By Nora Mitchell and Nan McCurdy
On Feb. 20, 2020, Vox.com published a piece entitled “Burnt radio stations and 18-month newsprint blockades: Inside the slow culling of Nicaragua’s free press” that has multiple problems. The first of the many problems with this propaganda piece is that one of its authors – Carl David Goette Luciak – who initially came to Nicaragua to support anti-canal activists, was a close friend of the leaders of the violent opposition who were funded and directed by the US to attempt regime change. Goette Luciak can be seen in multiple photos with the opposition and with their armed lackeys; one of the photos was used for the cover of the book about the attempted coup, Nicaragua 2018: Uprising or Coup? He is also captured on video taking photos of an old man being tortured by the opposition in the documentary March of the Flowers. He appears at second 13 in the video from the Flowers March which took place in Managua on June 30, 2018.
We had seen the photos of Geotte Luciak with the armed opposition, but became very concerned and began to write about him when he did nothing after witnessing the torture of the man during the Flowers March. When he began his journalist career, without credentials, writing for the Washington Post and the Guardian in 2018, he never mentioned that the opposition was armed and violent. And after he witnessed the Flowers March he still did not report on the opposition brutality and their campaign of terror against Sandinistas and government workers. More than a year later and he still has not reported on it.
The authors began the VOX article by hinting at government limits on the internet, ridiculous given healthy commercial internet enterprises as well as the government audacity at providing free internet in parks for the population, even in the most isolated parts of the nation.
In the second and twenty-second paragraphs, the authors claim that government supporters burned down radio stations, for which there is not a shred of evidence. The Nicaraguan opposition burned down the most popular radio station, the private pro-Sandinista Tu Nueva Radio Ya, located in front of the Central American University, one of the seats, then and now, of the opposition. They actually attempted to burn it down twice, succeeding the third time with twenty employees who barely made it out alive. They also burned down Radio Nicaragua and the National Autonomous University Student Center and Radio Station in Leon killing Sandinista student, Christian Cardenas.
Then the authors claim that the government restricted free press by blocking newsprint and ink to the newspaper, La Prensa. Few people read newspapers in Nicaragua and slowly print versions have gone by the wayside. La Prensa fired two hundred employees in mid-2018. More than one in five US papers has closed but nobody blames the US government. It’s a tough market for print newspapers all over the world!
La Prensa is owned by the Chamorro family, members of which own La Prensa, Confidencial and direct the nongovernmental organizations CINCO, Invermedia and La Fundacion Violeta Barrios which channel USAID and NED money to other organizations and media. They create constant fake news that helped launch and support the attempted coup and they promote US sanctions and intervention. The Chamorro family are known historically for having a monopoly on the US-financed media.
La Prensa had long overdue debts with the customs office (Direcion General de Aduana, DGA) which the newspaper refused to pay and instead accused the government of blocking their paper and ink supply and requested help from the US press.
La Prensa also has a long record of abusing the tax exemptions for newspaper printing materials by using the supplies for other print businesses and also importing luxury cars and even yachts. The exemption was only for legitimate work vehicles.
But the onslaught of international media articles certainly did convince the government to release La Prensa’s materials even though the paper owes money to the customs office.
The international press over recent years prints and reprints lies that coincide with the opposition narrative. It’s like the saying about how a lie that is repeated again and again becomes the truth, at least in the US. The Nicaraguan population is savvy and does not easily buy the story of repression against La Prensa because they have seen the US use this paper for over fifty years against the population, most notably during the US-contra war.
Since 2018 Journalists go to Nicaragua only briefly, seem to have their story already written and only interview the opposition. Nicaraguans love to talk about politics and if journalists would really do a bit of investigation and talk to all sides the articles might not be pure propaganda for the US-backed opposition.
La Prensa, Confidencial, Radio Corporacion, Onda Local, Canal 10, 100% News and all the opposition press live an unimaginable press freedom in Nicaragua constantly lying about the government, and during the attempted coup, calling for regime change and the assassination of the constitutional president and his family. If this happened in the US the media owners would go to prison for suggesting such an atrocious crime.
In Nicaragua only Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda of 100% Noticias went to prison. Miguel Mora threatened a young policeman, Gabriel de Jesus Vado Ruiz, who soon after was kidnapped, tortured, killed and burned in Masaya. Mora also threatened a municipal worker, Bismark Martinez who soon after was disappeared and found dead a year later. Bismark’s torturers uploaded videos to Facebook. Pineda is on video with those who burned down Granada government buildings with the fires raging behind them.
Thanks to the Sandinista government’s desire for peace and reconciliation, Mora and Pineda received amnesty in June 2019.
Knowing what Goette-Luciak did in Nicaragua, for which he was deported on October 1, 2018, and with numerous articles and photos attesting to his behavior, it is more than a little surprising that a media outlet like VOX would print an article by him.
