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History tells us the United States’ supposed ‘concern for democracy’ in Nicaragua is nothing of the sort

By Daniel Kovalik | RT | July 30, 2021

A century and a half has shown us that American meddling in Nicaragua is never about improving the lot of the people of that nation, and only ever about furthering Washington’s imperialist agenda.

The US government is back at it. It is again expressing concern about the state of democracy in Nicaragua, and conjuring up a new round of punitive sanctions against that tiny country to allegedly prevent dictatorship from taking hold there.

The newest sanctions bill against the country is titled “Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act.” As the Senate version explains, “This bill requires the Executive branch to align US diplomacy and existing targeted sanctions to advance democratic elections in Nicaragua, and includes new initiatives to address corruption, human rights abuses, and the curtailment of press freedom.” Sadly, many US non-governmental organizations and ‘intellectuals’ who should know better have sided with the government in its attack on Nicaragua.

However, a brief history of US involvement in Nicaragua is worth recounting here to fairly assess the government’s bona fides regarding its interest in democracy in that country. The first instance of US intervention in Nicaragua came in the form of William Walker in the mid-19th century, at around the time the Monroe Doctrine, by which the US proclaimed its sole prerogative to dominance over the Western Hemisphere, was announced. William Walker declared himself president of Nicaragua, reinstituted slavery there, and burned down the historic city of Granada for good measure, yet his foray into the country was supported by many Americans as an exercise in progressive advancement.

John J. Mangipano explains this phenomenon well in his peer-reviewed dissertation titled ‘William Walker and the Seeds of Progressive Imperialism: The War in Nicaragua and the Message of Regeneration, 1855-1860’. As he explains: “For a brief period of time, between 1855 and 1857, William Walker successfully portrayed himself to American audiences as the regenerator of Nicaragua. Though he arrived in Nicaragua in June 1855 with only fifty-eight men, his image as a regenerator attracted several thousand men and women to join him in his mission to stabilize the region. Walker relied on both his medical studies as well as his experience in journalism to craft a message of regeneration that placated the anxieties that many Americans felt about the instability of the Caribbean. People supported Walker because he provided a strategy of regeneration that placed Anglo-Americans as the medical and racial stewards of a war-torn region. American faith in his ability to regenerate the region propelled him to the presidency of Nicaragua in July 1856. … Though William Walker did not ultimately succeed as a regenerator, American progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt revived his focus on medical and racial stabilization through their own policies in the Caribbean, starting in the 1890s.”

As Mangipano concludes, “The continuity existing between these groups of imperialists suggested that the regenerators, despite their temporary failures, succeeded in nurturing ideas about why Americans needed to intervene in the Greater Caribbean.” This impulse to “progressive imperialism” – now called by the kinder and gentler-sounding “humanitarian interventionism” – continues to motivate even many US leftists in their attitudes towards Nicaragua and other countries of the Global South, and with the same terrible results.

Meanwhile, in the name of progressivism and democracy promotion, the US would go on to send the US Marines to occupy Nicaragua in the early part of the 20th century and set up the Somoza dictatorship that ruled Nicaragua with an iron fist for over four decades from 1936. The Marines were routed by Augusto César Sandino and his gang of merry men and women, Sandino was later assassinated, and the Somozas held control. America would then organize, finance, and direct the murderous ex-Somoza National Guardsmen in the form of the Contras to try to destroy the Sandinista Revolution, which finally overthrew the US’s beloved dictatorship in 1979. Washington coerced the Nicaraguan people into voting against the Sandinistas in 1990 with the threat of continued war and brutal economic sanctions. Then, in 2018, they supported violent insurrectionists who terrorized Nicaragua for months in an effort to topple the very popular Sandinista government that was re-elected in 2006.

In short, there is a grave threat to democracy in Nicaragua. But it is not from Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, who have built the first democratic state in that country in years. Rather, it is from the United States and the “useful idiots” who continue to believe the US is somehow attempting to bring democracy, despite all evidence to the contrary.

One way the US is threatening democracy is by funding destabilizing and anti-government efforts to the tune of millions of dollars. Nicaragua has responded, as any self-respecting nation would, by punishing those facilitating such foreign interference pursuant to its Law 1055, titled ‘Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination for Peace’. As Stephen Sefton, an educator and decades-long resident of Estelí, Nicaragua, explains,

“Under the law, it is a crime to seek foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs’ request military intervention; organize acts of terrorism and destabilization; promote coercive economic, commercial and financial measures against the country and its institutions; or request and welcome sanctions against the State of Nicaragua and its citizens.

“In addition, Cristiana Chamorro of the Violeta Chamorro Foundation, Juan Sebastián Chamorro of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUNIDES), Félix Maradiaga of the Institute for Strategic and Public Policy Studies (IEEPP) and Violeta Granera of the Centre for Communications Research (CINCO) may also face charges for money laundering and breaking the ‘Foreign Agents’ law which requires all organizations receiving finance from overseas [in this case, the US] to register with the authorities, report the amount of money received and how it is used.”

However, as Sefton emphasizes, “Despite numerous reports in international media to the contrary, none of the people arrested had been selected by any of Nicaragua’s political alliances or parties as possible candidates for the upcoming general election on November 7th this year. Cristiana Chamorro, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Arturo Cruz and Félix Maradiaga had earlier stated they aspired to the candidacy of one of the political parties, most likely the Citizens for Liberty political alliance. But none of them was formally under consideration. In any case, as many observers have noted, the figure of their possible candidacy in the elections has served as a smokescreen to distract from the criminal charges against them, for which they would face prosecution in practically any country in the world.” Note that last, important phrase.

To put it bluntly, it is the US which, as it has now done for about a century and a half, is trying to dictate to the Nicaraguan people the type of government and economic model they should choose. As an independent, sovereign nation, Nicaragua has every right to push back against this incessant meddling.

I’ve just returned from Nicaragua, where, along with other members of an international delegation, I witnessed first-hand the Nicaraguan people’s enthusiasm for the Sandinista Revolution on its anniversary, July 19. I saw the crowd of thousands assemble in Pope Paul II Plaza, in Managua, to celebrate this extraordinary event, in which the Sandinista Front, led by Daniel Ortega, overthrew a dictator heavily armed by the US government. Our delegation visited Masaya, which was bombed from the air by Somoza in the final days of his brutal rule. It is continuing to rebuild after the destruction wrought by the neo-Contras of 2018, who, with US backing, laid siege to the city and terrorized it for months, until the historic combatants who defeated Somoza routed them with the assistance of the police.

During our trip, we saw for ourselves the incredible advancements of the Sandinista government, which is providing free healthcare and education to all Nicaraguans. We witnessed the children, who had suffered such poverty and deprivation during the Somoza years and the Contra War that followed, attend school and play in the beautiful parks erected across the country by the Sandinistas. We traveled throughout Nicaragua on beautifully paved roads that once were dirt and stone, if they existed at all

I myself travelled on those dirt roads in 1987 and 1988, when I visited Nicaragua for the first time. Back then, I saw children dressed in rags and without shoes, barely able to get enough to eat because of the US sanctions and the brutal war. One does not see that type of destitution in Nicaragua now, and that’s thanks to the Sandinista Revolution, which, contrary to mainstream claims, has stayed true to its values of defending the poor and the most vulnerable.

Nonetheless, the US is intent on destroying it, and the progress it has brought for the Nicaraguan people. And the people are fully aware of this, and that is why 85% of those polled oppose foreign interference in their country, just as any self-respecting nation would. I stand with them in denouncing US interference, sanctions, and aggression toward that little country which has mightily stood up to the Goliath of the North. In this Biblical struggle, all my support is with David.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is author of the recently-released No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using “Humanitarian” Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests.

July 30, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 1 Comment

US Targets Nicaraguan Presidential Election

By Roger D. Harris | Dissident Voice | July 14, 2021

Before Henry Kissinger became a Clinton pal, liberals condemned him for saying: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” The 1973 US-backed coup and bloodbath in Chile followed. Now Uncle Sam has a problem in Nicaragua, where independent polls predict a landslide victory for Daniel Ortega’s leftist Sandinista slate in the November 7th presidential elections.

The US government and its sycophantic media are working to prevent Ortega’s reelection. On July 12, the US slapped visa restrictions on one hundred Nicaraguan elected legislative officials, members of the judiciary, and their families for “undermining democracy.” A month earlier, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on President Ortega’s daughter, along with a military general, the head of the central bank, and an elected legislator.

These and other recent illegal US sanctions on Nicaragua are designed to promote regime change and are based on the ridiculous charge that this poor and tiny nation is a “extraordinary and unusual threat to the US national security,” when the opposite is the case.

The NICA Act of 2018, under the Trump administration, imposed sanctions, including blocking loans from international financial institutions controlled by the US. In August 2020, the Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (RAIN) plan was revealed, which is a multi-faceted coup strategy by which the US contracted corporations to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. RAIN calls for a “sudden, unanticipated transition” government to forestall what they admit would otherwise be a Sandinista victory in a free election. In a seamless handoff from the Trump to the Biden administration, the pending RENACER Act would further extended “targeted sanctions.”

US intervention in Nicaragua and, indeed, in all of Latin America under the 1823 Monroe Doctrine has a long history continuing to the present. Back in 1856, US citizen William Walker tried to impose himself as head of a slave state in Nicaragua, only to be assassinated four years later. In 1912, the US began an occupation of Nicaragua, forcing the country to become a US protectorate. The US was ousted in 1933 in a war led by national hero Augusto C. Sandino, after whom the present revolutionary party was named. In the 1980s, the US government proxies, the Contras, fought the new Sandinistas after they overthrew the US-backed Somoza dictatorship.

