Stella Calloni, July 12, 2018
translation by a Nicaraguan solidarity collective
If the most serious opposition to President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua does not set itself apart from the mercenaries who continue to commit atrocious crimes against dozens of Sandinistas for their simply supporting the government, including torture and public flogging (videos recorded by professional journalists), and if they fail to separate themselves from organizations that receive funds from the United States and the European right, they will go down in history as full-on traitors to their homeland. There is no possible euphemism or sleight of academic speech that can save them from their own actions, coming as they do precisely when the United States is waging a ruthless counterinsurgency war of low intensity and fourth generation with the goal of advancing its recolonizing project of directly controlling Our America; a project within which the “soft” coup is disguised as an ‘anti-dictatorial rebellion.’
From its very beginning on April 18, the corporate media reported on Nicaragua reality by falsifying the truth, manipulating the facts to a criminal degree. Nor was this confined to the majority of press throughout the world that operate in servile obedience to the hegemonic power; even several of the very few independent media that survive have largely cooperated in hiding a tragedy whose dimensions are yet to be fully understood – exactly as occurred with Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, and as is happening today in Yemen and elsewhere, including some countries much closer to home as in Honduras, Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala. Many journalists, including even intellectuals, identified as progressive or leftist in the great diversity of Our America, have only given voice to the supposed ‘rebels’ against the supposed ‘dictatorship,; without knowing anything about current Nicaraguan reality, thus mirroring exactly the beginnings of the colonial wars of occupation in the Middle East.
One of those who has challenged this narrative, Jorge Capelán, himself from Nicaragua, speaks of ‘this toxic coup fired with viciousness against the Nicaraguan people,’ relating that to the visit made to Washington by some sixteen representatives of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), calling on the so-called Forum of the Civil Society of the Organization of American States (OAS) to take the decision to send blue helmets to Nicaragua, among other serious matters. They asked for direct intervention, in other words.
The Nicaraguan government’s response to the first demonstration of protest on April 18 was to repeal the pension law – the law that supposedly unleashed the coup storm – and to call for dialogue. However, dialogue was exactly what Washington did not want in preparing the coup within the counterinsurgency war scheme, where the Southern Command’s strategy of dispersion has allowed the USA to install bases and other military establishments in several vital countries, all carefully and strategically chosen.
Further, since the mid-1980s the region has been invaded by a network of foundations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and even USAID (US International Agency for Development), an agency that has such a long and dark history on the continent; these among others. Thus they maintain a network of NGOs through which they distribute generous amounts of money to their in-country accomplices, their natural allies being the region’s right-wing groupings. This has allowed them to infiltrate not only the juridical structures of the region’s countries, as well as the press, and indeed all sectors of society, creating real monopolies for information manipulation, de-sensitization and de-culturation of peoples. These CIA foundations moled away clandestinely for years, implicated in every coup attempt that occurred in the region this century, from Venezuela in 2002 to the present day.
Nicaragua has dozens of NGOs dependent on the foundations. The Cuban-American terrorist groups of Miami actively collaborate, including through their own Republican representatives in the US Congress such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and others. Rubio, who became an ‘advisor’ to President Donald Trump for Latin America, is an intermediary between this and the recalcitrant right-wing of Latin America. The one international and imperial media corporation that handles 95 percent of the news circulating throughout the world, had its origins in the Pentagon itself. This is key to ‘fourth generation’ or psychological warfare, a weapon that has become as important as missiles.
There was nothing spontaneous about the Nicaraguan protests, nor the presence of mercenaries who kidnapped Sandinistas and subjected them to brutal punishment and torture: stripped naked, publicly scourged, murdered and even burned in the street. These actions recalled to vivid mind the brutal times of Anastasio Somoza. And all this proven and filmed, a true witness to horror.
For nearly three months these same mercenaries have been burning schools, health centers, social program offices and, cooperatives. They torched the Bank of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), and even Radio Ya and Radio Nicaragua. CARUNA (National Rural Bank), a cooperative bank was also put to the flames destroying the records of its hundreds of thousands of members, and, that very same day, they went on to burn the headquarters of the Ministry of Family and Community Economy, together with a number of buildings of government officials, houses, schools, health centers, and even hospitals.
The list of crimes and destruction is extensive, but now almost three months later, Sandinista supporters are taking back the streets, while the army has freed several whole communities held hostage by the mercenary forces, revealing the millions of dollars’ worth of criminal damage caused by the coup attempt, tragic losses that affect entire towns.
Investigations carried out by the US journalist Max Blumenthal have exposed the role of entities such as USAID, Freedom House, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in financing Nicaraguan NGOs calling for the overthrow of the FSLN’s President Ortega.
According to Blumenthal, USAID allocated some $ 5.2 million for Nicaragua in 2017, ‘with the majority of funds earmarked for the training of civil society and media organizations.’ He further noted that in June, leaders of the M19, the student group that began the anti-government protests, traveled to Washington to meet with the ultra-right of the United States, including such figures as Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ross Lehtinen. They went on to also meet with Mark Green, director of USAID, who expressed his open support for their position confronting the Sandinista government. The entire trip was paid for by Freedom House.
