By Stephen Sefton
Reprinted from Tortilla con Sal, August 7th 2020
|“Come on with the rain,
I’ve a smile on my face.
I walk down the lane
with a happy refrain
Just singin’, singin’ in the rain“
Having already resumed illegal unilateral coercive measures attacking Nicaragua’s economy, the US government is now openly supplementing its economic aggression with a program intended not just to supplant Nicaragua’s Sandinista government but ultimately to destroy Sandinismo as a viable political movement. They want to turn Nicaragua into Bolivia (where a US-supported 2019 coup forced the elected president into exile). On July 31 Managua’s Radio La Primerísima revealed the contents of a USAID document with details of this next (or probably already begun) US government effort at regime change. The document outlines the main elements of a program called Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (RAIN). As if it were designed to fail, the thinking behind RAIN is wantonly Yankee in practically every sense, bumptious, superficial, self-regarding technocratic nonsense. Its premises are irrational from the start, like an alchemist’s recipe, lost in spurious detail, oblivious to its demented absurdity.
Other writers like Brian Willson, Wiston López, Ben Norton, John Perry and Nan McCurdy have done excellent analysis of the USAID document and its significance. They point out that, in the short to medium term, the plan actually acknowledges likely failure, because USAID’s planners recognize that the Sandinista Front (FSLN) will probably win the national elections in 2021. That likelihood was made very clear this week with the publication of an opinion poll by the widely respected M&R consulting company showing political support for the FSLN at 50% and for the opposition at 10%. In this context, RAIN is clearly a plan for the next decade, establishing a permanent in-country destabilization unit to better manage, coordinate and integrate open and covert regime change activities, both in-house and outsourced.
This aspect of the document suggests that even the monsters-in-human-form running United States’ foreign policy terror programs recognize that Nicaragua cannot be destroyed, pillaged and mismanaged as they have so far got away with doing in Haiti or Honduras. Even so, the plan underestimates the level of traumatic political and social change needed for it to work, unlikely to be achieved by conventional US techniques of softening up countries to overthrow their governments. One sign of this is the way it discounts the profound patriotic strength and robust democratic vision of Nicaragua’s 1987 constitution which even 17 years of US owned neoliberal government between 1990 and 2007 failed to weaken.
This lack of a sense of history and the ensuing inability to understand Sandinismo, along with hopeless tactical timing and poor strategy, are enduring characteristics of US foreign policy failure in Nicaragua. US foreign policy strategists thought the FSLN was finished after losing the 1990 elections, believing the local right-wing US puppets had a long term, unassailable, structural electoral majority. They were wrong. Then they thought Nicaragua’s Sandinista government would succumb to the crisis of 2008-2009. Wrong again. Thanks in large part to Comandante Hugo Chávez and ALBA, President Daniel Ortega’s government actually came out stronger and easily won the national elections in 2011 with a big majority in the legislature as well.
Then, in 2018, the same US foreign policy deadbeat svengalis thought that by coopting youth, threatening private business, weaponizing non-governmental organizations and via blitzkrieg-style, industrial scale lying on social media they could wipe out Sandinismo. Wrong yet again. Now the Sandinista Front is as strong as ever, despite the complex problems provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. RAIN continues the dysfunctional pattern of sinister US foreign policy derangement with its implicit false premise that the US can secure a more successful outcome than in 2018, if only they can better consolidate, enhance and improve their non-governmental, media, business, religious and political fifth column. They followed that will-o’-the-wisp from 2006 to 2018 and ended up defeated, just as they have been since 1998 in Venezuela and since 1959 in Cuba.
Even so, the USAID document’s fantasy frame of reference still reflects the convoluted narcissism of the US Embassy’s false propaganda that Nicaragua is a hapless dictatorship with a failing economy and inadequate public services. Even a look out of the US embassy window in Managua shows the opposite: brand new infrastructure, vibrant commercial life and a clean environment. The UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean has just reported that while the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean are suffering drastic falls in their exports, Nicaragua has seen a remarkable 14% increase for the period to May this year over 2019. The report notes, “Nicaragua capitalized on the rise in the price of gold and in the volumes of agricultural and livestock products exported (including coffee, sugar cane, beans and tobacco).”
Pick a sector, any sector, of national life and President Daniel Ortega’s government team have a clear decisive policy plan effectively addressing that sector’s needs within the budgetary limitations of a small impoverished country of 6.5 million people subject to economic attack by the United States. Electricity coverage? Look here. Competitiveness? Look here. Telecommunications? Here. Access to drinking water? Read this. Rural water and sanitation? Look here. Civil defense capacity? Here. Role of local government? Here. Infrastructure development? Look here, here and here and read this and this. Geoscience technologies? Here. Innovation? Read this. Education? Read this, this, this and this, as well as this and this. Public health and COVID-19? Look here and here and read this and this.