By Nan McCurdy
Acrobat Nik Wallenda walks tightrope above Masaya Volcano
In a record time of 30 minutes, the American acrobat Nik Wallenda, managed to cross the crater of the Masaya volcano, 550 meters, walking on a rope on March 4, setting a new world record. Wallenda thanked Nicaragua for the support he received and said it was the most important feat of his life. “Very special, I was prepared, but the winds were unpredictable, it was something like taking my feet off the ground, but that’s what I do and you get used to it, the gusts there are very strong,” said the acrobat. Wallenda said there was a moment when his glasses were completely covered by the smoke coming out of the Masaya volcano, which caused him to disappear for a while. “It was tremendous, just seeing the lava is tremendous,” he said. The Masaya volcano, located 23 kilometers southeast of Managua, is one of Nicaragua’s main tourist attractions, especially because tourists can reach the edge of its crater in any car. See photos here: http://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/general/280075/nick-wallenda-logra-cruzar-crater-del-volcan-masaya/ (Radiolaprimerisima, 3/4/20)
Record Number of TV Viewers Watch Wallenda
Nicaraguan Channel 6 obtained a record of close to 4 million viewers during the transmission of the mega event “Volcano Live,” transmitting the tightrope feat above the Masaya Volcano of the acrobat Nik Wallenda, as well as showing environmental and scientific characteristics of the volcano. (El19Digital, 3/5/20)
No Votes against Nicaragua in the OAS
The Nicaraguan opposition has just suffered another defeat with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, telling Andrés Oppenheimer on CNN on Feb. 28th that there is no statement from the OAS saying that the government of Nicaragua is not legitimate. In November of last year, in declarations to CNN, Almagro had said that the objective of the OAS was not to expel, nor suspend Nicaragua from the inter-American organization, and that the US could never get the votes to invoke the Democratic Charter. Almagro said the objective should be the elections for 2021. “The rest should serve as an instrument, but it is not the fundamental objective (to get Nicaragua out of the OAS).” This totally contradicts the continued discourse of the Nicaraguan opposition. (Informe Pastran, 3/3/20)
Hundreds of Thousands in Nicaragua Walk for Women’s Rights
Saturday March 7th hundreds of thousands throughout Nicaragua participated in walks by and with the women who work hard every day to contribute to the development of the country. Women police also participated in most of the walks. The people celebrated the many conquests reached by and for Nicaraguan women with the Sandinista Government, while raising their voices to continue defending women’s rights: the right to live in peace, with dignity and respect. The residents of Siuna municipality participated in the Walk of Brave and Victorious Women, held in celebration of International Women’s Day. In Quilali, Ocotal, Bonanza and Prinzapolka they participated in the “Valiant Women, Victorious Women” walk. And in Esteli the streets were full of people celebrating International Women’s Day. There were activities in all the municipalities of the country. See photos: https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:100994-familias-nicaraguenses-participan-en-la-caminata-mujeres-valientes-mujeres-victoriosas-en-managua
Nicaragua Safest Country in Central America
On March 5 InSight Crime, published a study on the homicide rate of each of the capitals of Latin America. In Panama City there are 44 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants; 42.5 in Guatemala; 41 in Honduras; 35.3 in El Salvador; 17.6 in Mexico; In Montevideo, Uruguay, 14.7; 14.3 in Colombia; 13.7 in Brazil; 12.9 in Costa Rica, where violent crimes have increased; Dominican Republic, 10.4; Peru, 8; and in Nicaragua 6.6 per hundred thousand people. Since the violence of the opposition roadblocks in the April 2018 coup attempt, violence has decreased and Nicaragua is once again the safest country in the Central American region with 6.6 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Nicaragua has no drug cartels, no hitmen, no extortion groups, no gangs, and no kidnappings. (Informe Pastran, 3/9/20)
Molecular Biology and Entomology Laboratory Inaugurated
The Nicaragua Ministry of Health (MINSA) has inaugurated the new Molecular Biology and Entomology Laboratory of the National Diagnostic Center. The US$882,872 infrastructure will be dedicated to the study of the behavior of infectious agents; surveillance to detect and anticipate infectious outbreaks, and entomological surveillance to control diseases that are transmitted through parasites. Funding for the laboratory came from the General Budget of the Republic with support from the World Bank. (Nicaragua News, 3/4/20)
Apicultural Laboratory Inaugurated
The National Technological Institute (INATEC) inaugurated the laboratory for transformation and production of honey at the Arlen Siu Agricultural Technology Center on March 6 in León Department. The US$304,767 facility will be used to train students in sustainable beekeeping and honey production techniques. Nicaragua currently has 1,417 beekeepers and 2,356 apiaries, generating US$1 million in exports of honey and derived products. Funding for the new laboratory came from the General Budget of the Republic. (Nicaragua News, 3/9/20)
Probable Growth of Economy in 2020
The president’s economic advisor, Bayardo Arce, said on March 4 that the projected growth of the economy is 0.8 percent in 2020, a positive note because there is no longer any talk of a decline. The official stressed that the IMF said in its latest assessment that Nicaragua has the macroeconomic situation under control, and that there is stability for growth this year, after the major decrease in growth with the attempted coup of 2018. “The IMF is sure there will be economic growth this year.
