It’s called the Global Navigation Satellite System (Glonass, Russian acronym) ground station, the Russian version of the American GPS and the European Galileo. It is a gigantic plate that can be seen from a distance on one side of the Nejapa lagoon, in the southwest of Nicaragua.
It was inaugurated on April 6 in this municipality of the capital of Nicaragua and is considered an electronic espionage base.
In that place where a volcano roared in the past, there is a rocky path that hits a concrete wall. A good investigation of BBC London, published in 2017 entitled “The enigmatic Russian satellite station in Nicaragua” pointed out that this wall is topped by barbed wire and only the roof of a not very large building painted blue can be seen from there.
The Pentagon describes that facility as a Russian espionage system with white in the United States and the entire region. Now that Moscow has threatened has threatened to deploy offensive weapons in Cuba and Venezuela, the other Kremlin allies along with the Managua dictatorship, this satellite structure attains a peculiar importance.
Its creation was agreed on January 26, 2016 by the governments of Daniel Ortega and Vladimir Putin, and is in charge of the Russian Federal Space Agency, also known as Roscosmos.
The parties decided to call it Chaika, in honor of the identification mark of the first woman to travel to space (1963), today’s politician Valentina Tereshkova.
Upstairs, in the neighboring community inhabited by poor countrymen, they only know that the men who enter and leave the installation They “speak Russian”, carry “gadgets” and move around in big trucks who march at great speed along the roads of the region.
A curiosity: on the other side of the Nejapa lagoon is the US embassy.
Dictator Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo AP
“Today we open a new page of this history,” announced Igor Komarov, the general director of Roscosmos, at the opening ceremony of the controversial facility that year.
It is the “first and only” ground station of the Glonass system in Central America, the official stressed during the act, chaired by Laureano Ortega, one of the nine sons of the dictator Ortega, who still works today as a presidential adviser for investments.
Laureano is one of the Nicaraguan officials sanctioned since 2019 by the US government who lor accuses of collecting tolls or bribes for investments and identifies it “as an extension of the marriage” Ortega-Murillo who have just assumed power again after imprisoning all their opposition rivals.
The base has similarities, say analysts, to the one it maintains in southern Argentina, in the province of Neuquén. the People’s Republic of China As the Russian is fenced, it exhibits military guards and only personnel from the Asian power are allowed to enter.
When the installation in Nicaragua caught the attention of the press, the Kremlin said that there were already others in operation and that new ones had to be built in various parts of the globe, including one in Argentina.
The BBC summarizes that the deputy director of the Russian space agency, Sergei Saveliev, told the official media Sputnik News, that outside Russia there are eight stations of this type: four in Brazil, three in Antarctica and one in South Africa.
He added that they planned to “install others in Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Switzerland, as well as Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador and Mexico”. The British chain clarified that it could not verify this information. Even today it is difficult because Moscow avoids adding information.
Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader greeted the assumption of the fifth term and fourth consecutive term of the Nicaraguan autocrat AP
“This is a strategic project that was also ratified when President Vladimir Putin made his historic visit to Nicaragua; and he met with President Ortega, and the will of both governments, and both peoples, to advance in this important project was ratified”, the dictator’s son spoke.
There is an informative curiosity there because the commercial relationship between Nicaragua and Russia is negligible, extremely less than the one that the dictatorship has maintained with the United States, which continues to be today Managua’s main trading partner.
“It has been said that it has civilian purposes, but the high degree of secrecy of the activities carried out there raises suspicions,” Roberto Cajina, a civilian security, defense and governance consultant in Nicaragua, declared at the time. “There is no information on the cost of the facilities or the specialization of the personnel. The project is the product of the contract between the Russian space agency and Telcor, shrouded in secrecy,” the analyst added.
Admiral Kurt Tidd, who held the US Southern Command, told the press that “Russia maintains a disturbing attitude in Nicaragua (…) and could affect the stability of the region.” He did not detail the scope of that threat.
Juan González, former Barack Obama official and who today occupies a relevant position in the White House on Latin America, had commented along these lines, after the inauguration of the base, that the installation represented an “incipient threat”, especially because of Russia’s ability to collect information.