NicaNotes: Green-smearing – from Nicaragua to Bolivia

By Stephen Sefton

(A longer version of this piece was published on on September 4, 2019.)

A fundamental dimension of contemporary psychological warfare has been dual-purpose corporate co-option of non-governmental organizations. In that psy-warfare dimension, NGOs serve both as disinformation partners with Western news media and too as false interlocutors in international forums and institutions, where they attack governments challenging the US elites and their allies. They actively subvert governments inside countries challenging the West, for example, in Latin America, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. But they also pervert due process in institutions like the UN, posing as civil society but in fact serving Western elite corporate imperatives, for example in international human rights and environmental mechanisms and forums.

Among these NGOs figure high profile human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and Avaaz along with environmental organizations from and the World Resource Institute to Global Witness and Greenpeace. An increasing interrelationship has developed between corporate NGO funding and the exploitation of people’s general willingness to volunteer for and support apparently good causes. Symbolic of this is the way World Economic Forum attendees like Kumi Naidoo move readily between top management from one NGO to another, in Naidoo’s case from Greenpeace to Amnesty International. From Libya and Syria to Venezuela and Nicaragua, Amnesty International has played a key role using false reports to demonize governments resisting the US and its allies.

As Cory Morningstar has pointed out, Greenpeace is a key player in promoting the corporate driven New Deal for Nature aimed at financializing what remains of the natural world, especially its biodiversity, as a way of engineering a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Western corporate greed underlies the identical patterns of news media and NGO misrepresentation and outright deceit supporting regime change offensives against Libya and Syria, or Venezuela and Nicaragua. Right now, that very same pattern of media and NGO manipulation is clearly at work preparing for an intervention to prevent Evo Morales being re-elected as President of Bolivia.

Bruno Sgarzini and Wyatt Reed have noted how Western media and NGOs have falsely attacked Evo Morales blaming him for not controlling the fires in Bolivia’s Amazon. This is exactly what happened in Nicaragua immediately prior to the coup attempt in 2018 when the Nicaraguan authorities were fighting a fire in the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve. That episode softened up Nicaraguan public opinion and set in motion social media networks involving thousands of youth activists trained for that purpose beforehand over several years with US and also European government funding. In mid-April 2018, barely a week after the Indio Maiz fire was extinguished, those networks launched a social media blitzkrieg of lies and inventions marking the start of the actual coup attempt. A practically identical process is well under way now in Bolivia, which holds presidential elections next October 20th.

The timing of the fires in Bolivia’s Amazon is extremely propitious from the perspective of the US authorities and their allies. It takes almost two months for the effects to wear off of the initial psy-warfare bitzkrieg of the kind waged against Nicaragua in 2018 and against Brazil’s Worker’s Party as part of Jair Bolsonaro’s successful 2018 election campaign that same year. Bolivia will almost certainly experience the same kind of psy-warfare assault via social media prior to the October elections. The campaign will be timed to optimize the effect of mass false accusations of government wrongdoing and corruption along with false media and NGO claims of security force repression. Opposition activists are likely to exploit peaceful demonstrations on indigenous peoples and environmental issues so as to commit murderous provocations, just as they did in Nicaragua and Venezuela.

All of these tactics are likely be deployed against Bolivia so as to destroy the current prestige and high levels of support for President Evo Morales. In Bolivia, as in Nicaragua and Venezuela, the governing progressive political movement enjoys around 35-40% core electoral support, the right wing opposition have around 25-30% with 30-40% of voters uncommitted. The Western elites know they need to motivate something over half of those uncommitted voters against Evo Morales so as to get the right wing government they so desperately need in Bolivia to try and make good the unmitigated debacle of Mauricio Macri’s right wing government in Argentina.

The intensity of any Western media and NGO campaign against Morales is likely to reach similar levels as their cynical campaigns of lies and defamation against Venezuela and Nicaragua. Should that offensive go ahead, as seems probable, the difference will be that this time Evo Morales and his team are alert and unlikely to be taken by surprise as the Nicaraguan authorities were by the vicious, sudden attack against them in April 2018. A likely variation in Bolivia’s case will be a higher profile of environmentalist NGOs working in tandem with their human rights counterparts feeding misrepresentations and downright lies into Western news media. For the US and European Union elites the regional geopolitical stakes are high enough to make an attack on Bolivia imperative.



By Nan McCurdy

Greater Highway Connectivity in the Caribbean Coast
The Nicaragua Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI) announced the beginning of construction on the new Rosita-Sahsa highway in the Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region, which will strengthen the Nicaragua Caribbean Interoceanic Corridor. The 52-kilometer road is being financed by the Government of Nicaragua and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) for a total of US$243 million and is part of the VIII Stage of the Road Improvement and Expansion Program being carried out in the departments of Managua, Masaya, León, Estelí, Jinotega and both Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast. (Nicaragua News, 9/5/19)

Family Remittances Continue to Grow
The Central Bank of Nicaragua reported on September 8 that up to the month of July US$796 million in family remittances entered the country, or 9.9 percent more than the same period last year. The report indicates that, in the second quarter of 2019, remittances received from abroad amounted to US$412.8 million, an increase of 7.6 percent over the previous quarter and 11.2 percent over the same period in 2018 (US$371.2 million). The main sources of remittances in the quarter were the United States (56.0%), followed by Costa Rica (17.5%), Spain (13.0%) and Panama (5.2%). The flow from the United States amounted to US$231.2 million, which meant an increase of US$22 million (10.5%) compared to the previous quarter. The money received from Spain was US$53.5 million, an increase of 34.4 percent over the same period in 2018 (US$39.8 million). The average value per transaction was US$189. (Radiolaprimerisima, 9/8/19)

