NicaNotes: What We Saw Is Not What the Corporate Media Tells the Public!

By Margaret Kimberley

(Margaret Kimberley is Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report. She was an election companion with the Black Alliance for Peace delegation.)

Remarks at Electoral Accompaniment Press Conference
Managua, Nicaragua
November 9, 2021

[You can view the entire press conference here: https://youtu.be/d513SW8NOtk]

My name is Margaret Kimberley and I am a member of a seven-person delegation organized by Black Alliance for Peace. We have been here in Managua and in Bluefields on the Caribbean coast [North Autonomous Region] on election day. That region is the home of a variety of ethnic groups, Afro-descended Garifuna and Creole communities, Miskito, Olwas, Mayagna, and Rama Indigenous people, and Mestizos.

We saw four different polling places in the town of Bluefields and on Pearl Lagoon. We saw a well-managed process, a ballot which is clearer than any I have seen in my home in New York, and people from all of the communities I mentioned participating as voters.

What we saw is not what the corporate media and US politicians tell the public about Nicaragua. Newspapers and television networks in the US claimed that only the governing party was allowed to campaign and that other candidates are in prison. This is not true. None of the six presidential candidates were incarcerated. Large campaign signs representing all parties were clearly displayed. All Nicaraguans were aware of who is running and which parties they represent. There was no confusion about the process or about the electoral choices available. In short, what we saw is in direct contradiction to what people in the US are being told about the Nicaraguan election.

The presence of our group and other [electoral] companions has been vital in telling the people of the world about events here. I don’t mean to be boastful in making that statement. My goal is to point out the degree of manipulation being orchestrated around the world by the US government and others who would deny the Nicaraguan people their rights to self-determination.

The US congress passed the RENACER act, imposing sanctions on the government, sanctions that will harm the people who freely exercised the franchise, all under the guise of helping them. The Black Alliance for Peace delegation is grateful to have participated in this process of witnessing the will of the people in this country and having the opportunity of sharing what we have seen. Thank you very much.

Note: 232 people from 27 countries covered the elections in the 15 departments and the two Autonomous Regions of Nicaragua.

In the graph below you can see that no elected leader in recent elections has gained a higher percentage of the total eligible voters than Daniel Ortega.

 

Sandinistas Win by a Landslide! U.S. Dirty Tricks Fail in Derailing Nicaraguan Democracy

Voters wait in line to vote at a polling place in Sutiava neighborhood in León.

(This article was originally published in Covert Action Magazine on Nov. 9, 2021.)

By Nan McCurdy

In the lead up to the February 25, 1990 elections, President George H.W. Bush told the Nicaraguan people that the U.S. would keep funding the Contras (counter-revolutionaries recruited, funded and directed by President Reagan, the State Department and the CIA in 1980s illegal war), block loans and maintain the brutal economic blockade where Nicaragua couldn’t even get medicine or parts for an x-ray machine.

Although half a million people came out to show support for the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) days before the vote, the FSLN lost to the U.S. hand-picked candidate, Violeta Chamorro, because of the blackmail and coercion. With the election result, Nicaragua turned over power effectively to the U.S., which imposed 17 years of neoliberal austerity. Just about everything was privatized, leading to a reversal of many social gains such as the glass of milk for children program. Thousands of people joined the ranks of the unemployed, tried to migrate to the U.S., or went to the cemetery before their time.

This is exactly what the U.S. has again attempted: Brutal sanctions in the form of the 2018 Nica Act; and days before the election the State Department pushed a new package of sanctions called RENACER through Congress—screaming to the Nicaraguan people: “You vote Sandinista and we will make your lives hell.”

U.S. agents inside and outside Nicaragua and foreign leaders like the president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, told Nicaraguans to boycott Sunday’s election and not to vote. This message came through to Nicaraguans on all the media created and funded by the United States since the Sandinistas returned to the presidency in 2007.  In the weeks and months before the November 7 vote, the U.S. government and its media echo chamber continued to spread misinformation about Ortega and the FSLN to create the idea that the vote would not be fair.

On Monday, the results of the election were announced: the FSLN won by a landslide with 75.92% of the vote. Voter turnout was 65.23% of all eligible voters, higher than in the last U.S. election where voter turnout is measured by registered, not eligible voters. The Constitutional Liberal Party placed second, like in the 2016 elections, with 14.15%; the rest of the vote was spread among the other four parties.

The Sandinistas (2.1 million card-carrying in a country of 6.3 million) danced in the streets all night long throughout the country to celebrate their victory.

After the election results were announced, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement condemning the subversion of democratic norms in Nicaragua and pointing to repression and electoral manipulation by Ortega. Previously, Blinken had accused Ortega of orchestrating a “sham election” and seeking to establish with his wife, Rosario Murillo, an “authoritarian dynasty.” Blinken in turn vowed to “use coordinated actions with regional allies, sanctions and visa restrictions” in order to “promote accountability for those complicit in supporting the Ortega-Murillo government’s undemocratic acts.” These comments point to a longstanding effort by the U.S. government to destroy the Sandinistas.[1]

The U.S. is actually the one which has subverted democratic norms by pumping in money to opposition groups through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—a CIA offshoot. In 2018, the U.S. used cyberwar to launch a coup against the FSLN—through bott farms in Miami and El Salvador. In the first few days of the coup attempt of that year, millions of messages saying the government and police were repressing students flooded Facebook—total lies. When protests erupted, the first three deaths were caused by the opposition—a policeman, a young Sandinista defending the Tipitapa mayor’s office and a passerby. But many people believed the robotic disinformation—social media is powerful.

