NicaNotes: Kevin Zeese – Presente!

This week we honor our friend and colleague Kevin Zeese, who died suddenly at his home on Sunday, September 6th. He and his partner Margaret Flowers were co-founders of Popular Resistance, which is a fiscally sponsored project of the Alliance for Global Justice. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Margaret and all his family.

For many years Kevin Zeese dedicated himself to building social movements in the United States to bring about positive change.* He and Margaret were very active in 2011 in key groups (October 2011 and Stop the Machine! Create a New World!) that joined forces with Occupy DC in the US capital. This movement opened a serious conversation about inequality in the United States that continues to this day. Kevin was active in the movement to support Chelsea Manning and in the movement to support every citizen’s right to information. He and Margaret also organized people to protest the Trump inauguration with civil disobedience actions in January of 2017.

Kevin was a leader in the anti-imperialist and anti-war movement in the United States, having helped organize conferences against NATO and served as a leader of the US Peace Council and the United National Antiwar Coalition.

Kevin understood the role of information in building social movements, as he and Margaret used their platform, Popular Resistance, to strengthen reporting from alternative media and social movements throughout the US and the world. In fact, Kevin was knowledgeable about people’s struggles around the planet and was instrumental in helping other progressives sort through US hybrid warfare operations to get at the truth, usually through contacts with grassroots movements in different countries. Popular Resistance has hosted a Solidarity School in which activists learn about social transformation, furthering Kevin’s unflagging belief in the power of social movements to change our world.

An attorney, Kevin Zeese was a legal advisor and one of the activists who defended the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington, DC, for several weeks in 2019, after the Trump administration violated diplomatic conventions by trying to hand the embassy over to self-appointed “authorities”, in violation of the United Nations Charter and several international treaties. Kevin and a collective of academics and professionals defended the legitimate government of President Nicolás Maduro and were not intimidated by the threat of fines or imprisonment. Their commitment led to a legal fight in US federal court where, after a months-long trial, federal charges supported by the Trump administration were finally dropped against the four Embassy Protectors.

In 2020 Kevin became the press secretary of the presidential campaign of Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate who believes in a platform of ecosocialism, the fight against inequality, opposing voter suppression, and transforming the current GOP-Democrat duopoly that leaves a large percentage of the U.S. people voiceless.

During the US-supported coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018, Kevin began to investigate what was really happening. He and Nils McCune wrote an article that provided information that the mainstream media were either unable or unwilling to report. The article was first published in Popular Resistance and then in the 2019 book written by a collective of historians, investigators and activists and published by the AfGJ. You can download it here: Nicaragua Live: Uprising or Coup? The article is part of the chapter “Nicaragua 2018 — Events and their Context, Part 2” and begins on page 117. It is entitled “Correcting the Record: What Is Really Happening in Nicaragua?”

From that time on, Kevin and Margaret published many articles on Nicaragua by members of the collective responsible for Nicaragua Live as well as the new book, The Revolution Won’t Be Stopped: Nicaragua Advances despite US Unconventional Warfare. Just a month ago Kevin Zeese and John Perry published an article describing the US hybrid war tactics against Nicaragua in the time of Covid. Kevin was part of an effort to raise awareness among US citizens about US unconventional warfare in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and elsewhere.

For us at the Alliance for Global Justice, Kevin and Margaret, through Popular Resistance, were more than just a fiscally sponsored group. They were a sister organization which fought with us on the frontlines of battles against US imperialism. They formed an organization whose lead we often followed on illegal sanctions, the environment, and indigenous land rights. A Memorial Fund will be created within a few days to honor Kevin’s legacy by supporting young organizers. We will include a link to the fund in next week’s NicaNotes Blog.

 

Kevin Zeese—Presente!

*We thank the Council on Hemispheric Affairs for the biographical information on Kevin.

 

Briefs

By Nan McCurdy

BID: Nicaragua Has Very Good Water Access
An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report, places Nicaragua on Sept. 7 among the Latin American countries with the least difficulty accessing drinking water service, and with a good scenario for the next twenty years in this area. According to the IDB, the number of Nicaraguans living with water stress is low while other countries such as Costa Rica and El Salvador occupy the first places in presenting water deficit. “[D]espite the abundance of water, the region faces great threats to the availability of this resource.” Using the baseline of the World Resources Institute’s water stress estimates (the ratio of domestic, industrial and agricultural withdrawals to total available resources), currently about 15% of Latin American territory and 35% of its population are located in areas of moderate to extreme water stress, the IDB said. Nicaragua is highlighted in the report as one of the few nations in which the proportion of the population with water problems in the future will continue to be low or medium low. The IDB report confirms the commitment of the Sandinista government to restore the right to drinking water service and care of water basins since investments in this sector are in the millions in Nicaragua. Radio La Primerisima, 8 September 2020

Exports Break Record and Exceed US$2 Billion
Exports from Nicaragua as of August 31st again broke records, reaching US$2 billion, a 15.3% increase over the same period last year, according to the most recent report from the Export Processing Center (CETREX). Nicaragua is one of the few Latin American countries that has not stopped increasing its shipments abroad, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Leading exports were coffee, beef, cane sugar, beans, morolique cheese, raw tobacco, fish, lobster, beverages, alcoholic liquids and vinegar, oils and fats, Mozzarella cheese, other sea products, processed cigars, processed coffee, rum, bananas. The United States remains the main market for domestic products with US$946 million exported to that nation and Central America continues to be the second largest market with a total of US$429 million. El Salvador is Nicaragua’s main Central America buyer with US$216 million. Exports continue to diversify and grow by 1.9% to Belize; 2.3% to China; 12.6% to Israel; 9.9% to Lebanon; 14.5% to Norway; 14% to New Zealand; 159% to Pakistan; 167% Paraguay; 2% to Poland; 1% to the Czech Republic; 6.9% to Switzerland; 2.8% Ukraine; 11% Uruguay. In the first eight months of the year, gold has increased by 23 9%; coffee by 8.4%; beef by 2.3; cane sugar by 7.9%; beans have had a 19.6% growth; other seafood products increased their sales by 33.8%. Informe Pastran, 7 September 2020

