Nicaragua & ALBANISA: The Privatization of Venezuelan Aid

After Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega took office for his second presidential term in 2007, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez announced his plan to meet Nicaragua’s oil needs. The leaders’ ideological ties led Ortega to push for Nicaragua’s membership in the Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA). The Venezuelan President established this political bloc with the intention of countering the U.S. ambition for a Free Trade Area of the Americas or Acuerdo de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA). Comprising leftist nations such as Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, and Ecuador, ALBA seeks to promote an ideology of solidarity that emphasizes social welfare policies rather than the kind of competitive capitalist agreements that have pervaded throughout the hemisphere in its recent history. While ALBA serves as a symbolic opposition to the free trade agreements that the U.S. has negotiated with desperate Latin American regimes in the past, many skeptics have debated its practical impact due to a lack of concrete results produced by the Chávez-led body. Nicaragua’s simultaneous membership in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) suggests that ALBA does not quite play the revolutionary role to which its proponents initially aspired. (For more on ALBA, see COHA’s report here)

ALBA has proved a destabilizing force in an already polarized political environment. In Nicaragua, Venezuelan cooperation through ALBA led to the creation of a private company called ALBANISA (ALBA de Nicaragua, S.A) to manage the anticipated investment funds. The company has come under a great deal of heat: as a privately held company, ALBANISA is not required to disclose its funds to the public. However, it has turned out that the government has used its funds for state expenses. The secrecy enveloping ALBANISA expenditures has led some to fear the worst.

Allegations of corruption and mishandling of money highlight the lack of transparency surrounding ALBANISA’s operations. In the nation’s young and unconsolidated democracy, the company’s practices add fuel to the fire of the country’s existing political turmoil. Opposition members allege that the Ortega government has been embezzling these funds. Although this accusation remains difficult to prove, the state must acknowledge what could be the legitimate fears and suspicions of the public. Therefore, it should begin by including these funds in the national budget. This transparency will allow the public to hold the government accountable for how it uses the ALBANISA funds. In pursuing transparency, the state will increase civic faith in Nicaragua’s democratic institutions and enhance the constitutional process by providing the nation’s elected representatives with the means to allocate this money in a way that serves the public interest.

ALBANISA: What It Is and How It Works

The creation of ALBANISA followed the commencement of Venezuelan oil transfers to Nicaragua, cemented by the signing of the ALBA Energy Agreement.1 The company plays an unusual role in the fairly complex process of ALBA’s oil cooperation model. PETRONIC, the semi-private Nicaraguan petroleum conglomerate that features partial state ownership, purchases and receives oil from Venezuela’s state-owned oil enterprise, PDVSA.2 PETRONIC then resells the oil and delivers all revenue to ALBANISA, a private company featuring joint-ownership between Venezuela’s PDVSA and Nicaragua’s PETRONIC. Then ALBANISA sends half of this revenue back to Venezuela in exchange for the oil while delivering another twenty-five percent to an ALBA social fund. ALBANISA itself retains the remaining twenty-five percent of oil revenue.3 In the end, this intricate process is intended to benefit Nicaragua through reduced oil prices.

Controversy surrounds the future of the funds held by ALBANISA. Because it technically remains a private company, ALBANISA does not need to subject its finances to the constraints of Nicaragua’s national budget. However, it is widely known that the Ortega administration oversees the expenditures of such funds through its participation in PETRONIC. Given its autonomy, ALBANISA appropriates and allocates funds without any oversight by the National Assembly, which approves the national budget each year. This means that ALBANISA expenditures of such funds are not subject to any effective checks; no one knows how much money the company handles, how much it spends, or where that money goes. The lack of transparency surrounding ALBANISA expenditures suggests the possibility of corruption and mishandling of funds. Moreover, it further encourages the downward spiral of public faith in government.