Defending the popular economy? Here. Defending the family, youth and children? Here. Citizen Security? Look here. Community policing? Here. What about overall social spending? Surely that must have suffered given the economic debacle described by the US State Department? Not at all, look here. Food production and food security? Read this and this and look here, here and here. And isn’t Nicaragua hopeless on the environment? Don’t be ridiculous. Look here, here and here and read this. And isn’t property and security to land title in chaos, especially for indigenous peoples? Also absurd, look here.
All these policies reflect the focus of the Sandinista Front’s historic program on realizing the rights of the human person, for everyone living in Nicaragua, brought up to date and carried out successfully despite great difficulties. They make the false claims of the US authorities and the mercenary losers comprising Nicaragua’s opposition, whom the US has bankrolled for over a decade with tens of millions of dollars, look completely out to lunch. M&R’s latest survey shows that over 80% of Nicaraguans would like the country to return to its situation prior to the 2018 and 67% of people think Nicaragua is getting back on track to resume the progress it enjoyed before the violent, failed coup attempt of that year.
But isn’t free speech under relentless attack under Nicaragua as freely proclaimed every day by Channel 10, Channel 12, Channel 23, 100% Noticias, Radio Corporación, la Prensa, Confidencial and a plethora of local radio and cable TV outlets? Um… some mistake here surely… And isn’t everyone afraid of “Putin’s, Assad’s, Castro’s, Maduro’s, Gaddhafi’s…surely the caricature is in here somewhere… Ortega’s!” repressive police? Well, according to M&R’s research, 62% of Nicaraguans think their police are highly professional. 62% of people think there is a high level of respect for freedom of expression and human rights and the proportion of people thinking of emigrating has dropped from 45% in April 2019, the low point of the economic impact of the failed 2018 coup attempt to 28% now. In fact, thousands of Nicaraguans have been desperate to return to Nicaragua after finding their situation unsustainable overseas during the pandemic.
The US government has failed notoriously to meet the needs of its own people during the current pandemic but can still find money to try to destroy a small country whose success makes US social, economic and environmental policy look arbitrary, negligent and criminal. After 170 years, the US ruling class has nothing to forget about Nicaragua because in all that time they never learned a thing. But all they really they need to know is this: the Sandinista Front plans its work, works it plan and then… they win, because they uphold the interests of Nicaragua’s people. Right now Nicaragua is half way through a rainy season that has blessed the country with what looks like an abundant first harvest with strong indications currently of good second and third harvests too, later in the year. Along with all its other achievements, that’s why, for now anyway, Nicaragua is singin’, just singin’ in the rain…
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By Nan McCurdy
Nicaragua Recognized Nationally and Internationally
During the first week of August Nicaragua was recognition nationally and internationally, showing Sandinista Government policies are effective and benefit of the population. The World Bank recognized that Nicaragua has the best transparency in the execution of public debt. The latest accolade received by Nicaragua was from the Central American Bank for Central American Integration (CABEI), which lauded the country’s road infrastructure. An Inter-American Development Bank report recognized that Nicaragua is among the four countries that invest most in health infrastructure in Latin America; another IDB report recognized that Nicaragua occupies fifth place in the best roads in Latin America and first place in Central America. A report by the National Electric Transmission Company showed that Nicaragua reached 97.81% national electricity coverage in June, and showed exponential growth in mobile telecommunications. The US company New Fortress Energy confirmed it will begin construction in September on its project to build a 300 MW gas plant on the Pacific Coast.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reported that Nicaragua’s exports grew 14.1% – much higher than any other country in the region. This confirms the decision made by the government of President Daniel Ortega not to paralyze the country during the pandemic. Other nations that did are now paying high social and economic costs. A US$43 million loan approved by the Inter-American Development Bank to strengthen the public health system and address COVID-19 and a US$20.5 million loan from the OPEC Fund for the construction of a new electrical substation in El Tortuguero and La Esperanza in the southern Caribbean were approved. Russia’s new Covid vaccine was successfully tested and it may be produced at their MECHINIKOV factory in Managua. Radio La Primerisima, 9 August 2020
CABEI Highlights Good Execution of Resources by Sandinista Government
The Central American Bank for Economic Integration praised the road infrastructure and the good execution of resources by the Government. “The progress made in road improvement projects in Nicaragua demonstrates the strengthening of regional integration, which drives the CABEI,” the agency said on its website. An example is the VI Road Improvement Project for paving 73.16 kilometers, which allows integration of productive regions to the departments of León, Estelí and Nueva Segovia. Another road infrastructure project that reflects good execution is the paving of 30 km from El Regadío to San Juan de Limay, Estelí. The total executed in 137 communities is US$70.45 million plus US$1.29 million from the government. Radio La Primerisima, 8 August 2020
IDB says Nicaragua Improved Infrastructure
An Inter-American Development Bank evaluation of infrastructure development and services in Latin America highlights that between 2008 and 2018, Nicaragua went from 15th to 9th place out of 19 countries. In terms of infrastructure and service quality, Nicaragua registered a percentage change of +43%, the third best change after Ecuador and Bolivia and the best in Central America. “Most countries improved their index, some in an outstanding way (Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua),” the report says. Nicaragua is also one of the countries with the least number of electricity blackouts; and one of the best in potable water supply and in transportation. Nicaragua is one of the countries, along with Belize, Bolivia and Peru, that invests the most in productive social infrastructure, ranking second to Bolivia during the government of Evo Morales and Ecuador under Rafael Correa. Nicaragua is in the fifth place in best roads in Latin America and first in Central America and has expanded electricity coverage to more than 97% of its population. Radio La Primerisima, 6 August 2020
New Survey Shows Nicaraguans Think Country is on the Right Track
A survey conducted by the M&R Consultores company shows that the main concern of Nicaraguans is the economy, followed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Fifty percent of Nicaraguans believe that their main problem is the economy, 24% Covid-19, while 11% are concerned about politics. Sixty-three percent expect a better employment outlook in the next 12 months, and 63% expect greater purchasing power. Seventy-eight percent expect their family economic situation to improve in the next 12 months.
