WASHINGTON – Daniel Ortega, who has ruled Nicaragua for some 22 years, says his hands are clean and he is not going anywhere, because it would "make things worse." His term ends 2021.
Ortega told Fox News' Bret Baier that he was not behind the heavy-handed repression that has left nearly 300 people dead.
Ortega also urged President Donald Trump's administration and law makers to "think carefully" about a congressional resolution condemning the actions of the Nicaraguan government.
"We are a small country, but we deserve respect," Ortega said.
Ortega said he is not funding or arming the paramilitary groups that have been frightening protesters during the last three months.
"Some are financed by drug money," the 72-year-old Nicaraguan president said.
Ortega said there haven't been persecutions of the Roman Catholic Church, although bishops have video and photos showing otherwise.
"We invite the Catholic Church to continue with the dialogue so the dialogue can grow and develop in an open manner," Ortega said.