NicaNotes: Bringing the Voices of the Nicaraguan People to Congress

Chickens of San Juan de Limay are being vaccinated for Newcastle Disease under a project supported by Casa Baltimore-Limay.

Bringing the Voices of the Nicaraguan People to Congress

By Casa Baltimore-Limay and Friends of Latin America

“These people do not have access to the US Congress or media – but their lives are heavily impacted by both.  That is why we are bringing their voices to you…  We are asking you to do no harm.”

On June 30th two Maryland-based solidarity organizations began meeting virtually with members of the U.S. Congress to speak against adoption of the RENACER Act that would impose devastating sanctions on Nicaragua. Casa Baltimore/Limay is a sister community project that has maintained strong ties since 1985; Friends of Latin America has been working for peace and understanding between the United States and the people of Latin America since the mid-1980s. The seven activists from these organizations were accompanied by Jenny Atlee of the Friendship Office of the Americas.

Barbara Larcom on behalf of Casa Baltimore/Limay told this story:  Our organization began in support of Nicaragua’s sovereignty, opposing the US funding of the Contras in the 1980s, and we still support Nicaragua’s independence from the US today.  We’re here to share our observations of Nicaragua, and its relationship with the US, based on our own experiences and our many communications with friends in Nicaragua.

First, we want to thank Sen. [Chris] Van Hollen for NOT cosponsoring the RENACER Act. We ask him now to use his voice and his vote to oppose the Act. The purpose of our visit today is to tell you (and him) loudly and clearly that your constituents do not want this bill to pass as it would cause harm and suffering to the Nicaraguan people.

Now I’ll refer to the Policy Briefing we sent you.  We’re concerned that the RENACER Act, if passed, has the potential to place sanctions on well over half the people in Nicaragua:

  • Government officials
  • National Police members
  • Armed Forces members
  • Supreme Electoral Council members
  • FSLN party members and their families
  • Anyone else deemed corrupt by the United States

Thus it would cause serious financial harm to the Nicaraguan people and their national economy.  Also, we’ve already seen the results of the NICA Act. Even though “basic human needs” are supposedly exempted, because of “over-enforcement” Nicaragua received no grants or loans from international financial institutions through all of 2019 and most of 2020, and then only a small amount of emergency aid. With the increased US pressure on these institutions required by the RENACER Act, the damage would be multiplied.

I also want to quote briefly from the statements we sent you from four residents in Limay, who spoke about the effects of sanctions and their feelings about their government.  (We changed their names, just to ensure their security.)

  • Maria (a teacher): “The situation we’re living in doesn’t affect just one person; it affects all of Nicaragua. For us in education, for example:  We depend on economic stability to pay for our expenses and our salaries. With sanctions, we’re not going to have the money for the economy to be solvent.”
  • Azucena: “They [the opposition] come from the US bragging that they’ve done this and that so they will do this or that ‘for democracy.’ What democracy? What do they call democracy? Maybe there’s ‘democracy’ for the rich and a different ‘democracy’ for the poor.”

The following are additional written submissions from Limay residents:

  • More from Azucena: There are so many things—the government seeks ways to help its citizens. In spite of the fact that the country is poor—made poor—we have new roads and highways. People say, “When have we ever had this?” “When have we had the opportunity to learn about vaccinating and caring for our pigs and cows?” said a very humble, simple woman. This moves one’s heart! The benefits that the population receives are too many to count. So what we’re asking of the Congresspersons is that they analyze how much harm they can do to the poor because you know we are very small on this isthmus between North and South America. They should think about how they can help and that there be no more reprisals, no more than what there have been.
  • Ricardo: Yes, actually, this is a difficult situation we’re living in.  Any sanctions will affect us enormously.  And every time they add sanctions, it seems they want to drown us. They’re affecting not just the government, but the people—all of us. Farming is the engine to develop a country, and some people receive help from a government agency, right? And that help would be cut off, it would not arrive.  We ask you to end this, because we want to advance, with our own efforts (and also with the help of Casa Baltimore/Limay) to be able to see this country progress, that has suffered a lot for some time now.
  • José: The US itself seems, I don’t know, manipulative because—it’s like we were a puppet, a colony of the US. It doesn’t seem logical to me because we’re independent—small but independent. It seems they —the most powerful country in the world—want to choose who’s in control. They can’t be imposing sanctions any time they want to, any time they don’t like something. In fact there are people here who one way or another are asking for sanctions. Maybe they want it to be like it was in 1980 with an economic blockade whereby they had us by the throat….They say we live under repression, in a dictatorship where we can’t speak out, have no freedom of expression. But they can and do say anything they want. They wouldn’t be saying the things they say about Ortega if this were a dictatorship. If Somoza were here and someone published the word “dictator,” he wouldn’t publish again; he’d be dead. People say what they want, even obscenities about Daniel Ortega. Government programs to help solve the demands of many families, giving seeds to small farmers, for these people represent a problem. Giving out small business loans is a problem for them.  It limits them; they call it oppression.

