The Troika Of Tyranny: The Imperialist Project In Latin America & Its Epigones
By Roger Harris, Popular Resistance
November 5, 2018
Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are today threatened by US imperialism. The first salvo of the modern Age of Imperialism started back in 1898 when the US seized Cuba along with Puerto Rico and the Philippines in the Spanish-American War.
The Age of Imperialism, as Lenin observed, is characterized by the competition of the various imperial powers for dominance. That inter-imperialist rivalry led to World War I. Lenin called those putative socialists who supported their own national imperialist projects “social imperialists.” Social imperialism is a tendency that is socialist in name and imperialist in deed. Imperialism and its social imperialist minions are still with us today.
US Emerges as the World’s Hegemon
The United States emerged after World War II as the leading imperialist power. With the implosion of the Socialist Bloc around 1991, US hegemony became even more consolidated. Today the US is the undisputed world’s hegemon.
Hegemony means to rule but even more so to dominate. As the world’s hegemon, the US will not tolerate neutral parties, let alone hostile ones. As articulated in the Bush Doctrine, the US will try to asphyxiate any nascent counter-hegemonic project, no matter how insignificant.
In the Caribbean, for instance, the US snuffed out the leftist government of Grenada in 1983 in what was code named Operation Urgent Fury. Grenada has a population smaller than Vacaville, California.
The only powers that the world’s hegemon will tolerate are junior partners such as Colombia in Latin America. The junior partner must accept a neoliberal economic regime designed to serve the interests of capital. Structural adjustment of the economy is demanded such that the neoliberal “reforms” become irreversible; so that you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Colombia recently joined NATO, putting that junior partner’s military under direct interaction with the Pentagon bypassing its civilian government. The US has seven military bases in Colombia in order to project – in the words of the US government – “full spectrum” military dominance in the Latin American theatre.
Needless-to-say, no Colombian military bases are in the US. Nor does any other country have military bases on US soil. The world’s hegemon has some 1000 foreign military bases. Even the most sycophantic of the US’s junior partners, Great Britain, is militarily occupied by 10,000 US troops.
The US is clear on its enemies list. On November 1, US National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking in Miami, labelled Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba the “troika of tyranny.” He described a “triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua.”
Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are targeted by US imperialism because they pose what might be called the “threat of a good example;” that is, an alternative to the neoliberal world order. These countries are suffering attacks from the imperialists because of the things they have done right, not for their flaws. They are attempting to make a more inclusive society for women people of color, and the poor; to have a state that, instead of serving the rich and powerful, has a special option for working people, because these are the people most in need of social assistance.
Sanctions: The Economic War against Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba
The US imperialist rhetoric is backed with action. In 2015, US President Obama declared Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to US security” and imposed sanctions. These sanctions have been extended and deepened by the Trump administration. The US has likewise subjected Cuba to sanctions in a seamless bipartisan policy of both Republicans and Democrats for over half a century. Now the US is the process of imposing sanctions on Nicaragua.
Unilateral sanctions, such as those imposed by the US, are illegal under the charters of both the UN and the Organization of American States, because they are a form of collective punishment targeting the people.
The US sanctions are designed to make life so miserable for the masses of people that they will reject their democratically elected government. Yet in Venezuela, those most adversely affected by the sanctions are the most militantly in support of their President Nicolás Maduro. Consequently, the Trump administration is also floating the option of military intervention against Venezuela. The recently elected rightwing leaders Bolsonaro in Brazil and Duque in Colombia, representing the two powerful states on the western and southern borders of Venezuela, are colluding with the hegemon of the north.
The inside-the-beltway human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, fail to condemn these illegal and immoral sanctions. They lament the human suffering caused by the sanctions, all the while supporting the imposition of the sanctions. Nor do they raise their voices against military intervention, perhaps the gravest of all crimes against humanity.
Liberal establishments such as the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) try to distinguish themselves from hard-line imperialists by opposing a military invasion in Venezuela while calling for yet more effective and punishing sanctions. In effect, they play the role of the good cop, providing a liberal cover for interference in the internal affairs of Latin American nations.
These billionaire-funded NGOs have a revolving-door staffing arrangement with the US government. So it is not surprising that they will reflect Washington’s foreign policies initiatives. But why do some organizations claiming to be leftist so unerringly echo the imperialists, taking such umbrage over Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua while ignoring far greater problems in, say, Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras, which are US client states?
