Nicaragua is a small country in Central America that has a population 50 times and an area 75 times smaller than that of the United States. The U.S. GDP (in 2019) was 1,772 times that of Nicaragua the same year. The United States has 5 thousand 113 nuclear warheads, 11 aircraft carriers and 18 nuclear submarines, Nicaragua none. Can anyone in their right mind believe that Nicaragua is a threat to the United States?
If the problem is democracy, how concerned is the United States about democracy in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or in our region, Paraguay, Brazil, Honduras, Venezuela, Haiti or Chile where it has planned, organized and supported coups d’état against democracy?
Not to mention the past when it supported every dictatorship in the region. In Nicaragua itself, the United States was a mentor to Somoza who, according to President Roosevelt, was “a son of a bitch”, but he was “our son of a bitch”.
So where does the furious hatred that successive U.S. governments have felt and feel for Nicaragua come from? Undoubtedly from its history. No country in Latin America and the Caribbean has dealt the United States as many defeats as the homeland of Ruben Dario and Augusto C. Sandino.
Consider this. Its geographic position within the Central American belt earned it the ambitious gaze of the powers from very early on. Thus, in the middle of the XIX century, the American filibuster William Walker (today we would call him a mercenary) with the tacit approval of the government of the United States, invaded Nicaragua with a military force that eventually propelled him (supported by a sector of the ever-present undeserving and unworthy that appear in every political process) to the presidency of the Republic. The patriotic forces were forced into a National War to resist the foreign invasion. After advances and retreats that he attempted to consolidate his control over the country, Walker suffered a resounding defeat on September 14, 1856 in the battle of San Jacinto at the hands of the Nicaraguan patriots who were doubled in number, led by Colonel José Santos Estrada. It was the beginning of the end, for many more attempts Walker made to hold on to power he was persecuted, harassed and finally shot in Honduras in 1860. The U.S. attempt to seize Nicaragua was defeated for the first time.
A little more than half a century later, in 1912 – after several failed attempts – Nicaragua was again occupied by the United States. The objective was the same: to secure the territory so that the United States could build a canal before any contender could do so. In 1916, the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty was signed between the United States and Nicaragua, which transformed the country into a virtual Yankee protectorate. As part of the control it established, in 1928 the United States created a National Guard, as a native force of occupation of its own country at the service of the North American power.
In 1927, against the US presence which amounted to 5 thousand soldiers and around 500 officers and also against the betrayal (as can be seen, always present) of General José María Moncada who had signed with the United States the so-called “Pacto del Espino Negro”, General Augusto C. Sandino rose up under the slogan “I neither sell out nor surrender. I want a free homeland or death”, unleashing a regular war until the use of U.S. aircraft against unarmed cities that produced heavy casualties to the civilian population convinced him of the need to use guerrilla warfare, commanding an army of peasants that the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral baptized as “small crazy army of willingness to sacrifice”. The war was expanding throughout the national territory as Sandino’s successes grew until the US army was forced to withdraw defeated from Nicaragua in January 1933. This was the second defeat of the United States in Nicaragua, this one of a military nature, which in turn was the first of its kind suffered by the United States in Latin America.
Although the assassination of Sandino temporarily paralyzed the struggle of the Nicaraguan people, it did not stop their libertarian impetus. Sandino’s ideas became generalized, came to life among the youth and in 1961 it became an organization and structure when it was founded under the leadership of Commander Carlos Fonseca Amador, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) that after a long struggle of 18 years with the massive participation of the Nicaraguan people managed to defeat the “son of a bitch of the United States” who defended him until the last moment protecting his escape without him paying for his crimes against the people. Another defeat for the United States, this time of a political nature, because in Nicaragua a popular and revolutionary government was installed which for the first time in history institutionalized the country by creating a solid army to guarantee sovereignty and territorial integrity, which in addition – also for the first time – was not accountable to any foreign power.
Only the exhaustion produced by being forced to live under a brutal interventionist war, which according to some sources caused around 150,000 victims between the dead, wounded and disabled, made the people oust the FSLN from power by electoral means. However, in the interregnum in June 1986, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague voted in favor of Nicaragua in a sentence for the lawsuit filed against the United States for promoting war and instability during the years of Sandinista government. Yet another defeat for the United States against Nicaragua, this time diplomatic and juridical, which made evident at the international level the imperialist and interventionist character of its foreign policy.
From 1990 onwards, a series of neoliberal governments were enthroned in the country, which brought social development indexes back to the levels left by the dictatorship. But the FSLN with Comandante Daniel Ortega at the head did not lose heart even though the electoral defeat produced new and important desertions and some betrayals as -I repeat- has always happened at all times.