The RENACER Act is widely unpopular among people who are becoming aware of it.  We sent you a copy of the organizational sign-on letter which went out only a few days ago.  It has gotten over 40 initial signers [as of July 5th, 100 organizations had signed on], and it has now gone out for more signers.  We also sent you the June 29 report from Informe Pastran on an M&R Consultants poll that shows unanimous rejection of sanctions by its sample of 1,000 Nicaraguan people.

Jill Clark-Gollub on behalf of Friends of Latin America:  I’d like to talk about human rights in Nicaragua, and about sanctions.

  1. Human Rights in Nicaragua. The RENACER Act purports to punish the Nicaraguan government for not having a fair elections system, violating civil rights, and perpetrating corruption. Allow me to address each of those points.

a) The Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council was recently reformed in response to suggestions from the OAS and is a very diverse body.

b) On civil rights, the people who have recently been charged and arrested in Nicaragua were not arrested because they are self-proclaimed “pre-candidates” in the upcoming election. In fact, some of them are not even eligible to run for office because they have not been living in the country for the past four years, and NONE of them has a strong backing among the population—they don’t even have the support of any political party. They are accused of criminal acts that include money laundering, acting as illegal foreign agents, and advocating for the overthrow of their government—all charges that would bring harsher punishment in the U.S. Opposition parties are in fact free to participate in the elections, and 17 of them are doing so. It seems that the policy of the State Department—through its embassy in Managua—has been to try to get the opposition to unite around a single candidate (in the hope of getting up to 21% of the vote), but that has not been possible. Now they seem to be resorting to Plan B—create chaos and try to delegitimize the elections.

c) And thirdly, the accusation of corruption rings hollow, when the US’s closest allies in Latin America are Colombia and Honduras—indisputably the most corrupt narco-governments in the region. In Nicaragua, government spending for the public good is visible everywhere. Since Daniel Ortega came into office in 2007, the country’s roads went from the worst in Central America to the best; 19 hospitals have been constructed and the public health workforce has been almost doubled; according to Johns Hopkins researchers, the country has the lowest COVID-19 death toll in the hemisphere; half a million families have been given houses and land; Indigenous communities are thriving like never before on the Caribbean coast; and education through graduate school is free and accessible to all Nicaraguans. In fact, the World Bank, IMF, Inter-American Development Bank, Central American Bank for Economic Integration—have all said that this government has one of the best records in Latin America at executing projects with multilateral aid funds.

Also, we should mention that the mainstream narrative in the U.S. is that the sudden spasm of violence in Nicaragua in 2018 was government repression. The people we know in Nicaragua do not see it that way; they came to view the real perpetrators as opposition agitators using U.S. funding to violently coerce the population into changing its government.

  1. The Reality of sanctions in a given country:

Sanctions are war. They are just as deadly as bullets and bombs. We can look to the 39 countries the U.S. has sanctioned to see what this will bring to Nicaragua:

One study said sanctions caused 40,000 deaths in Venezuela between 2017-2018, while another said it has been 100,000 deaths. And we have all seen Cuba strangled over the past decades by economic and trade isolation from the United States—which is over-enforced; that is, all the U.S. allies are afraid—or outright intimidated—from doing business with Cuba. This has affected its development and ability to provide basic things like syringes to administer COVID vaccines (Friends of Latin America has been contributing funds for that).

