Ortega Redux: A History Smolders on Cold War Embers

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For most of the world, the cold war ended when the Berlin Wall came down. Not so in the Caribbean basin.

Here the stubbornness of old cold warriors in Washington and the equal tenacity of leftist governments in Cuba and Venezuela have kept a miniature cold war going. Just as it was 20 years ago, Nicaragua now finds itself smack in the middle of the conflict with the election this week of Daniel Ortega, the former Marxist rebel leader, as president.

Mr. Ortega faces a balancing act no politician would envy, both inside the country and on the world stage. On the one hand, to satisfy his supporters, he must fulfill promises to “eradicate poverty,” curb “savage capitalism,” and remain friendly with his leftist allies, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Venezuela, in particular, could be a source of cheap oil and money for social programs.

On the other hand, he can ill afford to lose more than $50 million a year in United States aid or credit from the International Monetary Fund.

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