Nicaragua: pre-election campaign of harassment and overthrow against Sandinismo, by Pascual Serrano for Spanish Sputniknews. 22.07.2021.
Nicaragua is approaching its presidential and legislative elections on November 7 in a situation of maximum tension and with foreign interference that has poured money into politicians, activists and opposition NGOs. Meanwhile, the current president, Sandinista Daniel Ortega, is accused of repressing and imprisoning the other candidates.
On November 7, Nicaraguans are called to the polls. They will elect the new president of the country, 90 deputies of the National Assembly of Nicaragua and 20 deputies to the Central American Parliament. The elections will take place at a time of great international tension against the current Sandinista government led by Daniel Ortega.
Today, there seems to be a curious consensus among Western political leaders and the media to accuse the Nicaraguan government of persecuting and imprisoning the opposition, and to prepare the conditions for massive election fraud.
However, the two new electoral reforms on which the denunciations revolve do not seem to contain anything inappropriate, specifically establishing that no political party can receive external funding from foreign governments or NGOs, and on the other hand that the candidacies must be equal, that is to say 50% men and 50% women.
We need to get closer to Nicaragua to see what is hidden behind this campaign, who are the opponents, what is really in the accusations of persecution against them, what are the methods of foreign intervention in the country and what is the balance of the government of Daniel Ortega during these years. But let's start with some history.
The Somoza family
Nicaragua lived the military dictatorship of the Somoza family from 1937 to 1979, first with the father and then with the son. During that period, poverty, inequality, corruption and repression were constant. The Somozas, who came to power through a coup d'état, had the unconditional support of the United States and managed to amass one of the greatest fortunes on the continent. It is estimated that when they left power the family's assets were around $ 500 million at the time.
The Nicaraguan people rallied around the armed uprising of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and the guerrilla columns entered Managua on July 19, 1979 in the midst of a popular outcry, overthrowing the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle.
A Government Junta for National Reconstruction (1979-1985) was established on a transitional basis with representatives of different social, political, community and religious sectors, who ideologically moved in a spectrum ranging from social democracy to Marxism, through the Liberation Theology.
In 1984, the first elections were held under the new electoral law, and the transitional junta dissolved and handed over power to the new president, the Sandinista Daniel Ortega Saavedra, who had won the elections.
From the moment the dictatorship is overthrown and the FSLN comes to power, the US government sets in motion an armed opposition that drags the country into a civil war. Honduras will be the base of the right-wing armed groups financed by the United States, the so-called Contra. This aggression was even recognized by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which condemned the United States to compensate Nicaragua for the interference and damage caused.
In February 1990, Nicaraguans face elections in which they know that if the Sandinistas win, the war will continue and mortgage the country's economic development.The young people will have to join the army to face the US-funded Contras and many of them will die. The US economic blockades and sanctions will continue to the maximum. Even the president of the United States House of Representatives himself denounces the financing and manipulation of his country in favor of the right-wing candidate Violeta Chamorro to overthrow the Sandinistas.
Exhausted by the civil war against the armed groups of the right, Nicaraguans give the victory to Violeta Chamorro, knowing that the next day the civil war will end, the crops will no longer be destroyed and her children will be able to leave the war front and return home. The FSLN abides by the results and cedes the presidency to Chamorro.
A new neoliberal era begins in Nicaragua that aims to reverse all the social achievements of Sandinismo: the banks, transport, mines, health and education are privatized, which is no longer universal and free. The new president forgives the United States for the compensation that the Hague Tribunal imposed on her for her terrorist acts against Nicaragua. A favor for the services rendered.
Right-wing governments continue to succeed each other with their privatizing policies and suffocating the many popular protests. Nicaraguan society arrives at the 2006 elections fed up with neoliberal policies and although the United States is again blackmailing them by saying that it would block the sending of remittances by Nicaraguan emigrants to their country if Sandinismo won, the FSLN wins the elections and Daniel Ortega regains the presidency of Nicaragua.
2018 destabilization attempt
Plans and campaigns to overthrow Sandinismo are back again. The most notable was in 2018 on the occasion of the Social Security reform that affected pensioners and contributions. The Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS) was on the verge of collapse and its reserves could run out in 2019 if no action was taken.