More than 800 Families’ Homes Affected by Heavy Rains
In the area of Bluefields on the southern Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua the homes of more than 800 families were seriously damaged or destroyed by heavy rains and wind on September 9. Brigades organized by the mayor’s office are accompanying emergency situations and getting people to safety. (Radiolaprimerisima, 9/10/19)

Preventive Health Education in Indigenous Communities
Nicaraguan Ministry of Health medical brigades, in coordination with the Sukias (Shamans) of indigenous communities and specialists in traditional medicine of the National Community Health Program, are in Rio Coco, Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region, to support the program for prevention of epidemiological diseases. The brigades will visit 22 remote indigenous communities to provide education to families on preventive measures to avoid epidemiological diseases, with a special emphasis on the dengue virus. (Nicaragua News, 9/5/19)

Italian Tourism Website Applauds Nicaragua
The Italian website Rivista Donna, aimed at a female audience, specializing in tourist destinations, lifestyles, art and culture describes Nicaragua this way: “Visiting Nicaragua is an experience for the senses, a reconnection with nature and with oneself traveling through an uncontaminated place, full of places to discover. If you have chosen this magnificent country for a vacation, you have made the perfect choice.” “Nicaragua is the cheapest country for tourism in Central America. Nicaragua is a small eco-sustainable state full of islands surrounded by the ocean, full of colors that can do nothing but take your breath away. An example is volcano boarding near Leon or the freshwater lake, where some sharks have adapted to live. Not to mention the spectacle offered by dolphins and sea turtles swimming in the Pacific Ocean, perfect for surfing.” Donna magazine chose 5 reasons to visit Nicaragua: 1. Uncontaminated Beaches. 2. Great places for surfing and snorkeling. 3. Numerous volcanos 4. Beautiful hotels and villas. 5. Security and low cost.  (El19Digital, 9/9/19)

Nicaragua Elected to Presidency of UN Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought
Nicaragua was unanimously elected to represent the Latin American, Caribbean and Mesoamerican regions in the Presidency of the Regional Executive Committee of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNCCD). The election of Nicaragua was held during the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) to the UNCCD that is taking place in New Delhi, India, the week of September 2. In the election process, Cuba proposed Nicaragua while highlighting its social and economic model and the advances in environmental matters and restoration of ecosystems. Nicaragua received the unanimous support of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in the election. Nicaragua will hold the Presidency for two years led by Minister of the Environment Sumaya Castillo, and will be the official channel of communication between the UN Convention and the Latin American and Caribbean region, promoting additional financial resources for areas of greatest vulnerability to drought and desertification. This election is an international recognition of Nicaragua’s results in participatory environmental management and social investments that restore the rights of the most vulnerable population. (El19Digital, 9/4/17)

Nicaraguan Police Turning Forty Pay Tribute to Their Fallen
The National Police paid tribute to 509 law enforcement officers fallen in the line of duty, during a ceremony on September 5 as part of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the police. The National Police chief, Commissioner General Francisco Díaz said, “During these 40 years of institutional life, 509 police officers have given their lives in the fulfillment of their duties, leaving among us a legacy of service, dedication and love for our people.” Diaz presented plaques to ten relatives of the fallen and awarded the Medal of Merit to relatives of three officers who died in the line of duty. “They are heroes of love. Their blood commits us to continue working, guaranteeing the safety of men, women and children. We tell these heroes of peace that they will continue to live in our hearts.” Twenty-two police officers were killed between April 19 and July 17, 2018, in the attempted coup. The first person killed was police officer Hilton Manzanares. More than 900 police were wounded, more than 400 from firearms. (Radiolaprimerisima, 9/5/19)

National Assembly Reforms Law against Money Laundering
The Nicaragua National Assembly approved the Reform to the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF) Law, establishing an institutional link between the UAF and the specialized unit to be created in the Judiciary to receive reports of unusual operations generated by lawyers and notaries public as subjects bound by the law against money laundering. Congressman Walmaro Gutiérrez, President of the Commission on Economy and Budget of the National Assembly, explained the purpose of the reforms and noted that Nicaragua intends to maintain strict compliance with the recommendations issued by the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT), “because we are aware of the need to combat … organized crime in all its expressions.” Nicaragua is a full member of the International Financial Action Group (GAFI) and the Latin America Financial Action Group (GAFILAT). (Nicaragua News, 9/6/19)

Central American Flights may be Considered Local in Order to Lower Prices
The XIX Central America Tourism Development and Integration Forum was held the week of September 2 in Managua. Proposals for the promotion and development of sustainable tourism in the region were discussed during the event. The Director of the Nicaragua Tourism Institute (INTUR) Anasha Campbell, emphasized the importance of having an “Open Skies Policy” that will offer lower price airline fares by cataloging flights within the region as local rather than international. She added that efforts are being made to promote tourism as a region under the brand: “Central America so small, yet so grand.” (Nicaragua News, 9/6/19)

Nicaraguan Delegation at Eastern Economic Forum in Russia
A Nicaraguan delegation participated in the Eastern Economic Forum in the city of Vladivostok, Russia, from September 4 to 6. There were presentations by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Batulga, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Nicaraguan delegation met with the Russian Minister of Health and President of the Russia/Nicaragua Intergovernmental Commission and reaffirmed the implementation of bilateral projects. The delegation also met with Sergey Konovalenko, Executive Director for International Relations of the Russian company UNITED GRAIN, about expanding the wheat supply program for Nicaragua, which has been functioning since 2012. The Nicaraguans also will meet with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of the Primorsky Region about the prospects for trade between that region and Nicaragua. (Radiolaprimerisima, 9/5/19)