NicaNotes: ALBA and Nicaragua – Defending Solidarity in a Divided World

By Stephen Sefton

[Stephen Sefton has served as a community worker in Nicaragua for 28 years. Since 2008, he has coordinated the web site Tortilla con Sal which follows events in Nicaragua and the region.]

The leaders of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – People’s Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) countries held a summit meeting in Havana at the end of May this year which showed that the aspiration for solidarity and freedom in the region remains strong.

At their May summit, ALBA-TCP leaders demanded all countries in the continent participate “on an equal footing” in the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles (Twitter / @BrunoRguezP)

On the other hand, controversy has dogged this June’s United States government-organized Summit of the Americas with its exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. These three countries had already abandoned the OAS, seriously damaging the credibility of the Organization of American States as a trustworthy hemispheric forum for the countries of North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. However, several countries decided in the end not to attend the event. The fact that Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico and the Caricom [Caribbean Community of 20 nations] countries have called their own participation into question has no doubt shaken even the sinister, implacable ideologues running US foreign policy. That policy remains firmly rooted in the Monroe Doctrine, endowing the US with practically feudal rights over all of Latin America and the Caribbean. Instead of inviting the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela, the US authorities invited individuals and opposition media outlets that they trained, organized and funded to carry out coup attempts and destabilization in those countries.

If anyone is curious about what the US, Canada and their European Union allies want for the region, one has only to look at Haiti. There, the Western model of democracy and freedom, of free market neoliberalism, of United Nation’s and OAS run elections, of wholesale non-governmental organization (NGO) managerial interventions, have had a free rein for almost twenty years. The horrific results are self-evident: economic impoverishment, political instability, extreme inequality, appalling public health outcomes, chronic citizen insecurity and similar outcomes in terms of practically any other social and economic indicator. If they were to get the chance, those levels of immiseration and exploitation are what the US and its allies have in mind for Latin America and the Caribbean.

However, the aspiration for emancipation in the region continues as strong as ever as shown by the summit meeting in Havana of leaders of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – People’s Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) countries last month. Of the four biggest ALBA-TCP countries, Bolivia has recovered from the 2019 US-backed coup; Nicaragua and Venezuela have both overcome recent US-organized coup attempts. Cuba has survived 60 years of US trade and financial blockade while Venezuela and, so far to a lesser degree, Nicaragua are both subject to damaging internationally illegal coercive economic measures known as sanctions. Even so, despite all of that relentless US and allied aggression, this was the 21st such summit of the ALBA-TCP countries since 2004.

The summit issued a Declaration reaffirming the ALBA-TCP principles of “solidarity, social justice, cooperation and economic complementarity; with genuine regional integration led by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)”. CELAC includes 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and does not include the US and Canada. The declaration also reaffirmed support for multilateralism and its opposition to efforts at imperialist domination, denouncing the US government’s discriminatory behavior over the June Summit of the Americas and its economic aggression against Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Important Caribbean island nations supported the declaration, including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The survival and resistance of the ALBA-TCP countries combines now with other factors that belie the feudal seigneurial assumption of the US ruling class that time is on their side and that if they apply sufficient coercion over time they will prevail. That assumption is no longer valid, if it ever was. Just as they failed to subdue the liberation and emancipation impulse in Latin America and the Caribbean, so too they have failed elsewhere. The debacle in Afghanistan, the failure to overthrow the government of Syria, let alone Iran, the practical expulsion from West Africa of US allied French forces, Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and China’s no nonsense rejection of US meddling in Taiwan, all mean one thing: time is fast running out for the US ruling elite and their allied network of vassal states across North America, Europe and the Pacific.

Irrational US and European sanctions against Russia and Belarus have deepened the developing global energy and food crisis already in train resulting from measures introduced to address Covid-19 starting in early 2020. But instead of seeking to de-escalate this developing crisis and accommodate to new global realities, the US and its allies have increased ultimately ineffective sanctions against Russia and are wantonly menacing China. In that global context, the ALBA-TCP summit is yet another example of the global division the US and its allies have provoked which is leaving them steadily more isolated.

