NicaNotes: The Truth Was Almost Killed in Nicaragua: Survivor of Radio Station Attack by U.S. Backed Criminals during 2018 Coup Attempt Recounts Harrowing Ordeal

By Jeremy Kuzmarov

(Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine and is the author of five books on U.S. foreign policy. This article was published by CovertAction on March 25, 2024.)

On May 28, 2018, Carlos Alfaro was nearly killed when armed right-wing thugs seeking the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government burned down Radio Ya. (Photo: Tortilla con sal.)

Carlos Alfaro León, 46, is a sports journalist who covers baseball and boxing matches for La Nueva Radio Ya, Nicaragua’s top rated radio station. Alfaro León has served as a press aide for Nicaragua’s national baseball team, covered the Pan American Games, and followed Román “Chocolatito” González, one of the world’s best boxers.

On May 28, 2018, Alfaro León was nearly killed when armed right-wing thugs seeking the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government burned down Radio Ya. Alfaro León was trapped in the radio station with 22 other station employees, escaping only with the assistance of the police. The arsonists cleared a path to the station by shooting four police officers and attacked the firefighters who tried to prevent the building from burning down.

After driving away from the station in his car, Alfaro León was followed by men on motorcycles. They let him go only because Alfaro León got out of his car in a place where there were a lot of people who would protect him. Afterwards, thugs threatened to harm Alfaro León’s two young sons.

Alfaro León recounted his harrowing experience on March 14 during an online meeting hosted by Green Renaissance-Sovereign Rights Movement, a group that seeks to restore integrity to the Green Party. Green Renaissance founder Gloria Guillo has traveled extensively in Nicaragua and covered the 2018 coup attempt for online media. She said, in introducing Alfaro León, that the burning of Radio Ya was strategic. The U.S. government needed to shut down independent media so it could control the narrative about Nicaragua and obscure that a violent coup was taking place.

Alfaro León said the same thing, noting that the criminal gangs that were intent on overthrowing the Nicaraguan government had to shut the media down so they could do whatever they wanted.

Thriving again today, Radio Ya promotes largely left-wing political views, and is supportive of the Sandinista government. It is well known for supplying the local population with social services regardless of their political outlook, helping people whenever it can. The station was founded in 1990 when the left-wing Sandinistas lost elections to Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, whose family’s newspaper received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA offshoot specializing in political subversion and propaganda.

The Sandinistas first came to power in a 1979 revolution that ousted Anastasio Somoza Debayle, whose family had ruled Nicaragua like a personal fiefdom since the 1930s when it had been empowered by the US. Daniel Ortega was a key leader of the 1979 Sandinista revolution who returned to power in 2007 and won elections in 2011, 2016 and 2021 to extend his presidential term.

Guillo emphasized that Ortega has sustained wide popular support because his government has helped to provide the Nicaraguan people with free health care and education, provided micro-loans to help small businesswomen and men, and has given people titles to land. Guillo said that Nicaragua is an amazing country that North Americans could learn from, particularly in the people-centered rather than corporate-centered approach of its government.

Stephen Sefton, a Nicaraguan citizen who coordinates the Tortilla con Sal media collective, followed Guillo and Alfaro León providing incisive political context for the 2018 coup attempt. Sefton said that the coup was orchestrated by the U.S. government.

The U.S. ambassador in Nicaragua at the time of the 2018 coup attempt, Laura Farnsworth Dogu, is now trying to undermine the left-leaning government of Xiomara Castro in Honduras and to destabilize Honduras. [President Castro is the wife of José Manuel Zelaya who was overthrown in a 2009 U.S.-backed coup].

Sefton said that the Ortega government built wide support among the Nicaraguan population through a human development plan that benefited just about everyone. The U.S. gave up on electoral politics and supported destabilization measures backed by right-wing business people and the Catholic Church, which had come to be dominated by right-wing bishops after the aging of progressive Bishop Miguel Obando y Bravo.