Scandals, Controversies, and Allegations

Aside from the fact that ALBANISA enjoys immunity from budget oversight, the company has garnered notoriety due to suspicions of illegitimate activities. The most prominent complaint concerns ALBANISA ownership. José Francisco López Centeno, then president of PETRONIC, managed the company’s affairs as its vice president until late 2009. While his simultaneous management of the two companies offered no immediate cause for alarm, his time as Secretary General for the ruling FSLN party did.4 Many observers accused the company of being subservient to the interests of the party and, by extension, the Ortega administration. However, the circumstances of López Centeno’s dismissal from ALBANISA alarmed the public on a greater scale, as a report by Venezuela’s PDVSA found that “serious failings” had occurred in the handling of the company. The report noted that some 1.4 million córdobas (nearly US $70,000 of ALBANISA funds) had gone unaccounted for, though unofficial sources claim the figure could be much greater. As a result of the report, López Centeno was removed from his position.5,6

Rafael Paniagua, a Venezuelan citizen, came to direct ALBANISA’s affairs following López Centeno’s dismissal. His work with the company has also generated uproar among Nicaraguans. At the beginning of this year, the ownership of opposition television station Channel 8 changed hands amid rumors of government involvement. While Ortega denied playing a hand in the ordeal, Paniagua declared that ALBANISA had indeed purchased the station. Paniagua spoke about the acquisition to El Nuevo Diario, an opposition newspaper, declaring, “The only thing I can assure you is that ALBA is here to stay because ours is a nation-building project.”7 Nicaragua, a nation hypersensitive to breaches upon its self-determination due to its history of intervention by foreign actors, erupted in anger at the idea of a Venezuelan-controlled nation-building project within its territory. The response arose from all over the political spectrum, as even Bayardo Arce, one of Ortega’s economic advisors, publicly refuted Paniagua’s claims, saying that Chávez may have “a nation-building project in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua he has no such project.” He went so far as to call Paniagua “crazy.”8 Nicaragua’s strong sense of nationalism coupled with Paniagua’s remarks forced the state into a precarious balancing act in which it must maintain strong ALBA ties while promoting the nation’s sensitive sovereignty.

However, many among the opposition fear that Paniagua spoke the truth. Given ALBANISA’s closeness to the government and the ruling party, many believe the FSLN now has effective control of Channel 8. Carlos Fernando Chamorro, a prominent journalist who hosted two programs on the network, has parted ways with the station as a result, stating that he wanted to cooperate with the Ortega government “neither directly nor indirectly.”9 Many feel that this latest move embodies the President’s creeping authoritarianism and is an effort to stifle dissent. However, given the disputed nature of the station’s sale, one cannot immediately confirm or deny such allegations. On the other hand, one can acknowledge that the ALBANISA affair has exacerbated tense relations between the state and the opposition. Reports that the President’s sons, Juan Carlos and Rafael Ortega Murillo, help manage ALBANISA transactions further worry those who are skeptical about the company.10,11

Curbing an Unchecked Power

In February of this year, the Comptroller General’s Office announced that it would conduct an audit of ALBANISA. The decision followed an audit of PETRONIC that revealed a few irregularities in the company’s management.12 Although Venezuela owns a majority share of ALBANISA, the Office claims the audit coincides with constitutional requirements due to the state’s partial ownership through PETRONIC. However, Paniagua maintains that they can only audit the PETRONIC share of the company.13 The audit has not yet come to fruition, as it will be a lengthy endeavor. Regardless, the Comptroller General’s pledge to audit the conglomerate shows promise that a system of checks and accountability may be in effect. One can only hope that they do execute the audit, doing so fairly and independently of interested parties.

While the findings may or may not reveal the truth to the allegations lodged against the company, they will not automatically assuage the skeptical opposition. In a political society so polarized, the government must act with the utmost transparency in order to encourage a loyal opposition. If the audit reveals no misconduct, the opposition will attribute the conclusion to a government institution manipulated by the country’s infamous pact, deeming the investigatory body a mere puppet of the administration. Although one may lack the necessary evidence to draw this conclusion, many Nicaraguans rightfully view the current condition of state institutions in this way. Therefore, the Ortega administration must include the ALBANISA funds and expenses in the national budget to dispel these lingering suspicions. If the group has nothing to hide, Ortega can only gain from this move. Some Ortega supporters may say that, because of its obstinate nature, the opposition will never acknowledge any good deed done by the President; however, this argument acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, excusing divisive governance and poor state decisions while further polarizing the political environment. The extensive reach of the ALBANISA controversy highlights the urgent need for transparency in this process.