Sanctions kill by destroying economies, causing hyperinflation, and unemployment so people cannot afford basic necessities. They drive capital flight from countries as corporations and banks seek to distance themselves and avoid being targeted by sanctions. As industries move elsewhere or can’t get the materials they need, jobs are lost. Basic infrastructure is harmed as funds and expertise are lost. (Sanctions Kill |)

A study found sanctions contributed to the deaths of 4,000 North Koreans in 2018, most of them children and pregnant women. In the early 1990s, U.S. sanctions against Iraq led to the deaths of as many as 880,000 children under five due to malnutrition and disease.

We do not want this for the inspiring people we met in Nicaragua who are changing their society for the better. I do not want this for my elderly mother in Nicaragua, or any of my family members.

Sanctions are illegal, immoral, and contrary to the interests of US citizens. Please, it is URGENT, tell Senator Van Hollen to STOP the RENACER Act!

Finally, we would like to offer to hold an information session in which members of Congress can hear from ordinary Nicaraguans what they think of this bill and US policy toward their country. We can provide you with representatives of a women’s group, our sister city, trade unions, peasant farmers, and Indigenous representatives—for which we could provide simultaneous interpretation over the Zoom platform.

Leslie Salgado, Chairperson and co-founder of Friends of Latin America:  After the events of April 2018 in Nicaragua, some of us had questions as to what was actually happening in Nicaragua. That is one of the reasons why members of Friends of Latin America decided to organize a delegation to visit Nicaragua in January 2020. At that time, the State Department was warning US citizens not to travel to Nicaragua. I am glad that we traveled there because what we found is a country with friendly, kind, and hardworking people who welcomed us! We could go anywhere and talk to anyone without fear of being harassed or hurt. We met with several religious and community organizations not only in Managua but also in the countryside. What impressed me the most is that, in spite of what the US government has tried to do against Nicaragua for so many years, the people of Nicaragua do not hold grudges against the people in the US. Please stop applying sanctions and let the people of Nicaragua live!

Marilyn Carlisle:  I would like to underline the fact that a majority of Nicaraguans are probably Sandinistas.  If they all are punished by sanctions, and especially if their family members are included as RENACER is now written, we’re hurting a majority of the population directly, not simply indirectly, as we do (I believe) with Venezuela, Iran, etc.

Based on years of monthly phone, and, now Zoom, contact with our friends and board members who make the decisions and administer the funds for our Casa Baltimore Limay projects, as well as my observations during 6 or 7 visits, people have benefitted in food self-sufficiency, health, education, and so many other ways from this government that they would support neither its overthrow nor a change of government influenced (again) by the US.

Jennifer Atlee, Friendship Office of the Americas:  This week marked 12 years since a US supported coup in Honduras in 2009 which has created a disaster on all levels with no end in sight.  Unprecedented numbers of people are fleeing Honduras for the US.  We don’t want this to happen to Nicaragua.

Rep. Jim McGovern recently made a statement about the devastating impact of US sanctions on Venezuela and acknowledged that the intent of sanctions is to do harm. We applaud that statement and urge Senator Van Hollen to consider it.

The people on this call have deep, long term relationships with people in Nicaragua.  We hear from them on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.  They tell us they support their government – that they live in a stable, safe, country that functions well and takes care of the poor, unlike the governments of the northern triangle which the US supports.   These people do not have access to the US Congress or media – but their lives are heavily impacted by both.  That is why we are bringing their voices to you and to Senator Van Hollen.  We are asking you to do no harm.

Rick Kohn:  The Biden Administration says it wants to address the refugee crisis from Central America by improving the conditions on the ground. Most of the immigration is coming from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.  There is no net migration from Nicaragua.  We need to ask why. What are they doing differently than Honduras, for example?

Since the Sandinistas came to power, poverty rates have been cut in half, there is opportunity including free education up through graduate school, public healthcare, low crime rates, and people polled say there is little corruption.

The goal of the sanctions is to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and replace it with a different one, like we did in Honduras. If successful, we will have a similar result to what we have seen in Honduras.   However, it is unlikely to be successful in Nicaragua because the Sandinistas are too popular (as the media would say, entrenched), but instead the means to that goal is to create poverty and disruption, and that will cause more emigration from Nicaragua. We have a sanctions policy on Nicaragua that is in direct conflict with the Biden Administration’s goals of improving living conditions in Central America.