In the years prior to the coup, the Obama and Trump administrations ramped up funding to opposition NGOs. The NED and State Department applied their mastery in psychological warfare and used social media networks to mobilize students who participated in protests that were triggered by an impasse over social security and pension reforms.

Sefton said that many Nicaraguan youth were taken in by clever psychological techniques and that it took weeks before people realized that everything they were told about the student movement in Nicaragua was a lie. In hindsight, it is ridiculous to think that right-wing business people—who helped mobilize the student protests—cared about expanding pensions and social security benefits.

The violence of the coup plotters became apparent as they set up barricades, like those set up by right-wing Guarimba dissidents in Venezuela, and fired Molotov cocktails at police and attacked them with machetes. Rapes were committed, people were killed, and millions of dollars’ worth of property was destroyed.

Sefton said that the attack on Radio Ya was precipitated by Miguel Mora, owner of a rival right-wing television station, which Mora falsely claimed was attacked by pro-Sandinista gangs. In an absolute moral outrage, Mora was later given a prize by the Committee to Protect Journalists for defending freedom of expression in Nicaragua.

The award embodies the complicity of human rights NGOs in the 2018 coup plot along with mainstream and alternative media outlets like Democracy Now, which deny that a coup even took place and condemn the “dictator” Ortega for perpetrating a violent crackdown on student protesters and remaining in power indefinitely.

The latter is the line of the U.S. State Department and White House, which keeps extending draconian sanctions on Nicaragua under the illusory belief that they can dislodge the Sandinistas from power.

By Nan McCurdy

Thousands Participate in Good Friday Stations of the Cross 
Thousands of Catholic faithful participated on Good Friday in the Way of the Cross in and near the Cathedral of Managua. The Via Cruces reenacts the torment of Jesus before being crucified. The religious activity was led by the Archbishop of Managua, Leopoldo Brenes. See photos: (La Primerisima, 29 March 2024)

Alfombras Pasionarias: a Holy Week Tradition in León
In the middle of Holy Week, dedicated artists design unique passion carpets in the middle of the streets, primarily in the Indigenous neighborhood of Sutiava-León. This art must be concluded on Good Friday, which for Christians, is the day that Jesus was crucified on the Cross of Calvary in ancient Jerusalem. They are huge carpets, some of them measure up to four meters long, there are other small ones, but with the same Christian message. “Families come to see them and take pictures, it is something that I have been doing for more than 35 years,” said Mr. Edwin Crespin, a street artist from Sutiava in Leon. Nearby is Don Adolfo Rojas, another Indigenous man from Sutiava who makes the passion carpets with great faith so that people can appreciate this art. “It is a tradition of more than 200 years and we continue making the carpets. Every year a different one is made and it is so that people will know more about this tradition,” said Rojas. These carpets are appreciated by national and international tourists who admiringly photograph the carpets to have a souvenir of this tradition. The raw material is sawdust (although some people use grains of rice) and water-based paint of different colors such as blue, light blue, green, yellow, brown, red, and the mixtures that can be made of these. Teresa Ramirez of the National Tourism Institute said that many tourists come to see the approximately thirty carpets made by the artists each year. See photos: (TN8TV, 29 March 2024; La Primerisima, 30 March 2024)

Celebration of the Regional Rama Day in the South Caribbean
The celebration of the Regional Day of the Rama Indigenous Culture in the South Caribbean Autonomous Region began with a parade through Rama Cay village. Among the activities that will be carried out for this festivity are almond seed cracking, swimming, basket making, canoeing, youth baseball, bow and arrow competitions, as well as the election of the queen, among others. Participants will taste almond pozol and oyster soup. Many of the activities are related to the almond tree, which has historically played a very important role in the life and culture of the native Rama people. The Regional Day of the Rama Culture is celebrated on March 31. See photos: (La Primerisima, 31 March 2024)

