By Katherine Hoyt
Katherine Hoyt was National Co-Coordinator of the Nicaragua Network and the Alliance for Global Justice for many years before her retirement. She is now on the board of the Alliance for Global Justice.
On the 200th anniversary of its announcement to the US Congress by President James Monroe, Representative Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for the annulment of the Monroe Doctrine. This Doctrine, as Rep. Velasquez’ stated, has been used to justify American intervention in Latin American affairs throughout the policy’s history. The Doctrine, issued by President Monroe on Dec. 2, 1823, stated that any interference in the Americas by a European power would be viewed as a hostile act by the United States. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt added the Roosevelt Corollary, which stated that the United States could become involved in a Latin American country’s internal affairs in cases of what the US judged as “wrongdoing” by that Latin American country.
House Resolution 943 is also co-sponsored by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Jesus Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Delia Ramirez (D-IL), and Greg Casar (D-TX). Rep. Casar said in the press release announcing the resolution, “U.S. foreign policy has too often contributed to instability in Latin America. Instead of toppling duly-elected governments, we can support democracy, grow our economies, and reduce forced migration. Instead of sanctions that starve our neighbors, we can work together to solve the climate crisis. We can begin charting this new way forward by eliminating the outdated Monroe Doctrine.”
The action alert put out by World Beyond War, says “Imagine what you think the text of this resolution probably says…. It’s better than that.” And it is!
In a series of “Whereas,” the Resolution traces the history of US intervention in Latin America from the annexation of Texas and of over half of Mexican territory in the 1840s to the 2019 right-wing coup in Bolivia. The longest paragraph covers the period in the 1980s when the United States funded genocide in Guatemala, murderous paramilitary death squads in El Salvador, and the violent contras trying to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
The Resolution then says, “be it resolved that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that… the Department of State should formally confirm that the Monroe Doctrine is no longer a part of United States policy toward Latin American and the Caribbean; [and] in place of the Monroe Doctrine, the Federal Government should develop a ‘New Good Neighbor’ policy, designed to foster improved relations and deepen more effective cooperation with all the countries of the hemisphere.”
The Resolution calls for a new approach to promoting development based on a respect for the integrity of the sovereign economic development plans of the region’s governments. The United States has supported many coups in Latin America and the Caribbean because US leaders found a country’s development plans to be “socialist” or in another way offensive to the US government.
And, among other measures, the Resolution calls for “terminating all unilateral economic sanctions imposed through Executive orders, and working with Congress to terminate all unilateral sanctions mandated by law, such as the Cuba embargo.” The United States has imposed sanctions on many countries around the globe. This would end those imposed by the President and mandate the President to work with Congress to eliminate those resulting from laws Congress has passed, such as the infamous NICA Act which has prevented Nicaragua from receiving loans from international financial institutions.
Another measure calls for “proceeding with the prompt declassification of all United States Government archives that relate to past coups d’état, dictatorships, and periods in the history of Latin American and Caribbean countries that are characterized by a high rate of human rights crimes perpetrated by security forces.” Declassification would enable us to learn more detail about US support for coups and attempted coups in the distant past as well as more recent ones such as the golpes that overthrew Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 and Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2019, as well as the attempted coup against Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua in 2018.
Further measures included in the Resolution promote collaboration with Latin American and Caribbean governments on a far-reaching reform of the Organization of American States and support democratic reforms to the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and other international financial institutions. These are reforms that progressives have been demanding for many years. The Resolution also calls for the creation of trust fund under the UN to support climate action in developing countries with recurrent contributions from the United States to that fund. The obligation of the rich industrialized countries who caused global warming to help the rest of the world adapt has been continually voiced by Nicaragua at world forums.
HR 943 has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, presumably to the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. The members of that subcommittee are Maria Salazar (R-FL), Mark Green (R-TN), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Waren Davidson (R-OH), Keith Self (R-TX), John James (R-MI), Ranking Minority Member Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA), and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL). If your Representative sits on that subcommittee, make a special point of contacting them.
The Resolution will need additional co-sponsors in order to make any progress in the House of Representatives. Please contact your Representative asking them to co-sponsor this important Resolution. It is rare that there is a measure before Congress that we can wholeheartedly back and we should pull out all the stops to build awareness of and support for the Resolution! The World Beyond War action alert was endorsed by Code Pink and Roots Action. We will work to bring other groups to work on supporting the Resolution which would bring a major change to US Foreign Policy if it were to pass!
