NicaNotes: Trump’s Election Doesn’t Just Affect the United States

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El Nuevo Diario interviewed documented Nicaraguans in the United States a few days after the US presidential election was won by Donald Trump. As one would expect, given the number of Somocistas who settled in Miami after the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, what they found was a mixed bag. Some voted for Trump and others couldn’t believe that any immigrant would vote for Trump. I thought 28 year-old Jennifer Quiroz from New Jersey captured the sentiments of not just Nicaraguans but most people of color in the US. She said, “I really believe that Mr. Trump is not the problem. The problem is the hatred and racism he has sown among people called white. That hatred does not depend on whether or not we are documented. That hatred and violence toward the different cultures and ethnic groups that live here will increase in this country.”

Presidential economic advisor, Bayardo Arce, said during an economic conference that the Government of Nicaragua has “decided to wait for the development of North American policy.” He declared, “Donald Trump was the winner and the foreign policy of the United States is not yet defined.”

Two of Nicaragua’s vulnerabilities are hostile legislation like the NICA Act which passed only the House of Representatives a few months ago, but might have a better chance of passing the Senate and being signed into law with Trump in the Oval Office. Arce described the NICA Act as a law that “aims to affect US aid and lending.”

Another vulnerability is remittances. The Nicaraguan Central Bank projects US$1.1 billion in remittances from Nicaraguans living abroad to families at home. The first nine months of 2016 saw a 5.4% increase over the same period in 2015. The US leads in countries from which Nicaraguans send home some of their earnings followed by Costa Rica, Spain, Panama, El Salvador, and Canada. Trump has threatened to disrupt remittances from undocumented US residents (not to mention deport them all!) and a fall in remittances would be an economic blow to Nicaragua’s economy.

I couldn’t find a breakdown of documented vs. undocumented Nicaraguans in the US. Since during the 1980s Nicaraguans were almost as privileged as Cubans for entry into the US and a fast track to citizenship, I suspect there is a lower percentage of undocumented Nicaraguans resident in the US than from neighboring countries, On Nov. 18, El Nuevo Diario reported that 498 Nicaraguans have been deported so far in 2016 from the US. That is about 2/3rd the number of deportations last year and pales in comparison to the 31,000 Guatemalans deported so far in 2016.

Nicaragua Network is the founder of the Alliance for Global Justice and now one of its projects. Below is our effort to peer into the crystal ball, but even more so to discuss what movements in the US and Latin America must do in the coming period with Trump in the White House.


AfGJ Statement on the Election of Donald Trump as President

November 16, 2016

We find ourselves today in a worldwide struggle such as we have never seen before. We are not only confronting the destructive nature of neoliberalism and imperialist wars, we are in a race towards the end of the world as we know it with respect to ecological degradation.

With Donald Trump we will have a United States president who speaks eagerly about the possible use of nuclear weapons, who does not believe in climate change and who wants to significantly advance extractivism and the oil and coal industries.

We will have a president openly motivated by racism. This racism will not only define a repressive political character within the US, but will be a guiding principle in international relations. Racism has always been an underlying aspect of the US experience. But with Trump, we are already seeing an aggressive legitimization of violent racism in our streets and this will certainly be reflected in the government’s comportment towards other countries of the world.

Nevertheless, equal to the possibilities for destruction, we also have the possibility for a new era of people’s internationalism.  While many of us are in a state of shock with the election of Trump, we cannot stand idly by. We need to soberly assess where we are. The tools we need to advance our revolutionary cause already exist in the real world. We must know what they are and how to use them.

We of the Alliance for Global Justice are focused on struggles against Empire and for popular democracy, especially with respect to the Empire’s policies toward Latin America, which we understand as US military and political power in service to transnational capitalism.

Since the election of Trump, we have received requests from friends and partners in other countries concerning what to expect from a Trump administration. This declaration is our answer to these solicitations.

We must start by talking about what the election signifies for the US people. There exists a great polarization here. We are divided politically between a strong extreme right wing and a popular movement of resistance that is also strong, but less organized, less united. That popular movement has produced important uprisings. For instance, the Occupy movement popularized the language of class struggle with its identification of the 1%, or the wealthy and the capitalists, as the primary source of repression in the country and the world. We have been able to mount large movements against wars, for immigrant rights, for the Earth, against Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), against mass incarceration, and more. But we have lacked the political consciousness to sufficiently sustain them.

Additionally, the press, the government and the capitalist powers work every day to diminish our voices and to isolate and marginalize us, but they can’t do it. We keep coming back and won’t be eliminated.

