NicaNotes: Nicaragua is a victim of double political standards

Breaking News:

US Senate passed the NICA Act as amended on Nov. 27 by voice vote after the Foreign Relations Committee reported it out by unanimous consent. It now is on the President’s desk and will go into effect when he signs it. The NICA Act attacks the Nicaraguan economy by mandating that the US vote against loans to Nicaragua by multilateral lending institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. Alliance for Global Justice considers the NICA Act to be part of the regime change strategy by the US government that accelerated with three months of violence from mid-April to mid-July of this year.

“Nicaragua is a victim of double political standards”

03 Nov 2018        LA RÉDACTION

‘Like people everywhere, Nicaraguans want education, jobs, good transport and roads, a thriving economy, peace and stability.’ An interview by Alex Anfruns.

Julie Lamin is a committed secondary school teacher in the UK and an author. During the summer holidays of 2017, as part of a teacher delegation organised by her trade union NEU (NUT Section), she travelled to Nicaragua at the invitation of the ‘Nicaraguan teachers’ union, ANDEN and the Ministry of Education. Their purpose was to support Nicaraguan teachers in developing the curriculum of English as a second language.

Experiencing first-hand the ‘huge progress’ Nicaragua was making in the lives of young people and their families in terms of education, health and well-being in one of the safest countries in Latin America, Julie was shocked and hurt to hear of the violence that began to disrupt the country only nine months later.

What was even more hurtful, knowing of the terrible suffering teacher friends were experiencing in Nicaragua at the hands of the self-named ‘opposition’, was the position Amnesty International took, as this is an organisation Julie supported with a regular monthly donation and participation in their campaigns.

What made Julie change her view

She was ‘shocked’ Amnesty had a campaign to defend ‘political’ prisoners when she knew some of the people Amnesty was regarding as political prisoners were also the very people behind the violence her friends had endured. She immediately cancelled her direct debit to Amnesty and increased her monthly direct debit to the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. She wrote to Amnesty International explaining why they had got it wrong with Nicaragua. Two months later her letter to Amnesty has not been answered.

Julie described what she was seeing in reports from Nicaragua. ‘Decent people’s lives were disrupted by the ‘tranques’ road blocks set up by ‘opposition’ thugs in many cities in Nicaragua. These violent people, who tended to be young men, had ripped up the paving stones (Nicaragua has more paved roads than most Latin American countries) to build barricades preventing children from going to school, adults going to work and trucks from delivering supplies of food across the country.’

Furthermore, Julie has a personal connection with Nicaragua : ‘I put the context of what was happening into my neighbourhood. Had people been behaving like that in my street I would have called the police.’

‘That’s where the double standards come in,’ Julie commented. ‘During the summer of 2011 when there were riots in cities across the UK, the police were on the streets with horses, tear gas, batons and shields. Afterwards, the court system handed down some very severe penalties, including a woman going to jail because she received a pair of stolen shorts and two young men being sent to prison for a message on Facebook that they had never acted upon.’

‘The police force in Nicaragua is different to the UK police and very different to the police in countries like the United States. I don’t think the Nicaraguan police are trained to control riots like our police.

Not only were the road blocks economically damaging, they were also an act of terrorism. You wouldn’t argue with the thugs controlling them, especially as the weapons they had looked pretty powerful. Who supplied those weapons? They were an act of terrorism because they were used to attack the very individuals who were the symbols of what Nicaragua has achieved – teachers, neighbourhood workers, medical workers, police officers – the people who devote their lives to building a better country.

Nicaragua has a right to defend its peaceful, law-abiding citizens against those organising or participating in the terrorism and if they are in prison and awaiting trial, then that is Nicaragua’s legitimate right. In my letter to Amnesty I stressed that these terrorist suspects were awaiting trial – they had not yet been brought to trial because, as happens in any country where there is a process of law, evidence needed to be gathered on both sides for the defence as well as the prosecution.’

Could you tell me more about the solidarity between Nicaraguan teachers? 

Personally, I have supported Nicaragua since 1979 when the Sandinistas ended the wicked dictatorship of Somoza and began to build a democratic country of mass participation. I was 21 then! I went to Nicaragua in 1987 during the Contra war as part of a reafforestation brigade; during the Somoza dictatorship the environment had been ruined and the Sandinista government was trying to restore its natural wealth.

Returning thirty years later I saw a beautiful country capable of feeding its people.

During the nineties I was so busy with my career and family I was unable to be active in solidarity work. When in 2017, my union asked for volunteers to take part in the teacher delegation I was delighted to be accepted.