The IMF proposed to delay the retirement age, something the Sandinista government rejected and opted to increase contributions. This increase had a clear social profile because it would be an increase of 0.75% by employees and 2% by employers, which would increase another 1.5% until 2020. A 5 per cent pension deduction would be added to this. The unions supported the Government's proposal as the best option to ensure the viability of the system.
However, the bosses rejected this increase in the percentage of their contributions and announced mobilizations and protests. The Western media presented these protests as a reaction to a Sandinista government pension reform that was unpopular and harmful to the poorest classes.
But the reality was different. It was a few days of violence with which the opposition tried to overthrow the legitimate government of Nicaragua. They demanded the resignation of Daniel Ortega because they disagreed with a Social Security bill and continued to demand his resignation even after the government withdrew the bill. The death toll was at least 250, including 22 police officers and 48 Sandinistas, according to the Government's Truth Commission.
The indisputable fact is that all the institutions remained faithful to legitimate power, proof of the strength of the Nicaraguan democratic system.
The French journalist of Le Monde Diplomatique Maurice Lemoine explains his first-hand experience during those events:
"There was an extra-constitutional attempt to overthrow the elected president. What has generally been described as peaceful demonstrations had all the characteristics of an undemocratic rebellion carried out through insurrectional violence. The government and its Sandinista social base, an organized mass movement hardened by a long history of aggression and widely underestimated by both the opposition and the cartel of observers who are close to it, opposed it in an equally harsh manner."
Once again, the western press presented events such as the violence and repression of Daniel Ortega and his dictatorial government, ignoring not only that he is the legitimate president, but also the massive support of the citizenry for the Sandinista government and the financing and manipulation behind the protests piloted by the right.
Sandinismo endured the onslaught but managed to coined the image of a despotic and repressive government in a large part of international public opinion, including in some sectors of the left.
Donald Trump took advantage of this situation to impose harsh economic and political sanctions on the Sandinista administration through the Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality Act, known as the NICA Act. A law that not only penalizes Sandinista government officials, but also conditions loans to multilateral organizations for Nicaragua, something that is a serious blow to the country's public investment plan.
Previously, and almost as if it were a warning for the future, security adviser John Bolton described the governments of Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela as the "troika of the tyranny of Latin America."
One of the promoters of the law against Nicaragua was Cuban-born congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, well known for her belligerence and support for all kinds of measures, including violent measures against Cuba.
The United States has gone even further and, in early 2021, presented another sanctions bill, called "Strengthening Nicaragua's adherence to the conditions for electoral reform" (REBORN Law). The bill aims to double current sanctions to guarantee, it says, "free, fair and transparent elections in Nicaragua and reaffirm the commitment of the United States to protect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of the people of Nicaragua."
In reality, it is to continue that policy of blackmail that gave Violeta Chamorro the victory in her day but that, on the other hand, did not serve in 2006.
At the same time, US money is skyrocketing to finance destabilization and opposition in Nicaragua. The main actors in this unconventional war made in the USA are: the united States Agency for International Development (USAID); the Foundation for New Democracy (NED), created in 1983 by ronald Reagan to replace the CIA in the organization of actions are not armed; the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), dependent of the u.s. Congress; Freedom House, the Open Society of George Soros; and some lesser-known troupes.
The objective is to infiltrate (if necessary), create, finance, train, control and instrumentalize the institutions of the mythical "civil society": unions, political parties, academic or professional institutions and, especially, the press and NGOs.
Millions to the opposition
Maurice Lemoine has accurately counted it in the French portal Mémoire de luttes. Between 2010 and 2020, USAID planned to transfer $ 68.4 million to the Nicaraguan right to help discredit the government (internally and abroad) while training new leaders and creating a critical mass of opponents. Two years before the spontaneous uprising in 2018, it added another $ 8 million to its contribution, bringing its total financial aid to $ 76.4 million.
