President Daniel Ortega blamed the United States, capitalism, and Hurricane Joan for Nicaragua's shattered economy in his year-end speech to the nation Saturday.
Moreover, he was quoted Saturday as saying astronomical inflation would get worse before it gets better.Nicaragua suffers 21,000 percent inflation, one of the highest rates in the world, Ortega was quoted as saying. "While we are in war, the inflation will continue to rise," Ortega told Barricada, the official newspaper of the ruling Sandinista party.
U.S.-backed rebels known as Contras have been trying to oust the leftist government of Nicaragua since 1981, two years after the revolution in which the Sandinistas took power from the rightist Somoza family dictatorship.
Most of the Sandinistas' promises of a more just society remain unfulfilled because of poor economic management and the war, which Ortega says has killed 29,113 people and done more than $12 billion in economic damage.
A cease-fire and cutoff of U.S. military aid to the rebels have reduced fighting to small skirm-ishes most of this year, but talks on a permanent peace broke down in September.
In his nationally broadcast speech to diplomats, state workers and others at a military school in the capital, Ortega rejected the latest Contra proposals for peace talks, including one for a January round in Washington.
"This is an unburied monster," he said of the rebels. "It gives off a stench in all directions. It tosses out one reeking proposal here and another there. One can't tell which is from the United States, which ultimately is the one that arms this monster and doesn't know where to bury it or how to bury it."
But he also said the Sandinistas were unilaterally extending the cease-fire another month and that Nicaragua is ready to "look for ways to coexist with the enemies of the revolution."
Ortega said the United States is still arming the Contras despite the official end to overt military aid in February, the month before the cease-fire agreement was signed.
He blamed the "sustained aggression" of the United States, the capitalism of developed nations, and the devastating October hurricane for Nicaragua's worsening economic crisis.
Hurricane Joan, which Ortega called the most dramatic moment of his presidency, struck the Atlantic Coast, destroying several cities and scores of villages before sweeping across the country. Ortega said it did $828 million in direct damage.