Nicaragua: The Deep Neocolonial Lie

Stephen Sefton

On Nicaragua, Western corporate and alternative media have outdone themselves failing to report or investigate the events they claim to cover. They interviewed hardly any, if at all, of the many thousands of victims of opposition violence, reproducing instead opposition lies and misrepresentations, falsely blaming all the violence on the government. Perhaps the only English language reporters to report at first hand on the Nicaraguan opposition’s murderous violence have been Max Blumenthal and Dick Emanuelsson, along with a few other independent writers. Here are some quotes from them in relation to opposition violence in 2018:

Max Blumenthal “The thing I was struck by the most was the extent of sadistic violence that was meted out against average supporters of the Sandinistas during the period in which the national police were ordered to stay in their barracks.”

Dan Kovalik : “…the OAS, still dominated by the US, has also been activated into overdrive, lending a hand in the regime-change effort by blaming all of the violence happening in Nicaragua on the government while ignoring the violence of the opposition.”

Dick Emanuelsson: “ We relate now the story of the case of Leonel Morales, a student union president elected by the thousands of Upoli students. Six weeks after they occupied the university, the terrorists kidnapped him, tortured him and shot him four times.”

John Perry : “Public buildings and the houses of government supporters were burnt down by protesters; shops were ransacked; most businesses and all banks and schools were closed. The main secondary school for 3,700 pupils was burnt out twice… At first protesters had homemade mortars, but later many acquired more serious weapons such as AK-47s; paid troublemakers manned the barricades at night-time. A police official captured nearby was tortured and then killed, his body burnt at a barricade.”

These writers’ reporting of testimony from victims and witnesses of the opposition violence in 2018 is irrefutable. Their reports confirm that Western corporate and alternative media, human rights NGOs, the Organization of American States and the UN have all systematically omitted opposition violence. In fact, the video and documentary evidence, for example here, here and here, of vicious armed violence against police, government functionaries, Sandinista supporters and non-partisan bystanders is overwhelming.

Even so, complaints to Western media pointing out falsehoods and misrepresentations have been met either by complete silence or else with evasive non-sequiturs.  A recent example of this phenomenon was an exchange with the Irish Times about a two part report by Michael McCaughan omitting any account of Sandinista victims of opposition violence. The report is based entirely on opposition sources, and on partisan reports favoring the opposition by the Inter American Commission for Human Rights and related bodies.

Responding to the fact that opposition activists murdered Sandinista supporters Lenin Mendiola and Miguel Ramos, McCaughan discounts solid ballistic evidence and witness testimony against the opposition murderers of Mendiola and smears Ramos by repeating opposition propaganda that Ramos was “member of a pro-government paramilitary group. The independent news channel 100% Noticias described him as ‘the head of the paramilitaries’ in Estelí. It is likely that he was killed by a protestor.”

Confirming, by the way, that protesters were armed and violent, this comment also repeats various cynical aspects of opposition propaganda. Describing the vehemently opposition-aligned 100% Noticias television station as “independent” is particularly ridiculous when its director is notorious for anti-Sandinista hate-speech and incitement to violence, for example on air inciting opposition activists to burn down the Sandinista radio station, Nueva Radio Ya, which they did.

Miguel Ramos like all Sandinistas in Estelí, where I have lived now for 25 years, organized with his community in self defense against vicious, violent opposition activists and paid delinquents controlling the roadblock on the Panamerican Highway, which they used as a base to attack other parts of Estelí . With the police confined to their stations as a condition for peace talks, Sandinistas throughout Estelí organized their communities so as to protect themselves and their families against violence and intimidation from marauding opposition gunmen and thugs.

The order from both the local authorities and the local party structure was to go straight home after work and stay indoors, an order that was universally complied with. When the police finally moved to clear the roadblocks in early June, one in Estelí itself, beside the regional hospital, and one 25km south in La Trinidad, they asked for experienced volunteers. Miguel volunteered. Only one person died in those carefully planned clearances. That person was Miguel himself, shot dead in cold blood by an opposition gunman firing from a nearby house after the successful operation was over.

McCaughan has no idea what really happened, confirming that the Irish Times failed in its basic duty to seek out the facts, interview witnesses, compare versions, do all the boring hard work genuine newspapers are supposed to do. For example, in response to the complaint to the Irish Times, McCaughan recycles secondhand accounts of the events of May 30th, in Managua and elsewhere, failing to note that among the fatalities that day were many Sandinista supporters along with 20 police officers wounded by opposition gunmen in Managua. He never interviewed any of those victims, relying for his account on highly questionable reporting by Amnesty International.

That failure to do his job as a reporter also figures in McCaughan’s response to criticism of his reports when he cites the case of murdered policeman Faber López to try and support the sinister, absurd claim that a number of the 22 police officers murdered by the Nicaraguan opposition were in fact killed by their own comrades. Dick Emanuelsson addresses the broader opposition lie in his report on the opposition massacre of police officers in El Morrito. In the case of Faber López, a team of independent writers have completely demolished this opposition lie, their work supported by this interview with Faber Lopez’s widow.

In reply to criticism related to the violent protests in Estelí, McCaughan quotes the OAS expert group reporting “the protests in Estelí were peaceful and the violent response of the state was unprovoked.” But Francisco Valenzuela, Estelí’s mayor, confirmed to me today that at no point was he contacted by any OAS official or any foreign human rights group. Those institutions and organizations failed to talk to key witnesses to the attack on Estelí’s town hall on the evening of April 20th 2018, for example, apart from Valenzuela himself, the more than 20 police officers and municipal workers wounded by opposition violence. They also omitted to register the inventory of over US$70,000 of damage, including damage by attempted arson, to the municipal offices, to municipal vehicles and to adjacent properties caused by the use of molotov cocktails, home-made mortars, firearms and stone throwing.

The OAS, UN and human rights NGO reports on the events in Nicaragua in 2018 are worthless. They rely entirely on opposition accounts of events while excluding the testimony of thousands of victims of opposition violence. Their bad faith reporting has been compounded by a corresponding media failure to interview victims of opposition violence in Nicaragua. Good faith reporters would also ask why all the human rights institutions and NGOs systematically ignored testimony from the Nicaraguan authorities. At the very least, they might have noted Foreign Minister Denis Moncada’s rebuke to Luis Almagro the OAS Secretary General on the issue of opposition violence and asked on what basis the Nicaraguan authorities made that unprecedented rebuke.

The big neocolonial lie is that Western governments, institutions and media promote justice and democracy when at every opportunity they do the exact opposite. They make false accusations and then deny the accused a defense. In doing so, they deny their own peoples the democratic right to the information they need to make a fair judgement. While internationally Nicaragua’s government is unjustly accused, in Nicaragua itself most people support the government, rejecting the political opposition for trying to destroy Nicaragua in 2018, causing grief, hurt and suffering to tens of thousands of its people.