Blumenthal highlights the fact that the M19 is neither spontaneous nor the result of discontent against Ortega, but rather the work of one of its principal organizers, Félix Madariaga, who directs the Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies, and is one of the main spokesmen against Sandinismo. His institute itself received some 260,000 dollars from the NED, with most of the funds earmarked for training civil society and media organizations. Blumenthal also references the Hagamos Democracia (Let’s Make Democracy) Foundation, headed up by Luciano García, a well-known opponent of Sandinismo. This foundation has received $525,000 from the NED since 2014, working as another instrument of intervention in Nicaragua, delivering $1 million to various other organizations of the so-called ‘civil society’ throughout 2017. All of these groups insistently demand the resignation of President Ortega; and among are to be found the Human Rights Commission of Nicaragua ($111,000), the Center for Private Enterprise ($239,000), the International Republican Institute ($150,000), the Ibero-American Cultural Foundation ($79,000), and the Social Economic Development Foundation ($40,000); these among others. (Source: NED digital). Beyond this, in the same year, the NED also allocated 305,000 dollars to anonymous groups in Nicaragua for what they call ‘democracy promotion,’ i.e, the organization of counter-revolution and anti-Sandinista subversion, highlighting, as he says, the role they play in fourth generation, or psychological warfare in Latin America.
Blumenthal points out that the NED was created in 1983 by the Reagan administration, that it actively collaborated in the US covert war against Nicaragua in the ‘80s and ‘90s, including supporting and financing in-country media and other anti-Sandinista opposition, and was a key player in the run-up to the US invasion of Panama in December 1989. Likewise, USAID as part of, and a mask for, the CIA is responsible for the thousands of Nicaraguans killed during the covert war of the 1980s, when they invented so-called ‘contra-gate,’ facilitating the transhipment of drugs from the Southern Command of the Panama Canal Zone to Miami, the source of weapons for the Contra mercenaries. There’s nothing new in all this, given the USA’s history for example in Vietnam, and examining its role even today in arming the mercenaries used by NATO in the current colonial wars of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
A month before the M19 meetings with ultraconservative legislators in Washington, the NED stated bluntly that organizations they’ve backed have spent years receiving millions of dollars to lay the groundwork for insurrection in Nicaragua, as clearly noted on the website, ‘Global Americans’, to take but one instance. Written by the US academic Benjamin Waddell, academic director of the International Training School in Nicaragua, it presents news focused specifically on Latin America. After the publication of this article, Global Americans replaced the term ‘insurrection’ with the more seemingly-innocuous ‘change.’ However, the original title can still be seen in the article’s URL. The truth is Waddell wrote quite clearly, ‘The international press described the rapid escalation of civil unrest in Nicaragua as a spontaneous outburst of collective discontent,’ adding that ‘the current participation of the NED in nurturing civil society groups in Nicaragua throws light on the power of transnational financing to influence political outcomes in the 21st century.’
‘Much of what we do openly today was done covertly by the CIA twenty-five years ago,’ said Allen Weinstein, founder of the NED. ‘The most visible faces of the anti-Ortega movement have not been retirees affected by social security reforms, but urban, politically unaffiliated students seeking total victory. They have forged an alliance with government opponents from the right.’
Meantime, masked men with mortars and firearms form the frontline at the roadblocks that have already drained Nicaragua’s economy of some $250 million in revenue. The action of the United States in Nicaragua is so obvious that it’s astonishing that important Nicaraguan figures, themselves formed by Sandinismo, whose opposition to Ortega is based on internal differences – matters that are not for us to judge – have been silent under such circumstances; and with that very silence have enabled the country’s bloodshed, with the public support of the US, Nicaragua’s nemesis Nicaragua since the nineteenth century. This inescapable fact concerning the behavior of a good section of the so-called left during this moment in history, merits profound analysis.
We would have expected no less of course from the right wing, from certain sectors of the church, and/or from the organizations with the pretty ‘democratic’ names supported by the CIA’s money. But even there, the silence about the aberrant crimes and the terror planted in the humblest and most defenseless populations are cases of extreme complicity, where some priests seem even to be defying current Vatican mandates.
All this is designed to overthrow the one government in Central America that has stalwartly defended its people against the rampant gangs, standing out as a beacon of peace in the midst of so much Central American violence; a government that has achieved social advances unique in the region, as fully acknowledged by the international organizations; and a government that, against all kinds of pressure from Washington, remains steadfast in its participation in ALBA, that vital organ of regional integration, dedicated to assisting the region’s people in greatest need. As the Trump government threatens to invade Venezuela, Nicaragua becomes strategically vital.
So let no one be confused by the current situation in Latin America. It’s increasingly obvious that the Monroe Doctrine is back in hideous vogue, with a decadent empire, every day more vicious and more brutal, striving to re-appropriate the region that it considers its ‘back yard, Thus confronting the Great Homeland with a profound dilemma: re-colonization or independence.