Assets, Projects, and Investments: ALBANISA Matters

Although some may downplay ALBANISA’s importance in today’s Nicaragua, the business conglomerate has its hands in many projects within the country. Estimates place their total funds managed at US $250 million and US $125 million in 2008 and 2009, respectively.14 Because international oil prices dictate the company’s holdings, the decrease in price does not automatically translate to a decrease in activity. On the contrary, ALBANISA manifests itself in over ten different projects, or Albitas, which include investment in and operation of electricity, credit cooperatives, agriculture, transport, construction, security, and other industries.15 Also, reports have surfaced detailing a number of new construction projects, a plan to irrigate Lake Cocibolca (also known as Lake Nicaragua), as well as investments in hotels, security, and gas.16,17 Through its US $50 million purchase of the Swiss mining company Glencore’s assets, ALBANISA acquired roughly seventy-three percent of the country’s crude oil storage facilities.18 These numerous projects illustrate the company’s significance as well as the predicaments created by its semi-private status.

Moreover, many of its critics allege that the state uses ALBANISA to invest in ideological and political projects. Given that the company handles funds through ALBA, which itself has its base in a shared ideology among its member-states, concerns abound that its further the Ortega administration’s political agenda. When the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government corporation that focuses on promoting economic growth in underdeveloped countries, cancelled its US $62 million package to Nicaragua due to transparency concerns over the disputed 2008 municipal elections, ALBA pledged to replace the aid with US $50 million.19 While Venezuela maintains a clear interest in keeping its allies afloat, the move rang symbolically for the ALBA bloc. Proponents of the Bolivarian ideology consider the MCC an agent of free-market economics as it uses data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Heritage Foundation, organizations they view in a similar light, to assess the degree of economic freedom at play.20

Likewise, ALBANISA works to promote Ortega’s ostensibly leftist ideology by investing in social programs like Hambre Cero in addition to infrastructure projects. It handled Venezuelan funds aimed to increase salaries of public sector employees, a move that generated criticism from the IMF due to its inflationary concerns.21 Following a two-week strike by the National Transit Coordinating Committee that froze the nation’s public transportation, the government agreed to subsidize fuel for taxis and buses thanks to assistance from Venezuela through ALBA.22 Furthermore, when Nicaragua was suffering from energy rations and constant blackouts, ALBA provided generators that resolved the crisis. However, many suspect that the generators, since privatized, will indebt the Nicaraguan people with high electrical rates.23 In May of 2010, the state implemented a salary hike—named the “Christian, socialist, solidarity” bonus after Ortega’s redefined ideology—for thousands of public sector employees. More skeptical onlookers criticize the move as an act of clientelism, seeking to placate voting constituents.24 These moves illustrate the concerns that ALBANISA has become an ideological tool for the state.

Enhancing Transparency and Good Governance

Many view the ALBANISA issue in simple terms: if the government has nothing to hide, it should include the company’s finances the national budget. While this logic may oversimplify the complexities of the company’s existence, it proposes the most reasonable action that the government should assume to defuse such a controversy. Thus, one ponder why the Ortega administration refuses to do so. In a speech given in May of this year, President Ortega rhetorically posited, “If ALBANISA were a transnational corporation, do you think it would work to better the workers’ salary…?”.25

The underlying logic of Ortega’s statement illustrates his motivation to maintain ALBANISA as it is; he believes that others do not desire to promote the progress, welfare, and justice of society in its actions the way that Ortega’s government does. This logic extends to his impression of the role of the private sector as well as opposition policymakers. While this deterministic picture may seem extreme, the failed neoliberal policies pursued by previous administrations have contributed to the massively unequal distribution of wealth and underdevelopment of Nicaragua’s poorest sectors of the population. However, Ortega misleadingly paints himself as the last-standing guardian of the poor, excusing ALBANISA’s usurpation of budgetary power in the name of an ostensibly valiant mission to help the impoverished. This messianic rhetoric reeks of a benevolent dictatorship, which some disillusioned Nicaraguans sadly will embrace.