18,660 Families to Acquire Housing
A new loan from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) for US$171.6 million dollars to build affordable housing in Nicaragua will contribute to improving the living conditions of families in extreme poverty through construction and/or acquisition of decent, safe and easily financed housing solutions. This will directly benefit 7,000 families under a subsidy program and 11,660 families with low or moderate income under a subsidy and credit program, administered through one or several bank trusts. Private sector housing development and construction companies will participate, as well as banking institutions. The construction of low-income housing is one of the priority objectives of the government of President Daniel Ortega for which there is a well-defined State policy. This loan and the construction of these homes will contribute to economic growth and job creation in the country. Informe Pastran, 3 September 2020

Energy Law Amended to Benefit All
An amendment to the energy law was approved Sept. 8 in the National Assembly so that renewable energy generators pay less tax and that benefit is transferred to consumers’ energy bills. Deputy Wálmaro Gutiérrez explained that Nicaragua’s renewable energy generation capacity to date is 1,554 megawatts, while the maximum demand is 600 megawatts. He added that the reform will benefit 1.2 million energy users and the country’s economic sectors through a voluntary negotiation process with the electric energy generators of their current energy purchase and sale contracts. Deputy Jenny Martínez, Chair of the Infrastructure Commission, added that this reform is part of a program that the government has been carrying out since 2007 to guarantee security and investment in energy. She said that Nicaragua has totally transformed its generation matrix and that energy reaches the country’s most remote villages. The goal for this year is 98.42% electricity coverage. Radio La Primerisima, 8 September 2020

Energy Company Cannot Be Privatized
On Sept. 8 the National Assembly approved an amendment to Article 1 of the law creating the Nicaraguan Energy Company (ENEL), which gives ENEL autonomy as a state public service entity with legal personality, and its own patrimony and provides that it cannot be privatized. Deputy Jenny Martinez explained, “The law that created ENEL was reformed because ENEL was being excluded from the benefits of being governed by the Ministry of Labor. What was done was to restore the right to that entity so that it could be governed by the labor code.” Radio La Primerisima, 8 September 2020

Small Coffee Producers Benefit from Government Support
Agriculture Minister Edward Centeno announced that 22,736 small coffee producers have received technological packages this year from the Production, Consumption and Commerce System of the Sandinista Government. Each package contains fertilizers and other materials to improve the nutrition of the coffee plants and increase yields. In addition to this, training is being carried out in crop management including plantation pruning. This activity is part of the National Strategy for the Development and Transformation of the Coffee Industry. Radio La Primerisima, 8 Sept. 2020

Entrepreneurial Fair Included Digital Innovation
On September 4, 5 and 6, the EXPOPYME 2020 Fair was held in Managua with the participation of 147 entrepreneurs. The event included the third National Meeting on Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship titled “Digitally Evolved in New Times.” There were three panels with national and international specialists from Mexico, Argentina and El Salvador who addressed issues of interest on financial technology, E-commerce and innovation platforms. Demonstrations of productive processes of crafts were conducted with producers from Masaya, Nueva Segovia, Matagalpa, Estelí and Carazo. Informe Pastran, 7 September 2020

Cancer Hospital Exceeds Expectations
The new Cancer Hospital in District VI of Managua is showing stunning results, and expectations have been surpassed with chemotherapy and palliative care treatments for cancer patients. To date, 1,442 treatments have been performed, including 959 chemotherapy sessions, 239 specialized palliative care consultations, 84 nutritional assessments, 81 pain management therapies, and 79 psychological support sessions. Informe Pastran, 7 September 2020

PAHO: Nicaragua Has the Lowest Mortality Rate in the Americas
According to the latest report released on September 5 by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Nicaragua has the lowest Covid-19 death rate in the Americas. The report states that Nicaragua registers 2.1 COVID-19 deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants. The OPS report also recognizes the low lethality rate in Nicaragua of 2.2 (deaths among those infected). In the weekly COVID-19 report of Sept. 1 to 7, there were 104 new registered cases, 125 newly recuperated and 3 deaths. The totals since March 18 are 3,877 registered cases, 3,583 recuperated and 144 deaths. Radio La Primerisima, 5 September 2020

MRS Changing its Name
Adolfo Pastran reports that the Sandinista Renovation Movement, MRS, which emerged from a split in the FSLN in 1994, has now admitted its failure as a political project by deciding to change its name. [The name change, which would include dropping “Sandinista,” would be approved at its upcoming party convention in October.] Formed in 1994, the MRS was led by the former vice president of the 1980s, Sergio Ramírez Mercado. MRS leaders thought the party could win away some FSLN followers and win the 1996 elections with Ramírez as the candidate. But they only received 0.44% of the votes. Since then they have joined alliances to stay alive in politics. In 2001 they were allies of the FSLN and then broke the alliance, running again in the elections in 2006 obtaining 6.44%; and since then they sought further alliances to survive politically, joining Eduardo Montealegre and the PLI in 2011. In recent polls the MRS received 1% sympathy. Informe Pastran, 7 September 2020