraguan capital] for the use of soldiers for personal protection of Escobar, for his residence and for the shipping of drugs.” Escobar was allowed to use land routes, Nicaraguan waters and Los Brasiles airport, then controlled by the military, he added.

The Sandinista National Liberation Front had worked with radical left-wing movements, such as the Colombian guerrilla group M19, to overthrow the dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 and it was through those groups that contacts with Escobar arose, he added.

“It was a good opportunity for the Government of Daniel Ortega to have liquid cash like that. He, Noriega and Castro did this deal with Pablo Escobar to use Nicaraguan territory to protect Escobar and to open up the drug routes which currently exist.”

Colonel Boitano, who said that he had received death threats for speaking out against Mr Ortega’s Government, was then in charge of looking after left-wing movements to which the Government gave its protection. Contact between Escobar and Mr Ortega, he said, was managed by Tomás Borge, the Interior Minister, a relationship that brought the Sandinista Government $350 million, “an immense fortune” for the time.

Escobar was given refuge in a residential area south of Managua during the 1980s, Colonel Boitano said, adding that he had seen the drug lord in a safe house on the city’s southern highway. Escobar eventually left for Colombia. He was killed by police in 1993.

Colombian drug traffickers and the insurgent group Farc continued to operate smuggling routes through Nicaragua and Farc maintained a presence there. “There are members of the Farc, of its high command, here in Nicaragua today.”

...

It looks like Venezuela is not the only country that facilitates the FARC dope business. The leaders of these countries should recall what happened to Manuel Noriega, who recently finished serving his prison term in the US and is now facing a court in France. They are giving the US a hook for arresting them and we may have a government who cares about the dope business again someday.

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