In a young democracy, such authoritarian temptations can set back the progress towards full democratic consolidation; Nicaragua must resist this acquiescence to authoritarianism and supplant it with a firm belief in its tenuous democracy. Therefore, the Ortega government must subject the ALBANISA finances to rigorous legislative oversight. By enhancing budgetary transparency, the state can strengthen the state of democracy in the country, undo previous damage to its international reputation, and prove to its citizens that the government does respect the civil will. While one must remain hopeful, President Ortega’s actions as of late leave little room for optimism.

References for this article are available here.

22 thoughts on “Nicaragua & ALBANISA: The Privatization of Venezuelan Aid

  • August 16, 2010 at 5:58 pm
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    Dear COHA,

    I am getting a bit tired of your repeated subtle (and not-to-subtle) attacks on Chavez, ALBA, Bolivarian Revolution, Ortega, FSLN, and everything else to the left of Atilla the Hun. This piece is much like other written by the same author, which strings together allegations and insinuations to give a distorted picture of what is going on in Nicaragua. It sounds like a somewhat sophisticated rewrite of the crap that La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario publish on a daily basis.

    Yes, ALBANISA is funded by Venezuela and yes, it is used by the government to make up for shortfalls caused by reneged funding from the Millenial Fund and others that the US has pressured to withold aid funds to Nicaragua. And, yes, it supports social projects that benefit the poor majority of the Nicaraguan people.

    And, yes, the traditional elites and business class hate it for just those reasons. From the time Violetta Chammorro was elected president in 1990 until the FSLN won in 2006, the government of Nicaragua did practically nothing to help the majority of the people in Nicaragua. The FSLN government has done more for the people in the past three years than was done during the entire 16+ year period of the prior governments. And, yes, the FSLN is a leftist government. And your point?

    You refer to a series of allegations about corruption, none of which have been proved, as though they were a given. You refer back to the alleged electoral fraud in the municipal elections of 2008, though, once more, no evidence was ever presented to support those allegations.

    COHA needs to sharpen up its focus and stop sounding like the State Department.

    Reply
    • August 18, 2010 at 5:37 pm
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      Argentinafred,

      Thanks again for your comments. I'd like to preface my rebuttal by saying that I appreciate that you're reading, paying attention, and commenting.

      You said the following:
      "Yes, ALBANISA is funded by Venezuela and yes, it is used by the government to make up for shortfalls caused by reneged funding from the Millenial Fund and others that the US has pressured to withold aid funds to Nicaragua. And, yes, it supports social projects that benefit the poor majority of the Nicaraguan people.

      And, yes, the traditional elites and business class hate it for just those reasons. From the time Violetta Chammorro was elected president in 1990 until the FSLN won in 2006, the government of Nicaragua did practically nothing to help the majority of the people in Nicaragua. The FSLN government has done more for the people in the past three years than was done during the entire 16+ year period of the prior governments. And, yes, the FSLN is a leftist government. And your point? "

      My point, as I believe I clearly stated in the article, is that the status of ALBANISA is unacceptable for the health of Nicaraguan democracy. Like my last article on Nicaragua, my critiques are concerns for democratic consolidation—if you mean to imply that I'm somehow opposed to Ortega ideologically, not only would you be overreaching, but you would be incorrect.

      I believe that I mentioned the allegations of corruption in a fair light, noting that they were allegations and difficult to prove. However, the fact remains that ALBANISA functions in a shadowy light. Like I said, I am not contending that the Ortega administration is embezzling funds or doing what people accuse it of doing, but I do contend that if it is not, the government can easily win trust (or at least, disprove the allegations) by including the funds in the budget.

      Regardless of what ideology the government boasts, the ALBANISA practice is unacceptable. I do not see how this should be misconstrued as an attack on Ortega or on Chávez.