62.6% approve of the Sandinista government. 60.8% say the government is a factor of unity and 61% that it generates hope. 77.4% disagree with the attempt to remove President Ortega from office in 2018 and 67.2% believe that Nicaragua is overcoming the 2018 failed coup and is on the right path. 80.4% say the country should return to the course it was on before April 18, 2018. 92.9% believe that the constitutional order should be respected and 78.9% believe that coups d’état and the violence they generate are not acceptable. “It is a ratification of the opinion of the population that it is through the vote of the citizenry that a government should be changed or should continue. It is a recognition that the constitutional order must be respected,” said journalist Adolfo Pastrán.
Sixty-one percent rates the work of the National Police highly, as well as its professionalism with 63.2%. 76.6% say they feel safe in their area of residence. In terms of political sympathy, the Sandinista Front obtains 50.3%. Freedom of expression should be guaranteed as long as the dignity of the people is respected, according to 94.8%. 93.4% disagree that the roadblocks are an extraordinary idea. [This is what Bishop Silvio Baez said about the roadblocks and the violence that happened in 2018. Pope Francis removed Bishop Baez from Nicaragua after nearly 600,000 Catholics signed a letter requesting his removal]. 94.3% do not agree that roadblocks should return.
Forty-three percent of those surveyed said they were Catholic, 38% evangelical, 16% non-denominational and 1.6% identified themselves with other denominations. In total, 56% of Nicaraguans are considered to be non-Catholic. Informe Pastran 6 August 2020
Health Workers Honored by National Assembly
On July 6 all health workers were presented the National Assembly’s Gold Medal of Honor to recognize their heroic work against Covid-19. For the health workers, Dr. Nathalia Fonseca said “On behalf of my co-workers I can say that it is truly an honor to be working for the people. We knew we had strength, with an intensive care doctor in every part of the nation prepared for a long fight. We were not trained in five months, we were trained over many years and thank God there were thousands of ‘intensivists,’ with commitment to the people, and who do not expect anything in return.” She went on to say, “I learned that I don’t need a Harvard degree to be there; what is needed is a heart of gold to work with patients. I know many doctors who have slept in hospitals for months in order to help people. They left their families, they went to an area where they could be close to the patients, because we had to leave part of our lives to be close to our patients.” Radiolaprimerisima, 6 August 2020
Fewer Covid Cases, Fewer Deaths, More People Recovered
On August 11 the Health Ministry reported fewer cases, fewer deaths and more people recovered from Covid-19. Since March 18 there have been 3,413 confirmed cases, of these 3,072 have recovered. From Aug. 4 to 10 there were 147 new confirmed cases, 159 people recuperated and five deaths from Covid that brings total of deaths to 128. Radio La Primerisima, 11 August 2020
Fourteen New Schools in 2020
So far this year the Ministry of Education has opened 14 new schools nationwide, many of them preschools to ensure quality learning. Investment in the construction of new schools is continuing, while funds for the repair of existing ones are in the millions. The new schools are located in Jinotega, El Rama, Rosita, Morrito, San Francisco del Norte, Tipitapa, Granada, Siuna, Nagarote, El Sauce, Nandaime, and Diriamba. See photos: http://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/general/287492/edifican-14-nuevos-colegios-publicos/ Radio La Primerisima, 6 August 2020
New Women’s Police Station in Jinotepe
August 6 another Women’s Police Station was inaugurated in Jinotepe-Carazo dedicated to the memory of Inspector Juana Francisca Aguilar Cano, a hero of peace and security. Commissioner General Javier Davila said that Nicaragua has been recognized as one of the countries with the most gender equality, surpassed only minimally by Sweden. He added that preventive work always needs to be strengthened. Dávila explained that this Station will benefit more than 98,000 women in the Carazo Department. The capacities of all the Women’s Police Stations are being strengthened to guarantee respect for women’s lives. Radio La Primerisima, 6 August 2020