With the Black Lives Matter movement against racist police brutality we have seen something that may have staying power. We also see this possibility with struggles against oil and gas pipelines such as the Keystone pipeline. Today that movement is focused on stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline that would pass through traditional territory of the Standing Rock Sioux, violating sacred sites and threatening the nation’s only water supply as well as the Missouri River, one of North America’s most important water sources.

What we in AfGJ have known and said many times is that the US is going to change and the one option we don’t have is that we can maintain the status quo. The US is going to turn to the Left toward popular democracy or to the Right toward fascism, more war, more exploitation. With the victory of Trump we see the latter, unless we can mount a durable opposition in the streets.

The election of Trump is a terrible victory for bigotry and hate.  Trump frequently expressed extreme racist and sexist remarks and encouraged violence on the part of his supporters. Those who voted for him heard these, which means they either agreed or were not sufficiently motivated to confront them. But his election also reveals something profound for the Left and the Right. Neoliberal capitalism isn’t working for the middle and working class. More than anything else, those who voted for Donald Trump were voting against the political establishment and business as usual which has crushed the aspirations of working class people.

We know that Trump does not represent all the US people, or even a majority. Of those with the right to vote, 45% did not vote at all. Participation in the presidential election was the lowest in 20 years. There are many obstacles that block electoral participation of many citizens. There are many people who have lost all faith in the US electoral system. This is easy to understand considering we have a system that does everything in its power to prevent the emergence of a campaign that confronts transnational corporate greed and that truly addresses itself to the most fundamental concerns of poor and working families. In fact, in our so-called democracy, a person can become president even when they lose the popular vote. That happened with George W. Bush in 2000 and, again, with Donald Trump in 2016.

his election was not so much a victory for Trump as a defeat for Hillary Clinton and her allies in the Democratic Party. Although people fear Trump, we know Clinton. We remember that during her husband’s administration, she supported or was silent when he dismantled our welfare system, went to war in Yugoslavia, bombed and maintained sanctions against Iraq, passed laws that raised our incarceration rate to the highest in the world, passed the North American Free Trade Agreement and began construction of the border wall. We remember how Hillary Clinton supported wars against Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and how she wants to escalate a war in Syria that would be directed toward regime change. We remember that she supported the coup against the elected government in Honduras as well as ongoing coup attempts in Venezuela, and that she pushed forward the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In all the political world of the Democrats, they chose as their candidate the one person who could not mobilize and inspire a successful campaign against Donald Trump.

What can we expect from a Trump administration? There is a mountain of reasons for us to be worried. But we should also recognize that with Trump we have a window of opportunity regarding two matters. Although Trump is a dedicated imperialist, he wants to normalize relations with Russia and cooperate with them with respect to Syria. Nevertheless, Trump has also promised to escalate military activities of the US in Syria and we must oppose these. We simply cannot trust in the designs of the US oligarchy or the Pentagon and we must oppose any further US military intervention in the region.

Another opportunity has to do with the struggle against corporation-friendly FTAs. For many years, the leadership of both the Republicans and Democrats has pursued passage of FTAs despite the fact that both Party bases opposed them. On the Left, we do not want what Trump wants, which is protectionism. We want fair trade and community based economies and sustainable agriculture. But we have a good opportunity to advocate for the repeal of existing FTAs and to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With respect to relations with Latin America, there are clear dangers. Trump promised to end normalization with Cuba. He poke in racist terms about immigrants from Mexico and his desire to massively detain and deport those without documents, and to militarize the border even more than it already is. His policies will result in a witch hunt not only against immigrants, but against all Latinos since, by virtue of skin color, culture and language, they will be targets for racial profiling.

There is no struggle more important in the world than the struggle for climate and ecological justice. Trump does not believe in climate change and is committed to developing more mines, more oil wells, more pipelines, more out of control and unsustainable consumerism for obscene profits for the very few. He wants to end whatever international accords or policies we have to confront climate change.

We simply must unite in common cause for the defense and integrity of our ecosystems and communities. The opportunity that presents itself now is the possibility to raise up international resistance that can truly challenge the power of Empire and its drive toward environmental collapse.