      Again, I repeat, ALBANISA as it is exists in a light that invites criticism and accusations of corruption. Whether or not the rumors and accusations may be nothing but, the government ought to act with utmost transparency to dispel such empty (if indeed they are) allegations. If the company is clean, what harm would it do?

      Thanks,
      Brendan Riley

      Reply
  • August 17, 2010 at 8:46 am
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    COHA needs to reign in Brendan Riley and demand some real evidence before letting him continue to bash Chavez and Ortega. Riley accuses ALBANISA of being "an ideological tool for the state." His tone also shows that he clearly disagrees with the socialist approach favored by Ortega and Chavez. I would like to remind Riley and COHA that there is nothing inherently wrong with socialism. In fact, it offers a substantial improvement over the U.S.-supported plutocracy that has ruled Nicaragua throughout most of its history. If socialism is what the elected Nicaraguan government wants, why would the U.S. government (and apparently COHA) seek to undermine Nicaraguan policy? The truth, of course, is that U.S. corporate interests have captured the U.S. government's foreign policy and, apparently, influenced COHA.
    I would ask COHA to please take a more independent stance and provide its readers with a more balanced assessment of Nicaragua, free from Mr. Riley's obvious anti-socialist bias.

    Reply
    • March 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm
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      Mister Van den Berg,
      I agreed with you, there is nothing wrong with socialist' theoric approach not only in countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua but anywhere. In fact, the problem with thoses theories and people like you it's that you live in a another planet. In Nicaragua, Ortega use a double speech. When he talks to european's people who are more careful about socialist's ideas, he is the most fervant socialist in the world. When he talks with the World's Bank, the speech become liberal. Ortega is in power since 2007 and today almost the half (46,2% according WB) of Nicaragua's population lives under threshold of poverty. In the same time Ortega had received 500 millions US dollar. In my mind, that is not socialism, and you what do you think? You need a real evidence before bash M. Brendan Riley and COHA…
      Sans rancune

      Reply
    • November 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm
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      Cuando el rio suena es que piedras trae…. EVERYONE knows in Nicaragua that there’s no transparency; However, things are being carefully done, people who work for the government are not allowed to say what they see, it will cost their jobs, and it’s not easy to find a job. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on that unfortunately who can you report that too? But, at least we’re not in war, children are not being killed like in the 80s, people dont have to worry about getting killed by the national guards,and Hopefully Aleman is still in jail. We need a transparent government, we need a new leader to bring new ideas, and care for the people of Nicaragua, a leader that is not going to robb the country. all these past corrupt leaders need to give the opportunity to a bright person.

      Reply
  • August 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm
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    Did Chavez have any objection to the private company being formed in Nicragua to handle Venezuelan aid? Seems like it would go against most of what Chavez stands for. I still have a lot of respect for what Chavez is trying to do with ALBA by breaking the chains of Free Trade in the region

    Reply
    • August 18, 2010 at 5:42 pm
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      Thanks for the comment.

      This is a great question—one to which I unfortunately do not have an answer. Personally, I imagine that if Chávez does indeed oppose how ALBANISA operates, which I too believe seems to contradict his beliefs and ideological aspirations, he would not make such a criticism vocal on the international stage. Perhaps there are talks going on behind the scenes, but I can only speculate about this. It's certainly a good point and worth thinking about.

      Brendan Riley

      Reply
  • August 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm
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    Riley's failure to research this grossly biased article adequately and fairly is clear from the fact that he does not once mention CARUNA, the cooperative savings institution which administers the great bulk of money derived from Venezuela's development cooperation with Nicaragua.The article gives an factually untrue and unfair account of the issues with which it deals. It is ridiculous to discuss ALBANISA without framing it within the much wider model which the ALBA framework is trying to promote. Who is Brendan Riley to tell the Nicaraguan government what it should and should not do to be a democracy? Not only is Riley's article factually incorrect, he compounds its inaccuracy with neocolonial cant.