The FSLN then began to build a new history in which Daniel’s perseverance prevailed for 17 years (almost the same time that intervened between the founding of the FSLN and the triumph of the revolution) in the face of reluctance, confidence in the people in the face of suspicion regarding his abilities, will in the face of fatigue, firmness in the face of ambiguity and the FSLN returned to power in the same way it had lost it: by electoral means. A new defeat for the United States – of a political nature – which could not understand how the neoliberal governments that “administered” the country from 1990 to 2007 had been ousted in spite of all the imperial support.
The Sandinista government turned to rebuilding the country. It went so far as to launch a new literacy campaign (Nicaragua is the only country in the world declared twice free of illiteracy by Unesco). The population regained access to public health care after the country had been brought back to pre-revolutionary health levels in terms of infant mortality, beds per inhabitant, budget, infant vaccination, maternal mortality, elimination of endemic diseases and others. Once again, social security returned to the government’s concern and social budgets for recreation, culture, sports and others were increased. The country came back – literally – from the darkness, when it had up to 12 hours of blackouts per day to create a national electricity supply network developing alternative energies like no other country in Latin America.
And all this in a framework of citizen peace, of democratic coexistence, with an exemplary model of mixed economy in which businessmen invested in their country due to the stability that the government had generated. In September 2008, only one year after the FSLN returned to power, at the conclusion of the analysis of the country’s economic performance, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) determined that “Nicaragua’s macroeconomic policies remain prudent and that its poverty alleviation program is satisfactory”. Almost eight years later, in April 2016, the same international financial organization, after a Commission visit to the country ruled that, “The Nicaraguan economy continues to register high growth rates and sustainable macroeconomic policies. In 2015, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 4.9% and the average of the last five years (5.2%) is one of the highest in the region.” New defeat for the United States, this time of an economic nature but with a political impact: the FSLN government demonstrated that its political model of sustainable growth was viable and credible over time.
This was more than the United States could bear, and it understood that a model was being developed that could be replicated in other latitudes: a small country with scarce resources was capable of building a sovereign experiment of mixed economy and social development within the framework of democracy and civic peace. The recently inaugurated President Donald Trump ordered the acceleration of all subversive plans always present in the portfolio of intelligence agencies and ordered the overthrow of the government, counting on the ever-present support of local forces, especially businessmen who are not happy with the wealth they have and eager for more profit, sectors of the traditional right wing that think in English, the Catholic hierarchy opposed to Pope Francis and groups of former Sandinistas detached from the original trunk for various reasons, valid or not, but which in any case do not justify placing themselves at the service of a foreign power and becoming salaried employees of it.
In April 2018, a brutal coup attempt was unleashed, which the national and international media rushed to decree victorious without counting on the will of resistance of the Nicaraguan people, the institutional strength of the country, particularly the army and the leadership of the FSLN and Comandante Daniel Ortega. The attempt resulted in almost 200 deaths, among them 20 policemen, as well as severe damages to the national economy. A total of 252 public and private buildings were destroyed, 209 kilometers of streets or highways, 278 pieces of machinery and construction equipment and 389 vehicles were set on fire. In the end, the insurrectional offensive by the opposition, in which the U.S. embassy had a public participation, was once again defeated, however, the damage caused to the economy set back the progress of several years which had brought about an ostensible improvement in the living conditions of the people.
Nevertheless, in the midst of the pandemic, on February 21, 2020, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held a new consultation in Nicaragua. In its report it concluded that, “Since April 2018, social unrest and its aftermath eroded confidence and led to large outflows of capital and bank deposits, negatively affecting Nicaraguan economic activity. Real GDP is estimated to suffer another contraction in 2019 of 5.7% (2018 growth was -3.8%) due to deteriorating aggregate demand, fiscal consolidation and sanctions.” At this point, I recommend to the reader to go back lines and look at the agency’s report in 2016 to make comparisons, likewise one should include in their analysis the last factor mentioned: that of the sanctions that began to gravitate on the country’s development as part of the U.S. imperial aggression.
The report adds that: “Although the economic slowdown resulted in a current account surplus in 2018 and 2019, the improvement was entirely neutralized by the reversal experienced by the financial balance. The authorities adopted less restrictive monetary and financial system policies in 2018-19 in order to avoid a downward economic spiral.” This is a clear demonstration of the country’s institutional capacity to face the adversities produced, not by chance, but by the renewed interventionist agenda of a foreign power as demonstrated by the evidence of such instrumentation shown by the country’s authorities. A new defeat for the United States, which could neither overthrow the government nor prevent its new path to normalization, not only in the midst of aggression, but also in the midst of the pandemic.
