By Gustavo Arias Retana/Diálogo May 08, 2019 In October 2016, Nicaragua inaugurated a project the Daniel Ortega regime sold the population as proof of the strong relationship between his government and Vladimir Putin: Russian vaccine plant Mechnikov. Two and a half years later the factory has yet to produce a vaccine. The project smells of bribery, Russia is losing interest, and nobody knows where the money invested ended up. “The vaccine factory project represents the logic Russian investments follow in Nicaragua in recent years. The old partnership between both countries during the Cold War motivates Moscow’s cooperation,” Víctor Hugo Tinoco, former Nicaraguan ambassador to the United Nations and former Sandinista National Liberation Front guerrilla, told Diálogo. “The investments never had a positive impact on the population. Russia only sought to expand its influence with Nicaragua and ensure access to the Caribbean Sea, while the Sandinista government only wanted to benefit through corruption.” According to the Nicaraguan government, at least $35 million were invested for construction of the Mechnikov plant. The Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS, in Spanish) contributed $11 million, while Russia disbursed the remaining $24 million. INSS’ economic crisis triggered the protests against Ortega in April 2018. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, at least 264 people died in the demonstrations. A discretionary transaction, approved by Roberto López, INSS president and retired Army officer, made the investment in the vaccine plant possible. Change of course “In recent years, the relationship between Russia and Nicaragua moved toward a more physical scope, with constructions in some areas of Managua,” Tinoco said. “Russian investments were always done under the table, a situation that facilitated Orteguista corruption.” Ortega’s regime promised the Mechnikov plant would produce 15 million influenza vaccines, and would then make vaccines against measles, hepatitis, polio, and Zika. In early April 2019, Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife, announced that a Russian delegation would visit the plant for further inspection. Russia seems to be losing interest in backing Ortega’s government. “It’s not that it’s not interested in Nicaragua; Russia will always take advantage of crises, and won’t abandon what it gained in Nicaragua. The thing is that [now] Ortega needs Moscow more than Moscow needs Ortega, because it’s one of the few partners that still support his dictatorship. In other words, Russia can cut down on what it gives, because Ortega needs to say that Putin is his partner,” Guillermo Barquero, a political scientist at the National University of Costa Rica, told Diálogo. “If Nicaragua falls, Russia won’t intervene. Russia is always interested in expanding, and won’t risk more than necessary for such an unprofitable regime as Ortega’s.” Renewed Russian interest in Cuba In February 2019, the Russian government approved a $42-million loan for Cuba to acquire new weapons. The move shows Moscow’s political and military interest in the island. Carlos Murillo, an international relations analyst at the National University of Costa Rica, agrees with Barquero. He also points out Russia’s renewed interest in Cuba, possibly due to the political crises that affect Venezuela and Nicaragua, its closest partners in the region. “The ideal situation for Moscow is to keep the Caracas, Managua, Havana triangle, but in the current situation, the country that seems more stable for their interests is Cuba, because in case of a domino effect that would see the ousting of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Ortega will further wear down and might be overthrown,” Murillo told Diálogo. “But it might be difficult for the Castrist regime to fall now. Russia seeks to operate in any possible scenario and secure its presence in Latin America.” The Nicaraguan people paid with their taxes for a project that is still adrift; Russian vaccines are still unavailable to citizens, while Russia shows little interest in helping Latin American countries. The vaccine factory is one of Moscow’s many ways to attempt to expand in the region by supporting corrupt states. But when those governments collapse, Moscow will turn to its next target. The well-being of Latin American nations will always come second for Russia.