The US should continue to encourage trade with Nicaragua.  Nicaragua has been complying with the Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) signed by a previous administration.  Nicaragua has also been planting trees to capture carbon under World Bank carbon-capture programs. Some have argued that enhancing export agriculture or carbon capture can be harmful because the land may be used exclusively for export agriculture or for carbon capture, in which case it can cause domestic food shortages.   In contrast, Nicaragua has increased agricultural exports and re-planted forests, but since they focused on improving agricultural and environmental efficiency, they have also attained food self-sufficiency. The US should encourage Nicaragua to continue trading agricultural commodities and carbon credits.  We should study Nicaraguan policies to learn how they improved conditions for their citizens. It is in our own interest to see living conditions improve in Nicaragua and in all of Central America. Sanctions like the RENACER Act will do exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.

Scott Hagaman:  Everyone has already eloquently covered what I wanted to say.  In the interest of time, I’ll just say I urge Senator Van Hollen, not only NOT to support the RENACER Act, but to work actively to defeat it.  Thank you.

Ellen Barfield:  My husband and I lived in Nicaragua in 1996 during the Violeta Chamorro presidency.  We saw the terrible social measures, maternal and infant mortality, and poverty that skyrocketed under that right-wing regime. And we had done election observing before Chamorro was elected, and were deeply ashamed to see full-page US-funded newspaper ads sternly demanding that Nicaraguans vote as the US required. They elected Chamorro out of exhaustion and despair after the Contra war years, and the lack of social programs caused great distress for the people. The Sandinistas take care of the people and the social statistics are very good now. PLEASE do not let the RENACER Act again destroy Nicaraguan society.

 

Briefs

By Nan McCurdy

New Poll Shows Most Nicaraguans Reject Intervention

The M&R Consultores polling firm released an opinion poll carried out between June 19 – 25, 2021, with 1,000 people, in which Nicaraguans rejected foreign interference and the aggressions called sanctions. In September 1992, during her term in office, President Violeta Chamorro decided not to pursue the compensation from the United States that the International Court of Justice in The Hague (World Court) ordered it to pay for damages caused to Nicaragua during the conflict of the 1980s. M&R asked if Nicaragua should initiate legal proceedings with the purpose of demanding the payment and 82. 2% said yes. To the statement that a country that prides itself on respecting international law should comply with the rulings of courts such as the one in The Hague, in reference to the United States, 86.5% agreed. Asked if the United States has the moral authority to demand that other countries respect international law if they do not comply with the rulings of the World Court, 76.2% agreed that it does not have that moral authority.

On the imposition of sanctions by the United States, 83.7% of Nicaraguans polled agreed that this was another manifestation of the interventionist behavior of the US in the internal affairs of their country. Eighty-five percent agreed that the sanctions imposed by the United States against Nicaragua harm democracy and the people of Nicaragua. Seventy-two percent of those consulted said they disapprove of the activities carried out by Nicaraguan individuals for the purpose of promoting sanctions against the country. When asked if, in order for Nicaragua to prosper it should act according to the interests of the country without foreign interference, 65.9% said yes. When asked about the statement that, in order for Nicaragua to advance socially and economically, the FSLN should continue to govern the country, 59.1% agreed; 21.9% disagreed and 19% did not respond. Nicaraguans categorically reject the aggressions and sanctions because they feel they directly affect them. (Informe Pastran, 29 June 2021)

Finance Minister Presents Plan Against Poverty

The National Plan for the Fight against Poverty and for Human Development 2022-2026 was presented this week by the Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Iván Acosta, who said that it is the result of the great technical effort of the public sector and it is a plan dedicated to the population. “It is a plan with heart, focused on the most important aspect of any society, not on how much it impacts the economy, but on how much it  changes people for the better, on how much it improves people’s living conditions; it is a plan focused on the human being,” he said. He mentioned that the 2018 attempted coup alone had meant US$24 billion in losses. He recalled that before the Sandinista Party took power, the economy had gone through a period of “no success” indicators. He talked about how horrible the period from 1990 to 2007 was. There was no purchase of buses and many transportation cooperatives closed due to lack of support. Twenty-seven thousand classrooms crumbled; fees were charged for public education under “school autonomy;” the glass of milk per child was eliminated and illiteracy grew from 12% to 22%.