Voting patterns in the UN General Assembly this year have reflected this reality while also suggesting a multifaceted and radically nuanced range of interest-based policy decisions rather than any kind of clear-cut set of allegiances like those of the Cold War. That said, and in the context of the Americas, it may be helpful to identify what seem to be two clear ideological poles towards which different countries in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean tend currently to gravitate one way or another. The US and its allies group around an imperialist pole, while the ALBA-TCP countries embrace anti-imperialism. It may be helpful to summarize that opposition as follows.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the US is unable to suppress resistance to their imperialist policies. By contrast, the Bolivarian Alliance countries in particular have successfully challenged US regional policies and their local elite enforcers. Nicaragua’s case bears out ALBA’s overall regional example. Since taking office in January 2007, Nicaragua’s Sandinista government has decisively prioritized social and economic policies centred on the needs and aspirations of the human person.

Regional autonomy, infrastructure investment in the Caribbean [education, health care, electricity, water, sewage, roads, bridges, ports and more], 90% food sovereignty, great increase in renewable energy sources, active promotion of cultural identity and diversity have all radically empowered Nicaragua’s Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples. Nicaragua’s foreign policy long ago stopped favoring the interests of North America and Europe to benefit the majority of Nicaragua’s people.

By re-opening its relations with the People’s Republic of China last year, developing its relationship with Iran and reaffirming its historic relations with Russia, Nicaragua is simply deepening its commitment to a multipolar world based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations as well as assuring the future well-being of its people.

Within Central America and the wider region, Nicaragua has worked constantly since 2007 towards integration favoring the needs and aspirations of the region’s peoples based on the ALBA-TCP principles of solidarity and complementarity. Nicaragua initiated the agreement for a zone of prosperity and peace in the Gulf of Fonseca supported by both Honduras and El Salvador, until Nayib Bukele became the Salvadoran president.

Similarly, Nicaragua has been an active member of both the Central American Integration System and the Association of Caribbean States. In both those organizations, Nicaragua has actively promoted coordination and cooperation on issues like disaster prevention and mitigation, combatting organized crime, developing tourism, improved food security and tackling climate change. In contrast to Nicaragua’s positive and proactive approach, the main factors blocking the development of the Central American Integration System are the recalcitrance of Costa Rica, US intervention in Honduras and Guatemala, and Nayib Bukele’s reactionary position representing El Salvador.

Neocolonial collaboration of local elites in Central America with their foreign patrons contrasts increasingly starkly with Nicaragua’s commitment to creating sovereign national wealth via productive investment. Nicaragua is recognized as having the best highway system in the region. The country now has over 99% electricity coverage. It has a very ambitious program of investment in water and sewage infrastructure. Other investment programs include major improvements to the ports of Corinto and Bluefields. Taken together, the new highway from Siuna to the North Caribbean Regional capital Bilwi, the national program of bridge construction, and the building of 25 new hospitals have no parallel anywhere in the region.

Especially since the failed US coup attempt in 2018, Nicaragua has been the country in the region where grass roots social and economic democratization has most clearly prevailed against the local foreign-aligned oligarchy. Economic policy has prioritized agricultural and livestock producers previously starved of credit and technical support enabling the country to develop even more as a major regional food exporter. By creating the Ministry of the Family, Cooperative, Community and Associative Economy (MEFCCA) the government has encouraged and supported micro, small and medium- scale farmers and businesses across many productive sectors of the economy. Another example is how, up until 2018, Nicaragua’s Institute of Tourism dramatically supported the development of local tourist businesses across the country and subsequently helped the industry refocus from international to regional tourism – a move which also helped the industry survive through the global collapse in tourism from 2020 on.

In these dimensions and others, Nicaragua accompanies Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela: Under the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has miraculously overcome more than a decade of relentless US aggression so as to remake its economy and society. Bolivia’s President Luis Arce and his team have steadily made good the huge damage and deep social and economic wounds inflicted on the country and its people by the US-directed coup of 2019. Against all odds, revolutionary Cuba survives and looks forward to a better future, despite the crushing burden and difficulties of 60 years of continuing genocidal blockade by the US authorities. Like their counterparts elsewhere in the world, in the Americas the ALBA-TCP countries have demonstrated that the United States and its allies have acted above all to isolate themselves while the rest of the world goes on advancing without them.

By Nan McCurdy

Nicaragua at Preparatory Meeting on Climate Change
Nicaragua is part of the meetings of the G-77 + China, in the framework of the 56th Meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held from June 6 to 16 in Bonn, Germany. The coordination sessions were opened by Ambassador Nabeel Munir, Pakistan’s coordinator for the G-77+China, in which the main issues of interest like adaptation, loss and damage, mitigation and climate finance, were discussed. UNFCCC executive secretary Patricia Espinosa stressed the importance of these meetings, noting that the consequences of climate change around the world are the greatest threat to humanity. The 56th Meeting of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies is designed to prepare for the COP27- United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022. The delegates from Nicaragua are Tatiana García, Nicaraguan Ambassador to Germany, and, virtually, Javier Gutiérrez, Climate Change Secretary of the Presidency and Vice-Minister of MARENA. (World Press Agency Nicaragua, 6 June 2022)

ALBA-TCP Members Demand Relations Based on International Law
The XXI Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas, Peoples Trade Agreement ALBA-TCP, held in Cuba at the end of May, issued a Declaration stating that member countries support “the demands of the countries of the Americas to promote a change in hemispheric relations, based on the United Nations Charter and International Law, including the principles of sovereign equality, peaceful solution of conflicts, and self-determination of peoples without interference in internal affairs or use of force.” They also rejected “the arbitrary, ideological, and politically motivated exclusion of various countries from the so-called Summit of the Americas, which will take place in June in the US. This unilateral decision represents a serious historic setback in hemispheric relations that offends the Latin American and Caribbean peoples.” (Nicaragua News, 31 May 2022)

Healthy Garden Support for Small Producers
In support of cultivation of family gardens, the Nicaragua Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) delivered 33,000 vegetable and fruit plants to more than 1,000 small producers in the Departments of Río San Juan, Boaco, Nueva Segovia, Masaya, Rivas, and Carazo and both Caribbean Autonomous Regions. The initiative is part of the Healthy Garden Program of the Creative Economy Model implemented throughout the country. (Nicaragua News, 2 June 2022)

Big Increase in Remittances
The Central Bank reported that remittances totaled US$234 million in April, a 36.9% increase over 2021. Of remittances received during this period, 75.2% came from the US, 9.2% from Costa Rica and 8.4% from Spain. (Nicaragua News, 31 May 2022)

Nicaragua Fulfills Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances
Through Presidential Decree 09-2022 issued June 1, President Daniel Ortega authorized approval of the “Regulation for the Control of Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer.” The purpose is to establish rules and procedures for the registration, control, reduction, and substitution of substances that deplete the ozone layer and that contribute to global warming, in compliance with the Montreal Protocol and other international legal instruments ratified by Nicaragua. (Nicaragua News, 1 June 2022)

Nicaraguans Reject Foreign Interference and U.S. Sanctions
A poll by M&R Consultores in May 2022 finds that 91.3% of citizens consider that in order for Nicaragua to prosper as a country, it must act with freedom to decide what it wants, without external interference. The same percentage of the population affirms that the sanctions imposed on Nicaragua harm everyone. Sixty-nine percent of the people polled approve of the Government officially cutting all ties and relations with the Organization of American States against 30.7% who disapprove. Nearly 84 percent of those polled disapprove of the decision of the US to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from the Summit of the Americas. Seventy percent of Nicaraguans support the position of the leaders of Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia and Caribbean countries to not attend the Summit if the US does not invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. According to 85.4% of those surveyed, Nicaragua is the safest country in the region. Seventy-three percent say that Nicaragua is a containment point for stopping drug trafficking, organized crime and gangs. In the survey, 78.8% of the citizens said that they agree with the thought of General Augusto C. Sandino, referring to the fact that “Any ruler who is imposed by a foreign power will only represent and defend the interests of others, and never those of his country.” Also, 82% said they identified with Sandino’s phrase that says “The political leader who feels true love for his country, must haughtily despise any humiliating proposal that affects the sovereignty of the Nation.” See more here: (Radio La Primerisima, 1 June 2022)

Nicaragua Part of Effort to Reduce Marine Pollution
Nicaragua is joining with seven other countries to address the problem of plastic pollution in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. Nicaragua will work with Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. The plan, is being jointly developed by representatives of the eight countries. The oceans have become immense deposits of plastic waste. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources, mainly from plastics associated with food and beverage packaging. Increasing information, monitoring, strengthening enforcement, raising public awareness and making producers responsible for their own waste are some of the priorities identified in the Plan. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 17,000 tons of plastic waste are generated daily, of which 30% is still disposed of in open dumps, affecting more than 40 million people. Fifteen percent of marine litter floats on the surface of the sea, another 15% is located in the water column and 70% remains on the seabed. (Radio La Primerisima, 7 June 2022)

About 85% of Nicaraguans Have Access to Internet
More than 5.5 million people have access to mobile or fixed internet in the 153 municipalities; of which 152 municipalities have 3G coverage and 149 municipalities have 4G coverage, TELCOR representatives reported. The government is committed to continue promoting investment in the telecommunications sector and connectivity in order to reduce the digital divide. (Informe Pastran, 6 June 2022)