Most Progressive Country in Central America Targeted
Let’s take Nicaragua. A year ago, the polling organization Latinobarómetro, found the approval rating of Nicaraguans for their democracy to be the highest in Central America and second highest in Latin America.
Daniel Ortega had won the Nicaraguan presidency in 2006 with a 38% plurality, in 2011 with 63%, and 72.5% in 2016. The Organization of American States officially observed and certified the vote. Polls indicated Ortega was perhaps the most popular head of state in the entire western hemisphere. As longtime Nicaraguan solidarity activist Chuck Kaufman noted, “Dictators don’t win fair elections by growing margins.”
Nicaragua is a member of the anti-imperialist Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America with Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and some Caribbean states. Speaking at the UN, the Nicaraguan foreign minister had the temerity to catalogue the many transgressions of what Martin Luther King called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” and express Nicaragua’s opposition.
These are reasons enough for a progressive alternative such as Nicaragua to curry the enmity of the US. The enigma is why those claiming to be leftists would target a country that had:
– Second highest economic growth rates and the most stable economy in Central America.
– Only country in the region producing 90% of the food it consumes.
– Poverty and extreme poverty halved; country with the greatest reduction of extreme poverty.
– Reached the UN Millennium Development Goal of cutting malnutrition by half.
– Nicaraguans enjoyed free basic healthcare and education.
– Illiteracy had been virtually eliminated, down from 36% in 2006 when Ortega took office.
– Average economic growth of 5.2% for the past 5 years (IMF and the World Bank).
– Safest country in Central America (UN Development Program) with one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America.
– Highest level of gender equality in the Americas (World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2017).
– Did not contribute to the migrant exodus to the US, unlike neighboring Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
– Unlike its neighbors, kept out the drug cartels and pioneered community policing.
In April of this year, all of this was threatened. The US had poured millions of dollars into “democracy promotion” programs, a euphemism for regime change operations. Suddenly and unexpectedly, a cabal of the reactionary Catholic Church hierarchy, conservative business associations, remnants of the US-sponsored Contras, and students from private universities attempted a coup.
Former members of Ortega’s Sandinista Party, who had long ago splintered off into political oblivion and drifted to the right, became effective propagandists for the opposition. Through inciting violence and the skillful use of disinformation in a concerted social media barrage, they attempted to achieve by extra-legal means what they could not achieve democratically. Imperialism with a Happy Face.
We who live in the “belly of the beast” are constantly bombarded by the corporate media, framing the issues (e.g., “humanitarian bombing). Some leftish groups and individuals pick up these signals, amplify, and rebroadcast them. While they may genuinely believe what they are promulgating, there are also rewards such as funding, media coverage, hobnobbing with prominent US politicians, and winning awards for abhorring the excesses of imperialism while accepting its premises.
Today’s organizations that are socialist in name and imperialist in deed echo the imperial demand that the state leaders of the progressive movements in Latin America “must go” and legitimize the rationale that such leaders must be “dictators.”
They try to differentiate their position from the imperialists by proffering a mythic movement, which will create a triumphant socialist alternative that fits their particular sect’s line: Chavismo without Maduro in Venezuela, Sandinismo without Ortega in Nicaragua, and the Cuban Revolution without the Cuban Communist Party in Cuba.
The political reality in Latin America is that a right-wing offensive is attacking standing left- leaning governments. President George W. Bush was right: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” There is no Utopian third way. Each of us has to determine who are the real terrorists, as the juggernaut of US imperialism rolls out a neoliberal world order.
Chaos: The New Imperialist Game Plan
For now, the coup in Nicaragua has been averted. Had it succeeded, chaos would have reigned. As even the most ardent apologists for the opposition admit, the only organized force in the opposition was the US-sponsored rightwing which would have instigated a reign of terror against the Sandinista base.
The US would prefer to install stable rightwing client states or even military dictatorships. But if neither can be achieved, chaos is the preferred alternative. Libya, where rival warlords contest for power and slaves are openly bartered on the street, is the model coming to Latin America.
Chaos is the new imperialist game plan, especially for Bolton’s so-called troika of tyranny. The imperialists understand that the progressive social movements in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are too popular and entrenched to be eradicated by a mere change of personnel in the presidential palace. Much more drastic means are envisioned; means that would make the bloody aftermath of the US-backed Pinochet coup in 1973 in Chile pale by comparison.
In Venezuela, for example, the opposition might well have won the May 2018 presidential election given the dire economic situation caused in large part by the US sanctions. The opposition split between a moderate wing that was willing to engage in electoral struggle and a hard-right wing that advocated a violent takeover and jailing the Chavistas.