Our delegation worked closely with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education – we found it remarkable that the Ministry of Education listened to teachers and their trades unions – to take Nicaragua’s education forward in the teaching of English (the Caribbean coast Nicaraguans speak English as a first language which is why Nicaragua wanted us to support their development of English).

The 2017 delegation was so successful, the NEU (NUT Section) recruited a second delegation for 2018. Sadly, due to the violence in Nicaragua and the advice of the UK Foreign Office, we were unable to go. I was devastated!

What’s your message to people in your country who don’t know anything about Nicaragua?

Countries like Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela simply want to have the same advantages people in my country want to enjoy. They want a free health system so that people can live healthier lives without fear that they cannot afford health care. Cuba and Nicaragua provide such systems and their people enjoy similar longevity and health to us. The children in the Nicaraguan classrooms all looked healthy and well-nourished. By contrast, there are many children in my area in the UK who do not look as healthy or well-nourished. Like people everywhere, Nicaraguans want education, jobs, good transport and roads, a thriving economy, peace and stability. That’s exactly what the Sandinista government is trying to provide.

Yet the shadow over their desire for these basic rights is the one cast by the eagle wings of the United States, its flight path determined by the Monroe Doctrine of 200 years ago which declared Latin America as its rightful ‘backyard’.

The criticisms levelled by the UK media, including the BBC, accuse Daniel Ortega of being a dictator…

They fail to mention that he was elected with a 72% majority. They fail to see the demonstrations of mass support for him and for peace in the streets of Managua. They fail to mention how neighbours have defended their neighbours and neighbourhoods against terrorist acts with the tools to hand – machetes, spades, with sticks and stones – against well-armed criminal gangs.

Nicaraguans have risen up against the injustice of an attempted coup.

If the news media really want to know what a dictator does, they should speak to Nicaraguans who will tell them how the dictator Somoza dealt with those who opposed him: he tortured them, buried them alive in caves and threw them into pits and volcanoes.

Yes, there are many Nicaraguans who survived that dictatorship and that is why they defend the democracy they have fought for, a democracy family and friends once died for.

Source : Investig’Action


By Nan McCurdy

Nicaragua among the 25 Best Countries for Retirement information portal highlighted Nicaragua as one of the top 25 countries where retirees from other nations can enjoy their golden years. The list includes 13 Latin American countries, highlighting Nicaragua for its natural attractions. “This beautiful Central American country has something for everyone…lakes, mountains, volcanoes and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The cost of living here is quite affordable, with the average rent for a 900-square-foot apartment costing around $460. You can live well with $1,200 a month and for $2K a month, you can live very well! A month of food is approximately $300, and a restaurant beer costs $1.25. Medical care is also reasonable, and many hospitals base their rates on age, not on income. There are beautiful islands to visit, snorkeling, diving, hiking trails, volcanoes to see, nature reserves and beautifully preserved architecture. You can also swim through the Nicaragua version of the Grand Canyon!” (Channel 2, 11/27/18)

More testimonies in Trial of Accused Murderer Medardo Mairena
Medardo Mairena Sequeira, Pedro Joaquín Mena, Luis Orlando Pineda and Silvio Saúl Pineda Bonilla are accused as physical and intellectual authors of the attacks on Police in the municipality of Morrito, department of Río San Juan on July 12 that left four police officers and one school teacher dead, and 12 police officers kidnapped and tortured. The police station and the Mayor’s office were destroyed. In this trial session two witnesses were called, both police officers. One of them stated that he was kidnapped, beaten, shot in the back and threatened with death. He observed Medardo Mairena there and identifies him as the organizer of the adtion. He also observed an arsenal of weapons: shotguns, pistols, revolvers and others. In the end the young policeman survived because the police exchanged him and the other kidnapped officers for terrorists who had been captured by the police. The trial will continue on Monday, December 3. (Channel 8, 11/27/18)

More than 70,000 High School Graduates Receive Study Bonus
The Ministry of Education announced the delivery of the economic bonus of 1,000 Córdobas (US$32), given annually to all public high school graduates. This year it is expected that 83,573 students will reach the baccalaureate, of these 70,274 public school graduates will receive the bonus. (Chanel 2, 11/26/18)

New Bridge Improving Connections in the North Caribbean
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure (MTI) inaugurated the 35-meter Pawanka vehicular bridge in the community of Sahsa in the North Caribbean. This work is of utmost importance for the inhabitants of the Caribbean coast, since it guarantees the connection of communities of the area and the rest of the country. The bridge will provide security to the pedestrians of the community of Sahsa, will contribute to the socioeconomic development of the municipalities and surrounding communities. 39,577 inhabitants are directly affected. The bridge generated 50 direct jobs benefiting the communities of Shasa, Kukalaya, Las Breñas, San Pablo, Naranjal and Sumubila. (Informe Pastran, 11/26/18).

