Lessons from Nicaragua

Stephen Sefton
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Apologists for the attempted coup in Nicaragua hemorrhage credibility with every week that passes. Both inside and outside Nicaragua, reality is fast catching up with their falsehoods and distortions. Last week, the New York Times revealed US government involvement in plans for a military coup in Venezuela, confirming long standing accusations by the Venezuelan authorities. The report demolishes the credibility of US government claims to support peaceful, democratic political change in Venezuela, Nicaragua or anywhere else in Latin America. Opposition apologists deny in vain President Ortega’s accusation of US government complicity in the extreme violence of their attempted coup in Nicaragua.

Likewise, opposition leaders have always denied their complicity in systematic human rights violations by the criminal gangs they paid to spearhead attacks against government targets and ordinary Sandinistas. They continue to lie that the protests were peaceful from the start and all the deaths resulted from government repression. The very reverse is true. Their big lie suffered yet another demolition blow in Nicaragua last week with the publication of videos showing the savage brutality of yet another criminal gang supporting the opposition Civic Alliance. The videos were from the smart phones of gang members operating roadblocks in Jinotepe obtained after the gang’s arrest for the disappearance of Bismarck Martínez, a municipal worker in Nicaragua’s capital Managua.

Despite false international media reporting, massive demonstrations for peace and justice for victims of the opposition violence in Nicaragua vastly outnumber the insignificant turnout for opposition marches. These continue to serve as pretexts for isolated violent attacks on government targets, usually the police, and Sandinista supporters. An attempted employers’ lock-out on September 7thflopped hopelessly both in Managua and in the country’s other main urban centers. Nicaragua’s minority opposition still cling to vain hopes of regime change. But throughout Nicaragua most ordinary people by far just want their lives back, to work and study normally and to return to the stability they had before the opposition coup started last April 18th.

As has been the case in previous attacks on progressive governments in Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela, lessons abound from Nicaragua’s experience over the last five months. To defeat the kind of kind of not-so-soft coup currently favored by the US government and its local allies various elements are crucial. After the initial shock of the opposition social media offensive, Sandinistas mobilized masses of supporters using social media to counter the scandalous lies propagated by the Civic Alliance opposition teams trained and funded by the US government. North American and European solidarity networks prevented a complete international media walkover for opposition propagandists, forcing even the BBC to adhere from time to time to basic journalistic standards. President Ortega has made a point of giving extensive interviews to international media including virulent psy-warfare opponents and regular investigative reporters as well as ideologically sympathetic media.

As they have done in conflicts elsewhere, teams from the Inter American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OUNHCHR) acted as propaganda shills for the US government. Like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, they shamelessly betrayed fundamental principles of competent investigation and good faith reporting, relying exclusively on opposition news media, US funded human rights organizations and fleeting on-the-spot reports carefully arranged around staged opposition provocations. Their claims of over four hundred dead and thousands wounded have been repeatedly exposed as false, both by freelance analysts, by investigative reporters and by the National Assembly’s independent Truth Commission. Inside Nicaragua only minority opposition supporters believe the comprehensively mendacious opposition media reports on which almost all the human rights reporting of the crisis was based

Nicaragua’s experience confirms the same lesson learned for almost 60 years from Cuba, 20 years in Venezuela and more recently in Ivory Coast, Libya, Ukraine, Thailand and Syria. Namely, Western human rights organizations and media of all kinds will tell any lie and suppress every truth in order to mislead and deceive their populations into supporting US and allied government policy in the service of Western corporate elites. Despite overwhelming evidence, Western human rights organizations and media have deliberately covered up the US funded Nicaraguan opposition’s deliberate policy of terror aimed at promoting fear and hatred so as to deepen a cycle of violence aimed at securing regime change. This is exactly the reverse of what the opposition leaders and supporters avow.

One might argue in that case, that any other governments likely to face similar US regime change assault like, self evidently, Bolivia, should ensure they make accessible the truth about the crimes Western human rights organizations and news media seek to cover up. In Nicaragua, the murders of police officers and Sandinista supporters like Gabriel de Jesús Vado tortured and set on fire, Yadira Ramos raped and murdered, Francisco Arauz gunned down and set on fire, or Roberto Castillo Cruz deliberately murdered a week after the same opposition gang murdered his son Cristopher Castillo Rosales were all cases that shocked public opinion in Nicaragua.

They are just a few of 198 police officers, government workers, Sandinista supporters and bystanders murdered by opposition gangs as against around 70 people identified as opposition supporters killed in the violent opposition-driven crisis from April to mid July. Those figures are based on genuine investigations by the Nicaraguan legislature’s Truth Commission, as against hearsay opposition accusations and phony research used to inflate the figures of the Inter American Commission for Human Rights, the UN’s OHCHR and Amnesty International, for example.

But another argument is that , while combating all the falsehoods on various fronts, the more important imperative is to communicate the reality of what is in fact one last determined assault by US and allied corporate elites on Latin America’s resources against competition from Asia, especially China. In this respect, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega’s latest interview with the Deutsche Welle media outlet  is very telling. Deutsche Welle’s journalist Carolina Chimoy was either incredibly ignorant and ill-prepared or else feigned ignorance in asking fake-naively “but why would the US target Nicaragua?” Very, very clearly, the US corporate elites are targeting any country that prevents their last gasp extraction of Latin America’s resources before they themselves succumb to the realities of competition from a multipolar world.

To do so they apply regime change in all its currently viable variants. They use judicial and legislative corruption in Brazil and Argentina targeting progressive leaders like Lula and Dilma Rousseff, abuse of the constitution in Ecuador to facilitate persecution of former President Rafael Correa and his colleagues, betrayal of peace agreement commitments in Colombia and outright attacks via illegal, genocidal sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela and, no doubt before too long, Nicaragua. In Nicaragua’s case the assault is not just against a rebellious government but against a truly revolutionary economic model, like Cuba’s, like Venezuela’s, placing the human person in a sustainable environment at the center of economic development.

That is why phony Western progressives and liberals ally with the US right wing to detest, misrepresent and distort the achievements of Nicolas Maduro and Daniel Ortega. They would rather be comfortably ensconced in the relative neocolonial privilege of the remaining few years of US and allied capitalist global dominance than face the difficult, complicated, uncomfortable realities of a more equitable multipolar world. Perhaps that is among the most important lessons of the failed coup in Nicaragua.