NicaNotes: BOOK REVIEW: Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup? A Reader

This week in NicaNotes we print two reviews of the book that Alliance for Global Justice published “with more than a little help from our friends,” many of whom live in Nicaragua and suffered the terror and economic shut-down caused by the attempted coup in 2018. The first review is by US solidarity activist Roger Stoll in English and is a shortened version of the very compelling review he published in dissidentvoice.org which is worth reading. The second review is of the recently released Spanish language edition published by Sputnik Radio and it is written in Spanish. Below the Spanish review we return to English for our regular “Briefs” feature in which we summarize in English the major stories of the week from the Nicaraguan Spanish language press. 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup? A Reader

By Roger Stoll

Roger Stoll is a Latin America/Caribbean solidarity activist with the Task Force on the Americas, a three-decades-old anti-imperialist human rights organization. He has published articles, book reviews and political poetry in Dissident Voice, Counterpunch, Popular Resistance, The San Francisco Examiner, ZNet, Jewschool, and New Verse News.

Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup? A Reader is a thoughtful, multifaceted 

collection of essays, eyewitness accounts, interviews and news clips of last year’s US-backed regime-change war against Nicaragua. Precisely because of its importance, quality and scope, this 270-page e-book will neither be acknowledged nor reviewed in the corporate media. The book is available for download in e-book or pdf format, in English or Spanish for free by Alliance for Global Justice at this link.

In April of 2018 armed and unarmed US proxies in collaboration with Nicaraguan elites launched a war on the democratically elected Nicaraguan government. The war disrupted transportation and communications and sabotaged the economy, with vandalism, arson, assault, beatings, killings, torture and rape. Hundreds of violently enforced roadblocks were built throughout the country. Opposition forces targeted civilians, government workers, public buildings, homes, roads and commerce. 

The war began in April, 2018, with pretextual protests against proposed changes to the government pension system presented in opposition media as an austerity measure. In fact, the proposal was a rebuff to the austerity plan sought by business elites and the International Monetary Fund. Protestors next complained that police had killed protestors during the first protests, but those killings had been falsely attributed to police or were entirely imaginary. Demonstrations continued, with armed, violent “protestors” executing criminal operations under the cover of protest.

The war (aka “regime-change operation” or “coup attempt”) ended three months later in July with the removal of opposition roadblocks. Over 250 people had been killed and many more injured. More than 250 buildings were burned down or ransacked; public sector property losses were over $230 million USD. GDP fell nearly 4%, a loss to the economy of nearly 1.5 billion USD, with job losses of up to 300,000.

Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup? A Reader refutes cherry-picked and erroneous accounts uniformly adopted by predominant media sources in their misleading narrative of the war, its causes and its politics. Their tale imagined a peaceful, domestic, progressive protest movement crushed by the brutal national police of a dictatorial regime, thus reversing victim and aggressor, right and left, sovereignty and subjugation. The tale was ubiquitous: New York Times, The Guardian, New Yorker, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Huffington Post. “Left” and alternative sources repeated the story: North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), Democratic Socialists of America, Jacobin Magazine, The Nation, Democracy Now! So did Washington-aligned human rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

And behind much opposition violence stood US regime-change NGOs: National Endowment for Democracy, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Republican Institute, AFL-CIO. Nicaragua-based NGOs, some funded and created by the US, also participated, along with Nicaragua’s Catholic Church hierarchy, which helped plan and execute some of the worst violence.

The book’s contributors include John Perry on the media, Max Blumenthal and Chuck Kaufman on US funding of regime-change operations, and Enrique Hendrix on war deaths and their misreporting. In entries by Gabriela Luna, Kaufman, Brian Willson, Nils McCune and Dan Kovalik, the long arc of the Sandinista Revolution and its accomplishments emerge, from the triumph in ’79, the reversal in 1990, and the return to power in 2007. With the Revolution came extraordinary, rapid advances in health, education and literacy, and while 1990 brought neoliberal administrations that reversed many gains, the second era of Sandinista government (2007 to the present) brought a return of social progress and economic success. Since 2007 the number of the undernourished was cut in half, free health care and education were guaranteed to rural communities, maternal and infant mortality rates plummeted, rural access to electricity jumped from 54% to 96%, and Nicaragua became fifth in world rankings of gender equity.

