By Chuck Kaufman
The opposition called for a demonstration on Saturday, Mar. 16 at Metrocentro, a busy shopping area and traffic circle in Managua. Eye witnesses report fewer than 200 people showed up. The poor turnout is an indication that the Nicaraguan people have no interest in a repeat of last year’s failed coup attempt which paralyzed the country for weeks and cost about 200 lives.
The demonstration did not have a permit and after sporadic incidents of vandalism, police reportedly detained 107 people and released them a couple hours later without charges.
But, besides the poor turnout, what is interesting is the effort of the US embassy and Channel 10 TV to blow up the minor incident to build fear and anger in hope of creating a pretext like happened on April 18 of last year when social media ran fake stories that the police had killed students demonstrating against changes the government was proposing to make the social security system sustainable. There were no deaths on April 18, 2018. The following day there were three casualties: a policeman, a Sandinista supporter, and an innocent bystander. Those deaths too were used, along with staged video, to give the impression that the police were out of control and slaughtering people.
Those fake videos were very similar to the coverage by opposition TV station Channel 10 on Saturday. Check out this video of Channel 10 reporters pretending to be pinned down by police fire while in the background demonstrators can be seen sitting tranquilly on an outdoor staircase. This is straight out of the US regime change playbook as refined in Syria. Remember the tearful [fake] videos of supposed residents of Aleppo recording messages to loved ones because they were about to be killed any minute by Syrian troops? Nicaraguans, trained in such techniques by US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) workshops, did the same thing using the same scripts almost to the word.
And speaking of the US, below is an email sent by the US embassy to all US citizens on Saturday. Note that the alert was sent out at 6:13pm. The opposition demonstration at Metrocentro was called for 2:00pm and was over by the time the embassy sent out its alert.
Demonstration Alert: U. S. Embassy Managua, Nicaragua (March 16, 2019)
Location: Managua, countrywide
Event: Police responded with force and arrests to disperse a pro-democracy protest in Managua today, which caused the Embassy to temporarily restrict the movement of its personnel. Additional demonstrations may occur in Managua or elsewhere in Nicaragua with little or no notice. Please monitor local media for updates, and remember that violence may break out at any demonstration.
Actions to Take:
∙ Avoid demonstrations and leave the area immediately if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
∙ Do not participate in demonstrations. Foreigners, including U.S.-Nicaraguan dual nationals, risk arrest or expulsion if they participate in protests.
∙ Do not attempt to drive through large groups or barricades encountered on the street.
∙ Monitor local media for updates. Radio Corporacion and Channel 10 can provide the most updated news. Online media including Confidencial, Articulo 66, and La Mesa Redonda are also useful resources.
∙ Please note the Department of State has issued a Travel Advisory urging U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to civil unrest, an increase in violent crime, and limited healthcare availability.
Please follow the links or call the numbers below for consular assistance.
∙ Contact the U.S. Embassy in Managua, located at Km 5 ½ C. Sur Managua, Nicaragua, by calling +505-2252-7104, 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 7:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Fridays. The American Citizen Services unit is also available by email during regular business hours at ACS.Managua@state.gov. For after-hours emergencies, call +505-2252-7100 and ask for the Embassy Duty Officer.
∙ Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates
Why would the US embassy send out such an absurd after-the-fact alert? Because the US government has not given up on its plan for regime change in Nicaragua. Right now its main focus is on Venezuela, but just because its plan failed in Nicaragua last year doesn’t mean it has given up on its ultimate goal. It has to keep up the narrative that Nicaragua is a violent country, run by a dictator whose will is enforced by a thuggish police force and where there is no rule of law.
It is bad for the propaganda machine that the cruise ships have returned, the burned markets and schools have been repaired and rebuilt, and according to a recent poll, Daniel Ortega is the fifth most popular president in Latin America and the Caribbean! But the US embassy knows that most Americans have no independent source of information about Nicaragua so the US government can keep a completely out of date Travel Advisory telling people to reconsider travel to Nicaragua because of the violence.
For them, turning a failed, relatively trouble-free opposition rally into another story of violent repression by the dictatorship, is all in a day’s work.