More Baby Turtles Released at San Juan del Sur
Two hundred and ten baby turtles of the Olive Ridley species, began their journey into the deep waters of the sea. On March 30, the release of the baby turtles took place in the La Flor Wildlife Reserve, municipality of San Juan del Sur, Rivas. The baby turtles were hatched in the biological station of the protected area. This action is part of the Together We Conserve Our Sea Turtles National Campaign. See photos:  (La Primerisima, 31 March 2024)

Free Access to Study Medical Specialty 
The Sandinista Government has resolved to guarantee free access to the study of medical specialties as well as freedom of work at the time of graduation from the specialty training for all doctors in the country. On April 1, 2024, resident doctors started their studies of medical and surgical specialties. The Sandinista Government has developed specialization in 18 branches of medicine to guarantee the health of Nicaraguan families. During a meeting held at the Institute of Natural Medicine, a ministerial resolution was announced, issued by President Daniel Ortega, which guarantees free access to the study of specialties as well as freedom of work afterward. Once the new medical specialist has finished his or her specialty, the only requirement for obtaining their specialty degree is the academic aspects. MINSA will offer specialist positions according to the needs of the Health Services, the number of vacant positions and the existing budgetary support. It is voluntary whether or not they accept the job offered by the Health Ministry. The graduate specialist will voluntarily make his or her decision to work for the Public Health System or not. [For many years, doctors have had a service obligation after receiving their training.] (La Primerisima, 1 April 2024)

Young Environmentalists Clean Up Apoyo Lagoon
As Holy Week vacation came to an end, the young people of the Guardabarranco Environmental Movement carried out a cleaning and awareness day on the shores of the Apoyo Lagoon in the Department of Granada, where many people had gone to escape the March heat. During the day they were able to collect sacks of waste such as plastic bottles, plastic cups, and plastic bags, among others. The young people urged vacationers, when enjoying these wonderful waters or visiting the area, to deposit their garbage in the containers or carry it back to their homes. See photos: (La Primerisima, 1 Abril 2024)

Delivery of Affordable Housing in Different Municipalities
On April 2 Vice President Rosario Murillo said that the delivery of social projects is progressing throughout the country. Houses are being turned over to new owners in San Miguelito, San Isidro, Jinotega, La Concordia, San Francisco de Cuapa, Tipitapa, Jalapa and Somotillo. “Municipalities are also enjoying new parks, stadiums, schools and Child Development Centers,” she said.  The Vice President also indicated that more school infrastructure projects will be finished soon in Chichigalpa and Corinto benefitting thousands of students. “From INATEC (The National Technological Institute), 20,000 women participants in the Zero Usury low-interest loan program are concluding training in topics to improve the financial management of their enterprises,” she added. In addition, Murillo pointed out that 800 property titles were delivered in Managua, Ciudad Sandino, Chinandega, Matagalpa, Río Blanco, Wiwili, Camoapa, San Fernando, Boaco, Teustepe, among others. (La Primerisima, 2 April 2024)

Achievements in Favor of People with Autism 
The government of Nicaragua has made important advances in programs for people with autism. “Different state institutions are involved in bringing attention to the situation and work closely with the children,” said Dr. José Antonio Ayerdis, specialist in psychiatry at the Ministry of Health. “We have general practitioners trained in mental health, one for each municipality. We are moving on many fronts, detecting the children with autism and providing them with attention. Three years ago, the National Center for Children’s Mental Health was created to provide specialized care in more difficult situations, he explained. Dr. Ayerdis added that this is an effort that is being made so that the population has access to better care in their community, saying that it is important to invest in human capital, education and health resources. “We are trying to invest in a care structure from very early on, so that children do not develop more problems; early detection is key. We are working on improving access to medications when they are necessary,” Ayerdis said. He commented that currently the Mental Health Census has identified 1,375 children with autism, who are guaranteed permanent medical attention. “In the first quarter of 2024, the National Center for Children’s Mental Health provided 347 consultations to children with autism, and last semester 773 consultations were provided. We are attending children in the whole country,” he said. (La Primerisima, 2 April 2024)