NicaNotes: NACLA’s Latest on Nicaragua: Another Shameless Apology of U.S. Imperialism

By Camilo Mejia

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In line with previous coverage of the 2018 crisis, NACLA’s latest article, The Anti-Sandinista Youth of Nicaragua, once again provides cover and legitimacy to the fascist regime change operation financed by the U.S. via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and their affiliate agencies, which provided the funding that fueled the crisis. Anyone who finds such an assertion outrageous can read an article by The Global American, whose title says it all: Laying the Groundwork for Insurrection: a closer look at the U.S. role in Nicaragua’s social unrest.

The Global American article provides much insight into the role the U.S. has played in training and financing many of the groups cited by NACLA, financing that dates back to the 1980s, when the Reagan administration first created the NED which, in the words of its first president during a 1991 interview to the Washington Post“… does a lot of the work the CIA used to do 25 years ago.”  That work includes the very unrest NACLA praises as activism against what it calls the Ortega dictatorship, but without providing any evidence outside the narratives promoted by NGOs financed by said US agencies.

NACLA portrays Nicaraguan youth as being highly disaffected with the FSLN, claiming they reached a breaking point as a result of the violence in April of 2018. But for the youth to have reached a breaking point, they must have been the targets of state violence leading up to the April 2018 protests, an assertion that cannot be corroborated by any evidence, not by any US-funded NGOs, not by national or international media, or any local or international human rights organizations, or any other group whatsoever.  The only claims of assassinations, massacres, widespread oppression, torture, disappearances or any other human rights violations have been propagated exclusively by US-funded entities, both national and international, and they all allegedly took place within the three-month period of unrest, spanning from April through July of 2018.

The article depicts the Sandinista Youth (J.S. for its abbreviation in Spanish) as a political and military front of the FSLN, used to spy on and control the population, a factor that, along with the fallout of the global recession and perennial inequality, explain the flight of youth from the J.S. and the FSLN in general. What the article doesn’t mention, is that while the global economy and perennial inequality were castigating neighboring countries, Nicaragua, up to the 2018 crisis, had enjoyed a steady rate of economic growth of approximately 5% for several years, had cut poverty in half, managed to increase access to electricity to 92% of the population (from 43%), greatly reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, provide universal healthcare and education, and achieve 90% food sovereignty. All throughout that time the Sandinista Youth played -and continues to play- a crucial role in the implementation of the programs behind the Sandinista government’s success; some of their roles include delivering food staples to Nicaragua’s poorest families, participating in healthcare programs to prevent mosquito-borne disease during torrential rains, delivering school supplies, and participating in political education programs.

Citing right-wing critics of the FSLN, including an article by La Prensa, a newspaper owned by one of Nicaragua’s wealthiest families with a history of supporting US intervention going back to the turn of the 20thcentury, NACLA continues its anti-Sandinista attack by pointing out the hand of the FSLN during massive protests following its 1990 electoral defeat. But the article doesn’t mention that the massive protests were in response to the neoliberal reforms implemented by the same US-funded political players behind the 2018 unrest. Such reforms saw the privatization of Nicaragua’s healthcare and education systems, its telephone and communications company, its electrical system, the reversal of the land reform, the massive firing of state employees, and the abandonment of the country’s infrastructure – which all led to an epidemic of hunger and disease, crime, violence, and skyrocketing mortality rates among Nicaragua’s most vulnerable groups, including poor pregnant women, children, and the elderly.

The article continues its tirade accusing the FSLN of issues of gender inequality and authoritarianism, completely leaving out the fact that today’s Nicaragua is one of three nations, along with France and Iceland, about to close the gender gap, according to the World Economic Forum, and that the “authoritarian regime” was elected democratically with 68% voter turnout and 72.5% of the popular vote during the presidential election of 2016.

It is truly sad to see NACLA’s persistent validation of US regime change in Nicaragua, a validation completely reliant upon the one-sided narratives promoted by a small army of USAID- and NED-funded NGO operatives. But rather than continuing to undermine each and every false assertion, I would like to conclude on a more positive note in the form of Nicaragua: the April Crisis and Beyond, with Dan Kovalik, a new documentary that describes the crisis from the perspective of regular Nicaraguans, among them small business owners, peasants, small farmers, government officials, so-called political prisoners, and a small group of internationalists living in Nicaragua who witnessed the crisis first hand and who bear witness to what one of them calls the black hand of the U.S. in the country’s unrest.