When Venezuelan President Maduro rejected the US demand to call off the elections and resign, he was labelled a dictator by Washington. And when moderate Henri Falcon ran in the Venezuelan presidential race on a platform of a complete neoliberal transition, Washington, instead of rejoicing, threatened sanctions against him for running. The US belligerently floated a military option for Venezuela, stiffened the suffocating sanctions, and tipped the balance within the Venezuelan opposition to the radical right.
The US is not about to allow Venezuela a soft landing. Their intent is to exterminate the contagion of progressive social programs and international policy that has been the legacy of nearly two decades Chavismo. Likewise, for Cuba and Nicaragua. We should also add Bolivia in the crosshairs of the empire.
We’ve seen what Pax Americana has meant for the Middle East. The same imperial playbook is being implemented in Latin America. Solidarity with the progressive social movements and their governments in Latin America is needed, especially when their defeat would mean chaos.
Roger Harris is on the board of the Task Force on the Americas, a 33-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization, and is active with the Campaign to End US-Canadian Sanctions Against Venezuela.
Undercover Agent Testifies that Medardo Mairena ordered Assassinations in Morrito
An undercover police officer who worked for almost three months at different roadblocks testified that Medardo Mairena, a leader of the coup attempt, ordered crimes including assassinations, in order to try to force the government to yield to the demands of the coup group. The police officer identified as Code One, was incognito from April 25 to July 13, and witnessed many illegal acts committed at or near the roadblocks of Juigalpa, Lóvago, Acoyapa and Morrito.
He revealed that Medardo Mairena was the leader over the roadblocks; Pedro Joaquín Mena was the treasurer of the organization and Freddy Alberto Navas used his bank accounts to receive money from abroad to finance them.
Among the actions ordered by Mairena were the kidnappings of government officials, including police. “At the roadblocks they charged vehicles from 150 to 600 córdobas (US$4.61-$18.45) to pass.” “Medardo Mairena appeared on July 10 to meet with the heads of the roadblocks and directed them not to let ambulances pass in order to exert more pressure on the government since people were removing roadblocks in Managua and that could not happen in Lóvago,” said Code One.
On July 10, Mairena, after meeting with roadblock chiefs went to the town of El Almendro dressed as a priest to call on the population to join the “fight against the government.”
On July 12, the day that four police officers and a teacher were murdered, the undercover agent was at a roadblock near Morrito and heard that they were planning to attack the police station. “Medardo Mairena came to the roadblock and ordered the attack. He was responsible. I wanted to tell my Morrito collaborators but I was surrounded at the roadblock by members of the opposition and they would have killed me. I could not communicate until the moment of the attack on the police station.” “Code One” testified that Medardo Mairena and Francisca Ramírez were the intellectual authors of the attack on the INSS delegation in Nueva Guinea on April 20 and were also responsible for sending a dead body in a truck of cheese headed for Managua.
The undercover officer learned how the criminal Emmanuel Tiffer was murdered. Tiffer fled the UPOLI university in Managua, after fighting with Josué Mendoza, alias “Viper.” He fled to the San Pedro Lóvago roadblock.
Tiffer was armed with an AK rifle. As the days passed he had differences with other criminal gangs called “Los Churros de Humo” and “Los Batuzos.” The material author of the murder of Tiffer is identified as “Chepito.”
Emmanuel Tiffer’s body was placed in a truck loaded with cheese. The order given was to take him to Managua and throw his body out with the intention of blaming the police. (note: by chance this truck was stopped and the government authorities found Tiffer’s body with the cheese).
In the trial process, the first police agent who testified is one who was kidnapped on July 12 from the Morrito police station after four other police were killed. They were taken to San Pedro de Lóvago, where they were beaten, shot and tortured.
The non-commissioned officer Yorleni Ávalos, made a heartbreaking account of seeing his colleagues murdered that July afternoon, when the criminals commanded by Medardo Mairena came to attack them. (Radio La Primerisima, 11/20/18)
More Men Accused of Police Assassinations Sent to the Courts
The police presented Mario Lener Fonseca and Chester Emmanuel Navarete to the courts on Monday. They are accused of attacking the police station in Morrito on July 12, where they killed 4 policemen, kidnapped and wounded 12 officers and, in the mayor’s office of the same municipality, seriously injured four workers, and killed Professor Marvin Ugarte. Senior Commissioner Farle Roa, second chief of the Directorate of Judicial Assistance (DAJ), said that with other criminals, they organized and financed the roadblocks located in Morrito, Rio San Juan and in Lóvago, municipality of Acoyapa, Chontales. Navarrete was the head of an armed roadblock in Masaya, Barrio Las Malvinas and on May 20 he and others kidnapped and tortured Héctor Martín García Cerda y Eliseo Antonio Ramírez.