But it has not been enough, now in the proximity of the presidential elections scheduled for this year, the United States has once again unleashed its troops to delegitimize the country’s institutions, to question the constitutional order and to try through external means what an undermined, discredited and divided opposition cannot achieve with its own efforts. As it can be no less for a self-respecting country, Nicaragua has enforced the full weight of the law to safeguard the stability and peace of the country.
In the face of this, a new chorus has been unleashed to attempt the umpteenth aggression against Nicaragua. The best proof that what the Nicaraguan government is doing is right is the rejection of the measures taken by the OAS, its Secretary General Luis Almagro and the governments of the United States and Spain, among others. These are clear signs that the right path has been taken.
In this case, the choir is accompanied by sectors of the international social-democratic and social-Christian right and certain sectors of a salon left that has a very radical discourse but does not go beyond the norms of analysis of representative democracy. It is necessary to know how much a day, every day, a week, every week, a month, every month, a year, every year means, to go through life under harassment, with aggressions, military interventions, economic sanctions, blockades, attempts to assassinate leaders and innumerable terrorist actions that are included in the agendas of imperial policy.
With all due respect, I would like to say that one has to live it to know what it is all about. Without undermining anyone, those of us who have had the good fortune to live the time of the rifles and act with them, in the time of politics to do it honestly and also the time of pencils and computers to use them in the same struggle, we know the difference between one and the other.
And in these moments – excuse me for repeating it so much – I always remember Comandante Tomás Borge when he used to tell me: “If you are confused, always look where Fidel is. That’s where you have to be. And Fidel taught us that we had to know in which trench imperialism was in order to be in the front trench”. For me, on the long road of the revolution, that is the orientation and guide.
Throughout history there have always been traitors and deserters. Where is General Rafael del Pino, hero of Playa Girón? Where is Dariel Alarcón “Benigno”, comrade of Che in Bolivia? Who does Joaquín Villalobos, former head of the People’s Revolutionary Army of El Salvador, serve today? What did some ministers and high officials of Salvador Allende’s government become, who for more than 30 years have made themselves rich administering the Chilean neo-liberal model at the expense of their defense of Pinochet’s Constitution? Are all those who accompanied Comandante Chávez on February 4, 1992, following his ideas today? If anyone is interested in the subject, check the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999, see who signed it and find out where they are today.
Even Eduardo Galeano and José Saramago questioned and broke with the Cuban revolution for being against the extreme measures the country had to take in the face of the persistent US aggression. As intelligent men, they eventually understood the situation and passed away in healthy peace with Fidel and the Cuban people. Boaventura de Souza has been a permanent and strong critic of the Bolivarian process. One must be able to differentiate between criticism and betrayal. Finally, the maxim of Comandante Camilo Cienfuegos must prevail: “Those who fight, no matter where, are our brothers”.
Who does not make mistakes? Can 25 centuries of class societies be overcome in a short period of time? Do not the builders of the new society bring with them vices and scourges of the past? Where is the manual for the construction of this new society and the model to be followed? It does not exist, because this is a living, dialectical process, based on trial and error. They are human beings of flesh and blood, not exempt of mistakes, those who propose the assault to power in order to hand it over to the people. The Christian precept says: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.
In the case of Nicaragua, no one can tell me the story. I was wrongfully and unjustly and ignominiously expelled from the country when I was ambassador of Venezuela sent by Commander Hugo Chavez. It is not the subject of this writing, only a reference to say that it cannot be the scope of one’s own that motivates the action of a revolutionary. And neither can resentment, the desire for prominence and individual overvaluation be what moves his life in favor of the people.
We revolutionaries are not the ones who have posed the dilemma of all or nothing. The slogans of “Homeland or Death”, ” We Shall Overcome” and “Free Homeland or Death” were adopted by Fidel and Sandino after circumstances imposed it on them. It is worth remembering the brutal decree of War to Death that Bolivar was forced to sign in 1813 in the midst of the heat of the struggle for independence against Spain and in which no half measures were accepted. At some point, both in Cuba and Nicaragua, the use of those slogans that identified their revolutionary vocation as a way of easing tensions diminished, but the aggression did not cease. It was imperialism that posed the “all or nothing”.
And in these conditions, unfortunately, there is no room for third options. Either you are with imperialism or you are with the Homeland. Let each one choose his own trench. I have no doubts about which is mine.
Translation by Internationalist 360°