MEXICO CITY (AP) — The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has authorized the deployment of Russian troops, aircraft and ships to Nicaragua for training, law enforcement or emergency response purposes.
In a decree issued this week and confirmed by Russia on Thursday, Ortega will authorize Russian troops to carry out law enforcement, “humanitarian aid, rescue and search missions in the event of an emergency or disaster. natural”.
The Nicaraguan government has also authorized the presence of small contingents of Russian troops for “the exchange of experiences and training”.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian media Sputnik the measure was “routine”.
“We are talking about a routine procedure – twice a year – for the adoption of a Nicaraguan law on the temporary admission of foreign military personnel to its territory in order to develop cooperation in various fields, including humanitarian responses and urgently, the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking,” said Zakharova.
She noted that the law also allows troops from the United States, Mexico and other Central American countries for such purposes.
Ortega has been a staunch Russian ally since his days leading the 1979 revolution that toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza. Ortega served as president from 1985 to 1990, before being re-elected to power in 2007.
Ortega’s government arrested dozens of political opposition leaders, including most potential presidential candidates, in the months before he was re-elected to a fourth consecutive term last year. His government has shut down dozens of nongovernmental groups it accuses of working on behalf of foreign interests to destabilize its government. Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have been driven into exile.