Many of these material gains are due to Nicaragua’s “popular economy” emphasizing the smaller domestic, informal sectors, which provide much of Nicaragua’s food, clothing and housing. Jorge Capelán’s expert analysis of the Nicaraguan economy traces its development over the last forty years throughout the first and second periods of Sandinismo and during the interim neoliberal period. Capelán explains how Nicaragua maintained stability and met people’s needs during and after the 2018 war, not least because of strategic government policy and regional alliances with Venezuela and Cuba (e.g., Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty [ALBA] and PetroCaribe). All this, explain Kevin Zeese and Nils McCune, made Nicaragua the target of the US empire’s “upside-down class war.” Nicaragua’s social and economic achievements and its open rejection of imperialism present the classic “threat of a good example” to all poor, subjugated countries, while its good relations with Cuba, Venezuela, China and Russia provoke particular imperial animosity.

But the “democracy” rhetoric of the US-backed opposition begs explanation. Kathy Hoyt writes that for some, including those trained by NGOs funded by the US and EU, “material improvements are not enough for them or they are not particularly interested in them.” Instead they complain of the political system, the parties, elections, President Ortega personally, etc. But for supporters of the government, the remarkable improvement in the lives of the poor do matter. Hoyt quotes the words of Orlando Nuñez Soto who, thinking of Cuba, said, “we are seduced by the fact that the children eat and go to school.” 

The recent unanimous passage of the NICA Act by the US Congress and Senate announces that the war against Nicaragua is not over. This unlawful siege-by-sanctions immiserates the lives of the poor and vulnerable, just like the illegal sanctions the US inflicts on dozens of countries. This book should arm the solidarity movement to resist the cruel methods and reactionary aims of the US empire.

 

Autores internacionales cuestionan en un libro las revueltas de Nicaragua en 2018
AMÉRICA LATINA 20.07.2019 https://sptnkne.ws/7FgS

LONDRES (Sputnik) — La Alianza para la Justicia Global (AFGJ, por sus siglas en inglés) ha publicado ‘Nicaragua 2018: ¿levantamiento popular o golpe de Estado?’, un libro de ensayos que cuestiona la información e interpretación generalizada de las revueltas en el país centroamericano.

“Ayuda a contrarrestar con meticulosidad quirúrgica la montaña de mentiras y demonización bajo la que se trató de sepultar al Gobierno democráticamente elegido de Daniel Ortega para facilitar el intento de golpe de Estado de 2018”, declaró a Sputnik Francisco Domínguez, director del Grupo de Investigación sobre América Latina de la Universidad de Middlesex, en Inglaterra.

Editado en castellano y en inglés (Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup?), con doce capítulos firmados por académicos, blogueros, analistas y activistas internacionales, se distribuye gratuitamente a través de la web de la organización (www.afgj.org).

“Los autores han tenido el coraje de confrontar y denunciar no sólo al aparato de intervención de los EEUU, sino también a los poderosos y peligrosos activistas de extrema derecha de Nicaragua y sus patrocinadores oligárquicos”, agregó el académico chileno-británico.

La publicación, según el profesor de la Universidad Middlesex, expone cómo “sectores pro-golpistas de la jerarquía de la Iglesia Católica” presuntamente participaron “en actividades terroristas contra el pueblo de Nicaragua”.

Domínguez, que coordina en Londres colectivos en solidaridad con Venezuela o Cuba, entre otros, valora positivamente la evolución detallada y contrapuesta de los incidentes que aportan en sendos capítulos Nils McCune, de la Universidad de Michigan, y Stephen Sefton, fundador de la plataforma Tortilla con Sal.