(Radio La Primerisima, 11/19/18)
Christian Base Community denounces the use of churches to manipulate people politically
Through a written declaration the St. Paul the Apostle Christian Base Community in the September 14 neighborhood of Managua denounced the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua Silvio Baez who continues to use his sermons and the church itself to manipulate people politically. “Baez continues to carry out political campaigns confirming his leadership in the coup group that wants to remove the president. On Sunday November 18 Baez gave a political homily to the new US ambassador and members of the opposition. This is one of the reasons the CBC wrote the declaration, where they call on the Catholic hierarchy to support the demand by nearly a half million Catholics made to Pope Francis to remove Bishop Baez from Nicaragua. “That he cease his threats on the President, Daniel Ortega; that he cease to incite the overthrow of the government through reinstating the so-called “death road blocks”, which Baez called “extraordinary””. They also demand that the priests stop facilitating the use of the churches for political means. (19 Digital, 11/19/18)
Successful Anti-Drug Operation
The National Police reported that 30 kilos of marijuana were seized last Sunday in an anti-drug operation carried out at El Guasaule border checkpoint in Chinandega Department. (Nicaragua News, 11/19/18)
Greater Use of Renewable Energy Sources
Minister of Energy and Mines (MEM) Salvador Mansell said new energy projects are being implemented using renewable sources to generate electricity. “The projects include a 40 MW plant in Granada powered by biomass; a 5 MW hydroelectric project in the Matagalpa Department; and a new 5 MW hydroelectric plant in Jinotega Department,” Mansell said. (Nicaragua News, 11/19/18)
New 60-Meter-long Bridge opened in La Paz Centro
The Government inaugurated a new bridge that contributes to linking La Paz Centro with the communities of Puerto Sandino, in the department of León. El Tamarindo Bridge # 2 has a length of 60.12 meters. It is located at 5.6 km from La Paz Centro, in the community of El Chorizo. For the construction of the work an investment of US$873,000 was made. The bridge will benefit 25,750 inhabitants of the communities of La Paz Centro and Nagarote. It is a modern safe bridge with high quality standards. It was built to withstand the onslaught of climate change and will facilitate trade, tourism, social and economic activity providing ample benefits to the population that will travel with greater comfort and security between La Paz Centro and Puerto Sandino. (Informe Pastran, 11/19/18)
School Enrollment 2019 Begins
Presidential adviser for education, Salvador Vanegas, reported that the process of school enrollment for the 2019 academic year began on Monday in all public schools. At a press conference, he indicated that the registrations are available up to December 6 in all educational levels. He added that in each study center there are commissions that provide parents with the information required for students to continue at each level. Enrollment can also be done online through the Ministry of Education website. Enrollment in public schools is expected to be no less than 1,740,925 students. (Informe Pastran, 11/19/18)
Nicaraguan Chancellor Reprimands Costa Rican President at Summit
At the Ibero-American Summit in Guatemala Nicaraguan Chancellor Denis Moncada said that Costa Rican president Alvarado had disrespected “the sovereignty, independence and self-determination of the Nicaraguan people” and that he acted as a “recording of the United States.” He also reminded everyone that Costa Rica is burning with protests and police repression. Moncada demanded that Alvarado be “corrected” so as not to “interrupt the peaceful work” of the Ibero-American forum. “He disrespects the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States by transgressing the UN Charter and the principles of International Law. President Alvarado must focus on problems in his own internal affairs and not use Nicaragua and Venezuela as a pretext to evade his responsibilities as President of his country. We demand the Costa Rican president, who insists on associating with the destabilizing agenda against our country, respect the people and government of Nicaragua.” (Informe Pastran, 11/19/18)
President of CA Small Business Council Recognizes Security in Nicaragua
Franklin Martínez, of Panamanian nationality, at a meeting in Nicaragua with his counterparts, highlighted the security and tranquility of Nicaragua. Martínez told reporters, “When I landed in Nicaragua I did not know what I was going to find because the international news does not say how good and beautiful this country is. We had the opportunity to go through a safe Managua, to travel to Granada and return in a total environment of security and tranquility,” He acknowledged that “tourists have security in Nicaragua.”