By Nan McCurdy

Police Capture One of Those Responsible for Bonanza Massacre
The National Police reported Feb. 12 the capture of Lester Isaías Orozco Acosta, 36, alias “El Choco,” a member of the criminal gang “Chabelo” which was responsible for the murder of four people in the municipality of Bonanza, North Caribbean Autonomous Region on Jan. 31 that received international attention. Commissioner Roger Potosme said members of the gang led by criminal Isabel Meneses Padilla, alias “Chabelo,” arrived in the community of Alal,  where they shot two people. Potosme added that the members of this same gang are also responsible for the murders that occurred in the community of Wakuruskasna, 12 kilometers east of Alal. Orozco was captured in the community of La Bovina, 45 km from Siuna. He was found with a submachine gun used in the murders. The police chief said that they are looking for other fugitives who are part of the criminal gang. (Radiolaprimerisima, 2/12/20)

The Government has provided 320,000 Women with Loans during Thirteen Years
More than 320,000 women have received loans through the government’s Zero Usury program over the past 13 years, reported director Leonor Corea. Over the 13 years the interest rate has remained at 5% per year. In 2019 91,500 women were served and in 2020 they expect to benefit 97,200 women. 80 percent of loans are for strengthening businesses and 20 percent for starting new enterprises. She said that 13 years ago the amounts of loans were between US$54.17 and US$161.05. Currently loans are between US$146.41 and US$585.65. The terms are 6, 8 and 12 months, before they were 3, 6 and 8 months. (Radiolaprimerisima, 2/14/20)

More than a Thousand to Serve their Sentences at Home
Feb. 13 President Daniel Ortega ordered the Ministry of the Interior to release more than a thousand common criminals who were serving sentences in the various prisons after granting them the benefit of Family Coexistence (Home Detention). Among those who received the benefit are 9 criminals that the anti-Sandinista groups claim as their activists: Bryant Urbina, from Managua; Katherine Martinez, from Managua; Lester Renato Ruiz, from Carazo; Owen Ramses Marin, from Masaya; Uriel Perez, from Masaya; and Victor Perez, from Masaya. (Radiolaprimerisima, 2/14/120)

Nicaragua Has Lowest Number of Femicides in the Region
Feb. 14 the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) and the Latin America and Caribbean Gender Equality Observatory, presented the conclusions of the Regional Report on Femicides in the continent. The report states that Nicaragua with (0.7) has the lowest rate of femicides per 100,000 inhabitants in the Central American Region, compared to El Salvador (6.8) and Honduras (5.1). The report also states that Nicaragua is among the three countries with the lowest rates in the American continent.

Women’s Police Station Re-opened
As part of the national campaign to stop violence against women, on Feb. 13 the Women’s Police Station in District II of Managua was relaunched. Commissioner Fernando Borge, second in command of Managua, stressed that this station has women officers trained to attend the complaints of women, investigate and provide proper accompaniment to each complainant. Timely actions of each institution including the Ministry of Women, the Ministry of Family and school counselors that the Ministry of Education promotes to eradicate and reduce gender violence also play a role. “This is a permanent campaign for women’s rights and for a Nicaragua free of all types of violence against women,” said Borge. (Radiolaprimerisima, 2/13/20)

2020 Energy Investment Will Bring Electricity Coverage to Nearly 99%
The government will invest nearly US$350 million in the energy sector in 2020. 512 electrification projects will help reach the goal of 98.42% electricity coverage.  More than 4,000 solar panels will be installed in the Caribbean Coast and San Juan River department with US$14.4 million from the EXIM Bank of Korea and the Nicaraguan Treasury. In 2019 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the EPR Solar company for the construction of a 100 MW plant. The preliminary phase has concluded and this year the first phase of a 50 MW plant in San Benito will be built. Also, five small solar plants will begin to operate in Karawala (La Cruz del Río Grande), Tasbapounie (Laguna de Perlas), Little Corn Island and El Ayote on the South Caribbean Coast which will be hybrid systems, i.e. solar-thermal, with a battery component. (Informe Pastran, 2/14/20)