Problematic premises

In the past, most US progressives opposed the imperialism of their government. But more recently, as Jeremy Kuzmarov of CovertAction Magazine observed: “United States warmakers have become so skilled at propaganda that not only can they wage a war of aggression without arousing protest; they can also compel liberals to denounce peace activists using language reminiscent of the McCarthy era.”

A recent Open Letter to the Nicaraguan Government from U.S. Solidarity Workers 1979-1990 reflects the US imperial talking points. This US open letter, dated July 1, is joined by one from Europeans, formerly active in solidarity with Nicaragua, and one from international academics, mainly in the field of Latin American studies. (Links to all three letters may be dodgy.) All three letters, likely coordinated, use similar language to make matching critiques and demands.

While other international activists from the 1980s still prioritize non-intervention and solidarity with the Sandinista government, the concerns expressed in the open letter should be respectfully evaluated. The open letter is based on the following problematic premises:

  1. The open letter claims the Ortega “regime” is guilty of “crimes against humanity.”

In fact, Nicaragua is by far the most progressive country in Central America under the Sandinista government.

Unlike the Guatemalans, Hondurans, and El Salvadorians in these US client states, Nicaraguans are not fleeing to the US in search of a better life. Poverty and extreme poverty have been halved in Nicaragua, and the UN Millennium Development Goal of cutting malnutrition has been achieved. Basic healthcare and education are free, and illiteracy has been virtually eliminated, while boasting of the highest level of gender equality in the Americas. Nicaragua, which enjoys the lowest homicide rate in Central America, also has the smallest police force with the smallest budget in the region. These are not the hallmarks of a dictatorship.

  1. The open letter claims the 2018 coup attempt was simply a “demonstration of self-determination.” While the open letter correctly notes that the events of 2018 reflected an element of popular discontent, it renders invisible the millions of dollars and many years of US sponsored subversion in Nicaragua.

Social media campaigns of false information orchestrated by US-sponsored groups fueled viciously violent protests. According to solidarity activist Jorge Capelán: “those who kidnapped, tortured, robbed, murdered and raped citizens here in Nicaragua in April 2018 were the coup promoters. They themselves recorded everything with their cell phones. They even set fire to murdered Sandinista comrades in the street.”

Benjamin Waddell, a signatory to the open letter, admitted “it’s becoming more and more clear that the US support has helped play a role in nurturing the current [2018] uprisings.” Dan La Botz, another Ortega-must-go partisan, provided the background: “US organizations such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and no doubt the CIA had for decades, of course, worked in Nicaragua as they do everywhere in the world.”

No substantive progressive alternative was offered by the opposition in 2018, according to William Robinson, another signatory to the open letter. Rather, 2018 was an attempt to achieve by violent means what could not be achieved democratically at the ballot box.

  1. The open letter claims the Nicaraguan government “in no way represents the values, principles and goals of the Sandinista revolution.” This stance arrogates to foreigners the role of telling the Nicaraguan people how to evaluate their revolution. The electoral process in Nicaragua makes clear that the Nicaraguans think otherwise.

After successfully overthrowing the US-backed dictator Somoza and fighting the counter-revolutionary war against the US-backed Contras, the Sandinista’s lost the 1990 election. Notably, outgoing President Ortega without hesitation obeyed the electoral mandate, the first time in Nicaragua’s history that governing power was passed peacefully to another political party. After 17 years of neoliberal austerity, Daniel Ortega won the presidential election of 2006 with a 38% plurality and went on to win in 2011 with 63% and 72.5% in 2016. Ortega’s ever increasing electoral margins suggest the majority of Nicaraguans support him as the legitimate leader of the Sandinista revolution.

Problematic proposals

 Using the same loaded language as the US government, the open letter calls on the “Ortega-Murillo regime” to release political prisoners currently being held, including “pre-candidates,” members of the opposition, and “historic leaders” of the Sandinista revolution; rescind the national security law under which these individuals were arrested; and negotiate electoral reforms.

Nicaragua has passed two recent laws: the Foreign Agents Law and the Law to Defend the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination for Peace. These laws, which the open letter wants rescinded, criminalize promoting foreign interference in Nicaragua’s internal affairs, seeking foreign military intervention, organizing acts of terrorism, and promoting coercive economic measures against their country. These are activities, it should be noted, that are similarly prohibited in the US’s FARA Act, after which the Nicaraguan laws were modeled.

The recent actions of the Nicaraguan government prosecuting people who break their laws is a normal function of governance. That some of the accused perpetrators may have political aspirations does not immunize those individuals from arrest for unlawful activities.

The letter from the aforementioned academics claims that among those detained are the “most prominent potential opposition presidential candidates.” In fact, none of the 17 political parties in Nicaragua have chosen their candidates, and “most of those currently under investigation do not belong to any legally registered party.” In fact, Stephen Sefton reports from Nicaragua that “no leading figure from Nicaragua’s opposition political parties has been affected by the recent series of arrests of people from organizations that supported the 2018 coup attempt.”

One of the most prominent of those arrested is NGO director Cristiana Chamorro, charged with money laundering for receiving millions of dollars from the USAID, other US government agencies, and allied foundations for regime-change purposes. In her defense, she incredulously claimed that the US State Department had audited her and found everything to their liking.

The “historic leaders” of the Sandinista revolution are just that; people who had broken with the revolution long ago and since 1994 had collaborated with the US-allied rightwing opposition and NGOs. More to the point, they are being charged with illegal collusion with foreign powers.

The open letter calls for “negotiating electoral reforms,” but electoral law in Nicaragua as in the US is determined by the legislative process and not by negotiations among various power blocks. Nicaragua has implemented some but not all reforms mandated by the Organization of American States. The fourth branch of government, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), oversees elections. A third of the current CSE is composed of representatives of parties other than the ruling party, even though the Sandinistas hold a super-majority in the legislature.

The right of the Nicaraguan revolution to defend itself

While acknowledging “the long and shameful history of US government intervention,” the open letter does not acknowledge the right of the Nicaraguan revolution to defend itself. On the contrary, their implied endorsement of the 2018 coup attempt is a call for regime change by non-democratic means and an implicit pass for US interference.

The open letter’s finding that “the crimes of the US government – past and present – are not the cause of, nor do they justify or excuse” the behavior of the current government in Nicaragua is a door that swings two ways. Whatever the alleged wrongdoings the Ortega government, that still does not justify the US government’s regime-change campaign. The open letter is thunderously silent on current US intervention, notably the punishing NICA and RENACER acts.

The Nicaraguan government has prioritized the needs of poor and working people and has made astounding progress on multiple fronts. That is why they are being targeted for regime change, and why the Nicaraguans have taken measures to thwart US intervention.

The Trump administration specifically targeted the so-called “Troika of Tyranny” – Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua – with repressive illegal sanctions aimed at regime change. That policy of US domination did not start with Trump, nor is it ending with the new US administration.

The imperialists are clear on who they target as their enemy; some elements on the left are less clear on who is their friend and whether Nicaragua has a right to defend itself.  If the signers of the open letter believe, as they claim, “in the Nicaraguan people’s right to self-determination…of a sovereign people determining their own destiny,” then the November 2021 election should be protected, free from interference by the US, its international allies, and its funded NGOs.

Roger D. Harris is with the human rights organization Task Force on the Americas founded in 1985.

July 16, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 1 Comment

Nicaragua – Varieties of Neocolonial Solidarity

Nicaraguan student leaders lobbying for US intervention with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Marco Rubio
teleSUR | July 7, 2021

Just as in 2018, Nicaragua is once again the subject of the kind of mass international bad faith news coverage and perception management more usually associated recently with US and allied government offensives against Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. In Nicaragua’s case the current offensive is aimed at influencing the country’s elections scheduled for next November 7th. Currently, all the opinion polls show that, should President Daniel Ortega stand again for election, he and his FSLN party will win easily with over 60% support against around 20% for the the country’s right wing opposition.

The campaign against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government is clearly intended to encourage punitive coercive economic measures from the US and European Union governments aimed at influencing voter opinion in those November elections against President Ortega and the FSLN. Right now, the main false accusation is that “Ortega” has unjustly imprisoned over twenty opposition leaders, among them several presidential candidates. All US attempts to overthrow governments resisting US and allied government dictates depend on this kind of big lie. The standard big lie is that target governments are unpopular, repressive dictatorships. Invariably, the truth is very different if not the complete opposite.

For example, in 2009, the big lie in preparation for the coup against then Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was that the proposed Fourth Ballot referendum aimed to secure him re-election so as to impose a dictatorship. In Nicaragua’s case, the current big lie is that “Ortega” is arresting opposition leaders to prevent them defeating him in next November’s elections. These big lies only flourish in an essentially fascist culture of corporate dominated government in which truthful information is systematically suppressed and substituted by false beliefs.

Typical Western false beliefs or presuppositions are, for example, that the US and its allies are a force for good in the world, that Western culture is morally superior to others and that capitalism promotes optimal economic and social outcomes. These ridiculous false beliefs are fundamental tenets of Western intellectual life and public discourse. They make possible the kind of psychological warfare repeatedly unleashed against governments that obstruct the wishes of Western corporate elites and the governments they own.

An important component of Western psychological warfare shaping the moral dimension of any given disinformation assault is the essentially class based solidarity with the target country’s imperialist proxies. This neocolonial solidarity operates in reactionary and progressive varieties, both claiming a Western monopoly on freedom, democracy and defence of human rights. Both essentially agree that governments resisting Western demands deserve to be attacked one way or another.

