Iran pledges hydro projects for Nicaragua

Iran is promising to build hydroelectric projects in Nicaragua and to help fund a new US$350 million ocean port and 10,000 houses for the cash-strapped leftist government.

Iranian officials signed a series of agreements August 4 with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, in a deepening of ties with Tehran.

Iran pledged to choose a site in November for a US$120 million hydroelectric project, the first of four such projects to help Nicaragua overcome a power crisis marked by daily blackouts.

Ortega met Iranian Deputy Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian August 1 to convince Iran to help build several hydroelectric plants in Nicaragua as the impoverished country grapples with long daily blackouts.

“Iran has an enormous expertise in generating hydroelectric energy,� Ortega said when he received the Iranian delegation.
�Equally, it has a huge capacity in energy distribution.”

In return, Nicaragua plans to increase its farm exports to Iran, mainly coffee, meat, and bananas.

The visit followed Ortega’s trip to Iran in June and a visit to Managua in January by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an arch foe of Washington.

Despite U.S. warnings, Ortega a former Marxist guerrilla, is building alliances with anti-Washington countries such as Venezuela and Iran, which are flush with cash from high world oil prices and eager to win friends in Latin America.

“We will work to combine Iranian investment with other friendly countries,” Ortega said. “Venezuela would be ready and willing to take part in an effort like this,” said Ortega, who spoke with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez two days earlier.

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