New Mining Investment
The General Manager of British company Condor Gold, Aiser Sarria, said the company is investing US$120 million in La India mining project, located in western Nicaragua. He also noted that a World Bank delegation from the Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) visited the country last week to learn about the progress of the project, which is being co-financed by the multilateral institution. (Nicaragua News, 11/26/18)

More Families get Electricity in Totogalpa
The Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and the National Electrical Transmission Company (ENATREL) installed electricity service in the homes of 251 inhabitants in Totogalpa Municipality. The US$86,000 investment is part of the National Sustainable Electrification and Renewable Energy Program (PNESER), being implemented by the Nicaragua Government in the 153 municipalities of the country. (Nicaragua News, 11/26/18)

Prisoner Rights Protected
The Nicaragua Ministry of Governance reported that between November 19-23, the National Penitentiary System provided 942 services to individuals detained for acts of terrorism. The report reaffirmed that the Nicaragua government is guaranteeing full respect for the human rights of prisoners, noting they have received medical attention as well as visits of relatives, spouses and friends. (Nicaragua News, 11/26/18)

Police Prohibit Marches Organized by Groups Related to the Coup Attempt
On Friday the National Police denied authorization for a march by groups linked to the attempted coup that began in April that triggered a series of violent events in the country. Police Inspector General Jaime Vanegas read resolution No. 0292018, where he points out that people in the group requesting the permit were identified as among those who carried out vandalism in shopping centers. The police chief said, “These people have the sole objective to continue terrorist acts and reactivate the barricades as part of an attempted coup. Their immediate plans are to affect families during celebrations of the Purisima, Christmas and New Year’s.” The Police state that the group “Blue and White National Unit” that requested the permit lacks legal standing and therefore cannot exercise rights or contract obligations under the legal system. The authorities reiterated that the purpose of these groups is to continue promoting acts of vandalism and terrorism to affect Nicaraguan families. The National Police concluded that it does not authorize public mobilizations for people, associations or movements that participated and are being investigated for their actions in the failed coup attempt that left 198 people killed.  (Radiolaprimerisima, 11/23/18)

Nicaragua expects U$1.424 Billion in Remittances in 2018
The Central Bank (BCN) projects that in the last quarter of the year the country will receive US$326.6 million in remittances to achieve the anticipated amount for 2018, which was estimated to be around US$1.424 billion. According to a report, up through September, US$1.0974 billion had arrived for an average of US$121.93 million per month. The BCN statistics indicate that in the fourth quarter of 2017 the country received US $ 371.2 million. (Radiolaprimerisima, 11/23/18)

Strong Participation in Electoral Process
The Director of the Department of Attention to Political Parties in the Nicaragua Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), Julio Acuña, said 19 political organizations have registered their candidates for the March 9, 2019 regional elections.  “This has been a successful registration process because all the legally established parties of our country have confirmed their participation. This ratifies the strong commitment of the Nicaraguan people to peace and their confidence in the institutions”, Director Acuña said. (Nicaragua News, 11/21/18)

Public Safety Plan for Christmas Bonus
Nicaragua Vice President Rosario Murillo announced that the Christmas Bonus Protection Plan in which 15,000 policemen are participating, will be inaugurated November 21. “The goal is to ensure the peace, security and well-being for all Nicaraguan families. That we all are able to fully exercise our civil right to freedom of mobilization in peace and tranquility,” Vice President Murillo said. (Nicaragua News, 11/21/18)

Cerro Negro Volcano Attractive Tourist Destination
A report published last Monday in British magazine Wanderlust, ranked Cerro Negro volcano among the seven most amazing tourism destinations in Latin America. “Located in the western part of Nicaragua, Cerro Negro is one of the most impressive active volcanoes in the region and one of the few in the world in which you can practice the extreme sport known as volcano boarding ,” the article states. (Nicaragua News, 11/21/18)

Greater Use of Renewable Energy
The Nicaragua Minister of Energy and Mines (MEM), Salvador Mansell, said US$27 million is being invested in two new hydroelectric plants that will be inaugurated next month. “The projects include a 5MW hydroelectric plant in Matagalpa Department and a new 1.4 MW hydroelectric plant in Jinotega Department,” Mansell said. (Nicaragua News, 11/21/18)