Support for dictator from Latin Americans

An ADVISER to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega said his government would consider giving asylum to Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi if he asked for it, but acknowledged it would be difficult to arrange.

Asked whether Nicaragua would offer asylum, economic adviser Bayardo Arce said he did not know how Gaddafi could even get to Nicaragua, whose government has been a strong ally of the Libyan leader.

“I do not know how Gaddafi could get here from Libya, because we do not have an embassy in Libya,” Mr Arce said.

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But added that “if someone asks us for asylum, we would have to consider it positively, because our people got asylum when the Somoza dictatorship was killing us”, referring to the 1979 uprising that overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Mr Ortega made a public speech yesterday but did not mention Col Gaddafi.

The leftist governments of Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia are staunch allies of Col Gaddafi and have criticised the military intervention by American and European air forces.

In late February, after Col Gaddafi’s government began cracking down on the uprising, Mr Ortega said he had telephoned the Libyan leader to express his solidarity.

Mr Ortega said at the time that Col Gaddafi “is again waging a great battle” to defend the unity of his nation.

On Tuesday, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said his country would continue to recognise Col Gaddafi as the leader of Libya and would refuse to recognise the interim government.

“We recognise only one government: the one led by Muammar Gaddafi,” said Mr Chavez in a televised address.

He condemned the roles of Nato and the US government in Libya’s conflict.

“Without a doubt, we’re facing imperial madness,” Mr Chavez said.