Selling off Nicaraguan Sovereignty: Then and Now

Not even the Chamorro-Bryan Treaty, imposed by an interventionist United States, comes close to the level of sellout of the Ortega-Wang Treaty

By Guillermo Cortes Dominguez  (Confidencial)

Daniel Ortega and Wang Jing when they signed the canal concession. File Photo: Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – In the approved retelling of Nicaraguan history, we have disparaged the 1914 Chamorro-Bryan Treaty to the extent of detesting it. In our indignant imagination, the Yank who collaborated on this with conservative strongman Emiliano Chamorro in the 20s was something of a monster.

But William Jennings Bryan wasn’t a monster, rather a man who was tender and poetic with his wife and curious about the Nicaragua that he encountered when he was here in November 1922, a time when the country was occupied by the US Marines and essentially under the control of the US government.

In his initial travels from Corinto to Leon, Bryan was entranced by the volcanoes in the Los Maribios range; after that, by the architecture of Leon’s cathedral and the wide, cool patios of the colonial houses there.

Bryan was tall, of elegant bearing, but careless in his dress; smiling and verbose, a great orator. At least that’s how he was described by Emiliano Chamorro’s right-hand man, Carlos Cuadra Pasos, also a figure willing to sell off anything, right up to his next-door neighbor’s walls.

How might the history books describe Wang Jing?  Maybe of strong complexion, short hair, round face and curious eyes, impeccably dressed in costly black suits and black and light blue ties; someone who is a political agitator more than an orator, a successful global businessman, admirer of Mao and close to the structures of mainland China’s Communist Party.

Back then, the strongman from Nicaragua’s Conservative Party quickly gained the epithet of “Sellout of his country” after he delivered the national sovereignty over to the United States through the treaty he signed with Bryan on August 5, 1914. However, he never reached the peak of opportunism – a place that is held, by a large margin, by Adolfo Diaz, a disciplined accountant in a US-owned mine in Nicaragua, who was elevated to the presidency in order to defend United States interests.  Diaz pawned the entire country.

Anastasio Somoza Garcia, founder and defender of the dictatorial dynasty that inherited the Chamorro-Bryan Treaty, joined the procession of sellouts.  He was a pawn of the Yanks, their own “Son of a bitch”, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said of him.

The Chamorro-Bryan Treaty was eventually repealed on June 14, 1970, because Washington was no longer interested.

No one could have anticipated the person who would pick up the torch passed on by Diaz, Emiliano Chamorro, and Somoza. How could we ever have imagined that it would be a fighter for Nicaragua’s national liberation, one of the leaders of the Sandinista Front? The contrast is such as to seem unreal, a fantasy, something out of a novel.  But, I swear to you, it’s the truth. The inheritor, who would very legitimately assume the cognomen of “Sellout of his country,” would be none other than the one-time aspiring journalist and guerilla leader of yesteryear, Daniel Ortega Saavedra.

Not even the Chamorro-Bryan Treaty, a product of the US intervention, approaches the level of sellout of the Ortega-Wang Treaty, which gives the latter – a special super-agent of the Chinese government – a territory amounting to nearly half of Nicaragua in which the national laws do not apply, they don’t pay taxes and they can develop many kinds of business enterprises.

There are those who accuse Daniel Ortega of delivering our sovereignty over to Russia, but no official agreement exists with them, as it does in the case of the Treaty with Wang Jing.  The document they signed with Wang Jing is a trap for Nicaragua, designed like one of those Chinese boxes where we become imprisoned in one after another, with no possibility of getting ourselves out.

An enormous outpouring of information, followed by a referendum to ask the Nicaraguan people if they wanted this treaty with the Chinese magnate, should have been the government’s first obligation. This was done years previously in Panama for the process of widening their canal.

Instead, the documents turning over the country weren’t even read by the majority of the legislators in the Ortega camp. With great joy, they approved them in the blink of an eye, so hurried were they to emulate Adolfo Diaz, Emiliano Chamorro and Anastasio Garcia Somoza.