The reactionary variety, prevalent mostly among the business and financial classes and related professionals, insists on abandoning international law in favour of intervention based on Western dictated rules. The progressive variety, prevalent mostly among non profit organizations, academics and other socially oriented professionals, agrees but is more diffident about the means of intervention deployed, demanding alibis to satisfy susceptibilities over humanitarian and human rights concerns. The right wing variety generally favors aggressive, overt or covert military-based solidarity with armed opposition rebellion, while the progressive variety favors smart-power coercive measures prioritizing solidarity with some version of opposition civil society or popular movements.

Nicaragua experienced the first right wing version of neocolonial solidarity during the Contra war of the 1980s when president Reagan declared, with more truth than he realized, that the CIA-run narco-terror campaign was “the moral equivalent of the founding fathers”. Subsequently, ever since the Sandinista FSLN party returned to government in 2007, Nicaragua has experienced principally the progressive version of smart power neocolonial solidarity developed under president Obama. That policy, supporting Nicaragua’s anti-Sandinista opposition, intensified under president Trump and continues unchanged now under “Biden”.

Self-evidently, these varieties of neocolonial solidarity thrive on their respective class loyalties and ideological susceptibilities. In 2018, a massive disinformation campaign covered up the Nicaraguan opposition’s extreme violence and their deliberate campaign of destruction. As Harold Pinter remarked in relation to the 1980s Contra War, even as the opposition violence of 2018 was happening, the murders, the extortion, the arson, the torture, it was made to seem that nothing happened. Now, when the Nicaraguan authorities have acted to preempt a repeat of that failed 2018 coup attempt, a furious psychological warfare assault is taking place to conceal the coup mongering opposition’s treasonous collusion with the US and EU country governments.

As regards progressive and left wing opinion in general, militant foreign supporters of Nicaragua’s ex-sandinista opposition have long been important protagonists covering up the ex.sandinistas’ anti-democratic collaboration with Western imperialist intervention. Even before the 2006 elections, the US authorities had coopted ex sandinistas as collaborators. But when Daniel Ortega and FSLN won those elections, successfully managed the crisis of 2008-2009 and then triumphed in the 2011 elections, US government support for the opposition switched to promoting efforts at outright regime change. Inside Nicaragua, the ex sandinistas, devoid of popular support, abused their non profit networks to camouflage their political opposition to the government and the accumulation of resources necessary to mount the 2018 coup attempt.

That systematic abusive subterfuge has been eliminated and its protagonists held to account. So now foreign supporters of the ex sandinista opposition again cloak their militant, aggressive, politically driven advocacy under phony human rights concerns. In 2018, they did so to cover up the violent role of the ex sandinistas in the failed coup attempt. Now, they falsely allege human rights abuses to cover up ex sandinista US collaborators’ treasonous criminality. The false human rights propaganda motif makes it possible for proponents of the progressive variety of neocolonial solidarity in North America, Europe and elsewhere, to work in parallel with their right wing counterparts. Even many supposedly left wing figures have written articles or signed declarations in support of the ex-Sandinista US collaborators and those people’s right wing allies in Nicaragua. They do so for three main reasons.

Firstly, many supposedly left-wing figures attacking the Nicaraguan authorities for defending Nicaragua’s independence and sovereignty have some degree of friendship with the ex-sandinistas now under investigation, so they defend them for essentially personal reasons. Secondly, it is likely that many supposed left wingers supporting the ex Sandinista US collaborators have been duped by the massive psychological warfare assault on Nicaragua without bothering to question it. A third main reason for that kind of neocolonial solidairty from people who should know better, is that they fear alienating their support networks and are simply signaling how virtuous they are so as to avoid criticism.

In any case, the current situation, just like the 2018 coup attempt, categorically defines where everyone’s loyalties lie. People genuinely committed to the principles of sovereign independence and self-determination recognize the Nicaraguan authorities are applying the country’s laws and criminal code to defend the country against US intervention aimed at overthrowing the elected government. People who believe the bogus human rights accusations and claims that the current criminal investigations are driven by electoral considerations are engaging in the kind of neocolonial solidarity regularly deployed to justify yet another operation of imperialist regime change. For anyone foolish enough to credit the ex sandinista leaders denials of complicity with the US government,  this series of photographs should help disabuse them of that false belief.

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Nicaragua Never Required Masks Or Lockdowns And Crushed The Virus

Ben Swann | April 1, 2021

The country of Nicaragua never instituted a lockdown, never required masks, and yet crushed the Corona virus? Major protests in Germany, Switzerland, and the UK as people are saying ‘no’ to more lockdowns.

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April 3, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Nicaragua rebuffs attacks at human rights hearing

Nicaraguan Attorney General Wendy Morales defended Nicaraguan government Caribbean Coast policies at the hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on March 18.
By John Perry | NicaNotes | March 25, 2021

Nicaragua was one of the first countries in Latin America to give constitutional rights to its Indigenous peoples and its laws to protect their territories are justly famous (especially the Autonomy Law of 1986 and the Demarcation Law of 2003). Some 40,000 Indigenous families live in areas that are legally owned and administered by over 300 Indigenous communities, covering almost a third of the country. Governmental recognition of land rights was the first step in tackling incursions by non-Indigenous settlers from western Nicaragua and the violent conflicts they sometimes produce. But because colonization of Indigenous territories has been taking place for decades, taking the next steps – delineation of the territories, dealing with illegal titles (primarily given under previous governments) and potentially removing settlers – is a complex process that involves delicate negotiation and agreement at the local level.

Sadly but inevitably, the invasions by settlers have become another issue on which to attack Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. A handful of local NGOs, in some cases funded by the US government and aided by US and European organizations such as California’s Oakland Institute, have weaponized the human rights of Indigenous Nicaraguans. They make outrageous claims that the government is not just trampling over such rights but is guilty of systematic assassinations, exterminating communities, forced disappearances and even genocide (using this term is particularly egregious: the NGOs claim there have been 46 deaths since 2015 and some of these cases are questionable; this is among more than 220,000 Indigenous Nicaraguans).

Claims such as these were repeated in an online hearing held by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on March 18. IACHR is part of the Organization of American States and gets much of its funding from the US government. The hearing began with the heads of two Nicaraguan “human rights” bodies, CEJUDHCAN and CALPI, making these accusations, giving few details and calling in evidence only one member of the communities said to be affected (who seems to have spent much of the last three years living in Europe). In fact, except for these two NGOs and the spokesperson for the Nicaraguan government, none of the eight other speakers at the IACHR hearing were Nicaraguan. IACHR called none of the democratically elected representatives of Indigenous communities nor did it accept any questions to the speakers during the 90-minute hearing, despite having invited and received several detailed questions beforehand (including questions from Nicaraguans and from AFGJ supporters). Before the hearing, AFGJ and Task Force on the Americas formally submitted as evidence the new report, Nicaragua’s Indigenous Peoples – Neocolonial Lies, Autonomous Reality: this was completely ignored.

Of the dozen people invited to take part, only one, Nicaragua’s attorney general Wendy Morales, was prepared to comment positively about developments in the Caribbean regions (her testimony is available in English and in Spanish). Morales responded very effectively and comprehensively to the allegations made by the NGOs. She pointed out that the constitution is unique in recognizing communal land rights, that the rights of Indigenous people to take part in decision-making and to use their own languages are not only protected but a key part of (for example) the school and health systems. She explained the investment which the government is making in good roads and highways as well as public services, and the steps already taken to regularize land holdings and mediate with settlers, many of whom are long-established in Indigenous areas and may have been illegally “sold” land even though it can only be held communally. She noted that 23 original peoples’ territories have been titled and delimited and gave examples of how these areas are protected (e.g. by community-appointed forest wardens and by locally agreed procedures for dealing with new settlers).

Morales also responded to some of the direct accusations made by the NGOs. One was that “precautionary measures” issued by the IACHR to protect local activists had been ignored by the government. In response she cited the case of Juan Carlos Ocampo, the Indigenous Miskitu giving testimony at the proceedings at the invitation of CEJUDHCAN; he had been granted such measures in 2018 but had never presented himself to the local judge, as required, to take advantage of them. Challenging the argument that the government was allowing indiscriminate logging and mining in tropical forests, Morales held up an article from the right-wing newspaper La Prensa in which logging companies were complaining that the government refuses permits and prevents them from operating. Another article in La Prensa praised an agreement made between an Indigenous community and a mining company. The Oakland Institute representative, Anuradha Mittal, repeated false accusations about cattle farming in Indigenous areas which were debunked last year by NicaNotes and in an article for FAIR. Morales explained how Nicaragua’s sophisticated traceability system prevents any meat coming from cattle in protected areas from entering the supply chain.

As the AFGJ National Co-Coordinator Chuck Kaufman said before the hearing, “It strains credulity that the IACHR will hold a legitimate and fair hearing when it has not invited any of the elected and traditional Indigenous leaders from the region. Why would it even choose to examine Nicaragua in the first place on the issue of colonization when it has by far the best record with regard to Indigenous sovereignty and rights in Central America, if not the whole hemisphere?”

No one denies that the land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Caribbean territories are real. But knowing that this part of the country is deeply divided between supporters and opponents of Nicaragua’s government, IACHR chooses to give voice only to one side, allowing the government to respond but ignoring the variety of views in the communities themselves. IACHR encourages a judgment that the government is deliberately refusing to adopt obvious solutions to land conflicts, when the reality is much more complex. In doing so, it overlooks the obstacles and supports allegations of government neglect, while disregarding the many advances being made alongside the problems that remain.

