Facts about What Is Happening in Nicaragua and a Challenge to “Left Intellectuals”
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN, 2 Jul 2018
1 Jun 2018 – Author and Editor’s Note: The following text was originally written to counteract a propaganda campaign launched in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavian countries by toxic soft coup operators against the Sandinista Government of Nicaragua. That is why it contains several references to that reality. While this addresses the propaganda generated from Sweden, the application of facts can be generalized to address all false reporting on events.
Until very recently, Nicaragua was an exemplary country in Central America, one of the most violent regions in the world.
- Crime rates were among the lowest in Latin America.
- Economic growth, between 4 and 5%, was the second highest in the region after Panama.
- It was one of the countries in Latin America with the greatest reduction in absolute and relative poverty.
- It was the only country in the region that produced 90% of the food it consumed.
- It was one of the very few countries in Latin America and the entire Third World that produced all its textbooks at all levels, from primary school to University and Adult Education.
- It had managed to stop the exodus to the United States.
- It was becoming a world-renowned tourist destination for travelers in search of peace, tranquility and healthy and environmentally friendly cultural experiences.
- It had reached levels of political participation of women that are only found in developed countries.
- It had managed to stop the drug cartels and organized crime.
In a matter of weeks, that image of human and sustainable development in the midst of a Central American region plagued by misery and crime has been seriously damaged.
Why? Was there a popular rebellion against an unjust and tyrannical regime? No!
Let’s do the following thought experiment:
Suppose a foreign government, for example Russia, decided with inexhaustible funds and control of the global media to finance and articulate an opposition to the current system in Sweden led by the neo-Nazi National Resistance Movement (Nationella Motståndsrörelsen).
Suppose, furthermore, that such a plan had the support of TT (the private media cartel) of the most important leaders of the Church of Sweden (Svenska Kyrkan) and of criminal groups. Suppose further that any reaction of force on the part of the State to prevent the collapse of the democratic system elected by its citizens was used as a pretext to justify all kinds of interventions and sanctions against the country. After enough time we would find ourselves in a situation similar to that which is taking place in Nicaragua today.
What takes place in Nicaragua is not a popular insurrection but a “regime change” operation. It is not “The People” who have cornered the government, but groups of the extreme right, supported by criminal gangs, who for weeks have held the population hostage while the National Police forces have strict orders not to leave their facilities to suppress the terrorist violence.
What these gentlemen present at today’s meeting call “paramilitary groups” are really the popular sectors mobilized in the defense, not only of the political system of the country, but of their own means of livelihood.
What the so-called “champions of democracy” do in Nicaragua is to cut off the roads, preventing;
- people from going to work,
- farmers from harvesting their crops,
- the elderly and the sick going out to collect their pensions or their medicines,
- children and young people from going to school.
With bombs and firearms they threaten people, they forbid them to film them with their cell phones, they kidnap them and even force them to pay “toll” fees . They loot and burn public goods, health centers, schools, communal offices and centers connected to the local Sandinista Front.
In Nicaragua we see the resistance of all the Sandinista and non-Sandinista people against a project designed by and for the financial elites and powerful sectors of the United States with the support of powerful sectors of the European Union.
Who is behind the “soft coup” in Nicaragua?
- a) Sectors of the American and European power elite
What defines Nicaragua is its geostrategic position, controlling the entire strip of land that unites North America with South America, as well as allowing the passage of the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. A strong and prosperous Nicaragua would have a huge influence on world relations.
For 200 years, all the powers with hegemonic pretensions over Central America have understood that the region must be divided and poor in order to control it. This is especially true of Nicaragua, which is the largest and most central country in the region: A strong and sovereign Nicaragua will imply a strong and sovereign Central America. This has always been feared by regional hegemons, be they Mexico, Great Britain or the United States. This is why Nicaragua is the only case of a country that, being the largest in its region, has lost territory at the hands of its smaller neighbors (Costa Rica and Honduras). In order for Central America to be controlled, Nicaragua must remain poor and at war. The United States may accept the existence of a certain Welfare State in Costa Rica, but never with Nicaragua. That is why, from the doctrinal point of view, they will never accept a Sandinista government. For this reason the planners of the Southern Command of the United States, have, for a long time, even before the Sandinistas returned to power in 2007, considered Nicaragua high on their agenda of priorities.