Minister Zolia: “The more knowledge you have, the more people need you, and they will pay you for your service”Deputy Health Minister Cautions GraduatesThe deputy minister for planning and research at the Ministry of Health, Yah M. Zolia, told graduates at the J. W. Harris Memorial High School on the Bushrod Island that disability and poverty should not be justifications for not excelling in life.Minister Zolia said knowledge makes people valuable in society and the “more knowledge you have, the more people need you, and they will pay you for your service.” She admonished the students not to be “complacent with the little education you have acquired today, but keep moving and do not give up.”“If you are poor, study hard and make use of scholarship opportunities to enable you to achieve your goal in life. Let me tell you that wise people take responsibility for their lives and take the right actions; proactive people grab opportunities graciously and turn them into action. I urge you to make use of the knowledge you have acquired from this school.”She advised the graduates against the ‘grasshopper mentality,’ imploring them to be determined to rise above their circumstances, “because the grasshopper mentality is destructive and refuses to grow beyond two inches. It refuses to believe that obstacles can be overcome, setbacks can be surmounted, and barriers can become blessings.”She said graduates should become catalysts for positive change to help alleviate some of the challenges faced by the country.Making the right decision after high school, she said, “would help you contribute positively to national growth and development of the country. On the other hand, you may contribute to increasing the problems by making wrong and unwise choices.”Amos P. Wisseh, the executive director of J. W. Harris, also urged the students to put into practice what they have acquired at the school.“As you leave today from the walls of high school, be ambassadors for the J.W. Harris School,” Wisseh said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
28 August 2014The Proteas staged a magnificent run chase to haul in a challenging target, beating Australia by seven wickets with 20 balls to spare in the second match of a triangular one-day series at Harare Sports Club in Zimbabwe on Wednesday.“I think the most important thing is the hunger we play with,” South African captain AB de Villiers said at the post-match awards’ ceremony.“I’ve seen a lot of hunger, especially in Sri Lanka with our last series. That is what defines a cricket team to me, when we show hunger in the field and hunger to win. I was very pleased to see that hunger again today.”Outstanding partnershipThe highlight of the win was an outstanding partnership of 206 between De Villiers and Faf du Plessis, which was a third wicket record for South Africa against the Aussies.De Villiers finished the contest undefeated on 136, while Du Plessis departed after scoring 106, his first one-day international century.“I’m very, very happy with that batting performance. I haven’t scored a lot of runs of late and to get a few here today was very pleasing,” the South African skipper said modestly. “I had my chances, I have to mention that. But that is part of the game, you get dropped sometimes. Luckily I made it count and I was there at the end to see us through for our first win of the series.”Australian inningsIt was a convincing victory in the end, but a decision by De Villiers to bowl first after he won the toss looked suspect as the Australians got away to a strong start, with Phil Hughes and Aaron Finch putting on 92 for the first wicket before Hughes fell for 51 off 63 balls.Finch pushed on to top score with 102 from 116 deliveries, while George Bailey weighed in with 66 off of just 53 balls, with three sixes and three fours, to help Australia to an intimidating 327 for 7 in their 50 overs.Imran Tahir, with a haul of 2 for 45 in his 10 overs, was the pick of the South African bowling attack, while Morne Morkel and Ryan McLaren picked up two wickets apiece.Spot of botherFaced with a tough batting task, the Proteas were in a spot of bother early on when they slipped to 51 for 2 in the ninth over, with Quinton de Kock out for 19 and Hashim Amla for 24. The departure of the openers, however, brought Du Plessis and De Villiers together and they proceeded to compile a superb stand, which lasted 29 overs and took South Africa to within sight of victory.Du Plessis eventually fell for 106 when he failed to middle a pull off of the bowling of Mitchell Starc and was caught. His innings included 11 fours and one six.De Villiers, despite struggling with cramp, played an amazing innings, which was highlighted by how much time he appeared to have to score runs off of anything the Australian bowlers threw at him. In the kind of form he exhibited on Wednesday in Harare, there is not a more devastating or better batsman in world cricket.Morale-boosting victoryTogether with JP Duminy, who finished with a valuable 33 not out off 29 balls, the South African skipper guided his side to a morale-boosting victory in the 47th over. His unbeaten 136, the second highest score by a South African against Australian, behind only Herschelle Gibbs’ 175 in the “438 game”, included 11 fours and two sixes and came from only 106 balls. He was a slam-dunk choice for man of the match.“We certainly had enough runs on the board and probably created enough chances to win the game, but hats off to Faf and AB, two extraordinary innings, and you have to say well played to South Africa,” Australian captain George Bailey said afterwards.‘An amazing knock’De Villiers said two of his players had shone. “First of all, Faf, with an amazing knock. I know he has had a bit of a rough start to his ODI career, but he’s in magnificent form and one of our bankers at the moment, especially in this ODI team. It brings a lot of calmness. He batted so well today.“The other guy is Imran Tahir. He stood out with the ball in hand. I’m very proud of him, especially [that he excelled] against the Aussies, who don’t take a lot of nonsense from spinners, so for him to have bowled like he did was very pleasing for all of us.”‘A great effort’Du Piessis, in an on-field interview just after the game, said the Proteas could play at an even higher level. “There is a lot we can learn from this game. We weren’t at our best,” he reckoned. “The chase was obviously a great effort, but there are still a lot of areas where we can improve.”Finishing on an optimistic note, he concluded: “To chase down 330 against Australia, we’re a very happy team.”