Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Taiwan Keeps Daniel Ortega Afloat

The Trump administration has focused on pressuring Latin American countries to recognize Taiwan and push back against the Chinese presence. In Central America, Marco Rubio has been active in criticizing and trying to punish El Salvador for recognizing China. Both China and Taiwan use money as a carrot.

Enter Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega, ever the political chameleon, recognized Taiwan in 2017. That turned out to be a great move because Taiwan just loaned him $100 million to keep him afloat. Ortega desperately needed an influx of cash as he faces isolation and domestic upheaval. This comes just after Donald Trump said he wanted to come after Ortega.

The competition between Taiwan and China in Latin America gives governments greater autonomy. The United States alone cannot force regime change in Nicaragua solely with economic pressure because there are escape valves. In this particular case, Ortega is actually just doing what the U.S. wanted in the first place.


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