The ultra right of Miami, Senator Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, “Cuban-American” Senator Marco Rubio and Miami Mayor Francis X. Suárez, all repeat the same discourse of the “insurgents” in Managua. People like Ros-Lehtinen (intimate friend of the late Luis Posada Carriles, known as the most dangerous terrorist in the Western Hemisphere for his campaigns against the Cuban people and other Latin American peoples) can be said to be the main driver of the infamous ” Nica Act “, an initiative of law for the United States to veto any loan to Nicaragua in international organizations, an initiative that is rejected by almost all of the Nicaraguan people. In fact, current President Donald Trump owes these sectors for the votes that allowed him to reach the White House.
While the European Union shows growing signs of independence from the United States, the elites of certain countries, including Sweden, increase their dependence on imperial guidelines. They do this either for ideological or for economic reasons. We can not forget that one of the main operators after the coup d’état against President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 in Honduras, the “Cuban-American” Tony Tavel, was the manager of Tigo, the telephone company of the Swedish family Stenbeck in Central America. For decades, the Swedish Development Agency has financed anti-Sandinista networks in Nicaragua. The ex-ambassador in Managua Eva Zetterberg even said, about the possible return of the Sandinista Front to power, that the Nicaraguans were not capable of governing themselves, so they needed “help” from the US and European embassies.
- b) Colombia
For 200 years Colombia has had hegemonic pretensions about Central America. Thanks to the policy of recovering national sovereignty, the Sandinista Government succeeded in reconquering for Nicaragua in November 2012, following a ruling by the Court of The Hague, some 90,000 kilometers of territorial sea that Colombia had previously used.
In fact, Colombia has strengthened its presence throughout Central America by buying companies in several countries. Michael Healy, current “business leader” of the insurgent fascists of Managua, is not a Nicaraguan entrepreneur. He is the General Manager of the CASUR (Benjamín Zeledón) mill in Rivas. This ingenuity was bought by the Mayagüez sugar group of Colombia in 2014. It is of no use to Healy to dress in the blue and white flag of Nicaragua when his bosses are Colombian.
Also for drug trafficking and international organized crime the destabilization of Nicaragua is a precious booty. Only last year until the beginning of December, 27 tons of drugs had been captured in Nicaragua. In the country the establishment of cartels and gangs has been prevented, all that would change if the Sandinista Government fell. For all this it is no coincidence that the Colombian John Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, aka Popeye, former boss of Pablo Escobar sicarios, appears on social networks supporting the opposition he advises. On Saturday, May 26, the New York Times reported new diplomatic cables that once again confirm the ties of the far-right and Sandinista enemy Álvaro Uribe with Escobar and the Medellin Cartel. Uribe, who frontally rejects the ICJ ruling that returned his territorial sea to Nicaragua, is a powerful ex-president and his sponsored Ivan Duque is emerging as the next president of Colombia.
- c) The local financial elite
For years, the propaganda has attacked the Sandinista government for promoting a model of consensus and alliances with the private sector, which it had presented as an accomplice of the Sandinista government in the interests of business. Today the visible heads of national capitalism have made common cause with the insurgents of the extreme right. This is something that must be explained. In fact, those visible heads of the businessneither represent the majority of the Nicaraguan capitalists, nor is the capitalist private sector, the main economic engine of the country.
The economy of Nicaragua rests fundamentally on the popular sectors that produce more than 50% of GDP and generate more than 70% of employment in the country. Family remittances, which go directly to that sector of the economy, are an important source of income for Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, there was an important redistribution of land resulting from the revolution of 1979 and the peace accords of the 1990s. Today, 80% of the land is still in the hands of small and medium-sized producers, while in 1979 the owners of more than 500 manzanas controlled most of the land. In addition, since 2007, the Sandinista government has handed over 100,000 land titles in the countryside and the city, giving production means to sectors that do not follow a capitalist economic logic. This economic base means that 90% of all the food consumed is produced in Nicaragua. In addition, it means entire sectors of the economy, such as transport and even most of tourism, is controlled by cooperatives and family businesses. The private business sector was the one that least increased its investments during the Sandinista government, having been the State and Foreign Direct Investment, as well as the sector of the Popular Economy who contributed most to the investment in the country.