Arce stressed that Nicaragua has the economic base to recover growth, and that if there were more patriotic agents the task of recovering the country’s development would be faster. “The economic recovery that the country is experiencing is due to the efforts made by the government to manage the effects of the crisis.” The most affected sectors were real estate and tourism. “The banks were looted and we had to implement many economic policies that would allow us to contain and reverse this trend,” he said. (Radiolaprimerisima, 3/4/20)
Women Say They Feel Safer Now
A Women’s Police Station will be reopened in the country every week as part of the national strategy of zero tolerance for violence against women. In the capital’s third district, more than US$17,500 was invested to remodel the police station, which is expected to serve 180,000 women, said Commissioner General Fernando Borge, Chief of Police in Managua. “We are going to pursue the aggressors; we will not rest until they are captured so that justice is done for our women. The police stations are equipped to give integral treatment to the women,” said the police chief. Along with the National Police, various institutions in the country accompany the victims of violence. “We visit each neighborhood, hold community meetings and go with the women to report the violence to the police stations,” said Jesica Padilla, Minister of Women’s Affairs.
Maryuri Reyes, who lives in the San Judas neighborhood of Managua, says that with the re-launching of the police stations she feels safer. “This is the best thing. We have to break the silence. See how they have killed other women? These men should be in jail. With the police stations we will be able to be attended by women when we denounce the men,” said Valeria Martinez, 3rd district of Managua. (Canal 2, 3/5/20)
New Highway Inaugurated in Estelí
The Nicaragua Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI) Oscar Mojica inaugurated the Estanzuela highway in Estelí department on March 4. The cost of the project was US$971,159, benefiting 26,430 people in six communities. Funding for the project came from the General Budget of the Republic. (Nicaragua News, 3/4/20)
Electricity Coverage and Production Advancing at Fast Pace
In February national electricity coverage closed at 97.35%, Enatrel head Salvador Mansell reported on March 5, 2020. The official said that so far this year 90 electrification projects have been carried out in the country and the goal for 2020 is to reach 98.42% of electricity coverage. Representatives of the company New Fortress Energy are in Nicaragua meeting with Enatrel technicians to refine details of the natural gas plant to be built in the country, reported Mansell. “After the signing of the contract we have been exchanging information, now there are 13 U.S. specialists sharing with their peers in Nicaragua to shape this project that will be of great importance for Nicaraguans,” he said. The natural gas plant will have the capacity to produce 300 megawatts, strengthening the country’s electricity system. (Radiolaprimerisima, 3/5/20)
Nephrology Ward in Rivas Attends Those with Renal Insufficiency
On March 4 the Ministry of Health inaugurated the new Nephrology ward at the Gaspar García Laviana Hospital in Rivas department. The US$824,014 facility has a hospitalization unit, outpatient clinic, hemodialysis equipment, psychological care unit and a nutrition unit. Renal insufficiency is among the ten chronic diseases that most affect Nicaraguans. Funding for the New Nephrology ward came from the General Budget of the Republic. (Nicaragua News, 3/5/20)
Government Loans to Women for New Businesses
The week of March 2 the government’s Zero Usury microcredit program provided financing to 2,223 women, organized in 670 solidarity groups in 80 municipalities, for small businesses, food sold from home, grocery stores, beauty salons, among others. (Informe Pastran, 3/4/20)
Children Getting Fluoride Treatments at School
Rosa Chamorro, head of Managua’s Health Service, announced that 124,692 Managua children between the ages of 6 and 12 will benefit from the oral health day launched March 4 by the Ministry of Health at the Filemón Rivera School in district five. She explained that fluoride rinses will be applied every 15 days until November in 489 schools in the department of Managua. The mouthwash prevents cavities and hardens the teeth of children. The principal of Filemón Rivera School, Arcángel Sevilla Galán, said the application of fluoride has been carried out for five years, resulting in fewer dental problems. (Radiolaprimerisima, 3/4/20)
Support for Sustainable Production of Coffee and Cocoa in Madriz
The Multifunctional Cooperative of Nicaragua Coffee Producers (PROCAFE R.L.), reported on March 5 that US$1.8 million will be invested to improve coffee and cocoa productive infrastructure in Madriz department. The financing is part of the Access to Sustainable Markets and Food Security for Small Coffee and Cocoa Producers in Nicaragua Project, being implemented with support of the Dutch Development Cooperation Service (SNV), in alliance with the Pan American School EL ZAMORANO and the Foundation for Technological Development of Nicaragua Agriculture and Forestry (FUNICA). The purpose is to obtain quality with a socioenvironmental focus and generate added value in the commercialization process. (Nicaragua News, 3/6/20)
Cruise Ship Visitors Help Invigorate the Economy
The cruise ship Emerald Princess arrived in the port of San Juan del Sur coming from Huatulco, Mexico, with 2,907 tourists and 1,147 crew members. The passengers visited in Rivas the Casa Hacienda Amayo, the Central Park, San Pedro Church, Canopy Tour Da’ Flying Frog, and San Juan del Sur; also the Masaya Volcano National Park, Masaya Handicrafts Market, the Catarina Viewpoint, Ciudad Hacienda Los Altos, and Granada. (Informe Pastran, 3/9/20)