Acosta said, “There are two indicators that show a turning point. Back in 2004-2005, the acceleration of poverty, which was already increasing by more than a point and a half per year, made a jump from 45% to 48% in 2005. That is to say, we were on a path of 65-70% of poverty and more than 30% of extreme poverty. Homicide rates jumped 4 points or 4.5 points in the five years from 2000 to 2005. That is to say, we were on the path of the northern triangle. We would have easily reached between 35 and 60 homicides per 100 thousand.”

Acosta mentioned changes since the return of the Sandinista government in 2007: Indicators reflect an increase of 99.6% in improved roads and highways; a great increase in education scholarships; the reduction from 93 to 21 per 100,000 in the rate of maternal and child mortality; and a 91% increase in investment in energy, drinking water and sanitation. The country also saw the delivery of 21,568 subsidies for new housing; more than 1.7 million students with free education; and efficient management of the general budgets of the republic and of those funds obtained from the international community. “The political will was to have good government focused on the fight against poverty and extreme poverty,” he said.

Acosta said that the decision was made to deliver the best public sector hospital infrastructure in Central America, which has had an important impact on the capacity to care for the Covid-19 pandemic and the demand for public health in general. With relation to education, he said that “It is a leap and transformation in public policy issues since 2007 in issues related to education. School meals were guaranteed, 1.2 million meals, a policy really, to finally guarantee enrollment, retention, promotion and ensure the stability and quality of education. That is a relevant issue. Education remains the most important investment of the country. It is the one that ensures the permanent transformation with the leaps in educational quality and the number of students who study for free.” Another great achievement is the investment in energy and quality of service. In addition to this is the construction of 71,000, houses, the highest figure at any time in history, and the capitalization of the rural sector to reduce poverty and ensure food security and sovereignty. This tells us that a great leap has been made in social and economic transformation.”

He emphasized that the plan reflects the social and economic resilience that the Nicaraguan people have demonstrated in the face of the different impacts that have occurred in recent years. “Probably no country in the world has had four consecutive impacts of great size. We are talking about the failed coup attempt and the global pandemic; but we also received the impact of two consecutive hurricanes in less than ten days, an issue that shows the impact of climate change,” he said. The hurricanes had an impact of US$990 million, while the coronavirus pandemic had an impact of US$2 billion.

However, Acosta said that the impact of the failed coup attempt reached more than US$24 billion. “That is to say, the failed coup attempt, was the worst pandemic…. It is equivalent to 25 or 26 Etas and Iotas that hit the northern Caribbean coast; it has had an impact of eight to ten times the pandemic. It shows that definitely those who promoted this failed coup attempt interacted with imperialist countries that really wanted to destroy the future and the hope of several generations. But in the end it definitely shows the ability, resilience, dedication, and good public policies of the Government of Commander Daniel Ortega which enabled the country to follow a course of social and economic success.” (Radio La Primerisima, 6 July 2021)

93% Have a Valid ID Card for Voting

The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) presented a report on the citizen identification process heading into the national elections. The report indicates that during the first quarter of this year, 430,000 identification cards were issued. Mayra Salinas, Magistrate of the CSE, explained that “93,636 of the identifications issued were new enrollments; 137,074 renewals; and 149,626 were replacements.” She added that “93% of the population over 16 years of age have a valid identity card and are eligible to exercise their right to vote in the elections in November this year.” (Nicaragua News, 6 July 2021)

US$151 Million Loan to Further Clean Lake Managua

The Central America Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) approved a loan for US$151.4 million to further clean up Lake Managua.  Vice President Rosario Murillo, emphasized that this loan will also guarantee full coverage of potable water and sanitation services to more than one million inhabitants of Tipitapa, located on the southeastern shore of the lake. (La Voz del Sandinismo, 29 June 2021)