The business leaders do not represent the real entrepreneurs, most of whom want to see a stable and prosperous country. The business leadership is composed of individuals linked to international finance, transnational corporations or the management mafia of employers’ organizations. Those groups do not care that Nicaragua is destroyed by a war, they have their hedge funds and their salaries of the multinationals behind which to hide.
For example, Michael Healey, current spokesman for the insurgent fascists, is a simple employee of a sugar mill owned by Colombian capital. Likewise, José Adán Aguerri, president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise, COSEP, does not have any company other than COSEP itself. The Pellas family, which during the Revolution of the 80s declared the economic strike to the Sandinista Government and transferred all its money to the tax havens from which it dedicated itself to financial speculation, saw its power and influence increase with the war that bled the country. From the Vivian Pellas Hospital (private), boxes of condoms and “morning-after pills” are being sent to the orgies that the middle-class boys have along with the most dangerous gang members in Managua at the Polytechnic University. Meanwhile, the Pellas Family, which has a monopoly on liquor in the country, lives off the subsidy by means of which they force the Nicaraguan people to pay more for sugar than their price on the world market. That subsidy, product of the entreguismo of the neoliberal governments, exemplifies the model of State that those sectors consider “democratic”. Finally, the businessman who first of all dared to express in public his total support to the fascist insurgents on Saturday, April 21 in the UPOLI Polytechnic University, Piero Cóen, is the richest man in Nicaragua, head of the financial group Coen and the seventh largest capitalist in Central America, according to Forbes magazine.
When those sectors, as Michael Healey said last week in televised dialogue across the country, they express that they are willing to continue with the stalemate and violence “as a necessary price” to put an end to President Daniel Ortega, he is in fact saying that they do not care about ending the business in the country, because they are directly affecting thousands of small, medium and even some big capitalists interested in investing in the country. They are also affecting thousands of foreigners, especially North Americans, who have settled in Nicaragua with small capitals trying to escape the crisis in North America and who have found in Nicaragua a peaceful, safe and positive place to make a life. When the violent ones try to burn down the markets, among them the Mercado Oriental, the biggest open-air market in all of Central America, they are attacking all the micro, small and medium companies that are the economic base of Nicaragua. Who can do that, but those who are interested in turning the country into a paradise of organized crime and interests that have nothing to do with the nation or production?
- d) The political-mediatic and local ecclesiastical elites
In the first place, the Chamorro family that controls the cavernous and rabidly anti-Sandinista newspaper La Prensa, along with other media that present themselves as “renewed Sandinistas” and that for many years have poured out all kinds of poison against the government. The propaganda published by La Prensa, with its routine personal attacks and unsubstantiated claims would never be tolerated in Sweden. On the other hand, media such as Confidencial by Carlos Fernando Chamorro, ex-Sandinista and routine receiver of the toxic money of USAID, from the Center for Information and Communication (CINCO), has been dedicated for many years to the dissemination of all kinds of tendentious information against Sandinismo. To all this infrastructure is added a network of national and local radio stations that, with the support of both the US government and European governments, have for years dedicated themselves to subverting the political order of the country more or less openly.
The toxic medium “100% Noticias” by Miguel Mora, recruited by the CIA to oxygenate the loss of prestige in which the channels of the traditional rabid anti-Sandinismo of La Prensa and Radio Corporación were falling. For the past five or six years, correspondents of that television channel like Lucía Pineda (known as “La Chilindrina”) were sent on all kinds of “assignments” to the United States. Formally, Miguel Mora defined himself as a Sandinista but in his programs he gave space to the most violent groups of the opposition, legitimizing them.
The traitors to Sandinismo, represented mainly by the “Sandinista Renewal Movement”:
These are ex-Sandinista leaders, many of them with conservative roots, who seem to follow a social democratic line but who in practice are far-right. In El Salvador these “renovators” have come to support ARENA against the FMLN and in Honduras they supported the coup leaders against Manuel Zelaya. In Nicaragua, last year its leader Margarita Vigil went to embrace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the “Cuban-American” friend of the late Luis Posada Carriles and promoter of the infamous “Nica Act”. They are very violent groups in their opposition to Sandinismo, not only in their rhetoric, but also promoting all kinds of armed acts. Most of its leaders at the local level do not even know the history of Nicaragua, much less that of Sandino.