It remains to be seen whether – after a long history of treating the Sandinista government in a manner little short of contempt – the IACHR is capable of reaching a balanced appraisal of the problems faced by the people of the Caribbean coast and of the government’s efforts to resolve them. When the outcome of the hearing is received, NicaNotes will be ready to analyze it.

March 26, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Nicaragua’s ‘Foreign Agents’ Law Explained

NSCAG News | February 22, 2021

In October 2020, Nicaragua passed a ‘Foreign Agents’ law. The law requires all organisations, agencies or individuals, who work with, receive funds from or respond to organizations that are owned or controlled directly or indirectly by foreign governments or entities, to register as foreign agents with the Ministry of the Interior. The fundamental objective of the law is to establish a legal framework that will regulate natural or legal persons that respond to foreign interests and funding, and use this funding to carry out activities that lead to interference by foreign governments or organisations in the internal affairs of Nicaragua, putting at risk the sovereign security of the country.

Predictably, the law has caused an outcry from the United States, who accuse Nicaragua of sliding towards dictatorship (when in fact the new law mirrors a similar and even more stringent law in the United States) and organisations like Amnesty International who claim that President Ortega plans to ‘silence those who criticise government policies, inform the population and defend human rights.’

The truth of the matter is that the intention behind the law is very simple – to create a tool that allows Nicaragua to ensure or prevent foreign powers, countries, governments, agencies or organisations from developing acts of interference in Nicaragua’s domestic affairs or national domestic policy, something that not only Nicaragua seeks to do and condemn, but very much something that international organisations of all kinds also condemn. There are Resolutions of the United Nations; there are Resolutions of the Organization of American States; there are Rulings of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where they condemn, in a clear and categorical way, all these acts of interference, by any foreign Government in the domestic matters of another country.

For years now, the US has poured millions of dollars into opposition NGOs and media in Nicaragua in an attempt to destabilise the country, undermine the democratically elected government and bring about ‘regime change’. Since 2017, a handful of Nicaraguan NGOs and media have received well over US$100 million from USAID alone. There are clear signs that the US intends to intensify these actions in the run up to Nicaragua’ national elections in November. In passing the Foreign Agents law, the Nicaraguan government has acted only to stem the tide of US funding which has been used until now to create chaos and instability and attack the country’s sovereignty.

There are around 5,000 NGOs in Nicaragua – the vast majority are engaged in perfectly legitimate activities around health and social issues for example and none of them will be affected by this law which is targeted solely at a minority of organisations who have been heavily funded by the US merely to act as proxies for US and right wing opposition ambitions in the country.

‘Nicaragua has the right to know about and protect itself from foreign funding of its domestic opposition – a country is not required to cooperate in its own overthrow by a foreign power.’ – Chuck Kaufman, Alliance for Global Justice

Sources:-

Council on Hemispheric Affairs, article by John Perry

The Grayzone article by Ben Norton

Interview with Deputy Walmaro Gutierrez, President of the Economic Commission of Nicaragua’s National Assembly, Tortilla con Sal

Briefs

By Nan McCurdy

UNICEF Says Not Closing Schools Was Best Decision
Jean Gough, UNICEF regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, acknowledged the decision of the Nicaraguan government not to close schools in the face of the pandemic. The regional director of the United Nations Children’s Fund congratulated the efforts made by Nicaragua to give continuity to education, among them the “best decision was not to close the schools in time of pandemic.” During a meeting at the headquarters of the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denis Moncada, Gough expressed UNICEF’s decision to continue supporting the actions of the Nicaraguan government. The meeting allowed both parties to discuss the current Cooperation Program between UNICEF and Nicaragua for the period 2019-2023. Moncada thanked the representative of the United Nations agency for the support they provide to programs on education and protection of children and adolescents. (Radio La Primerisima, 7 March 2021)

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | Leave a comment

US Marines in the Sandino War 1926-1933

Tales of the American Empire | March 4, 2021

During the 19th century, American leaders kept an eye on Nicaragua as a potential site for a transoceanic canal. US navy warships periodically arrived at Nicaraguan ports to protect American interests and fostered U.S. business investments under the strong-man rule of President José Santos Zelaya. When Zelaya began courting Europeans for the building of a canal and welcomed European business investments, American leaders called Zelaya a tyrannical, self-serving, brutal, and a greedy disturber of Central American peace. In December 1926, President Calvin Coolidge ordered warships and more US Marines to Nicaragua. He told Congress that “disturbances and conditions in Nicaragua seriously threaten American lives and property, [and] endanger the stability of all Central America.” This resulted in the Sandino War that cost the lives of an estimated 3000 Nicaraguans and 136 US Marines.

______________________

“Yankee Imperialism 1901-1934”; United States Foreign Policy; http://peacehistory-usfp.org/yankee-i…

“The Sandino Rebellion 1927-1934”; photos from the US National Archives; http://www.sandinorebellion.com/Photo…

“Life and Death of an Activist: ‘Wild’ Bill Grandall”; Stephan Braun; Los Angeles Times; April 13, 1991; https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-x…

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

NicaNotes: More Money for Coup Groups from US Agency for International Development

By Nan McCurdy | November 12, 2020

Organizations that led the coup attempt in 2018 against the constitutional government of President Daniel Ortega, continue to receive foreign funding from the United States and some European countries. The latest information on USAID funding of the US-directed opposition was made available by journalist William Grigsby on Radio La Primerísima’s Sin Fronteras Magazine.

USAID fiscal year 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020-Sept. 30, 2021) foreign assistance includes “funds to support the restoration of democracy and human rights in the region.” This document shows funding of US$13.4 million dollars bringing USAID funding of the Nicaraguan opposition since 2017 to US$102.27 million.

Just the wealthy Chamorro family – Juan Sebastian, Cristiana and Carlos Fernando – received US$3.87 million. The Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation managed by Christiana Chamorro received the largest amount, US$1.6 million for the rest of 2020 and 2021. Through this foundation, the US finances some twenty-five media and TV and radio shows including La Prensa and Channel 10 known for their vociferous anti-Sandinismo. Juan Sebastian Chamorro, whose NGO is FUNIDES, receives US$1.37 million. Carlos Fernando Chamorro with his media empire Grupo Cinco, which includes Confidencial, receives US$901,471.

William Grigsby in his Nov. 10 article said that “the abuse, hypocrisy and lack of democracy of the Chamorro family was once again exposed with the release of a series of documents proving that they receive funding from the United States and other European governments to illegally enrich themselves and cause disorder in Nicaragua.”

The latest documents and screenshots here show the amount of money given to the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation from 2014 to 2020 – US$4.39 million. If you add in the latest donation of US$1.6, the total is US$5.99– or almost six million dollars just for the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation.

The Chamorro gang is the darling of the Yankees

The amount of money to finance coup activities through media has increased considerably in the last two years to the Chamorro Foundation which focuses on disinformation through online, print, radio and television. In 2020 and 2021 the amount given to them was US$2.59 million.

This funding is part of the US orchestrated plan called RAIN to destabilize and if possible overthrow the Nicaraguan government leaked from the US embassy in Managua in July and includes a USAID contract to hire a company to head up the destabilization plan. While the document, Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua, tries to portray its intentions as democratic, it is a disturbing example of US intervention in another nation’s internal affairs.

There is also a substantial amount of funding for organizations that work on the Caribbean Coast. US$1.7 million was given recently to three organizations: the Foundation for the Autonomy and Development of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (FADCANIC) received US$457,759; the Nidia White Women’s Movement Association has a budget of half a million dollars from the US for the period 2020-2021 and the Association for the Development of the Atlantic Coast has a similar budget of US$785,341 for its political activities in 2020-2021. This is particularly interesting as The Oakland Institute received nearly a million dollars in 2018 for their work including the disinformation campaign to attempt to damage Nicaragua’s environmental reputation on the Caribbean Coast.

Organizations that continue to receive USAID financing for their electoral destabilization activities are: Grupo Ética y Transparencia, which has a grant of US$1 million for the election year of 2021 and Hagamos Democracia, which has a grant of US$1.1 million. Both organizations have worked in opposition to the Sandinista party, at least in the last four elections. Movimiento Por Nicaragua, the NGO of Violeta Granera, is receiving US$601,124.

The so-called Permanent Commission of Human Rights headed by the Marcos Carmona (accused of criminal activities) received US$825,671; the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANDPH) headed by Alvaro Leiva received US$701,032. The board of directors of ANDPH denounced Leiva for stealing nearly half a million dollars and accused him of inflating the number of deaths during the 2018 coup attempt as a tactic to get more US funding.

The United States government portrays this aid as supporting democracy but it is targeted against one side in the political arena of a foreign country and would never be allowed in the US. Why should it be allowed in any other country?

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | 1 Comment

USA’s Militarization of Latin America

By Yanis Iqbal | Dissident Voice | August 24, 2020

Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft, the commander of 12th Air Force, wrote on 22 August: “I have seen an increasingly contested strategic space where Beijing and Moscow are aggressively investing time and resources in Latin America to support their authoritarian models of governance. The Air Force must reinforce the strength of our longstanding commitment to the Western Hemisphere. We lose ground when we are unable to commit to spending the time and resources to fly our aircraft south and train alongside our partners.”

Croft’s statement reflects the growing American hysteria against the presence of any extra-regional actors in the Latin American continent. For US policy-makers, Latin America is not an aggregation of sovereign nations but a large lump of subordinated states constituting “America’s backyard”. Consequently, this conceptualization of Latin America as a natural extension of the American empire has led to viewing the engagement of any South American country with China, Russia and Iran as a “threat” to peace and security.

