Nicaragua changes police chiefs amid US pressure
MANAGUA — The Nicaraguan government has embarked on a series of changes within the national police force amid mounting pressure from the United States and official anger at what is seen as foreign intervention in domestic affairs.
On September 5, Commander Fernando Caldera was appointed as the new director of the national police force, replacing Commander Rene Vivas, who was retired along with 12 other top police officers.
President Violeta Chamorro expressed her "profound gratitude" to Vivas and his colleagues for their long years of service in the police force and their "contributions to the nation in the course of their daily duty".
Previously, Caldera held an Interior Ministry post in the city of Granada and was responsible for public order in the country's eastern provinces.
The new police chief, a staunch opponent of the Somoza dictatorship, joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front in the early 1970s. He held several posts in the 1980s under the Sandinista government.
The interior minister, Alfredo Mendieta, strongly denied allegations that the new appointments had been prompted by US pressures, specifically by the ultraconservative Senator Jesse Helms, who has blocked more than $100 million in aid to Nicaragua.
Although Mendieta insists that the restructuring of the police force began in 1990, it is known that in July, US secretary of state James Baker demanded Vivas' retirement as a condition for US aid, when he met with presidency minister Antonio Lacayo in Washington.
[From Inter Press