“Es una sección altamente informativa que permite contrastar los eventos que sucedieron en el terreno con la forma en que se narraron, distorsionaron o se omitieron en los medios corporativos”, resaltó el académico activista.

La nicaragüense Gabriela Luna, del Instituto de Investigación y Formación para el Desarrollo Territorial, denuncia en el prólogo de la publicación que el “intento de golpe de Estado” quiso “arrancar el sandinismo del corazón y de la memoria histórica del pueblo”.

 

BRIEFS

By Nan McCurdy

Nicaraguan Human Rights Association Inflated Numbers of Dead to get Funding
Three members of the board of directors of the Nicaraguan Pro-Human Rights Association (ANPDH) placed a complaint against the former executive director Alvaro Leiva for inflating the deaths, the number of detained and the wounded during the 2018 coup attempt in order to raise more money from US donors. They also denounced him for stealing nearly a half million dollars, falsifying signatures and records. 

The Directors of the ANPDH are planning an internal audit to clarify the use and destination of the almost $500,000 dollars. Former director Alvaro Leiva did not account for the money and he remains in Costa Rica denying his guilt. In addition, internally the group’s board decided to replace Leiva and other directors based on absence. They will notify the Ministry of Interior to rescind the positions of Roberto Solorzano as President and Leiva as Executive Director. (Informe Pastran, 7/29/19, 7/25/19 and 7/24/19)

Million Dollar Investment in Water and Sanitation in Chontales
The government is investing US$14 million in drinking water and sanitation projects in the municipalities of Acoyapa and Santo Tomas in the department of Chontales. Improvements in a treatment plant will bring sewage connections to 75% of homes. In Santo Tomas the dam on the Quipor River will be improved and the installation of six km of water pipes and 500 new household water connections will bring potable water to 95% of the population. In Acoyapa, the rehabilitation of the Manota and Bejuco wells and 2.4 km of pipelines for water distribution networks and 120 new household connections were carried out. (Radiolaprimerisima, 7/26/19)

Video of Opposition Groups Meeting in Costa Rica: Evidence of Their Violent Past
The video of the meeting of Nicaraguan opposition groups in Costa Rica on July 28 was a massive confession of criminal acts perpetrated during the attempted coup d’état of April 2018 that destabilized the country with violence and submerged Nicaragua in instability, said National Assembly Deputy Wilfredo Navarro. “The roadblocks were neither a peaceful nor a civic struggle.” 

Navarro said, “What happened in Costa Rica reflects the lack of support for the Civic Alliance and was a Mafia boss fight among themselves; they confess that they committed criminal terrorist acts, murdered people; they recognize that they used weapons; they recognize that they murdered Sandinistas. That is to say, those videos from Costa Rica reflect what has been said – that they are the ones who orchestrated the failed coup d’état.” He added that the accomplices of these terrorist acts “are the gringos [United States]” who financed the murder of civilians in Nicaragua. (Canal 8, 7/29/19)

Resolution of Support for Nicaragua by Sao Paulo Forum
Seven hundred delegates from revolutionary parties, movements and organizations meeting at the XXV gathering of the Sao Paulo Forum in Caracas from July 25 to 28, 2019, congratulated the Nicaraguan people, the Sandinista National Liberation Front and the Government of Nicaragua for the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, at a time when Nicaragua is consolidating peace after having victoriously faced the attempted coup d’état perpetrated by imperialism and its local agents.