A whole network of NGOs financed with US money and the European Union:
For many years, all kinds of “leadership courses” have flourished in the country, which in most cases have served to prepare the cadres in one way or another. In many cases, international NGOs like the Friedrich Ebert Foundation say they work with the Government of Nicaragua but it is not true, they have been subverting it. Another example: leading cadres of OXFAM actively work in the networks of the MRS and its conspiracies.
The hierarchy and many of the structures of the Catholic Church, working openly against the line of Pope Francis, to promote dialogue and a peaceful solution to the conflict:
Bishops like Msgr. Silvio Báez have acted as coup leaders, calling the insurrectionaries to arms and Bishop Abelardo Mata de Estelí, who in the first session of the dialogue practically made a declaration of war against the government. For his part, the head of the Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Jaime Brenes, shows total passivity in the face of the belligerence of his bishops. We see nuns celebrate when the vandals on the right knock down Trees of Life, 30-meter-high metal structures that light the cities that, when they are knocked down, have already caused human deaths. We see videos of priests such as Father Carlos Rafael Avellan of the Municipality of Nueva Guinea or Father Edwin Román de San Miguel encouraging people to participate in marches that everyone knows are not peaceful.
The social base of this coup are middle sectors, sectors of the student body, urban lúmpenes and traditional anti-Sandinista bases:
The trigger for the “soft coup” was a reform of the country’s social security system that has a deficit of 80 million dollars that must be covered. The proposal of the IMF and the irresponsible business leadership of the country was to raise the retirement age by doubling the number of years of contributions, reducing a large amount of costs and privatizing the system so that only groups with high purchasing power had rights. The government’s proposal was to reduce retirements by 5% by slightly increasing the share of the insured workers and greatly increasing that of the companies and those with the highest incomes. The idea was to save a solidary and inclusive system with the contribution of all but especially of the wealthiest sectors. The government’s approach was not to raise either the retirement age or increase the years worked.
The businessmen refused to fulfill their part of the deal by increasing their contributions and the media, which overnight turned to the most radical opposition, presented the government’s proposal as a neoliberal measure, something clearly false. Immediately there were protests that were answered in a violent way by the Police and by groups supporting the Government. Quickly, the issue of the reform of the pension system was left aside, going on to talk about political issues, especially the overthrow of President Daniel Ortega.
What happened in the first days is still a matter of investigation. It is true that there were acts of violence on both sides, but it is also true that the Nicaraguan Police have never shown themselves to be bloodthirsty against social protests since their doctrine, which emerged from the Sandinista Revolution, prevents it. On many previous occasions there have been large popular demonstrations in Nicaragua but the number of deaths has been comparatively very low. Even after the FSLN’s electoral defeat in the 1990 elections, there were great clashes in the streets between armed groups with war rifles and rocket launchers without leading to massacres.
It is surprising that it is alleged, both on the part of the opposition and on behalf of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (which by the way has shown to be totally biased in favor of the protesters) that snipers have been used against the protests . In that case, it could not have been in order to disperse the protests but to generate even more chaos. If the objective had been to disperse the protests with bullets, then the police should have fired bursts directly at the demonstrators, unleashing massacres such as that of Tlatelolco in Mexico in 1969, instead of an unknown number of deaths (according to the IACHR, more than 60 or 70) over several days of confrontation. If there were snipers, it could not have been from those who wanted to appease the protests but from those interested in stoking the fury of the demonstrators.
The leaders of the protests repeat their demand that the State withdraw anti-riot forces from the streets, but the fact is that for more than 10 or 12 days the police have strict orders to remain quartered and only leave for work that has nothing to do with the repression of the demonstrations. They demand the withdrawal of “paramilitary forces” that are not such, but business owners defending themselves from the looting and attacks or residents who defend their human right to free movement. In fact, in recent weeks the people of Nicaragua have been at the mercy of groups of vandals and criminals who, at nightfall, cut off traffic, rob, burn and even seek Sandinistas to kill.