Since then, many Sandinista citizens have learned well how to use social media to defend the truth about the advances of their revolution. So, the State Department joined forces with META—the company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and others. They disappeared the personal accounts of nearly 1,000 Sandinistas as well as dozens of pages of digital communicators. This was to silence the Sandinistas in the last days before the election and turn people against the FSLN. Dr. Timothy Bood, who covered the elections in Nicaragua, was blocked from Facebook for three days for giving his opinion about the U.S. attempted coup in 2018.

I am one of 67 international journalists covering the elections. There are also 165 people from 27 countries accompanying the elections. We went to Nicaragua’s 15 departments and 2 regions. I was in León—one of the historic colonial cities which houses the country’s first university and its most famous cathedral.

A poll worker explains the ballot to a voter in Leon

I visited some 70 polling stations in 5 Voting Centers—all schools. Election day was a very peaceful day—kids were in the parks—and young adults were playing basketball. The police didn’t report even one violent incident in the whole country. Nicaragua’s electoral process is very well organized with about 245,000 people volunteering to make the elections come off without a hitch. Every party has the right to have a poll watcher—a party election observer—in every one of the 13,459 polling stations.

Each station has a voting board of three people (president, first and second member) from different parties who run the election on the micro level. A voter enters, shows their official ID card—they find her on the voting rolls, then they find her on another page with her name and picture and she signs there. They explain the ballot to her and she goes to mark the ballot behind a cardboard divider, then folds the ballot and puts it in the ballot box—a process that takes about 6 to 10 minutes. At the end her thumb is stained with ink that takes about three days to come off.

As we were leaving one of the voting centers, I started talking to two young men who told me that together with two other friends they made a Facebook Page called La Consigna. Their page was eliminated a week before the elections. They have been able to re-establish it—unlike many people who tell me that they have not been able to make new accounts. Writer Roger Harris was with me and he asked if they are paid by the government—they cracked up! They explained that after the attempted coup they wanted to establish a page to defend the revolution and share all the advances the county has in health, education, recreation, food sovereignty, infrastructure, etc. I asked them what they did for a living—Yasser Hermida is an agro-ecologist and Ricardo García is a graphic designer who teaches at the university. When I looked for La Consigna on Facebook; I scrolled down and they had a picture of our group of U.S. journalists and others covering the elections! As we left they asked us to tell people in the U.S. that Nicaraguans just want to be left alone to live in peace.

Secretary of State Blinken claims the Sandinistas have no mandate to govern—however the voter turnout rate of 65 percent on Sunday was much higher than the total for the U.S. election—and the 76% victory tally much higher than the vote garnered by the Democratic Party.

It’s hard to imagine in fact how a government could have a greater mandate!

Just after voting himself, late on election day President Ortega said “Today, November 7, … we are holding these elections and we are sure that in this battle, which is a historic battle where we have to decide between … confrontation, war or peace, we are sure that regardless of the political, ideological, religious thoughts of each one, there are different parties to choose from, and in this way we are burying war and giving life to peace.”

On November 7, most Nicaraguans voted to continue with the amazing advances they have enjoyed since 2007, building a country that has become a very good example for others—despite the ongoing U.S. bullying and war through sanctions.
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[1] For a classic account of this campaign, see Holly Sklar, Washington’s War on Nicaragua (Boston: South End Press, 1999).

Briefs
By Nan McCurdy

Two Thirds of Nicaraguans Voted on November 7
The Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN) obtained 75.92%, more than two million votes, in the general elections of November 7, in which almost two thirds of the electorate participated. The FSLN also obtained an absolute majority in the National Assembly. In the afternoon of November 8, the second provisional report was made by the Supreme Electoral Council with 97.74% of the tallies counted, that is to say that up to that moment 13,155 polling stations out of a total of 13,459 had been counted, leaving 304 pending, which represented 2.26%. According to that report the total votes were 2,860,559; valid votes were 2,704,705, and null votes 155,854, with a citizen participation of 65.23%.

According to the official count, in the vote for President and Vice President, the PLC obtained 14.15%; FSLN 75.92%; CCN 3.30%; ALN 3.15%; APRE 1.78%, and PLI 1.70%. Likewise, the FSLN obtained 15 of the 20 parliamentary seats from the national list, the PLC – 2, ALN – 1, APRE – 1, PLI – 1 and CCN -none. The distribution of the 70 departmental deputies was as follows: FSLN – 60, PLC – 2, CNN – 1, CNN – 1, ALN -1, APRE – 1, PLI -1, and YATAMA – 1.