On February 7, 2019, Admiral Craig S. Faller – the commander of the United States Southern Command – told the Congress that the Western Hemisphere is facing “a troubling array of challenges and threats”. These threats included alarmist assertions about the growing dominance of China, Russia and Iran and a general demonization of the socialist governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua:

“China has accelerated expansion of its Belt and Road Initiative at a pace that may one day overshadow its expansion in Southeast Asia and Africa. Russia supports multiple information outlets spreading its false narrative of world events and U.S. intentions. Iran has deepened its anti-U.S. Spanish language media coverage and has exported its state support for terrorism into our hemisphere. Russia and China also support the autocratic regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, which are counter to democracy and U.S. interests. We are monitoring the latest events in Venezuela and look forward to welcoming that country back into the hemisphere’s community of democracies.”

In response to the perceived threats posed by the China-Russia-Iran nexus, the Secretary of Defense has decided to conduct an assessment of the sufficiency of resources available to the U.S. Southern Command, the U.S. Northern Command, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to carry out their respective missions in the Western Hemisphere. This assessment is required to include “a list of investments, programs, or partnerships in the Western Hemisphere by China, Iran, Russia, or other adversarial groups or countries that threaten the national security of the United States.”

In addition to warlike preparations, USA has also pursued a policy of increased militarization wherein it has tried to ensure “technological superiority” with regard to “anti-US actors”. In March, 2020, USA decided to send additional ships, aircraft and forces to South America and Central America in order to combat the influence of Russia and China. According to Navy Adm. Craig Faller, commander of Southern Command, “This really was born out of a recognition of the threats in the region,”. Along with the mobilization of the Southern Command, USA has substantially enlarged its security aid to Latin America: From $527,706,000 in 2019, US security aid to Latin America has increased by 10% to $581,270,000.

Chinese Footprint

The present-day US militarization of Latin America is rhetorically driven by an imperialist discourse framing the continent as a possession of the American empire which China, Russia and Iran are trying to appropriate. To take an example, R. Evan Ellis, a Latin America Research Professor at the US Army War College, stated before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission that China’s engagement with Latin America “threatens the position of the United States, our security and prosperity, and the democratic values, rights, institutions and laws on which we depend.” To substantiate his statements, Ellis enunciated various strategies through which China is undermining USA’s dominance:

  • “Trade with, loans to, investment in, and other forms of economic and other support to anti-US regimes, indirectly enabling their criminal activities and contributions to regional instability”.
  • “Through providing an alternative to commerce, loans and investment from the West, making governments of the region less inclined to support the US on political, commercial, or security issues, or to stand up for rule of law, democracy or human rights, particularly where it might offend the PRC;”

In both these points, one can observe the imperialistic high-handedness with which Ellis is declaiming his pro-US rhetoric. While Beijing’s efforts to engage with sovereign nations and construct an alternative to the global American empire are regarded as enabling “regional instability”, no questions are asked about USA’s expansionist quest to imperialize the entire world through militaristic tactics.

In order to vilify China and smear its non-aggressive foreign policy, hawkish security experts have framed the country’s diplomatic involvement with various Latin American nations as a type of authoritarian tactic. Using this line of reasoning, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) writes: “Beijing has now officially established its own version of soft power… which emanates from its undemocratic system and rests on its ability to shape the viewpoints of others through co-optation and persuasion.” Not having any empirical evidence to prove its unconvincing statements, NED talks vaguely about the “hypnotic effects” exercised by “Chinese-style warm welcome”: “The Chinese-style warm welcome, the carefully selected tours that include visits to sites with symbolic historical and cultural significance, and ad hoc friendly discourse delivered by the Chinese hosts can have hypnotic effects on their foreign guests.” This is an indication of the extent to which America hysteria against China can reach.

In the same way as NED, the Brookings Institution has also tried to slander China’s diplomatic initiatives in Latin America to preserve the coercive dominance of USA in the continent. As per the think tank, “it would be fair to assume that China’s growing economic power and ambitions of global leadership, coupled with its inherently closed and repressive model of political control, will hurt the region’s prospects for strengthening its liberal democratic systems and respect for human rights.” While saying this, the Brooking Institution conveniently forgets that it the US, with its Western-styled liberal democracy, that has hurt the region most in the form of coups, violence and overt brutality against social movements. Most recently, a US-backed coup in Bolivia has resulted in two massacres and massive repression of social movements.

The Iranian Connection

Like China, Iran, too, experiences American hostility towards its engagement with Latin American countries. Lieutenant Andrew Kramer of the U.S. Navy terms Iranian support for the “economically backward governments” of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as efforts “to maintain pockets of instability and hostility close to U.S. borders.” Echoing this perspective, William Preston McLaughlin, a Colonel (Ret.) of U.S. Marine Corps and Magdalena Defort, an Intern Analyst at the Foundation of Defense of Democracies, argue that “Iran’s presence in Latin America is an imminent threat to peace and political stability in the Western Hemisphere because its forces interact with Latin America’s deeply rooted revolutionary ideology and various well-intentioned but flawed “liberation theology” social movements.” Here, both of the analysts are merely parroting the imperialist “Monroe Doctrine” that subverted the sovereignty of Latin American nations and tethered the people of the continent to the whims of the American empire. Through the Monroe Doctrine, USA relegated the entire Latin American continent to the status of the empire’s handmaiden and constantly used its military muscles to overpower any regional initiatives challenging the dynamics of subjugation. Now, when Iran is lending support to the anti-imperialist administrations of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, it has come under the radar of USA for ostensibly destroying peace and political stability in the Western Hemisphere. In August 2020, for instance, USA confiscated four Iranian fuel shipments that had been bound for Venezuela, making it clear that it would not tolerate anti-imperialist opposition in Latin America.

In addition to portraying Iran as a threat to global peace, both the analysts also used a shrill, scaremongering rhetoric to over-exaggerate the strength of the country. According to the analysts, “Iran has used every agency within its borders to help extend Iranian tentacles into the political, cultural, economic, and military life of Latin America.” This bears striking resemblance to the traditional war-mongering US narrative that frames Hezbollah as a menace to justify the militarizary raising funds, seeking recruits, probing for our weaknesses and challenging our defenses,”. Through these discourses, USA seeks to unleash a new war against the anti-imperialist axis of Latin America which is standing up to militaristic predatoriness of the global hegemon.

Russian Presence

Besides Iran and China, Russia is another nation perceived as a “threat” to US security. General John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) noted in his Congressional testimony, “it has been over three decades since we last saw this type of high-profile Russian presence” in Latin America. In his command’s 2015 Posture Statement, Kelly added:

“Periodically since 2008, Russia has pursued an increased presence in Latin America through propaganda, military arms and equipment sales, counterdrug agreements, and trade. Under President Putin, however, we have seen a clear return to Cold War tactics. As part of its global strategy, Russia is using power projection in an attempt to erode U.S. leadership and challenge U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere.”

John Kelly’s representation of Russia as a military threat has been repeated by the Commander of US Southern Command, Admiral Kurt W. Tidd who said in his February 2018 Posture Statement to the US Senate Armed Services Committee that:

“Russia’s increased role in our hemisphere is particularly concerning, given its intelligence and cyber capabilities, intent to upend international stability and order, and discredit democratic institutions… Left unchecked, Russian access and placement could eventually transition from a regional spoiler to a critical threat to the U.S. homeland.”

With the help this narrative, USA has aggressively pushed forward the agenda of greater militarism in Latin America as it strives to maintain “technological superiority” in relation to Russia and expand its already large military expenditure.

On top of depicting Russia as a military threat, US analysts have additionally portrayed the country’s support of socialist governments in Latin America as a danger to the economically empty liberal democracies of the West. According to IBI Consultants, a National Security consulting company specializing in Latin America, Russia’s growing presence in Latin America “is now an integral part of an alliance of state and nonstate actors that have shown their hostility toward the United States in their ideology, criminalized behavior, and anti-democratic nature.” Reiterating this point, on July 9, 2019, Admiral Faller declared before the Congress that “Russia seeks to sow disunity and distrust, propping up autocratic regimes in Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, which are counter to democracy and U.S. interests.” For Faller, those nations which don’t doggedly toe America’s imperialist line automatically become “threats” to democracy and if Russia shows solidarity with these anti-imperialist nations, it, too, classifies as a threat to US interests.

As the USA continues to militarize Latin America, it is increasingly becoming clear that it wants to protect its old, imperial structures from being challenged by anyone. It has been explicitly acknowledged even by pro-US analysts such as Ellis that US military assistance in Latin America “potentially serves U.S. strategic interests by helping to inoculate receiving states against radical or anti-democratic [read “socialist”] solutions which find receptivity when populations lose faith in the ability of a democratic political system and a free market economy to effectively address the corruption, inequality, injustice, and other dysfunctionalities plaguing their country [Emphasis mine].” US military assistance, therefore, is not apolitical and is ideologically tarnished with the objectives of stabilizing free market economies-bourgeoisie democracies and subverting socialist countries.

The United States Intelligence Community’s assessment of threats to US national security had stated in 2019 that “anti-US autocrats [in the Western Hemisphere]will present continuing challenges to US interests, as US adversaries and strategic competitors seek greater influence in the region.” Here, “anti-US autocrats” refers to the socialist administrations of three Latin American countries: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. These three countries have been facing strong US belligerence for their anti-imperialist stance. US sanctions against Cuba have tightened during the pandemic; USA’s hybrid war against Venezuela has intensified as Trump has decided to use frozen funds to topple Nicolas Maduro and USAID (United States Agency for International Development) has strengthened its regime change operations against the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. Due to the support lent by China, Russia and Iran to the socialist governments of Latin America, USA has decided to eradicate these extra-regional actors from its “own” backyard and re-proclaim a complete American dominance in the region. In times like these, the international community needs to oppose the militarism of USA against new regional alliances in Latin America.