Education Budget Vastly Increased

The Ministry of Education presented its “Advances in Education in Nicaragua” report on June 28 showing that the budget for education went from US$114 million in 2006 to nearly US$600 million in 2020. During this 13-year period 35,393 schools throughout the country were built, expanded, or repaired; enrollment grew by 7.7% and the number of teachers in the public education system rose by 29.5%. The report also noted that the illiteracy level in Nicaragua dropped to 4.5% in 2020. (Nicaragua News, 29 June 2021)

Río Blanco-Paiwas Highway to Be Inaugurated

The Nicaragua Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced that the second phase of the Río Blanco-Bocana de Paiwas highway will be inaugurated this week. The US$6.7 million project will benefit 72,114 inhabitants connecting Bocana de Paiwas with the National Highway Network, providing greater connectivity, reducing costs of agricultural production, and incentivizing the economy of the area. Financing for the project came from the General Budget. (Nicaragua News, 29 June 2021)

More Sputinik V Vaccines Received and 4th Vaccination Phase Begins

Vice President Murillo, announced that a new batch of 100,000 Sputnik V vaccines was received on July 2. “With these 100,000 doses we will continue expanding coverage, so this is good news,” she said. The vaccines came from the Russian Federation. The Vice President announced the schedule of vaccination, beginning July 3 in Managua, Matagalpa, Rio Blanco and Matiguás and on July 5 in Muy Muy, San Ramon, San Dionisio, Esquipulas, Terrabona and Ciudad Dario. (Radio La Primerisima, 2 July 2021)

In related news, the Ministry of Health announced that the fourth phase of the COVID-19 Voluntary Vaccination Program will begin on July 3. Jazmina Umaña, Director of the Expanded Immunization Program stated that “the fourth phase of vaccination against COVID-19 will prioritize patients 50 and over, people with chronic diseases, healthcare personnel and officials at border posts and customs.”  During this phase the MINSA personnel will be administering the SPUTNIK V and COVISHIELD vaccines, both with a greater than 90% efficacy, with a double dose application to acquire immunity. (Nicaragua News, 1 July 2021)

Leon Regional Hospital to Benefit 23 Municipalities

Representatives of the Ministry of Health made a site visit to evaluate progress on construction of the new “Oscar Danilo Rosales” Teaching Hospital in León. The new hospital is 67% completed and will become fully operational in the first semester of 2022, benefiting 831,000 people in 23 municipalities. The US$105.8 million project is being financed through the General Budget. (Nicaragua News, 1 July 2021)

Government Supports Small Cocoa Producers

The Ministry of Family Economy (MEFCCA) inaugurated an agro-industrial cocoa processing center in El Castillo municipality, Río San Juan department, benefitting 140 small producers of the R.L Multisectoral Cooperative. The new US$100,143 center is equipped with machinery to dry and roast cocoa, improving productivity and quality. The project is part of the Cocoa Climate Change Adaptation Program (NICADAPTA), that the Government is implementing nationwide.  (Nicaragua News, 1 July 2021)

Tribute to Peace Hero Miguel Ramos

Sandinistas placed floral offerings on the tomb of Miguel Ramos Rivera, located in the San Francisco de Asis Municipal Cemetery in the city of Esteli, in commemoration of the third anniversary of his assassination. The commemorative acts culminated on Saturday afternoon with a concert of revolutionary and testimonial music held at the Oscar Gámez neighborhood field. Miguel Ramos Rivera “Franklin” was assassinated on the morning of July 3, 2018 in La Trinidad, when he was removing roadblocks on the Pan-American Highway that had been built and managed by the promoters of the failed coup d’état. People consider him to be one of the most important individuals who helped return peace to the country. Franklin also stood out in the struggle against the Somoza dictatorship and in defense of the Sandinista Popular Revolution. (Radio La Primerisima, 4 July 2021)

COSEP Accused of Heading Destabilization Campaigns

The directors of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP), who played a major role in the 2018 coup attempt, are allegedly organizing and financing activities to create a climate of anxiety and violence in Nicaragua. On June 30 Radio La Primerísima’s Sin Fronteras Program, revealed that businessmen in COSEP, headed by Michael Healy, met on June 25, with publicist María Fabiola Espinoza, who presented the design for a campaign financed by the United States. A disinformation and smear campaign would be directed against the elections and also against Sandinista related media and journalists. The campaign would also be against government ministers, whose names have not yet been revealed. Sin Fronteras revealed that all activities would be carried out with agencies from Honduras and El Salvador coordinated by the publicist and Crea Comunicaciones from Nicaragua (financed by the US).

