Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Guatemala on Wednesday, reminisced about his first trip to Latin America as a U.S. senator back in 1985:
I have been traveling, actually, to Latin America for decades now. I think the first trip I made as a United States senator in 1985 was to this region. And that was during a time of great transformation and challenge in places like Nicaragua and El Salvador. And like my Senate colleagues, I was then focused on issues of conflict resolution. I worked particularly closely with President Oscar Arias, working on the peace process back then, as well as on counter-narcotics cooperation and on human rights and on seeking justice for those who had lost their lives in the course of the Central American wars and the internal difficulties of a number of countries during that period.
Kerry did not specifically mention to the OAS gathering that his 1985 trip was to meet with then-president of Nicaragua Daniel Ortega, the head of the Moscow-backed Communist Sandinistas who were fighting a proxy war with the United States via the U.S.-backed "Contra" rebels. The Christian Science Monitor reported on Kerry's trip at the time:
Senator Kerry flew to Nicaragua in April with fellow Democratic Sen. Thomas Harkin of Iowa, met with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra, and brought back word that Mr. Ortega would be willing to accept a cease-fire if Congress rejected aid to the rebels, or ``contras.'' That week the House initially voted down aid to the contras, and Mr. Ortega made an immediate trip to Moscow -- an action that moved House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. to say the ill-timed trip embarrassed those who had voted against aid.
In spite of this setback, Kerry said in an interview that he doesn't think his trip to Nicaragua damaged him politically and that his mail supports him...
Kerry emphasizes that he is not an advocate or supporter of Ortega's government. ``I have no illusions about the Sandinistas.'' Nevertheless, he argues, ``We are still trying to overthrow the politics of another country in contravention of international law, against the Organization of American States charter.
``We negotiated with North Vietnam. Why can we not negotiate with a country smaller than North Carolina and with half the population of Massachusetts? It's beyond me. And the reason is that they just want to get rid of them [the Sandinistas], they want to throw them out, they don't want to talk to them.''
Ortega, who has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Nicaragua, has been once again serving as president of that country since 2007. He recently politely shared a dinner with President Obama at the May summit of Central American leaders, and was soon thereafter publicly critical of the U.S. and its influence in the region. Oretga also famously supported Qaddafi during the Libyan conflict in 2011.
A report in the Chinese state-run Xinhua outlet claims that President Barack Obama congratulated Xi Jinping on his "election" to be the top Communist in China. Jinping will be the next president of China, and now controls the Chinese military.
During Monday night’s presidential debate, the candidates beat their breasts vying to be tougher on China. Barack Obama pointed to his accomplishments, while Mitt Romney attacked the president for being afraid to label China a currency manipulator. The amount of time devoted to America’s largest creditor and potential enemy shows that managing the relationship with China is critical for whoever sits in the Oval Office.
Of the books I have read about China, The Corpse Walker, which I reviewed for THE WEEKLY STANDARD, is one of my favorites. Written by Liao Yiwu, The CorpseWalker contains stories about the strange mix of people Liao met while traveling around China and serving time in jail for writing and recording a poem commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen massacre.
The blind, barefoot lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, imprisoned for exposing the morally repugnant practice of forced abortion and sterilization, just evaded one of the world’s most sophisticated state police.
Allen West created an apparent controversy when he stated at a Florida event, "I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party." Democrats decried West's comment--and even the Communist Party USA slammed the Florida congressman.
Former network television host Tom Brokaw will be appearing on the Chinese Communist channel later tonight, according to a press release from China Central Television. The Communist channel bears the ironic acronym CCTV, which in other contexts usually stands for “closed-circuit television.”
The Wall Street Journal Asia has published an editorial arguing that the process for “electing” Hong Kong’s next chief executive reflects the erosion of the “one country, two systems” principle that was supposed to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and ultimately full democracy.
Kiev One of the world’s last Communist regimes may be about to unravel. But unlike the 1989-1991 fall of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact puppet states in Central and Eastern Europe, the collapse of North Korea could have far-reaching and destructive aftershocks. Moreover, there is little evidence that any of the major powers that will be affected are prepared for—or even want to acknowledge the possibility of—what comes next.