Yanis Iqbal is a student and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India.

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The US contracts out its regime change operation in Nicaragua

By John Perry | COHA | August 4, 2020

Masaya, Nicaragua – An extraordinary leaked document gives a glimpse of the breadth and complexity of the US government’s plan to interfere in Nicaragua’s internal affairs up to and after its presidential election in 2021.

The plan,[1] a 14-page extract from a much longer document, dates from March-April this year and sets the terms for a contract to be awarded by USAID (a “Request for Task Order Proposal”). It was revealed by reporter William Grigsby from Nicaragua’s independent Radio La Primerisima[2] and describes the task  of creating what the document calls “the environment for Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.” The aim is to achieve “an orderly transition” from the current government of Daniel Ortega to “a government committed to the rule of law, civil liberties, and a free civil society.” The contractor will work with the “democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) sub-sectors” which in reality is an agglomeration of NGOs, think tanks, media organizations and so-called human rights bodies that depend on US funding and which – while claiming to be independent – are in practice an integral part of the opposition to the Ortega government.

To justify such blatant interference, a considerable rewriting of history is needed. For example, the document claims that the ruling Sandinista party manipulated “successive” past elections so as to win “without a majority of the votes.” Then after “manipulating the 2016 presidential elections” to similar effect, it was warned by the Organization of American States (OAS) that there had been various “impediments to free and fair elections” as a result of which the OAS requested “technical electoral reforms.” What the document omits, however, are the overall conclusions of the OAS on the last elections. Although it identified “weaknesses typical of all electoral processes,” the OAS explicitly said that these had “not affected substantially the popular will expressed through the vote.” In other words, the nature of Daniel Ortega’s victory (he gained 72% of the popular vote) made any minor irregularities irrelevant to the result: he won by an enormous margin. The leaked document makes clear that the US is worried that the same might happen again and aims to stop it.

Not surprisingly, the document also rewrites recent history, saying that the “uprising” in 2018 (which had strong US backing) was answered by “the government’s brutal repression” of demonstrations, while it ignores the wave of violence and destruction that the opposition itself unleashed. The economic disruption it caused is still damaging the country, even though (pre-pandemic) there were strong signs of recovery. USAID, however, has to paint a picture of a country in crisis “… broadening into an economic debacle with the potential to become a humanitarian emergency, depending on the impact of the COVID-19 contagion on Nicaragua’s weak healthcare system.” Someone casually reading the document, unaware of the real situation, might get the impression that, in Nicaragua’s “crisis environment,” regime change is not only desirable but urgently required. The reality – that Nicaragua is at peace, has so far coped with the COVID-19 pandemic reasonably well, and hasn’t suffered the severe economic problems experienced by its neighbors El Salvador and Honduras – is of course incompatible with the picture the US administration needs to present, in order to give some semblance of justification for its intervention.

A long history of US intervention

Given the long history of US interference in Nicaragua, going back at least as far as William Walker’s assault on its capital and usurption of the presidency in 1856, the existence of a plan of this kind is hardly surprising. What’s unusual is that someone has made it publicly available and we can now see the plan in detail. Of course, the US has long developed a tool box of regime change methods short of direct military intervention, such as when it sent in the marines in the 1920s and 1930s or illegally funded and provided logistical support for  the “Contra” forces in the 1980s. It now has more sophisticated methods, using local proxies, which are deniable in the unlikely event that they will be exposed by the international media (which normally displays little interest, being much more interested in electoral interference by Russia than it is in Washington’s disruption of the democratic processes).

The latest escalation in intervention began under the Obama presidency and continued under Trump, although the motivation probably has more to do with the US administration’s ongoing concerns about the success of the Ortega government’s development model since it returned to power in 2007 and began a decade of renewed social investment. Oxfam summarized the problem in the memorable title it gave to a 1980s report about Nicaragua: The Threat of a Good Example. Between 2005 and 2016, poverty was reduced by almost half, from 48 percent to 25 percent according to World Bank data. Nicaragua had a low crime rate, limited drug-related violence, and community-based policing. Over the 11 years to 2017, Nicaragua’s per-capita GDP increased by 38 percent—more than for any of its neighbors. Its success contrasted sharply with the experience of the three “Northern Triangle” countries closely allied to the US. While Nicaragua became one of the safest countries in Latin America, neighboring Guatemala, El Salvador and particularly Honduras saw soaring crime levels, rampant corruption and rapid growth in the drug trade that prevented social progress and produced the “migrant caravans” that began to head north towards the US in 2017.

The US administration’s efforts in 2016 and 2017, building on long experience of manipulating Nicaraguan politics, appeared to produce results in April 2018. The first catalyst for action by US-funded groups was an out-of-control forest fire in a remote reserve, inaccessible by road.[3] The tactics were clear: take an incident with potential to get young people onto the streets, blame the government for inaction (even though the fire was almost impossible to control), whip up people’s anger via social media, organize protests, generate critical stories in the local press, enlist support from neighboring allies (in this case, Costa Rica) and secure hostile coverage in the international media. All of these tactics worked, but before the next stage could be reached (protesters being repressed by the Ortega “regime”) the forest fire was extinguished by a rainstorm.

A week later, the opposition forces were unexpectedly given a second opportunity.  The government announced a package of modest social security reforms, and quickly faced new protests on the streets. The same tactics were deployed, this time with much greater success. Violence by protesters on April 19 (a police officer, a Sandinista supporter and a bystander were shot) brought inevitable attempts by the police to control the protests, leading to rapid escalation. Media messages proliferated about students being killed, many of them false. Only a few days later the government cancelled the social security reforms, but by now the protests had (as planned) moved on to demanding the government’s resignation. The full story of events in April-July 2018, and how the government eventually prevailed, is told in Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup?

A section of the report

Laying the groundwork for insurrection

How were the conditions for a coup created? The aims of US government funding in Nicaragua and the tactics they paid for in this period were made surprisingly clear in the online magazine Global Americans in 2018, which is partly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).[4] Arguing (in May 2018, at the height of the violence) that “Nicaragua is on the brink of a civic insurrection,” the author Ben Waddell, who was in Nicaragua at the time, pointed out that “US support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”

His article’s title, Laying the groundwork for insurrection,[5] was starkly accurate in describing the ambitions behind the NED’s funding program, which had financed 54 projects in Nicaragua over the period 2014-17 and has continued to do so since then. What did the projects do? Like the recently leaked document, NED promotes ostensibly innocuous or even apparently beneficial activities like strengthening civil society, promoting democratic values, finding “a new generation of democratic youth leaders” and identifying “advocacy opportunities.” To get behind the jargon and clarify the NED’s role, Waddell quotes the New York Times (referring to the uprisings in Egypt, where NED had also been active):[6]

“… the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.”

In the case of Nicaragua, the NED’s funding of groups opposed to the Sandinista government began in 1984, giving the lie to their aim being to “promote democracy” since that was the year in which Nicaragua’s revolutionary government held the country’s first-ever democratic elections. Waddell makes it clear that the NED’s efforts continued, years later:

“… it is now quite evident that the U.S. government actively helped build the political space and capacity in Nicaraguan society for the social uprising that is currently unfolding.”

The NED is not the only non-covert source of US funding. Another is USAID, which describes its role in the 2018 uprising in similar terms to the NED. Not long before he exposed the new document, William Grigsby was able to publish lists of groups and projects in Nicaragua funded by USAID and by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).[7] He showed that upwards of $30 million was being distributed to a wide range of groups opposed to the government and involved in the violence of 2018, and that in the case of the NDI at least this funding continued into 2020.

Last year, Yorlis Gabriela Luna recounted for COHA her own experiences of how US-funded groups trained young people, in particular, and influenced their political beliefs in the build-up to 2018.[8] She explained how social networks and media outlets were “capable of fooling a significant portion of Nicaragua’s youth and general population.” She explained how the groups used scholarships to learn English, diploma programs, graduate studies, and courses with enticing names like “democratic values, social media activism, human rights and accountability” at private universities, “to attract and lure young people.” She went on to explain how exciting events were organised in expensive hotels or even involving trips abroad, so that young people who had never before been privileged in these ways developed a sense of “pride,” belonging, and “group identity,” and as a result “wound up aligning themselves with the foreign interests” of those who funded the courses and activities.

The new task during and after the pandemic

Two years after the failed coup attempt, what are the organizations that receive US funding now supposed to do? The new document is full of jargon, requiring the contractor (for example) to engage in “targeted short-term technical and analytical activities during Nicaragua’s transition that require rapid response programming support until other funds, mechanisms, and actors can be mobilized.” The work also requires “longer-term programs, which will be determined as the crisis evolves.” Preparation is required for the possibility that “transition [to a new government] does not happen in an orderly and timely manner.” The contractor will have to prepare “a roster of subject matter experts in Nicaragua” to provide short term technical assistance, “regardless of the result of the 2021 election, even in the event of the Sandinistas ‘winning fairly’.” The document is full of requirements like being able to offer “a rapid response” and “seize new opportunities,” emphasizing the urgency of the task. In other words, a fresh attempt is underway to destabilize Daniel Ortega’s government and, in the event that this doesn’t work, and even should the Sandinistas win the next election fairly, as the document admits is a possibility, US attempts at regime change are stepping up a gear.