In total, the FSLN has 75 seats, the PLC has 9, and the CCN, ALN, APRE, PLI and YATAMA parties have 1 seat each, for a total of 6. In addition, the candidate for President for the second place party (PLC) is also a deputy in his own right, and his alternate is the candidate for Vice President. See photos: https://www.lavozdelsandinismo.com/multimedia/fotos/nicaragua-vota-en-elecciones-soberanas-2021/ (Radio La Primerisima, 8 November 2021)

Electoral Accompaniers Condemn Interference
On November 8, 232 international observers (67 journalists and 165 accompaniers) from 27 countries that followed the general elections on November 7 categorically rejected interference by the US, the European Union, and other countries in the sovereignty of the Nicaraguan people as well as the media campaign of total disinformation unleashed by the international media. “We consider that there are no arguments that can sustain such fallacies, since it has been demonstrated that this process has all the democratic guarantees,” said a press release by the international observers. They observed over 500 polling stations in 10 departments and the two autonomous regions of the Caribbean Coast and state that the elections took place in absolute normality, with a high participation, without incidents and with the presence of all political parties and their poll watchers. “As international accompanying delegations, we are witnesses that the will to defend peace and sovereignty of the Nicaraguan people has been expressed and defended,” they added. (Radio La Primerisima, 8 November 2021)

Despite US Pressure, Abstentionism Similar to Other Elections
These elections marked the defeat of abstentionism in a resounding manner, according to political analyst Francisco Javier Bautista Lara. “The level of abstention was close to historical averages, he said. He added that this 66% of eligible voters exercising the vote is high, the elections of other years have been in 64% or 63% of participation. “I can affirm with forcefulness that abstentionism was defeated, the majority of the people went to vote.”

Bautista Lara said that the electoral process took place in tranquility, security and order, that is the first point that we cannot ignore, he said. “The second point is that this electoral process is in atypical conditions particularly due to the prevalence of a world pandemic, which logically affects the daily performance of society.” See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias-generales/destacado/abstencionismo-fue-derrotado-afirma-analista-politico/ (Radio La Primerisima, 9 November 2021)

CABEI Renews Line of Credit for Small and Medium Businesses
The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and the Foundation for Promotion and Development (PRODESA) signed a contract to renew a global line of credit for US$6 million, part of the support to micro, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs) in the face of the economic crisis inherited by the 2018 coup attempt and the Covid-19 pandemic, With these resources, and with a 12-month term, businesses in urban and rural areas of the productive, commercial and service sectors will be able to access financing under favorable conditions for their economic reactivation. “We continue to support Nicaragua’s economic and social development by channeling resources to the MSME sector in difficult times, when the health crisis requires us to take greater action,” stated CABEI Executive President, Dr. Dante Mossi. This line of credit to the intermediary financial institution PRODESA is part of the Financial Sector Support Facility for MSME Financing. In just a year and a half, this program has helped Nicaragua preserve and recover 28,557 jobs, as well as support the adaptation, solvency, and transformation of 498 businesses, with financing totaling US$66.8 million. (Radio La Primerisima, 4 November 2021)

More Than Three Million Vaccinated Against Covid-19
The Ministry of Health report on November 4 that from October 25 to date, 1,660,566 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, for a total of 3,141,916, equivalent to 49.06% of the population aged 2 years and older. Since September vaccinations have taken place nearly around the clock in more than 1,200 health centers. (Radio La Primerisima, 4 November 2021) https://radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias-generales/destacado/mas-de-tres-millones-ya-han-sido-vacunados-contra-covid-19/

Nearly 100 km of Road in Nueva Segovia
The Sandinista Government has built 97 kilometers of road so far this year in the department of Nueva Segovia. On November 4 Santa María, Nueva Segovia, was connected to the national network. This last 29km section is between Macuelizo and Santa María, a difficult area for construction, but it will meet the demands of the population. (Radio La Primerisima, 4 November 2021)

Excerpts from President Ortega’s November 8 Speech
In a ceremony held in Managua for the 45th anniversary of the fall in combat of the Father of the Sandinista Popular Revolution, Carlos Fonseca, President Daniel Ortega said that those who sell their homeland should be treated as what they are: slaves of the empire. “Those who are imprisoned are the SOBs of the Yankee imperialists. They should be taken to the US because they are not Nicaraguans; they stopped being Nicaraguans a long time ago. They have no love for their homeland,” he said. Ortega recalled that Somoza was considered by the Yankees as an SOB, and that the gringos themselves said he was “our SOB” for being at their service and subjugating the Nicaraguan people.

Ortega said that President Biden should be ashamed and ask for forgiveness for all the crimes the US has committed in Nicaragua and around the world with its policy of subjugation. “How shameful! The current president of the United States should be ashamed; he should ask for forgiveness for the crimes he has committed in Nicaragua and the world,” he said. Ortega indicated that what the Yankees wanted for these elections was to count the votes of the Nicaraguan people as they did in the past [during US occupation from 1909 to 1933], but that this will never happen again in Nicaragua. He stated, “It was what they wanted for these elections, for a gringo general to be at the head of the Supreme Electoral Council. They wanted to count the votes of the Nicaraguan people; never again, never again, never again, never again, never again.” See photos here
(Radio La Primerisima, 8 November 2021)