It is not true that protesters mobilize a majority of the population. On April 30, the first mobilization of Sandinistas took place since the beginning of the riots and Managua was filled with red and black flags of people who were not obligated in any way but mobilized voluntarily. Since then, there have been demonstrations in support of La Paz and in favor of dialogue and the Sandinista government throughout the country. In Managua, hundreds of thousands of Sandinistas congregate day after day to defend the Hugo Chávez Rotunda in the center of the capital. Every morning in the towns and cities of Nicaragua the inhabitants wake up by clearing barricades and cleaning up the disasters left by the violent ones. During the last week in several cities of the country, the villagers have mobilized in different ways against the barricades, which in many cases has been answered with violence by the groups on the right.
A worsening situation in Nicaragua can lead to a destabilization of the entire region with the result of millions of migrants, especially to the United States. The activity of drug trafficking and organized crime would skyrocket. That is why only sectors that think about short-term gains may be interested in de-structuring the only Central American country that moved against the general trend of social and political collapse that prevails in the region.
Perhaps it is for that reason that the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, told the opposition that they were looking for an undemocratic solution to the crisis and refused to support them. Perhaps for that same reason the European Union this week refused to give its support to the “Sandinista Renewal Movement”. And maybe because of that desperation to know that they have time against them and that the Nicaraguan people are already fed up with them, that the operators of the “soft coup” launch a final offensive both internally and abroad.
There are several questions to ask the gentlemen who promote the “soft coup” in Nicaragua:
- If they won, what do they plan to do with the millions of Sandinistas in Nicaragua?
- Do they think that they will be able to control the country if they win?
- If they think they are better, why not go to an election, especially when they are offered all the guarantees, with international observers and all kinds of controls? Is it because they fear not being able to win them cleanly?
- What do they intend to do with the country? So far they have only repeated again and again that they are decent, clean, democratic … although in reality the Nicaraguan people, day after day, prove that they are the opposite.
- Let them say how they are going to solve the social security deficit. From what pockets will the money come to cover it?
- Let them say how they are going to prevent the privatization of social security, a very profitable business for banking, with a million captive policy holders and with the privatization of dozens of pension clinics recovered by Sandinismo.
- Let them say at what price they plan to sell modern public hospitals, built from scratch by Sandinismo.
- Let them explain to the people how they are going to resolve this alliance of radical abortion advocates with the most conservative anti-abortionists of the Catholic Church.
- Let them explain how this love of brothers works between the ideologist of the “renovators” “Sandinistas”, the poet Gioconda Belli and her carnal brother, Humberto, a member of Opus Dei, that when he was Minister of Education of Violeta Chamorro, the first thing he did was to burn the literacy books.
- They should explain how they intend to develop the country’s economy by burning the Mercado Oriental and all the popular markets of Nicaragua.
- They should explain to the people how they intend to avoid unemployment because they are forced to sell the hundred thousand properties of the countryside and the cities titled by the Sandinista government in favor of the popular sectors, and how they intend to comply with the agreements made for one hundred thousand properties that the Sandinista Front committed to over the next few years.
- Explain to the people how they think about restoring public and gratuitous access to Internet that with their protests and attacks they have denied to the towns.
- What will they tell all the university students that through their protests have lost the school year, and how they are going to restore the right to peace, to the future and to study.
- Explain to the elderly who can not obtain their medicines through the barricades, that can not collect their pensions for the protests, how they will defend them.
It is sad to see the sepulchral silence of many Latin American left-wing intellectuals (with few but very honorable exceptions) about what happens in Nicaragua. We want to tell you three things:
- The first is that those who still believe that what happens in Nicaragua is a popular rebellion, suffer from incurable nonsense or are an agent of the United States.
- The second thing is that nobody does a coup d’état for what they have done wrong, but for everything they have done well. If the Sandinista government had behaved like an applied student of the empire (as some impostors of the ultra-left claim) then we would not see the Ileana Ros-Lehtinens and Marco Rubios of the world cheering from the rooftops.
- Third, if revolutionary intellectuals of great stature who speak a lot in international forums are not able to cry out in the face of the serious risk that Central America (and by extension, the Caribbean) will fall under the control of drug cartels and Uribism, then it means that something very, very fundamental about the project of liberation of the Abya Yala is escaping its understanding.
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- Nicaragua: Extortion, Dialogue and a Longing for Peace
- Nicaragua and the Left: Between Pride and Ignorance
- (AUDIO) Recent events in Nicaragua – June 3rd 2018
Original in Castellano: ¿Qué pasa en Nicaragua?
Translated by Internationalist 360°
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