Who will carry this out? The document places much emphasis on “maintaining” and “strengthening” civil society and improving its leadership, which appears to refer to the numerous NGOs, think tanks and “human rights” bodies which receive US funding. At one point the document asks “what should donor coordination, the opposition, civil society, and media focus on?” – clearly implying that the contractor has a role in influencing not just these civil society groups but also the media and political parties.

Not surprisingly, the document has been interpreted as a new plan to destabilize the country. Writing in La Primerísima, Wiston López argues that the plan’s purpose is “to create the conditions for a coup d’état in Nicaragua.”[9] Brian Wilson, the VietNam veteran severely injured in the 1980s when attempting to stop a freight train carrying supplies to the “Contra,” and who lives in Nicaragua, concludes that the US now realizes that Ortega will win the coming election.[10] In response, the “US has launched a brazen, criminal and arrogant plan to overthrow Nicaragua’s government.”

Supposing that there is a clear Sandinista victory in 2021, will the US nevertheless refuse to accept the result? Having implied that the OAS had serious criticisms of the last election when this was not the case, the document implies that it will be pressured to take a different attitude next time, saying that “whether the OAS decides to pick up the pressure on electoral reform again will be an important international pressure point.” No doubt the US will try to insist that the OAS must be election observers, and if this is refused it will allow the legitimacy of the election to be called into question, if the result is unfavorable to US interests. Many question whether the OAS is even qualified to have an observer role any longer, however, after the serious harm it did to Bolivian democracy in 2019 by casting doubts on what experts considered a fair election and, in effect, instigating a coup.[11] This document creates legitimate concern that the US government would like to use the OAS to prevent another government that is not to its liking from winning an election, as it did so recently in Bolivia.

Not only must conditions be created to replace the current government, but once this is achieved the changes must extend to “rebuilding” the institutions of government, including the judicial system, police and armed forces. After the widespread persecution of government officials, state and municipal workers and Sandinista supporters that occurred in 2018, it is not surprising that this is interpreted as requiring a purge of all the institutions and personnel with Sandinista sympathies. As Wilson says, “the new government must immediately submit to the policies and guidelines established by the United States, including persecution of Sandinistas, dissolving the National Police and the Army, among other institutions.”

USAID makes it clear that it is internal pressure in Nicaragua that might eventually provoke a coup d’état, so it calls on its agents to deepen the political, economic and also the health crisis, taking into account the context of COVID-19. The US State Department recently awarded an extra $750,000 to Nicaraguan non-government bodies as part of its global response to COVID-19, and this includes “support for targeted communication and community engagement activities.”[12] As López points out in Popular Resistance, “Since March the US-directed opposition has focused 95% of their actions on attempting to discredit Nicaragua’s prevention, contention, and Covid treatment. However, this only had some success in the international media and is now backfiring since Nicaragua is the country with one of the lowest mortality rates in the continent.”[13] The Johns Hopkins University’s world map of coronavirus cases currently shows Nicaragua with 3,672 cases compared with 17,448 in El Salvador, 42,685 in Honduras and 51,306 in Guatemala.[14] Even though higher figures produced by Nicaragua’s so-called Citizens’ Observatory[15] are regularly cited in the international media, they currently show just 9,044 “suspected” cases, still far below the numbers in the “Northern triangle” countries.

What will the opposition do next?

COHA has already documented the disinformation campaign taking place against Nicaragua during the pandemic and how this has been repeated in the international media. So far, however, warnings of the health system’s collapse have proved to be unfounded.[16] If, as happened with the Indio Maíz fire and the social security protests in 2018, the opposition fails in its attempt to use the pandemic to destabilize the Ortega government, what will it do next? A recent incident shows that attempts to seize on events to spur a crisis will continue. On July 31, a fire occurred in Managua’s cathedral. The fire department responded quickly and put out the blaze within ten minutes, but a crucifix and the chapel where it stood were badly damaged. Within minutes opposition newspaper La Prensa reported that “an attack” had occurred involving a “Molotov cocktail” and that the government or its supporters were implicated.[17] This was echoed by other local and international media, opposition parties, the Archbishop of Managua, and by one of the NGOs which received USAID funding.[18] Despite the lack of any evidence to back up the media stories, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) also condemned the incident, obviously implying that it was an attack on human rights.[19]

Yet a police investigation quickly established that there was no evidence at all of any foul play, or that petrol or explosive materials were involved.[20] Their investigations pointed instead to a tragic accident involving lighted candles and the alcohol spray being used as a disinfectant as part of the cathedral’s anti-COVID-19 precautions. The Catholic Church has already announced that the damaged chapel will be restored to its former state. However, the damage that has been done to the government’s national and international reputation, and to its highly politicized relationship with the Catholic Church, will be more difficult to repair.

John Perry is a writer based in Nicaragua.

 


End notes

[1] Downloadable in English (pdf) at https://s3.amazonaws.com/rlp680/files/uploads/2020/07/31/aid-mayo-2020-ingles.pdf

[2] “EEUU lanza descarado plan intervencionista para tumbar al FSLN”, https://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/general/287264/eeuu-lanza-descarado-plan-intervencionista-A histotrypara-tumbar-al-fsln/

[3] “International Forces ‘Distorting’ Nicaragua’s Indio Maíz Fire,” https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/International-Forces-Distorting-Nicaraguas-Indio-Maiz-Fire-20180414-0019.html

[4] See details at https://www.ned.org/wp-content/themes/ned/search/grant-search.php (NED is nominally independent of the US administration, but is funded by Congress.)

[5] “Laying the groundwork for insurrection: A closer look at the U.S. role in Nicaragua’s social unrest,” https://theglobalamericans.org/2018/05/laying-groundwork-insurrection-closer-look-u-s-role-nicaraguas-social-unrest/

[6] “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html

[7] “Asi financia EEUU a los terroristas,” http://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/general/286068/asi-financia-eeuu-a-los-terroristas/

[8] “The Other Nicaragua, Empire and Resistance,” https://www.coha.org/the-other-nicaragua-empire-and-resistance/

[9] “EEUU lanza descarado plan intervencionista para tumbar al FSLN,” http://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/general/287264/eeuu-lanza-descarado-plan-intervencionista-para-tumbar-al-fsln/

[10] “NIcaragua targeted for US overthrow in 2020-21,” https://popularresistance.org/nicaragua-targeted-for-us-overthrow-in-2020-21/

[11] “Bolivia’s Struggle to Restore Democracy after OAS Instigated Coup,” https://www.coha.org/bolivias-struggle-to-restore-democracy-after-oas-instigated-coup/

[12] See https://www.state.gov/update-the-united-states-continues-to-lead-the-global-response-to-covid-19/

[13] “US Launches Brazen Interventionist Plan to Overthrow the FSLN,” https://popularresistance.org/us-launches-brazen-interventionist-plan-to-overthrow-the-fsln/

[14] See https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

[15] See https://observatorioni.org/

[16] “Experts Warn about Possible Health System Collapse in Nicaragua,” https://www.voanews.com/episode/experts-warn-about-possible-health-system-collapse-nicaragua-4320606

[17] See https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2020/07/31/nacionales/2702954-lanzan-bomba-molotov-adentro-de-la-capilla-de-la-catedral

[18] See for example https://confidencial.com.ni/atentado-con-bomba-molotov-en-la-catedral-de-managua/ and https://elpais.com/internacional/2020-07-31/un-atentado-con-bomba-molotov-incendia-la-capilla-de-la-catedral-metropolitana-de-managua.html

[19] See https://twitter.com/OACNUDH/status/1289574031159488514?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1289574031159488514%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.laprensa.com.ni%2F2020%2F08%2F01%2Fnacionales%2F2703388-organismos-de-derechos-humanos-condenan-ataque-a-la-catedral-de-managua

[20] “Esclarecimiento de incendio en Capilla de la Sangre de Cristo, Catedral de Managua”, https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:105922-esclarecimiento-de-incendio-en-capilla-de-la-sangre-de-cristo-catedral-de-managua-presentacion

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Immunity for the CIA?

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | August 11, 2020

Amidst the controversy over the doctrine of qualified immunity for cops, no one is talking about the full immunity accorded to the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency within the national-security establishment that wields omnipotent power.

Among the most interesting lines in the new Amazon Prime series The Last Narc is what a CIA official says to DEA investigator Hector Berrellez, who was charged with leading the investigation into the kidnapping, torture, and murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. The official tells Berrellez that the CIA is not a law-enforcement agency and, therefore, doesn’t have to comply with the Constitution. Its mission, he said, is to protect the United States. Therefore, the implication is that the Constitution cannot be permitted to serve as a barrier to that end.

That’s the way it’s been since the beginning. The CIA has had omnipotent power to do whatever it deems necessary to protect “national security.” That includes, of course, the power of assassination, a power that the CIA assumed practically since its inception. In fact, as early as 1952, the CIA was developing a formal assassination manual for its assassins.

The CIA also wields the power of torture, the power to record its torture sessions, and the power to destroy such recordings to prevent Congress or the public from listening to them or viewing them.

The CIA also wields the power to lie, at least if it’s in the interest of “national security.”

No one jacks with the CIA. Not the Justice Department, including every U.S. Attorney in the land. Not the Congress. Not the president. Not the military. Who is going to mess with an organization that wields the omnipotent power to destroy or kill people and is more than willing to exercise that power in the name of protecting “national security”?

