This week’s NicaNotes guest blog is by a long-time friend of the Nicaragua Network, Felipe Stuart. Felipe Stuart C. is a dual Nicaraguan-Canadian citizen and a longtime socialist and solidarity activist. He is a member of the Nicaraguan Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN). His short commentary addresses the media hysteria about allegations that the Russian government hacked and released embarrassing emails by the Democratic National Committee revealing how the DNC was manipulating the elections. Felipe asks some questions at the end of his piece. I’d be interested in your thoughts. If I get enough good ones, I’ll publish them in an upcoming NicaNotes blog. Send your comments to Chuck@AFGJ.org.
Humor and Irony from the United States
From a Nicaraguan point of view, the “declassified” report on Putin’s alleged electoral interference in the US presidential election is a mix of humor and irony.
In our most recent national elections last November, Washington did to Nicaragua’s Sandinista party (the FSLN) everything Putin is alleged to have done against the USA Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.
On a per capita basis, we faced an army of US-paid anti-Sandinista internet trolls hundreds of times the size of those supposedly employed by the alleged Putin pro-Trump campaign. On top of that, the entirety of Western MSM (mainstream media) participated in this disinformation war. Worse still, the assault on Nicaraguan sovereignty has not ended – we ain’t seen nothin yet. Now, we are being threatened by the NICA Act, intended, when adopted by the Trump regime, to deny Nicaragua access to international credit unless we say “Uncle” and dump the FSLN government.
Nicaraguans have experienced this kind of electoral intervention ever since 1984 (and decades back – 1928 — when US Marines “counted” the votes). In 1984, not just trolls and paid journalists attacked our presidential elections, but also the Contras, armed to the teeth by the USA. In 1990, we voted with guns in our faces, just two months after the US invaded Panama and bombed the central part of its capital, killing 20,000 people.
Of course, we now have the internet, and Sandinistas – especially the youth – have learned how to wage the battle of ideas in that media. The FSLN won the youth vote overwhelmingly. Even the pulpit is no longer exclusively in the hands of reactionary religious currents. A majority of both Evangelicals and Roman Catholics supported the FSLN, often with a favorable nod from their “Shepherds.”
It is difficult, from afar, and never having been educated in USAmerican-style electoral machinations, to understand what is really behind the attempt to Putinize Trump. Is this a dress rehearsal for an impeachment campaign? Or, is it another ratcheting up of the Russophobic cold war campaign? Or both?
- Rosendo Mayorga, president of the Nicaragua Chamber of Commerce, reported that the commercial sector achieved US$2.065 billion in total sales for 2016, 8.7% above 2015. “It was a very good year because we surpassed the US$1.9 billion recorded in 2015. This growth in sales was driven by an increase in the purchase of food, beverages and household goods,” Mayorga said. (Nicaragua News, Jan. 6)
- An International Living report, published in FORBES Magazine last week, ranked Nicaragua among the top 10 countries in which to retire in 2017. The report is based on an evaluation which includes safety, healthcare, climate, low living costs, geographical location, and procedures to purchase new property. (Nicaragua News, Jan. 6)
- Organizations representing people with disabilities are pleased with the progress they have made convincing businesses to hire people with visual, hearing, and motor disabilities. Dr. Orlando Sevilla, president of the Telethon Foundation said, “We have advanced. There has been a great opening in the private sector.” He noted that companies in the Free Trade Zones are increasingly hiring people with disabilities. Alma Baltodano, executive secretary of the Nicaraguan Federation of Associations of Persons with Disabilities (FECONORI) cited as examples an auto parts manufacturing company that hired 20 deaf people and paid for an interpreter for three months while they trained. She also gave the example of tobacco companies in Esteli which reportedly employ over 100 people with disabilities. (El Nuevo Diario, Jan 6)
- Chamber of Energy President Cesar Zamora announced that Nicaraguan businesses have 10 renewable energy projects totaling US$600 million with funding assured. He said they will sit down with the government in February to discuss energy priorities and development of the projects. Projects include hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, solar and biomass. In 2016, according to Zamora, US$200 million was invested in renewable energy. Zamora also said the business community will meet with the government on Jan. 15 to discuss electricity rates. (El Nuevo Diario, Jan. 5)