    Reply
    • August 21, 2010 at 6:59 pm
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      While CARUNA and the general ALBA framework are important to keep in mind during such discussions, I do not think that I have portrayed ALBANISA in a biased or factually inaccurate way.

      Also, I reject the accusation that a criticism of a government is somehow "neocolonial." Indeed, I am not a Nicaraguan citizen and I am aware that its constitution forbids non-citizens from having political rights, but that does not mean that any suggestion for what the state should do by a foreign observer should be considered such.

      I have spent time in Nicaragua and studied at the UNAN there. I have a genuine passion for the country and its people. Those with "neocolonial cant" do not consider the interests of the "colonized" country; that is one of many fundamental reasons why I think this word choice is inaccurate, if not insulting.

      Thank you for reading the article and for commenting.

      Brendan Riley

      Reply
      • September 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm
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        Good answer, Brendan. Toni Solo is a Stalinist of the first order. You would be well advised to ignore his rants.

        Reply
  • September 3, 2010 at 12:00 am
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    Sr. Riley,
    As a Nicaraguan citizen and direct beneficiary of ALBA aid in my barrio Carlos Fonseca in Managua — in the form of the community health work of Cuban doctors working with our Nicaraguan doctors and specialists — I question your article [Nicaragua & ALBANISA: The Privatization of Venezuelan Aid] simply on journalistic criterion. You give full spectrum exposure to the claims of the Nicaraguan rightwing opposition parties accompanied by not one word from supporters of ALBANISA or CARUNA or the Nicaraguan government. Do you have such a low opinion of the critical capacities of your readers, or can it be that you have a political anti-ALBA and anti-Sandinista bias? In terms of journalistic integrity and ethics you have an obligation to inform readers not just about the allegations of the pro US opposition (which you do faithfully) but also the views of ALBANISA and the Sandinista government.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm
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    Do you think that the way Albanisa works would be considered as money laundering by the United States laws or regulation. It seems to me that if Albanisa is owned by 2 state owned entities, their Financial Statements revenues or profits should be transparent and submitted publicy, in benefit of the tax payers of both countries, doesnt the lack of transparency and accountability turns the operating scheme in turning ilicit renevues into an scheme that is trying to legitimate the funds, just because some or part of them are being used for the benefit of poor people…..

    Reply
  • October 17, 2010 at 8:24 pm
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    would you be willing to go over a point by point response to Toni Solo response to this article.
    http://www.tortillaconsal.com/prospero.html

    I agree a lot with Toni Solo although I think he is a bit cynical and overly harsh with people here who have the best intention however given our history as an imperial power I think that's understandable. And in this instance I believe he's right to be cynical because this article strikes me as clearly only relying on opposition figures in Nicaragua for it sources and not explaining context.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2010 at 10:46 am
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    I have lived in Nicaragua for 8 yrs. and am well aware what Toni Solo"s views are. He has been an unabashed supporter and cheerleader for the Ortegas for years. The more Daniel Ortega tightens his grip on this country by ignoring the Constitution and issuing illegal "decretos", the more Toni Solo supports him. Look no farther than this anti- democratic Stalinist to find out who the real imperialist is. He has become a joke for those of us who live in this country and are watching it turn into a Cuban Style police state.

    Reply
  • October 20, 2010 at 4:22 pm
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    I too am a supporter of Ortega, a critical supporter not a cheerleader, which is my main problem with toni solo, my problem with Ortega is that he's a reformer not a revolutionary he's not trying to change the structure of the society from a capitalist to a socialist one . With that being said he's done some incredibly positive things and I think joining the ALBA is one of those things. Now I find it ridicules that you call cuba a police state. it has it problem but it is not a police state. Police state are states like Columbia, Iraq under Saddam (which does not mean I supported the war), or Uzbekistan, places where there is a very real danger of people killed for any criticism of the government or action to force the government to change its policies. Now all I asking is for there to be a debate of the issues toni solo raised. Also I want to comment on the above post that Mr. Riley made to Toni Solo all constructive criticism should be aired however to presume that he knows best for Nicaragua and can say they should do something in manner x is incredibly arrogant and is part of a colonial attitude that we are the only one's who know how democracies are supposed to operate.