By Nan McCurdy
Papel Nuncio Denounces Media Manipulation
On March 18, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Stanislaw Waldemar Sommertag condemned the manipulation of his role at the negotiating table by some Nicaraguan media outlets and said that those same people do not want a peaceful solution to the country’s crisis. The Vatican representative said that some of the media and certain other sectors manipulate information and that he has no personal interest other than to help find peace in Nicaragua. “I have no interests. But I think you have an interest here, either you want this country to get out of this situation or you want to spend another 10 months in the same situation. Before, everyone wanted a dialogue and now that there is negotiation they criticize it,” he said. Archbishop Sommertag said that unfortunately some media are laying a trap to prevent negotiation and allow acts of violence to continue. He stressed that many lies are told in Nicaragua and there is a lack of trust among the parties. He stated that, if manipulation of the truth continues, it could be too late [to achieve peace]. (Radio la Primerisima, 3/18/19)
Government Asks for Seriousness on the Part of the Opposition
The government participants in the National Dialogue released a statement on March 18 which stated, “The Delegation of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity expects seriousness and responsibility from its counterparts in negotiation and a sincere commitment to talk and reach consensus on positive agreements for Nicaragua.” In the statement, the government representatives made their position clear about what they said was the contradictory attitude of some of the participants, noting that, on March 16, they were part of a provocation and disturbance of public order and of the security of Nicaraguan families, who, they said, have the right to peace and tranquility. (Radio La Primerisima, 3/18/19)
107 Protesters Briefly Detained on Saturday
The National Police released 107 people detained during an opposition demonstration on March 16 in Managua. The detainees were handed over to Apostolic Nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, Human Rights Ombudsman Dr. Corina Centeno, and members of the Nicaraguan Truth, Justice and Peace Commission. Despite the fact that there was no permit issued by authorities to carry out activities that would threaten the safety of the population, a group of under 150 demonstrated and attacked some people near the Metro Centro Mall. The detainees were in good health when released. (Radio la Primerisima, 3/17/19)
Release of Prisoners
In a press release issued March 15, the Ministry of Government announced the release under house arrest or other precautionary measures of 50 persons who were detained for having committed “crimes against collective safety and crimes against public tranquility.” (Nicaragua News, 3/15/19)
US Does Not Rule Out Military Option in Nicaragua
Although “focused on resolving Nicaragua’s crisis through political, economic and diplomatic action,” Washington “does not rule out any other option, including the military option,” Ambassador Todd Robinson, the U.S. special envoy for Central America, said Monday in Madrid. Robinson met this Monday with representatives of the Spanish government, as part of his contacts with European allies to analyze the internal conflict in Nicaragua. As he did last week in Brussels, the State Department representative insisted that the United States supports dialogue in Nicaragua; that sanctions against the government will continue; and that Washington calls for “prompt, free and fair elections.” The US continues to apply a policy of sanctions and restrictions on investments in the country by international financial institutions, according to Robinson.
The US demands “the release of all political prisoners,” which Robinson put at between 800 and 1,000, while at the same time minimizing the recent release of a hundred prisoners as “the vast majority remain under house arrest.” Ambassador Robinson said he was convinced that the dialogue process, which has the support of the opposition, the Holy See and some U.S. allies, “is going to work.” (La Prensa, 3/17/19)
New Center Opens in Ocotal for People Living with Addictions
As part of restoring people’s rights, the Ocotal Mayor’s Office together with government institutions such as MINSA, MINED, MI FAMILIA, evangelical pastors, the Martin Luther University, Alcoholics Anonymous among others, opened the new Rehabilitation Center “Taller del Maestro” to assist people with addiction problems including alcohol and drugs. The government wants to accompany the family nucleus through its Human Development Programs. Pastor Harvin Pozo, a member of the committee, said that the patients will have a series of benefits for their recovery including medical assistance, psychological, spiritual and occupational therapies, as well as recreational activities. “We want patients to feel welcomed and blessed, not for them to feel like they are in a prison but in a place where they will be restored,” concluded the mayor. (Canal 8, 3/17/19)
Attractive Surfing Destination
A report published last week in Canadian magazine TravelWeek, states that Nicaragua beaches in the Rivas Department are “the perfect destination for eco-travelers and surf enthusiasts.” One of the most impressive sites is Costa Esmeralda, a dream paradise for relaxation and unconventional tourism, the perfect place away from the madding crowd of the city,” the TravelWeek report states. (Nicaragua News, 3/15/19)