By Nan McCurdy
Nicaragua Receives Worldwide Recognition for Health Care System
The Pan American Health Organization, continental affiliate of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) selected Nicaragua from among 24 countries to receive a plaque of international recognition. An official note says that the recognition by the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on Non-Communicable Diseases is for its outstanding contribution towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through its health services as part of the Family and Community Health Model (MOSAFC). The letter from the PAHO/WHO representative, Dr. Ana Elena Chévez, notes that “we reiterate our congratulations and PAHO’s willingness to continue supporting you in the implementation of the Digital Health Project to increase the abilities of the programmatic components, including the approach to Non-Communicable Diseases by the health services.” Nicaragua was selected from among 24 countries that applied, thanks to its leadership in working with the population, its demonstrated capacity to mobilize resources and general and specialized knowledge. The award also noted the challenges faced, the obstacles overcome, and the innovative approach of Nicaragua’s strategy which serves as an example to other countries. The Ministry of Health will receive the Plaque on Jan. 18 in a special ceremony. (La Primerisima,16 January 2024)
Students and Teachers Celebrate 17 Years of Free Education
More than one hundred schools in the Department of Managua participated on Jan. 11 in a carnival of joy in celebration of Education Day in Nicaragua. Students and Teachers began their tour at the Rigoberto López Pérez school, ending at the university traffic circle. The technology advisor of the Ministry of Education (MINED) in District One, Sergio Aguilar, said that the 17 years of triumphs in quality education and restoration of rights are also being celebrated. He recalled that the government has guaranteed different education programs in the countryside and mentioned the implementation of English language instruction, among others. In the rest of the country, similar activities are being developed in the different educational centers. [Note: In the neoliberal period from 1990 to 2006, fees were charged for public primary and secondary education as mandated by the IMF. When the FSLN returned to government after the elections of 2006, those fees were eliminated just in time for the new school year in February 2007. School enrollment went from 700,000 to over 1,000,000 in a matter of days. There were not enough classrooms and classes were held under trees and in any space available until more classrooms could be built.] See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/estudiantes-y-maestros-celebran-17-anos-de-gratuidad-en-la-educacion/ (La Primerisima, 11 January 2024)
In 17 years, the Sandinista Government Has Built 35 Technical Centers
Enrollment has increased in the government’s technical education centers around the country from 48,000 in 2006 to a current average of 520,000 students per year, of which 68% are women. INATEC reports that between 2007 and 2023 progress was made in expanding coverage in the countryside and in cities, with new modalities of technological training for young people and adults for work and life. The courses are free of charge. There are 35 new centers, offering 77 technical specialties in 2023 in on-site and virtual modalities. The first training center for teachers of technical education was opened and to date 14,171 teachers have been trained. A virtual training platform was created offering nine technical specialties and 40 online courses. As for the Municipal Schools of Trades and Technical Schools in the countryside, 691,183 participants have attended. Progress has been made in strengthening the technical, administrative and entrepreneurial capacities of 1,693,571 women in the Zero Usury program. Bilingual technical training is for students who learn English at the same time as they pursue their careers; to date, 31,000 students have been trained in this program. Likewise, national platforms have been created such as hackathon Nicaragua and INNOVATEC Innovation Center, which specialize in promoting the talent of 280,000 young people in innovation, entrepreneurship and good use of technologies. (La Primerisima, 11 January 2024)
Since 2007, Children Have Been at the Center of Social Policies
As part of the restoration of rights promoted by the Sandinista government in the last 17 years, there are currently 276 Child Development Centers (CDI) that attend to the needs of some 16,900 children under six years of age. Until 2006, there were only 32 CDIs in some departments. A Ministry of the Family (MIFAMILIA) report notes that under a national policy for early childhood care, the Ministry has made 700,000 home visits to promote the participation of families in the program for the integral development of children under six. Family counseling centers were created, which did not exist during the neoliberal governments, serving 315,895 people from 2007 to 2023.