At the center of the plot, the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy, which served as a center for the redistribution of a substantial part of the river of American money. The Foundation has been feeding the television channels 10, 11 and 12, Vos TV, Radio Corporación, Radio Show Café con Voz, as well as the digital platforms 100% Noticias, Artículo 66, Nicaragua Investiga, Nicaragua Actual, BacanalNica and Despacho 505... together with a group of independent journalists.
Since 2009, USAID has specifically allocated $ 10 million to nurture opposition media-of which more than $ 7 million has passed through the Chamorro Foundation from 2014 to 2021.
But it's not just the US. Radio La Primerísima denounced that from the cooperation agencies of Spain and Belgium different NGOs led by opponents, including the Chamorro Foundation, had received important subsidies from these countries.
Lemoine notes that " the number and diversity of connections made to wage this unconventional war are impressive. In addition to the media, the opposition has an army of NGOs of all kinds that, since the end of the armed conflicts of the 1980s, have fallen on Central America."
Sandinista laws for sovereignty
Logically, neither the FSLN nor Daniel Ortega were going to remain impassive before this offensive of intervention, attack on sovereignty and attempt to direct the electoral result.
On October 15, 2020, Parliament passed Law 1040, known as the"Foreign Agents Regulation Act". Although not prohibited, the law requires NGOs to report all foreign funding, specifying the identity of their donors, the amount of funds received, the purpose of the donations and a description of how the money has been spent, information that must match their financial and financial statements.
The 27 of October of the same year approved the Special Law on Cybercrime (no. 1042)that allows them to pursue and punish defamation, threats, attacks against the physical integrity of children, or women, identity theft, hacking or computer espionage, as well as those who spread "fake information".
Finally, on December 21, the National Assembly approved Law 1055 on "Defense of the rights of the people to independence, sovereignty and self-determination for peace". This law establishes that "any person who demands, supports and welcomes the imposition of sanctions on the State of Nicaragua" may not stand in the general elections. Anyone who encourages or finances a coup d & apos; état, undermines constitutional order, incites foreign interference or participates, with external financing, in acts of terrorism and destabilization is also excluded.
The opposition to freak out against this legislation, but, in reality, is inspired by Law of Partial Reform to the Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua, Law No. 192, adopted on February 1, 1995, signed by the then president of the government of the right, Chamorro: "it will Not be a candidate for the presidency or vice-presidency of the Republic (...) lead, or to finance a coup d'état, the altering the constitutional order and, as a consequence of such facts, to assume the Leadership of the Government and Ministries, or Vice, or Magistrates in other Branches of Government."
The arrests arrive
These laws explain why the judicial authorities have ordered summonses, house arrests or detentions of several opposition activists, some of whom were quick to register as political candidates in order to present themselves to international public opinion as persecuted by the Nicaraguan Government for their political ideas.
The most prominent case is that of Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of the president who Nicaraguans voted for when they had to choose between her or the war financed by the United States, and currently heads the aforementioned Chamorro Foundation.
According to the Nicaraguan prosecutor's office, the analysis of the Foundation's financial statements for the period 2015-2019 reveals clear indications of "money laundering." Among others, $ 7 million was in the Foundation's credit balance when it was closed and later appeared in three of Cristiana Chamorro's personal bank accounts.
When quoted to clarify this ball of figures, she refuses to answer investigators ' questions about the use of funds received from a foreign power and suspicious financial movements.
Seeing the development of events, Chamorro, a few days later, announced his intention to run for president of the Republic and there we have a candidate competing with Daniel Ortega "persecuted and harassed by the Nicaraguan government." And she wasn't the only one who declared herself a candidate when she discovered the prosecution behind her accounts.
And this is where the indignation of Western media and politicians is aroused. Nicaragua, the Central American gulag, titled El País on June 21. But, as journalists Jorge Capelán and Stephen Sefton point out, "these people are being investigated because they were publicly calling for coercive measures against Nicaragua's economy, for having conspired to commit terrorist acts, and for establishing a fraudulent NGO structure for the multi-million dollar money laundering with funds sent from abroad, which constituted a political intervention in the country to provoke a catastrophic destabilization."
