Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

  CENTRAL AMERICA, August 31, 2007 (—Sweden announced on Tuesday that it would sever aid to several countries that oppose its pro-abortion policy, including Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Peru.

  Although the government of Sweden did not publicly attribute the decision to the abortion policies of the Latin American nations, the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa yesterday quoted anonymous sources who stated that the Swedish leadership, “was very concerned about the issue of therapeutic abortion.” “What happened is that they are very involved in the area of health.  The announcement is for the purpose of seeing if the debate over therapeutic abortion will be reopened again,” the newspaper was told.

  Two representatives in the Nicaraguan Congress, Alba Placios and Wilfredo Navarro, accused the Swedish ambassador, Eva Zetterberg, of trying to use Sweden’s foreign aid program to force abortion on the country.

“The Swedes have been exerting pressure and conditioning all of their aid on meddling, principally the ambassador Eva Zetterberg…The basis for removing Swedish aid is the topic of abortion.  Zetterberg is an open sponsor of abortion in Nicaragua,” said Navarro.

  The Swedish diplomatic corps in Nicaragua has repeatedly hinted to Nicaragua that continuing its policy of prohibiting abortions would jeopardize foreign aid assistance from the country.  Last year, when legislators were debating a new law that would make all direct abortions illegal, Zetterberg joined other ambassadors and leaders from United Nations agencies in urging the government not to pass the legislation.  Zetterberg herself went to the Nicaraguan Congress to witness the vote, which was seen by some as an act of intimidation.

  At a meeting last year of the Donor’s Roundtable, a group of representatives of countries and UN agencies giving foreign aid to Nicaragua, Zetterberg told the media that the group “wants to ensure that mechanisms are planned to guarantee a better link between cooperation and government policies,” and stated that “therapeutic abortion” was “a very important issue”.

  When the law banning abortions was passed, a group of feminist organizations with ties to international foundations appealed the ruling.  The leader of the group, Ana Maria Pizarro, stated that Zetterberg and others in the “Donor’s Roundtable” (whose members are representatives of foreign aid donors to Nicaragua) had asserted that “they saw it as a great inconsistency, given that the European cooperation is based on the promotion of human rights and respect for democratic liberties.”

  Although the government of Sweden did not directly cite the countries’ abortion policies in its announcement, the Swedish ambassador to El Salvador stated that the changes in her country’s foreign aid policy were meant to address topics such as “peace, security, democracy, and human rights”, terms that are often used in relation to the pro-abortion agenda.

  Two other countries in Central America that prohibit all abortions, El Salvador and Honduras, were also cut off, as well as Peru, which has also failed to buckle under pressure to loosen abortion restrictions.

  The economist Nestor Avendano stated that the cuts would do serious harm to the most vulnerable sectors of the Nicaraguan economy, including health and education. “The government will have to reduce expenditures in other budgetary areas to be able to attend to those sectors with the same intensity,” he told La Prensa.

  However, Nicaragua also received news yesterday that Switzerland would more than triple its annual foreign aid to Nicaragua, from about $5 million to over $17 million annually for the next five years. This would partially offset the $21 million annual loss from Sweden’s pullout.