The number of children in orphanages has been reduced. In 2006, there were 6,803 children and adolescents living in orphanages, principally due to poverty. Starting in 2007, the government implemented the strategy of loving return, reintegrating minors and adolescents with family members. Currently only 311 children are in 10 special protection centers. Likewise, the emergency telephone line 133 was installed for free 24/7 attention, providing information and guidance to one million people in 17 years of uninterrupted attention. Child support payments have increased, achieving the payment of US$13.3 million by 2023, benefitting 62,627 children and adolescents, compared to 2006, when only 17,558 children and adolescents were assisted. Last year, 20,107 specialized psychological services were provided to children and adolescents in situations of sexual violence, bereavement, depression, or vulnerability. This was not done by the neoliberal governments. 190,326 children were registered in the civil registry through the Right to a Name Program. Until 2007, there were no national strategies to promote harmony and family unity. Starting in 2020, the government has promoted the dissemination of 16 booklets for harmonious living, reaching more than two million people through MIFAMILIA in neighborhoods around the country. See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/desde-2007-la-ninez-esta-en-el-centro-de-las-politicas-sociales/ (La Primerisima, 16 January 2024)
Agricultural and Livestock Production has Doubled since 2007
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) reported that in 17 years of the Sandinista government, the country has achieved food security with increased food production. According to a report, from 2006 to 2023, agricultural production grew 112.5%. Agriculture grew 125.9% and livestock production grew 99.0%. Nicaragua went from subsistence agriculture to an agriculture that supplies domestic markets and has agro-export capacity. The production of basic grains in the last 17 years has grown 39%, driven by the growth of 118% in the production of red beans and 119% in rice. Agro-export items show an average growth of 111.4%, with the largest increases in the production of peanuts, coffee, bananas, tobacco, cocoa and African palm. Production of vegetables has grown by 270.5% compared to the 2010/2011 cycle, with tomato, cabbage, carrot and potato showing significant growth. Over the last 17 years root and tuber production has grown by an average of 82.4%, driven by higher volumes of cassava. Similarly, beef production grew 78% with respect to 2006; milk production and collection in industrial and artisanal plants grew 121% and 171%, respectively; domestic pork production grew 118%, mainly due to small-scale production. Poultry production has grown by 85% in meat production and 60% in egg production. (La Primerisima, 13 January 2024)
Vatican receives 2 Bishops, 15 priests and 2 seminarians from Nicaragua
On January 14, the Nicaraguan Government issued the following press release. The unofficial translation is from Tortilla con Sal.
The Presidency of the Republic, the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity and the People of Nicaragua, express deep thanks to the Holy Father Pope Francis, the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, its Titular Cardinal His Most Reverend Eminence Pietro Parolin and his Work Team for the very respectful and discreet coordination carried out to make possible the journey to the Vatican of two bishops, fifteen priests and two seminarians.
The list of these people is as follows:
1. BISHOP ROLANDO JOSÉ ÁLVAREZ LAGOS
2. BISHOP ISIDORO DEL CARMEN MORA ORTEGA
3. OSCAR JOSÉ ESCOTO SALGADO
4. JADER DANILO GUIDO ACOSTA
5. PABLO ANTONIO VILLAFRANCA MARTÍNEZ
6. CARLOS JOSÉ AVILÉS CANTON
7. HÉCTOR DEL CARMEN TREMINIO VEGA
8. MARCOS FRANCISCO DIAZ PRADO
9. FERNANDO ISAÍAS CALERO RODRÍGUEZ
10. SILVIO JOSÉ FONSECA MARTÍNEZ
11. MIKEL SALVADOR MONTERREY ARIAS
12. RAÚL ANTONIO ZAMORA GUERRA
13. MIGUEL AGUSTÍN MANTICA CUADRA
14. JHADER ANTONIO HERNÁNDEZ URBINA
15. GERARDO JOSÉ RODRÍGUEZ PÉREZ
16. ISMAEL REINEIRO SERRANO GUDIEL
17. JOSÉ GUSTAVO SANDINO OCHOA
18. TONNY DANIEL PALACIO SEQUEIRA
19. ALESTER DE JESÚS SÁENZCENTENO
They have already been received by Vatican authorities, in compliance with Agreements of Good Faith and Goodwill, which seek to promote understanding and improve communication between the Holy See and Nicaragua, for peace and good.
We acknowledge frank, direct, prudent and very serious, responsible and careful dialogue, which has made it possible to arrive at this day of praise to the God of all, who enlightens and guides us to continue cultivating trust and to increase, out of faith, tranquility of spirit and the right to justice and the life of Nicaragua’s families.