Michael Healey and the directors of COSEP approved the campaign in which millions of dollars would be invested. Journalists Manuel Diaz, from Bacanal Nica (resident in Costa Rica) and Jennifer Ortiz, who would produce generic spots for radio, television networks, and for cable TV channels in several municipalities, joined the media campaign. They would use the name of Movimiento de Acción Democrática as a “screen.” Danilo Aguirre’s production company is involved. In Danilo Aguirre’s team are María Fabiola Sánchez from Honduras, María José Villavicencio, Freddy Blandón, Girlanda Suárez from Miami. (Radio La Primerisima, 30 June 2021)

More “Independent Journalists” Paid by USAID and Others

Funds from the United States and Europe given by individuals, associations and NGOs to carry out illicit activities that threaten the stability of the country continue to come to public light. On June 30, Radio La Primerísima’s Sin Fronteras Program showed details such as a list of journalists, radio and magazine directors who received thousands of dollars from USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and from right-wing European governments that finance political and media campaigns in different parts of the world.

On this list is Álvaro Leiva, of the so-called Nicaraguan Association for the Defense of Human Rights (ANPDH), which is headed by Estelí Bishop Abelardo Mata.

In the period 2017-2018, Álvaro Leiva received US$84,723 from Europe for an alleged program to strengthen democracy through the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation.

ANDPH had a very important role in the 2018 coup attempt: it was the organization that most inflated data on dead, wounded, detained and disappeared persons. The ANPDH was founded in Miami in 1986 and financed by the US Congress as part of its program to support the Nicaraguan resistance (contras) during the Sandinista government.

Journalist Eduardo Montenegro, owner of NOTIMATV and his spouse Sandra Elena Martínez, both from Matagalpa also received funding from USAID through the Chamorro Foundation. Montenegro received US$22,341 and Martínez US$16,363, from on January 1, 2018, to provide fake news before and during the coup. In Carazo, Mynor García and Eliézer Blass, the latter editor of the magazine Analítica, received funds: US$8,328 to García and US$12,632 to Blass, both so-called independent journalists. The funds were granted by USAID and given through the Chamorro Foundation for their work on social networks and platforms. Argentina Olivas director of Radio Vos received US$12,372; Martha Hernández of Radio ABC received US$13,824; journalist Juan Carlos Duarte received US$9,741 on March 17, 2018, just before the beginning of the coup. Roberto Mora of Radio ABC received US$14,936 and Máximo Rugama of the Asociación de Periodistas del Norte received US$9,650. William Solís of Telenorte de Estelí received US$78,470 on Aug. 31, 2018.

William Grigsby on Sin Fronteras said that all of this is part of the money laundering headed by the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and FUNIDES foundations, whose owners are currently under investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. (Radio La Primerisima, Sin Fronteras, 30 June 2021)

Five Responsible for 2018 Crimes under Investigation

On July 5 five individuals were arrested and are being investigated for “inciting foreign interference in internal affairs, requesting military interventions, [and] organizing with financing from foreign powers.” Those arrested are Lésther Alemán, Max Jerez, Medardo Mairena, Pedro Joaquín Mena and Freddy Navas. Aleman and Jerez led the seizure and destruction of two university campuses in Managua from where they directed the commission of all types of crimes in 2018. Mairena, Mena and Navas are the ringleaders of the massacre of four policemen in Morrito, Department of Río San Juan on July 12, 2018. They also organized death roadblocks between April and July 2018, with the purpose of overthrowing the Sandinista government. (Radio La Primerisima, 6 July 2021)

Weekly Covid Report, week of June 29 to July 5, 2021

The Health Ministry reported 215 new registered cases of Covid-19, 189 people recuperated and 1 death. Since March 2021 there have been 6,819 registered cases, 6,344 people recuperated and 192 deaths. (Radio La Primerisima, 6 July 2021)