When Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi reacted to popular demonstrations by shooting protesters, he triggered a torrent of international condemnation. Gadhafi and his harsh crackdown became the target of pointed denunciations by the international community and by top government officials on every continent. There was, however, one region where Gadhafi found words of support from a number of powerful leaders: Latin America.
The reaction to events in Libya and other Middle Eastern country from leftist leaders in Latin America says much about their worldview, about the way they define themselves and about their commitment to their political principles.
Consider Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a former guerrilla fighter who once took up arms to overthrow a dictator in his country. Ortega not only heaped praise on Gadhafi as the Libyan ruler fired on his own people, but picked up the phone and called his friend in Tripoli. "I have been speaking with Gadhafi," Ortega later recounted. "He is again fighting a great battle."