The Sao Paulo Forum issued a statement endorsing Daniel Ortega's government in Nicaragua. This grouping of Latin america, composed by political groups of the left, said, in reference to the arrests of opponents, that "the people involved are investigated for crimes against the motherland" and that legal measures are based "on a law of October 2020 approved by a Legislative Power legitimately elected, seeking to defend the country's sovereignty against the advances of external forces and imperialist".
Before the demands of liberation from the United States Government, Daniel Ortega mocked in a public act saying:
"There are more than 400 Americans prosecuted among those who went to Congress because they said the elections were fraudulent. Here's 20. There are more than 400 processed. We are going to tell them: you release all the political prisoners you have in the United States for having gone to protest in Congress."
But this analysis would not be useful if we did not investigate how Nicaragua has evolved in recent years under the Sandinista government. According to the 2020 Human Development Report prepared by the United Nations, in the last nine years of the Sandinista Government, from 2010 to 2019, Nicaragua's Human Development Index increased from 0.622 to 0.660 and life expectancy has gone from 72.4 years to 74.5.
The average years of schooling in the same period increased from 6 to 6.9. Gross National Income per capita rises from $ 4,487 to $ 5,284.
The Government has approved 57.1% of the 2021 budget for social spending, i.e. for the education, health, housing and community services sectors, among others. An unthinkable percentage with previous neoliberal governments.
Also according to the UNDP, in Nicaragua, 44.6% of parliamentary seats are held by women, and 48.5% of adult women have reached at least one year of secondary education, compared to 46.8% of adult men. One of the electoral reforms that will come into force in the next elections establishes that each sex must have 50% representation in each candidacy.
Nicaragua has gone from producing and consuming only 25% of renewable energy to 77.3% in March 2021. This" Green Revolution " has even been praised by the Inter-American Development Bank.
According to the Nicaraguan ambassador to Spain, Carlos Midence, during an event on the occasion of the Nicaraguan national holiday in Barcelona on July 20, Nicaragua produces 92% of the food it consumes. He also noted that, in 2007, the government of Daniel Ortega decreed free health care, has built hospitals at a rate of two each year (of the 228 hospitals in Central America, 77 are in Nicaragua) and has gone from having 21,000 health workers to 36,000.
In 2007 the country lived with an average of ten or twelve hours of daily blackouts and today 99.2% of the population has access to energy.
Nicaragua's National Assembly deputy, Wálmaro Gutiérrez, who is also president of the Parliament's Production, Economy and Budget Commission, recalled in statements to Sputnik on July 15 that Sandinismo received an education budget of approximately 3 billion córdobas and also a similar amount of 3 billion córdobas for health and has shot it to 19.8 billion córdobas.
Gutiérrez showed his conviction that they will be able to close 2021 with an economic growth of "between 2.5 and 3.5%"," extremely encouraging figures "taking into account the consequences of the coup attempt, as well as"a pandemic, and, on the other hand, the devastating effects that hurricanes Eta and Iota had".
Electoral opinion polls
Regarding the next plebiscite, the electoral polls have always given the FSLN and Daniel Ortega as preferred candidates for the presidency. The last pre-election poll, this July, by the only Nicaraguan firm of opinion studies, M & R Consultores, showed a 60.2% vote forecast for the FSLN, 13.7% for the opposition and 26.2% for undecided voters. When consulting for the approval of the national Government compared to all the other governments of the last 50 years, Daniel Ortega's administration appears in first place with 28.2% of the preferences.
That is why, in the face of this probable Sandinista victory, the United States has already foreseen its scenario of subversion that happens, as it could not be otherwise, because it does not recognize the electoral result. A pattern already used in Venezuela and Bolivia.
Journalist Maurice Lemoine reveals that the US post-election plan is called Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (RAIN). This program provides, from August 11, 2020 to February 10, 2022, the allocation of $ 2 million to achieve "an orderly transition" of the Ortega government to "a government committed to the rule of law, civil liberties and a free civil society." Without even trying to hide its strategy, the document uses the term "transitional regime" a hundred times and foresees a purge within the Sandinista army and police. That is, the overthrow of the Sandinista government even if it legitimately wins the November elections. Nor is it surprising, it is what the United States has been doing, or trying to do for decades, in Latin America.