Iran’s oil minister, Javab Owji, who led a high-level commission visiting Nicaragua, promised this Friday, May 6, to supply oil derivatives to the country, assuring Daniel Ortega that “together” they can “neutralize aggressions and sanctions”.
“We strongly condemn the unjust aggression of some powers and the intervention in the internal affairs of Nicaragua,” he stressed. He added that they were “friends and brothers” of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, three regimes considered hostile by the United States and that are singled out by the international community for perpetrating human rights violations.
During the official visit, the minister and Ortega signed a memorandum of understanding and alleged contracts in oil and agriculture, of which the official documents are still unknown. Owji said they would study the possibility of investing in the failed Bolívar Supreme Sueño oil refinery, a $4 billion project devised in 2007 by then-President Hugo Chavez that was later reduced to a $510 million storage plant.
Without specifying quantities or conditions of the agreement to supply oil to Nicaragua, the Iranian minister assured that they will make their “best efforts to guarantee the supply of fuel to the sister republic of Nicaragua.”
The senior official stated that once they receive the documentation related to the refinery, “we will decide on the participation of our country in the continuation of this project.” Furthermore, “We will do our best to be able to participate in that refinery and in future refineries in the country. We hope that a mixed, shared investment from Iran, Nicaragua and Venezuela can be made to complete the refinery,” he said.
Second high-level visit in six months
This is the second Iranian mission to visit Ortega and Rosario Murillo, since they assumed his fourth consecutive term in power, in a vote without political competition after imprisoning their main opponents last year. Such actions were condemned by the Organization of American States (OAS) that called the election illegitimate.
The first delegation was led by the Vice President of Economic Affairs Mohsen Rezai, who was present at Ortega’s inauguration and moved freely in the country, despite being circulated by Interpol for his responsibility in the worst terrorist attack in the history of Argentina, which left 84 dead in 1994.
On this occasion, the oil minister arrived in Nicaragua accompanied by representatives of the Iranian government in different areas such as agriculture and the commercialization of oil and gas, while Ortega and Murillo were accompanied by their son Laureano Ortega, their energy minister Salvador Mansell and by Francisco Lopez, the FSLN treasurer, who is now presented in the official press as “minister for production and trade.”
Of all of them, the Iranian minister thanked Laureano Ortega, presidential advisor for investment promotion, for accompanying him during the two-day working visit to Nicaragua.
The Iranian announcements came a day after the New York Times revealed that Laureano Ortega Murillo sought a “silent” rapprochement with Washington, focused on easing the sanctions imposed on his family and the inner circle the regime. The publication claimed that “a high-ranking official from the US State Department was sent to Managua to meet with Laureano Ortega in March, but it never took place because Daniel Ortega apparently changed his mind.”
The dictator proposes barter to sidestep the sanctions
Ortega stressed that bartering is “a modality that is still present” mainly to avoid “blockades, sanctions that are nothing more than aggressions by the empire and NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – which is part of the US empire.”
“A people’s alternative that we have. They block the financial system, we cannot transfer the payment of a product that we are interested in bringing from Iran, but we can pay it with products that interest Iran and that we produce here in Nicaragua,” said Ortega.
The Iranian official added that his country’s policy is to “support the sovereignty, independence, freedom, and the right of self-determination of countries and reject interventionism in the internal affairs of other peoples,” he said.
The senior Iranian official promised that 200,000 doses of the covid-19 vaccine, COVIran Barakat, will arrive in the country in the coming weeks, a promise that the regime announced on March 18th. Iran’s support comes when Ortega is very isolated in the international community, which demands an end to the repression, the release of political prisoners and the return of democracy to Nicaragua. However, the dictator says that he is the victim of a campaign of interventionism. He insults the United States, the European Union, Canada, among others, and strengthen ties with Russia, China, and Iran.