    Reply
  • February 27, 2011 at 11:54 pm
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    Me too I 'm Nica and journalist too, What I read in this article it"s a very brilliant analysis of what Albanisa is. This obscure company it's nothing more that a ideological tool use by Ortega for achieve his political goals. Albanisa helps only sandinist's partisans that means a very few people. The main beneficiary of all this Albanisa thing is the Ortega's Family.

    Thanks Mr. Riley

    Reply
  • March 10, 2011 at 12:59 am
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    Dear Mr. Riley,
    First I wanted to congratulate you for the great article.

    ALBANISA is definitely full of mysteries. They disclose little or no information to the public. This company is tied to the Ortega family and their wealth has amounted to unimaginable numbers. They have purchased many new assets, including a television channel (canal 8). These funds come from Venezuelan aid and they are used for personal wealth and political gains. It is not used for the benefit of the Nicaraguan people. Chavez and Ortega created a subsidiary in Nicaragua (ALBANISA) to promote and finance their political agenda in Nicaragua.

    CARUNA is more like a private bank for the Ortega-Murillo family. CARUNA started with US $ 3,000, now they are worth US $ 400 million. Where does this money come from? Most likely from Venezuelan aid for the Nicaraguan people but that never gets pass ALBANISA and CARUNA.

    Thanks for the great article and keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • April 5, 2011 at 5:22 pm
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    ALBANISA: __STOP THE ABUSE! __GET OUT OF NICARAGUANS' PRIVATE PROPERTYES!__RESPECT NICARAGUANS' PRIVATE PROPERTYES!____YOU ARE GETTING "BALASTRO & PIEDRIN" ILLEGALLY FROM A FARM OWNED BY A 93 YEAR OLD LADY AND HER FAMILY. GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF THERE!

    Reply
  • June 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm
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    This is a great article that explains all the shadowy work being done by Albanisa here in Nicaragua for all non-spanish readers. I suggest the author to update it by adding all the recent scandals that have plagued Albanisa along with its new projects (such as the new TV station they very discretely added to our network)

    Reply
  • October 24, 2011 at 10:57 am
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    Dear argentinafred: When you come to Nicaragua and live in a place were it is not possible to excersice basic human rights without being persecuted by the government, then and only then, you will have the right to give an opinion about how good Chavez and Ortega are. Specially when this has been going on for more than 30 years. Do you really think that we Nicaraguans are going to forget all of the massacres and crimes Daniel Ortega commited because he gives out a couple of houses and brings a few cuban physicians into the country? Nevertheless, social projects are always good, what is never good is the disrespect for Nicaraguan and International laws. Much less the disrespect of the Intelligence of us Nicaraguans.

    Reply
  • September 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm
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    I think this article, the comments, all the details here are very important. I found this article trying to find out why my country has been abused for years by the government, why almost half of the population is poor, why so many people ignore the reasons and therefore I don't want to be one! I am young, not a journalist, or as well informed about ALBANISA as the rest of the people commenting. However, I pretend to have more knowledge and I will keep reviewing the article and analyzing. I do know one thing as a citizen of Nicaragua I can't find it logical to know that millions of dollars could be being used long time ago to change the percentage of poverty, to improve and focus on the education in public schools, to have decent hospitals, and much more for the good of the Nicaraguan people. I could be like most of my family, always talking about the great social projects the Sandinistas have done, but I grew up to think/understand for myself and not to believe what I was raised to believe. That's one of the problems, too many individuals become fans of a government because their family convinced them they should.

    Reply
  • January 15, 2014 at 12:01 pm
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    Foreign visitors to Nicaragua usually express their views about the country as a reaction to their actual experiences during their short visit. This is perfectly understandable, but when they pretend to offer their views in public they tend to let themselves be too much influenced only by what their eyes could see. But Nicaragua has a dark side that officials and sandinistas don’t want you to see. As a Nica I can tell you: Yes, Ortega has stolen the last 3 elections by blatant fraud. Yes, I was a victim in all three.

    Reply

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