The kidnapping, torture, and execution of Kiki Camarena

A good example of this phenomenon is found in The Last Narc, which I wrote about in a blog post last week.

In 1985, 37-year-old DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped on the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico, and brutally tortured for 36 hours before finally being executed.

It was commonly believed that the crime had been committed by the Guadalajara drug cartel, which was headed by Rafael Caro Quintana, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, and Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, all of whom are featured in Netflix’s series Narcos: Mexico. But Mexican officials steadfastly refused to extradite the three drug lords to the United States for trial.

The DEA assigned Berrellez to take charge of the investigation. Berrellez, who felt as comfortable operating in Mexico as he did in the United States, found three former members of the Jalisco State Police who were willing to talk. They came to the United States and told Berrellez that back in 1985, they had been working double jobs — as state policemen and also as bodyguards for Caro, Fonseca, and Gallardo.

Berrellez interviewed them separately to ensure the integrity of their statements. They each pointed toward complicity of high Mexican officials with the cartel in the distribution of drugs into the United States, which I don’t think would surprise anyone.

The three former cops and bodyguards told Berrellez that they were in the room while Camarena was being tortured. Each of them stated that there were several high Mexican officials present in the house in which Camarena was being tortured while he was being tortured.

The heroism of Hector Berrellez

But then Berrellez discovered something else. According to the three former Mexican state policemen, a man named Max Gomez, also known as Felix Rodriguez, was inside the torture room and taking an active role in the brutal interrogation of Camarena. Berrellez investigated and determined that Rodriguez was a “retired” CIA agent.

Among the principal questions that was being addressed to Camarena was the extent to which he had discovered, in the course of his investigation, the nexus between the drug cartel, the CIA, and the Mexican government in the drug trade.

It was later learned that the interrogation was being recorded, which is something that one would not expect drug lords to do but that one would expect a CIA agent to do.

At that point, Berrellez was in trouble. It’s one thing to conduct an investigation that leads to the Mexican government’s involvement in Camarena’s torture and murder. It’s another thing to conduct an investigation that leads to the U.S. government’s involvement in the torture and murder of a DEA agent who is also an American citizen.

As Berrellez states in The Last Narc, he was warned to back off and let sleeping dogs lie. He was warned that if he didn’t, his life would be in jeopardy. If he didn’t back off, U.S. officials even threatened to forcibly return him to Mexico to face criminal charges that the Mexican government had leveled against him.

But Berrellez refused to back off, and so U.S. officials removed him from the investigation. Even though he could have remained silent, he instead decided to go public with his findings and cooperated in the making of The Last Narc. He comes across as a heroic figure in the series.

For his part, Rodriguez denies that he was in the torture room or that he has had anything to do with Guadalajara cartel and with drug dealing. The problem, however, is that CIA agents will lie if they believe that it is in the interest of “national security.” And they all know that they have immunity when it comes to lying and anything else that touches on “national security.”

Full immunity for the CIA

Here you have a prima facie case of U.S. governmental involvement in the torture and assassination of a U.S citizen, one who was an agent of the DEA. The alleged purpose of the torture was to determine if Camarena had uncovered evidence of CIA complicity with the Guadalajara Cartel and the Mexican government in the drug trade. Three witnesses, all giving their testimony separately, identified Rodriquez as one of Camarena’s interrogators.

That’s clearly enough evidence to launch a formal investigation into the matter. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that Camarena’s murder took place during Iran Contra, when U.S. officials were breaking the law to raise the money to give to the Nicaraguan contras.

Has any of this caused any U.S. Attorney or the U.S. Congress to launch an aggressive investigation into the matter?

Don’t make me laugh. This is the CIA we are talking about. No one investigates the CIA, which makes the U.S. government as crooked and corrupt as the Mexican government. If you want to get a good sense of how both governments operate, I highly recommend watching The Last Narc.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics.

August 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Film Review | , , , , | 4 Comments

‘Coup-Plotters for Hire’: Unearthed USAID Nicaragua Regime Change Doc Puts 2018 Protests in Context

Sputnik – 05.08.2020

An uncovered US Agency for International Development (USAID) document lays out a blueprint for regime change in Nicaragua. An expert told Sputnik the playbook shines a new light on the 2018 protests in Nicaragua as well as similar operations in other countries targeted by the US, such as Venezuela.

A new report by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) has revealed a guide to regime change in Nicaragua by USAID. The document, which dates to March-April of this year, describes in frank terms how the agency, which maintains close ties with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), could create or exploit a variety of scenarios to remove democratically-elected Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his FSLN party from power in or around the upcoming 2021 elections.

Jill Clark-Gollub, assistant editor and translator at COHA, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear Wednesday that many of the tactics outlined in the USAID document can be observed in the demonstrations that rocked Nicaragua in the summer of 2018.

‘Code-Speak for a Coup’

“It’s a contract hiring coup plotters – a ‘coup-plotters for hire’-type contract. And it’s really astounding how the whole document is based on the premise that we can impose a better version of democracy for the Nicaraguan people. It talks about a crisis and a transition, and all of this is code-speak for basically bringing about a coup.”

“It talks about three scenarios in which the transition can take place, and it says a transition could take place if our candidate wins the election, but other parts of the document make it clear that they don’t expect their pro-US candidate to win the election. They don’t even have a candidate. Then they talk about creating a crisis for a sudden transition – another code-speak for a coup – and then it talks about a delayed transition in which the FSLN party, the Sandinista Front for National Liberation, wins. And it’s even a free and fair election, and it’s recognized internationally, so it takes a longer time to get them out of there.”

“If you really hadn’t been paying attention at all, you would think there’s this country in crisis and that the US would be doing them a favor to get rid of that government and put in somebody else.”

US Officials Admit to Venezuela ‘Coup’

The news comes amid statements before a Senate committee on Tuesday in which US Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) frankly admitted to having attempted to engineer a coup d’etat against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro beginning in January 2019.

“Our Venezuela policy over the last year and a half has been an unmitigated disaster,” Murphy told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We have to admit that our big play, recognizing [Juan] Guaidó right out of the gate, and then moving quickly to implement sanctions just didn’t work … First, we thought that getting Guaidó to declare himself president would be enough to topple the regime. Then we thought putting aid on the border would be enough. Then we tried to sort of construct a kind of coup in April of last year, and it blew up in our face when all the generals that were supposed to break with Maduro decided to stick with him in the end.”

Josh Hodges, the senior deputy assistant administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), told the panel USAID support has been instrumental in helping Guaidó’s movement to function.

“We are using development assistance to support the interim government and the National Assembly with technical training, staffing support, equipment and communication efforts,” Hodges said. “USAID’s support bolsters the interim government’s ability to effectively operate and interact with constituents, despite the increased repression from the illegitimate regime. Our assistance has enabled increased participation with legitimate officials.”

Manufacturing Crises via ‘Psychological Warfare’

Clark-Gollub told Sputnik that USAID being directly involved in plotting a coup was “interesting,” because “this in the past, I believe, would have been done by the CIA. Now it’s being done by USAID, and as I said, it’s advertised on LinkedIn. It’s like they have no shame anymore.”

“USAID has been funding Nicaraguan opposition and media groups for years,” she said, noting the 2018 civil disturbances were a case study in what the document describes. “You just need to go back two years and look at this document and all of this doublespeak and understand what I mean.”

“It’s almost embarrassing for the people who are allowing themselves to be used for this. The document talks about how they’re going to use NGOs and opposition parties and the media kind of to corral them to do what they need to do for this plot. So it reveals a lot of stuff that we’ve known, and it brings it out in the open. We have known the media is paid by the US; this is recognition that they’re directed by the US. And the shameful thing for people outside of Nicaragua is that our mass media just parrots what the self-serving Nicaraguan opposition media publishes in Nicaragua.”

She further noted the US was “trying to use the [COVID-19] pandemic for this crisis” mentioned in the document as a possible regime change scenario. “They even created their own citizens’ observatory with mysterious ‘scientific experts’ who they would never say who they were, who were publishing their own statistics on the number of infected and dying people in Nicaragua from the pandemic.”

Instead, Nicaragua’s health system, which the FSLN government has spent 13 years rebuilding and expanding, did not collapse on itself under the weight of the pandemic, as the US embassy in Managua predicted it would, but instead has weathered the storm well, with the lowest COVID-19 case fatality rate in Central America and a very low per capita fatality rate.

Clark-Gollub said use of these tactics “amounts to psychological warfare. They are just going to keep trying to build up, dig up things to make things into a crisis, and it’s terrible,” noting Nicaraguans are being “bombarded” with “fake news” about mass deaths and burials that are actually occurring in other countries.

Especially in 2018, the opposition was “on top of social media,” which the document also urges as a tactic. “We know that in 2018, there had been 2,000 young Nicaraguans recruited, mostly through the Catholic Church, to be social media influencers. And these were the ones putting out ‘color revolution’ type posts,” such as urging painting national colors over FSLN symbols. She also noted they would announce police violence at an event before it had happened, which created confusion and drove demonstrations about events that never occurred.

She recalled that former US national security adviser John Bolton called Nicaragua and Venezuela, along with Cuba, a “troika of tyranny,” writing in his recently released memoir that if one of the three falls, so will the others.

“These three countries are working toward a multipolar world, and the US does not want to see that succeed,” she noted.

“The Nicaraguan people got a big education in 2018; they understand that they’re under attack. It’s not as easy for them to be duped again about fake news that comes out, especially on social media. But that said, this does not mean this is not wearing on people, this psychological warfare … I think that the Nicaraguan people are standing firm and are going to continue to build their country.”

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment