By Margaret Kimberley
(Margaret Kimberley is Executive Editor and Senior Columnist at Black Agenda Report.)[This article was originally published by Black Agenda Report on July 20, 2022.]
Genuine peoples’ holidays are hard to come by in the U.S. But in Nicaragua the ongoing revolutionary process is widely celebrated. Holidays in the United States celebrate awful events such as the settler colonists declaring independence from Britain so that they might take Indigenous lands and protect slavery. There is also Thanksgiving, the commemoration of genocide turned into a day when Americans should think grateful thoughts before spending more than they can afford in order to celebrate Christmas. Christmas is ostensibly a religious holiday but is rarely treated as such. Labor Day was created to prevent acknowledgement of May 1, May Day, which commemorates just one example of U.S. state repression which took place in Chicago in 1886.
But this columnist just witnessed two special days in the Central American nation of Nicaragua. July 17 is known as Día de la Alegría, Day of Joy. On July 17, 1979, Anastasio Somoza, the U.S. puppet and dictator fled the country as the Sandinistas, members of the Frente Sandinista de Liberation Nacional (FSLN), prepared to take power. Two days later on July 19, 1979, the Sandinistas emerged victorious after years of armed struggle. The close proximity of the two days makes for earnest and righteous popular celebrations.
Coming from a nation which changed the name of a holiday from Armistice Day, a celebration of peace, to Veterans Day and then added another celebration of war death with Memorial Day, the Nicaraguan holidays were a breath of fresh air. Both days celebrate a revolutionary process and the determination to fight against U.S. interference in that nation.
Observing these special days in NIcaragua is an opportunity to see that revolutionary change is possible. Of course, in the U.S. people are told that nothing they want is possible. Americans want free health care but are told they can’t have it. They want the minimum wage to increase but are told they aren’t getting that either. They want student loan debt to disappear but are scorned for daring to mention what Joe Biden said he would do during his campaign. The lie is proof that he knows what the voters want. In a land where nothing is possible except mass incarceration, military spending increases and other forms of austerity, holidays with meaning for the average person are a revelation.
Of course Nicaraguans can get free health care and attend university for free, which is exactly why that country is under constant attack by the U.S. The hegemon will try to stamp out any revolutionary activity in this hemisphere. The foundation is indeed shaky if one nation with a population of 6.5 million is allowed to reject U.S. imperialism without suffering consequences.
The Ronald Reagan administration attacked Nicaragua from the very beginnings of Sandinista governance. In 1980 it began a 10-year long Contra war, of which the introduction of crack cocaine into the U.S. was a part. Millions of dollars were spent in the effort to undo the revolution, which played a role in the Sandinistas defeat in 1990. Voters returned them to power in 2006 and have continued to do so ever since. The U.S. has not given up and played a large role in a 2018 coup attempt. Joe Biden picked up where Donald Trump left off, and led the bipartisan RENACER Act in 2021 which brought new sanctions against the Nicaraguan government.
The State Department and its partners in corporate media have not stopped their attacks on the Nicaraguan people and the government which they have elected. When Nicaragua enacts the same rules regarding the operation of NGOs as exist in the U.S., it is excoriated as a dictatorship by the New York Times, BBC, Washington Post and Associated Press. Members of the Nicaraguan oligarchic class who are defeated in elections have a friend in the U.S. State Department and are given access to 60 Minutes and other outlets where they can attack the government.
These attacks are a sign that the U.S. 150-year history of interfering in Nicaragua has not ended. The Monroe Doctrine which asserts U.S. ownership of this hemisphere is very much alive and tall tales of “conflict beef” are a sign that more intervention is on the way.
But widespread celebrations for Día de la Alegría and 19 de Julio, July 19th, are proof of popular support among the Nicaraguan people. Under international law they have a right to sovereignty and to the governance of their choosing. They will not be dissuaded by war propaganda in U.S. media. They know about William Walker, an American mercenary who raised an army to create a slave state in Nicaragua in 1856. They know about the U.S. Marine occupation from 1911 to 1933 and those living today survived the Contra war and the 2018 coup attempt.
This history explains the love for these commemorations and why any U.S. efforts at regime change will be met with fierce resistance. Instead of believing ginned up falsehoods, people in this country (the US) should be about the business of bringing about change to benefit themselves. Perhaps then we can have holidays that are meaningful for the right reasons.
By Nan McCurdy
Nicaragua is 90% Food Self-Sufficient
In an interview on television station TN8 on July 26, Isidro Rivera, Minister of Agriculture, addressed the steady progress of food security in Nicaragua in terms of productivity, efficiency, facilitation and policies to support small and medium producers. He stated, “Indeed, food security and sovereignty are very important; having food for all in Nicaragua is very important. Remembering the years 2005-2006, not all food was produced in the country, not even the basic food basket. However, in 2007 President Daniel Ortega took charge of transforming the productive matrix, making Nicaragua a food producing country that can sustain itself, and that as far as possible can contribute to the food security of other countries.” He added, “Fortunately now, we can easily say that we have 90% food self-sufficiency. We still import 1.5 million hundred weights of rice while our current production is six million hundred weights. Rice consumption at the national level is 7.5 million. In one more agricultural cycle, we will be producing all the rice we consume.” (TN8, 26 July 2022)
Some 681,000 Homes Electrified since 2007
In 2007, 54% of the population had electricity service, while at present the Sandinista Government has extended the service to 99.19% of homes. Since 2007, 680,931 homes have been electrified through 9,587 projects. Thirteen thousand solar panels have been installed in the South Caribbean Coast region and in the department of Río San Juan to supply energy there. Up to July 21 of this year, the Public Lighting Project executed by the government through ENATREL has installed streetlights in 320 neighborhoods, with 33,332 streetlights inspected, 7,211 streetlights restored, 236,088 homes benefited, for a total of 1,062,396 Nicaraguans. (Radio La Primerisima, 27 July 2022)
Training for Farmers Using Irrigation Systems
The National System of Production, Consumption and Commerce, through the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG), intends to train 10,000 producers who use irrigation systems on their farms, to promote efficient use of water and reduce production costs. A focus will be on small producers who mainly grow vegetables, fruit, plantains, rice, alfalfa, and tobacco. MAG technicians will visit producers’ farms to learn about the current status and management of their irrigation systems and provide technical assistance and follow up on the technical recommendations identified in their diagnosis. Workshops will be held in 149 municipalities to present different designs of efficient irrigation systems for these crops which will be accompanied by practical demonstrations on demonstration farms. The MAG will ensure the financial resources for the execution of the technical support plan for producers. (Radio La Primerisima, 25 July 2022)
Rebuilding Schools around the Nation
With an investment of more than US$3 million, the Ministry of Education will inaugurate the rehabilitation of 5 schools and will start 10 new infrastructure works in different parts of the country. New desks will be transferred to schools in Ciudad Darío, Matiguás, Rancho Grande, Río Blanco and El Tuma-La Dalia in Matagalpa, to provide better conditions for students. 492 teachers are enrolled for the start of diploma courses in technological tools for developmental purposes through the Universidad Abierta en Línea (UAL). (Radio La Primerisima, 25 July 2022)
Educators Awarded for Courses
Some 5,743 educators will receive awards this week, after completing a specialization course, with which they will improve the quality of education in preschool and primary schools throughout the country, said Salvador Vanegas, presidential advisor on educational issues. The educators teach in schools in Boaco, Carazo, Estelí, Granada, Jinotega, Masaya, Matagalpa, Rivas, Río San Juan, Las Minas, and Zelaya Central. This week wireless internet networks will be installed in three educational centers, among them the Elvis Valdivia Institute in San Lorenzo Boaco, the Emmanuel Móngalo educational center in Diriamba, and the Jesús de La Cruz Mena school in Santa Rosa del Peñón. (Radio La Primerisima, 25 July 2022)
60,000 Medical Consults in 1,277 Communities This Week
The Ministry of Health announced that, as part of the “My Hospital for my Community Health Campaign,” medical brigades and mobile clinics from departmental hospitals will carry out 60,000 medical consultations and schedule surgeries in 1,277 communities this week, benefiting 70,000 people. The initiative is part of the Family and Community Healthcare Model. (Nicaragua News, 25 July 2022)
1.4 Million Animals Being Immunized Against Rabies
The national vaccination campaign against canine rabies, which aims to immunize 1.4 million animals was launched on July 25, announced Eduardo Jiménez, national coordinator of the Zoonosis component of MINSA. The vaccination campaign will conclude on August 14. (Radio La Primerisima, 25 July 2022)
More than 12,000 Families to Receive Homes
Vice President Rosario Murillo announced that in 2022, municipalities throughout the country will give 12,000 houses to families through the Bismarck Martínez Program. More than 40,200 lots have been delivered in all the municipalities of the national territory. From the Office of the Attorney General, 450 property titles will be delivered in Jinotega, El Cuá, Condega, La Trinidad, San Juan de Río Coco, Somoto, Palacagüina, Yalagüina, Ocotal, Rancho Grande, Muy Muy, San Ramón and Bonanza. (Radio La Primerisima, 25 July 2022)
10-km Highway Section Finished in Chinandega
The expansion and modernization of roads from 2 to 4 lanes in the city of Chinandega will be inaugurated on July 27. This new 10-kilometer highway will allow fast, fluid and safe transit for 133,721 producers, merchants, students, workers, tourists and families in the area. It also reduces operating costs, contributes to improve productivity, and has a positive impact on the efficiency of fishing, agricultural, livestock and agro-industrial production and provides facilities for the expansion of trade and tourism in the department of Chinandega. (Radio La Primerisima, 24 July 2022)
Bean Exports Increase
The Nicaragua System of Production, Consumption and Commerce reported that Nicaragua exported 53,000 metric tons of red beans between January and June 2022, registering US$62 million in sales, 29.1% over the same period in 2021. The main markets for red beans were El Salvador, Costa Rica, and the United States. (Nicaragua News, 25 July 2022)
In Nicaragua Only 37% of the Population Are Catholic
Protestant denominations are prevailing over Catholicism in Central American countries and currently only 34.8% of the population in Central America are Catholic; Catholicism has been in decline for the last 50 years. The survey released July 27 by the polling firm M&R Consultores indicates that 65.2% define themselves as non-Catholics, among which are 36.8% Protestants, 27.5% non-denominational believers and 0.9% non-believers. According to the survey, in Nicaragua 37.1% of the population is Catholic, while 62.9% define themselves as non-Catholic. In El Salvador only 28.7% of the population is Catholic and 71.3% profess another religion. Among Central American countries, the country with the most Catholics is Guatemala with 37.9%. (Radio La Primerisima, 27 July 2022)