Managua, January 14, 2024
Government of Reconciliation
and National Unity, Republic of Nicaragua
Background from NicaNotes: Bishop Rolando Alvarez was tried and sentenced in February 2023 for money laundering, conspiracy and treason for undermining national integrity, and propagation of false news through information and communication technologies to the detriment of the State and Nicaraguan society. Radio stations and TV channels in Matagalpa run by Álvarez since 2016 received US funding that was channeled for the undermining of the government. Despite government warnings that these activities were in violation of the law as well as their status as religious media, Alvarez never closed the channels down or ceased his destabilizing efforts. Eventually, seven radio stations and two TV channels were closed for legal violations in 2022 by Telcor, the entity that regulates communications. Alvarez, along with two other bishops were important leaders in directing and encouraging the 2018 US-backed coup attempt. He has been given the opportunity at least two other times to leave the country, but hasn’t gone, until now; directed to leave by the pope.
Many Catholic churches were directly involved in the 2018 coup attempt. Priests openly supported the violence and even in some cases were present at torture sessions. Catholic church leaders, especially members of the hierarchy like Bishop Alvarez, were part of the coup leadership. Even before the coup, sermons were used to give anti-government messages to encourage people to act against the government. Many priests allowed the opposition to use their churches as headquarters as well as to store weapons, food, cash and stolen items such as medicines. This has badly affected the church’s standing in Nicaragua amongst ordinary people, naturally. And the numbers of people who declare themselves Catholic has been reduced.
A sector of Catholic churches including clergy and Catholic agencies in Nicaragua, as well as the Vatican, also actively supported the US backed contra war. The Reagan administration was determined to destroy liberation theology since it provided support for the revolution. Reagan’s propagandists lied repeatedly about “persecution” of religion in Nicaragua. Anyone who was in Nicaragua at the time knows this. Those same lies have been revived today: “They persecute religion” is just one of Washington’s inventions to try to destroy the revolution.
During the revolution there was a struggle within the Catholic Church between proponents of liberation theology with a special option for the poor, on one hand, and the conservatives with a special option for the rich and powerful. The church was and still is politicized. The Sandinista government is continuing to resist and defend itself from imperialism including defending itself from a weaponized church.
Departmental Hospital in Ocotal to Be Finished this Semester
Representatives of the Ministry of Health made a site visit to evaluate progress in the construction of the Departmental Hospital in Ocotal municipality, Department of Nueva Segovia. The new 25,000 square meter hospital is 95% completed and will become fully operational in the first semester of this year, benefiting 279,000 inhabitants in 12 municipalities. The US$72 million-dollar project is being financed through the General Budget, with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). (La Primerisima 12 January 2024)
New León Stadium Will Be a Gift to Mothers
The construction of the new baseball stadium in the City of León, which will be named after Rigoberto López Pérez, is scheduled to be completed on May 30, after 29 months of work that began in January 2022. Vice President Rosario Murillo reported that the stadium currently in operation, called Héroes y Mártires de Septiembre, will be used for alternate games. “The new stadium is big, beautiful, and was built to the standards of the Major Leagues so that national or international championship games can be held there,” she said. The new stadium will have 4 levels, a capacity for 6,371 seats, 17 special boxes, radio and television transmission booths, electronic timekeeper and messenger, fire prevention system, lighting system, automatic irrigation system for natural grass and parking for more than 600 vehicles. It will provide all the necessary facilities for the organization of world-class events. With an investment of more than US$32,4 million, its construction has generated more than 300 direct jobs and more than 1,500 indirect jobs. See Photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/nuevo-estadio-de-leon-sera-un-obsequio-a-las-madres-leonesas/ (La Primerisima, January 11 2024)
Achievements of ADELANTE Program in 2023
On Jan. 9, the Ministry of Family Economy published a report on achievements of the Program to Finance Production, Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses (ADELANTE) in 2023. The report states that last year US$18 million in support was provided to 11,000 small producers and entrepreneurs to strengthen the quality and competitiveness of products and services they offer in rural and urban areas of the country. The ADELANTE program is part of the Creative Economy Model being implemented by the government to promote integral economic development in Nicaragua. (Nicaragua News, 10 January 2024)