Some 53,000 Children Receive Child Support
The Ministry of the Family registered the payment of more than 46,000 child support payments, benefiting 53,000 children and adolescents, reported Johana Flores, head of MIFAMILIA. Flores explained that child support is processed after a conciliation process which is “an administrative process that the Ministry of the Family requires of parents when they have already made the decision to separate and children are involved who will need child support. Once the parents reach total or partial agreements the payments can be processed,” Flores said. The process of payment of child support has been automated for the convenience of both parties. “It does not matter which department of the country the defendant or the beneficiary is in,” she said. (Radio La Primerisima, 1 June 2022)

Students Learn to Protect the Environment
As part of the celebration of World Environment Day, students from the Villa Libertad School in Managua participated in a children’s festival where they learned to protect nature, one of many such events promoted by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA). Through this initiative, children draw, recycle and learn games to put into practice the knowledge acquired in the Natural Sciences class. “The children are our replacements, it is important that we teach them about caring for the environment, taking care of our mother earth, our common home. Through different activities they learn to take care of animals, to plant a tree, to recycle and to teach their families what they have learned,” explained Sumaya Castillo, Minister of MARENA. See photos:
(Canal2TV, 7 June 2022)

Cancellation of Legal Status of 96 more NGOs
The legal status of 96 non-governmental organizations was cancelled this Thursday in the plenary session of the National Assembly for not complying with the laws governing non-profit organizations. Details here: Fewer than 7% of Nicaragua’s 7,000 non-profit organizations have lost their legal status in the last four years. In comparison, in the United States, just in 2020, 30,000 non-profits lost their status. (Radio La Primerisima, 2 June 2022)

The US Invites Pro-Coup Media and Individuals to Summit
Several Nicaraguans were chosen by the US government to participate in the IX Summit of the Americas being held in Los Angeles. [The government of President Joe Biden decided not to invite Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, but instead invited representatives of Nicaragua’s opposition media, like 100%Noticias, Despacho 505, Café con Voz, Radio Darío, Vamos al Punto, Hablemos en Serio and Carlos Fernando Chamorro’s Confidencial, all of which played key roles in the US-supported coup attempt of 2018 as well as in ongoing US-funded destabilization efforts. The US has created many sub-events so that these invitees have a forum to espouse disinformation that will likely be reprinted in US media.] On June 7, peasant leader Francisca Ramirez, known as Doña Chica, will be participating in the discussion about peasants “in the struggle.” [During 2018, Ramirez was one of the main leaders of the violent roadblocks. Earlier, she was a leader of the “anti-canal” movement, complaining that they could not protest while holding more than 80 demonstrations.]

On the same day Amaru Ruiz will present a talk on “The demolition of freedom of association in Nicaragua.” [On September 7, 2021, the Public Prosecutor’s Office filed an accusation against Amaru Ruíz for Propagation of False News, a violation of Law 1042, the Special Law on Cybercrimes. Ruiz provided false information of events that occurred in 2020 and 2021 in the communities of the Northern Caribbean Coast, where Indigenous people were murdered.] Alex Aguirre of the youth sector of the National Unity Party (UNAB) will speak on “Violations of human rights of young people and students in Nicaragua”. [Alex Aguirre is one of the young people trained by the US between 2007 and 2018 to take a leading role in the 2018 attempted coup. He was trained as part of a group called Asociación Agentes de Cambio.]

Urnas Abiertas will also be part of the IX Summit of the Americas. As part of the Nicaraguan delegation, Ligia Gómez, spokesperson for Urnas Abiertas, will present a talk titled “Nicaragua: Extermination of Democracy”. [While funding sources for Urnas Abiertas are hidden, it was likely formed and paid for by the United States like many opposition media, “human rights” and nonprofits in Nicaragua, to create disinformation. The opposition Nicaraguan media primarily printed their disinformation at the time of the 2021 elections, then the US press unquestioningly reprinted the Nicaragua media reports of invented propaganda.]

Haydeé Castillo assured 100% Noticias that opposition representatives expect Nicaraguan civil society to be heard by international decision makers. [Haydeé Castillo was a member of the UNAB, National Unity Blue and White, who received US money directly and through a series of non-profit organizations that have since lost their legal status because they wouldn’t report on the sources of their funding or how it was used.] (100%Noticias, 6 June 2022)