Nicaragua lambastes Spain's foreign minister in angry attack

·2-min read

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Nicaragua's government launched a blistering attack on Spain and its Foreign Minister on Saturday, alleging inteference by Madrid in its affairs and imperialiist attitudes towards the Central American country.

Nicaragua's foreign ministry, in a four-page letter to Arancha Gonzalez Laya, accused her of making "offensive statements" about Nicaragua and President Daniel Ortega, and "showing daring ignorance and ferocity improper for diplomacy".

The letter does not specify which remarks had offended Nicaragua's leftist government.

The Spanish government had urged Nicaragua over the past few weeks to release prominent opposition leaders who had been detained in a widespread crackdown by the Ortega's government ahead of presidential elections in November.

"We reject the text of the letter. We are not going to feed polemics that distract from the fundamental," a source in Spain's Foreign Ministry, who declined to be named, said.

"What is in question is the very serious human rights situation in Nicaragua and its impact on the next electoral process. We are not going to be distracted and we continue working on both objectives," the source added on Sunday.

Ortega's government has arrested about 20 political opponents, including five presidential hopefuls, ahead of the vote in which the long-ruling leader will run for a fourth consecutive term.

The clash marks a sharp reversal in the cordial relations of recent years between Nicaragua and Spain, which is led by the socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The United States and many Western powers have criticised the crackdown, warning that democracy was under threat by Ortega's move to arrest all his political opponents.

Nicaragua also singled out Spain's ambassador in Nicaragua, Maria del Mar Fernandez-Palacios Carmona, for criticism.

Fernandez-Palacios was "just a pale reflection of an interfering, intrusive, badly educated, spoiled, capricious, devitalized and servile policy" that was submissive to the United States, the letter said.

The letter also highlighted crimes committed by colonial administrations when Spain controlled the area from the 16th century until Nicaragua's independence in 1821, and to the indigenous people of Latin America.

While Ortega often brings up imperialism in speeches, it is usually directed at the United States.

(Writing by Drazen Jorgic; additional reporting Graham Keeley Editing by William Mallard and Alexander Smith)

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