Many times AfGJ has offered our solidarity to popular struggles in Latin America and the world. We now ask for solidarity. With Trump we are going to see increased attacks against our people of African heritage, undocumented immigrants, Latinos, the indigenous, Muslims, women, the working class, the poor, LGBITQ people, and the environment. The solidarity we need can take many forms. For example, we hope that a President Trump can never travel anywhere in the world without being met by massive demonstrations against his presence. With Trump as president, we expect that many people of the world will plan NOT to travel to Disney World, the Grand Canyon, New York City, and other popular tourist attractions. This informal boycott can have a positive effect by showing economically that racism and nativism has consequences. By the same token, a cultural boycott, such as exists against Israel, could be another helpful consequence. If global citizens show their solidarity through how they spend their money, that would be an act aimed precisely where capitalism and Empire are most vulnerable.

But more than anything, we need two forms of solidarity. First of all, we need to learn and take inspiration from our international comrades, especially from the movements in Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and every place where the people have achieved defeats of their enemies and have won popular power. Above all we ask our friends and partners that you continue your struggles against the Empire and that you defend your anti-imperialist and popular governments and movements.

We the people of the United States also suffer the effects of imperialism. The Empire robs us of our resources, submits us to injustice and represses our workers, our students, our communities, our oppressed peoples in order to advance its militaristic and exploitative adventures around the world. We understand that international liberation struggles are part of our own liberation struggle. We believe that together, we can make a better world a reality, a world the size of our dreams.


Briefs

  • National Police Deputy Director Francisco Diaz announced that during the first 9 months of this year the homicide rate in Nicaragua was reduced from 8 to 7 per 100,000 inhabitants. He added that this result ratifies Nicaragua as the safest country in Central America and one of the safest in Latin America. (Nicaragua News, Nov. 18)
  • The National Coffee Commission expects Nicaragua’s coffee harvest this season to surpass two million hundredweights during a time when international coffee prices are high. The Nicaragua Agricultural Producers Association (UPANIC) announced that in an effort to diversify coffee production, 40,000 hectares of Robusta coffee will be planted this year. Robusta is usually considered inferior to Arabica, which dominates Nicaragua’s crop, but it does have nearly twice as much caffeine as the better tasting Arabica. And, 7-Elevens in the US began serving Rainforest Alliance certified organic coffee from Nicaragua last week. “Nicaragua coffee meets the highest standards of environmental protection and ensures the well-being of thousands of small producers”, 7-Eleven VP Nancy Smith said. (Nicaragua News, Nov. 15, 17, 18)
  • The final vote tally in Nicaragua’s Nov. 6 election as declared by the  Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) showed President Daniel Ortega the winner with 72.5% of the votes and 71 seats for the FSLN Alliance in the National Assembly. The Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) leads the opposition with 15 seats followed by the Liberal Independent Party (PLI) 2; the Nicaragua Liberal Alliance (ALN) 2; the Conservative Party 1; YATAMA Party 1; Alliance for the Republic Party (APRE) 1. The CSE President, Magistrate Roberto Rivas said the election was carried out in a safe, orderly and transparent manner with the participation of 69% of registered voters. (Nicaragua News, Nov. 16)
  • Former vice-president and long-time leader of the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) has died at the age of 82. The Nicaraguan government declared three days of mourning. Godoy was vice-president during the government of Violeta Chamorro (1991-1997). He was a founder of the PLI which broke from the dictator Somoza’s National Liberal Party to become a party in opposition to the dictatorship. A few months before his death, the Nicaraguan Supreme Court returned the party to its traditional leadership which had been ousted in a power grab in 2005 by supporters of banker Eduardo Montealegre. (El Nuevo Diario, Nov. 18)
  • Carlos Mejia Godoy, writer of such songs as Nicaragua, Nicaraguita and the Misa Campesina, was awarded a Grammy by the Latin Grammy Academy for his contributions to Latin Music. Mejia Godoy is also noted for his work to preserve the traditional songs and instruments of the Nicaraguan countryside. (El Nuevo Diario, Nov. 17)
  • In an effort to improve water quality and improve the environment, the municipality of San Juan del Sur, with aid from Germany, is attempting to preserve 400 hectares of forest through financial incentives, education, monitoring, and to diminish solid and liquid waste contamination of the Escondido river. (El Nuevo Diario, Nov. 16)
  • With Hurricane Otto moving toward Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the Sandinista government announced a red alert for the South Caribbean
    Autonomous Region and the Department of Rio San Juan along with a
    yellow alert for the Departments of Boaco, Chontales, Rivas, Granada,
    CArazo, Masaya, Managua, Leon, and Chinandega. Government spokeswoman
    Rosario Murillo said, “Given the experience that we have … we are
    mobilizing to deal with this phenomenon, establishing alerts with
    sufficient time for our population to be ready for evacuation if this
    should prove necessary.” (Informe Pastran, Nov. 22)