The Sao Paulo Forum statement said: We support the efforts of the Nicaraguan government headed by Commander Daniel Ortega in the process of peace consolidation and continuity of the social transformations that have ensured improvement in the living conditions of the Nicaraguan people. We condemn the interventionism of U.S. imperialism in Nicaragua, which was manifested in the attempted coup and is currently expressed in the economic aggression embodied in sanctions, such as the Magnitsky Act and the NICA Act, against which we are sure that the Nicaraguan people will continue to resist. Nicaragua will win once again, continuing on the emancipatory path that it has been traveling for decades in defense of sovereignty, dignity and social justice. (El19digital, 7/28/19)

One Million Two Hundred Thousand Students Have School Meal Guaranteed
On July 29 the Taiwanese government gave nearly US$2 million to help guarantee school meals for public education students. Ambassador Jaime Shin Mi Wu told Canal 2, “This donation guarantees that 1.2 million students have a daily meal and do not miss class.” The school meal program has been promoted by the state in all public schools for 12 years. (Informe Pastran 7/29/19)

Ministry of Health Inaugurates House for People with Special Needs
The Ministry of Health inaugurated the House for People with Special Needs in El Almendro, Rio San Juan, and delivered wheelchairs and walkers to individuals with motor disabilities. MINSA also conducted general medical care days, operations, and exams in Masaya, and also in Managua at the National Center for Cardiology. (Informe Pastran, 7/29/19)

The FSLN a Real Political Force in Nicaragua
The Italian journalist Fabrizio Casari, who came to Managua to cover the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, said, “The FSLN remains the giant compared to the right, the church and the United States. Rooted in every corner of the country, it has demonstrated political strength, absolute discipline toward its commander, and faith in his leadership. These are elements that make Sandinista a unique party in the framework of the international left.” 

Casari considers that “the political discourse of the right languishes” because “they invoke foreign sanctions and punishments for their own country.” He noted, “When circulating in Managua, one perceives that the opponents’ narrative is a lie. But despite the calm climate, it cannot be denied that there is more tension in the air and that uncertainty has gained space. Some restaurants say business is bad, but then they charge European prices for their dinners! Stories about deserted places and people locked up at home are false news: facilities are full, the markets overflow with products.” (Informe Pastran, 7/29/19)

San Juan del Sur Ranked as Top Cruise Ship Destination
In the fourth edition of the Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards for 2019, San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua was recognized as one of the best ports among five destinations in Central America. San Juan del Sur was also highlighted in the category of “Top ranked destinations of the Panama Canal and Central America”, particularly among surfers and divers. (Nicaragua News, 7/29/19) 

More than Sixty Businesses of People with Disabilities Promoted in Expo-Fair
On July 27 and 28 the Expo-Fair promoted the business ventures of individuals with disabilities who inspire others by their example. The sixty entrepreneurs from across the country offered products like handicrafts, wines, jewelry, textiles, and natural medicine. 

Salvador Vanegas, presidential advisor on educational issues, said that people with disabilities are overcoming obstacles and show the entrepreneurial culture of Nicaraguans. “We are working intensely on the restitution of the right to education with quality, justice and equity that develops the maximum potential of everyone in the educational system,” he added. 

Taiwan Ambassador Jaime Wu said that the Expo-Fair platform is a show of support for people with disabilities. “Nicaraguans are rich in creativity, in ideas, in technology… very hard-working people and that is why we are happy to work with you,” he stated. (Canal 8, 7/27/19)

Remittances Continue to Grow
On July 25 the Nicaragua Central Bank reported that remittances during the month of June totaled US$134.3 million dollars, representing 16.6% growth over the same period in 2018. Between January and June of this year, remittances entering the country totaled US$796.6 million dollars, a 9.9% growth over the same period of last year. (Nicaragua News 7/26/19)

La Primerisima Website Is Attacked for the Seventh Time
July 24 at 10:35 pm was the seventh cyber-terrorist attack against the website of radio station La Primerisima. The director of the private, but Sandinista supporting, radio station, William Grigsby Vado, blamed the attacks on opposition groups responsible for the 2018 attempted coup. “Cyberterrorism has not been able to silence the truth and the information we share with the people”, wrote Grigsby on the station’s web page. The web page article also stated, “The last attack on our web page was on June 12 of this year and that time groups supporting the Supreme Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) were responsible.” (Radiolaprimerisima, 7/25/19)