New State Companies related to Oil and Gas
On Feb.14 the official government newspaper, La Gaceta, published the laws creating four new state companies, approved this week by the National Assembly: The Nicaraguan Company of Hydrocarbon Storage and Distribution Plants (ENIPLANH); the National Company for the Exploration and Exploitation of Hydrocarbons (ENIH); the Nicaraguan Gas Company (ENlGAS); and the Nicaraguan Company for the Import, Transportation and Commercialization of Hydrocarbons (ENlCOM). (Informe Pastran, 2/14/20)

Catholic Bishop Complements Development with Sandinista Government
Bishop Pablo Schmitz of the Bluefields Dioceses says no one can deny that the Sandinista government has brought much development to the Caribbean Coast with the infrastructure projects it has implemented. He said that now many communities on the Caribbean Coast have electricity and the bridge over the Tuma River allows them to reach Matagalpa, Rio Blanco, Mulukuku and Siuna, without having to travel to the San Benito junction. He said the Managua-Bluefields highway is an impressive project, as well as the Bluefields Penitentiary System and the new hospital on Corn Island. An IDB analysis highlights that 50 years ago it took 7 days to travel from Managua to Bluefields, today it takes only 6 hours. (Radiolaprimerisima, 2/14/20)

Thirteen Thousand Teachers to Receive Technological Training
In the first quarter of the year more than 13,000 teachers will be trained on the use of new technologies. Salvador Vanegas, presidential advisor on educational issues, stressed that teacher training is one of the goals set by the Sandinista government for 2020, since most schools will have digital classrooms. (Radiolaprimerisima, 2/17/20)

Thousands Rock the Streets of the Country
Every Saturday tens of thousands of Nicaraguans in every municipality march to defend their revolution. They are of different ages and often entire families attend the marches. Their main characteristic is their enthusiasm: they know that each walk is the culmination of another week of work that helps consolidate the advances of the Revolution and prepares conditions for new rights. Here are some images from marches on Feb. 15, in different municipalities and departments of the country, under the slogan “With love that can do everything and that wins everything, women for life.” (Radiolaprimerisima, 2/15/20)

Modern Mental Health Clinic Inaugurated
On Feb.14 a mental health clinic was inaugurated at the “Dr. Alejandro Dávila Bolaños” Military Hospital in Managua. In addition to caring for patients with addictions and psychiatric pathologies, the clinic will provide treatment for people under severe stress and will implement training programs for elementary and high school teachers throughout the country for early detection of physical, sexual and psychological abuse. The Director of the hospital, Dr. Leonso Esquivel said, “The mental health clinic has a team of psychiatrists and psychologists with extensive experience in the treatment of mental disorders in a safe and welcoming environment.” (Nicaragua News, 2/14/20)

Tourism has Made a Comeback
The head of CONIMIPYME, Leonardo Torres, says that 1.29 million tourists came to Nicaragua in 2019, indicating that in March the official figures of tourism income will be released. “Every day Nicaragua is promoted in hundreds of publications worldwide of tourist destinations, surpassing other countries, because an enormous promotional effort is being made and we are moving forward, not backward,” he said. Torres says that the private sector of micro, small and medium enterprises (PYMES), and the government, “have done a great job in recovering tourism and reviving the economy.” “I brought some investors from El Salvador and they were surprised to be able to walk around with great tranquility, without bodyguards, with total security, without armored vehicles, and they feel great and say that they want to come and live here because in their countries they pay high costs for personal security,” said Torres.

British Magazine Recommends Ometepe Island
The British edition of fashion and lifestyle magazine “Hello” published an article titled “The 20 best adventure destinations in 2020”. The report highlighted Ometepe island as one of the most important destinations for adventure lovers. It also states that “Nicaragua is a country that has many options for the adventure tourist, but Ometepe in particular offers diversity in one place. On this Nicaraguan island you can hike a volcano and swim under waterfalls before relaxing on the beach.” (Nicaragua News, 2/14/20)