By Fabrizio Casari
[This article was previously published in Spanish by Radio La Primerisima and in English by Tortilla con Sal on Jan. 9, 2021.]
Trump, as he leaves the scene, has decreed new sanctions against Nicaragua. Totally in line with his profile, it must be said: illegitimate, in open violation of international law, and an offense to the system of international relations for its illicit interference in the internal politics of the Central American country. Although of little practical effect for the individuals affected who have no interest in the United States, from a general economic point of view they do make sense and serve to achieve two results.
The first result is economic. They frighten national and foreign investors, and so affect the movement of national and especially foreign capital. This slows down the generation of new companies and limits the trade network. Objective? This also slows down the economy’s systemic development and pushes the country more towards exclusive growth of the informal economy, thus reducing the country’s economic ambitions and modernization.
The second result is entirely political. In the case of Nicaragua, illegal coercive measures are part of the destabilization project that began with the attempted coup d’état in 2018. They show the will of the United States to subvert the country’s political and institutional order, and they feed the rhetoric of the political opposition that calls for such measures constantly. The shared project is to create a climate of adversity including violence, political chaos and economic boycotts as the menu for the latest season of subversion. The objective? To sabotage the elections planned for November 2021.
New coup plan
With funds from USAID and other organizations (that pretend to be neutral but, as they themselves recognize, are playing a practical role supporting the CIA) the coup promoters are working on a new coup plan to make the government use force and then call for international solidarity against the “repression”. Washington seeks to destabilize Nicaragua so it wants a volatile electoral campaign to which it is adding economic sanctions, diplomatic aggression, along with overtures of peace mixed with threats of war. The objective is for the country to reach November in chaos, such that voting will take place in a climate of little international confidence, with a scenario that media will immediately report as “civil war,” feeding coup-mongering lies of a generalized rebellion.
The response of the Sandinista government has complicated the joint operation between the coup promoters and the US, introducing a law that declares the “ineligibility of those who direct or finance an attempted coup d’état, alter the constitutional order, call for the invasion of the country, or welcome or call for sanctions, embargoes or military intervention against the country.” This directly invokes the country’s Constitution, which states “Independence, sovereignty and national self-determination are inalienable rights of the Nicaraguan people and nation.” Any foreign interference in Nicaragua’s internal affairs or any attempt to undermine these rights is an attack on the lives of the people, such that it is the duty of all Nicaraguans to defend and preserve this right.
The law, now approved, applies this principle. And if anyone believes that this is merely legislative vindictiveness against the opposition, they need to know that it is not. In fact, identical terminology appears in Law 192, approved on February 10, 1995 by the neo-liberal government of Violeta Chamorro. The law, therefore, is by no means a political conspiracy, but rather a result of the political season and consistent with constitutional norms.
The law puts the finger on the incompatibility between institutional functions and an association with foreign interests. This means the following: those who promote an alternative political current, a strong criticism, a political project opposed to Sandinismo, have had and will have all the necessary space to propose it to the nation. But those who think they can operate as a fifth column or as an internal US front to destabilize the country will not get their way. The opposition coup mongers protest, but it is difficult for them to claim freedom of expression: in any country in the world, allying oneself with foreigners attacking your country is called colluding with the enemy.
Avoiding a year of horror
While waiting to see if, what and how US policy may change with the new Biden administration, the White House in the hands of Trump has proposed with the coup plotters in Nicaragua a plan similar to the one used for Venezuela that would be activated for the Nicaraguan elections in November. Basically, these are the steps: first, not recognizing the vote and the elected president; then raise the level of violence and chaos in the country and declare a political crisis; then set up a domestic legislative front that presents itself as an institutional counterweight and seeks international recognition while appointing an interim president in the United States who asks the international community to recognize them as de facto president with the support of the OAS and the EU. These bodies have already offered repeated expressions of political hostility towards the Sandinista government. A Nicaraguan Guaidó would be sought. These, in short, are the ingredients of the new coup attempt.
The new law intervened to nip this subversive plan in the bud. With it, the Nicaraguan legislature has warned the United States: you will not be able to elect your mercenaries to the National Assembly so that they can later use their institutional role as part of a new coup strategy.
In fact, the confirmation of independence and national sovereignty on the legislative level serves to eliminate the United States and its subversive initiatives from Nicaragua’s elections, thus protecting the electoral campaign as the focus of the national political argument, and respecting the legal and constitutional framework that regulates the country’s institutional integrity. Therefore, it is not only legitimate, but imperative, to prevent the appearance among the electoral candidates of those political subjects or forces conspiring with the United States in a coordinated and operational way while also depending on them both politically and financially.
Moreover, now that patience has run out with the coup promoters’ continued advocacy of a violent overthrow of Nicaragua’s governmental system, other responses are possible in the coming months. They will be responses of varying shapes, directly proportional to the threats.
It is easy to imagine that those who ask for coercive measures may suffer coercive measures in turn, that those who receive money to promote violence will find that their money and violence come to weigh on them. What is certain is that they will not be permitted to transform a fundamental exercise in the democratic life of a country into a subversive adventure, to alter the electoral campaign itself and then its outcome. With the rigor of the law and with force if necessary, tension and terror will not be allowed to affect the voting process. Sandinismo will guarantee that the electoral process is carried out in an orderly and peaceful manner and, as history has shown, will respect and the demand that everyone accepts the result of the ballot boxes.
The armchair gunslingers
Between their hors d’oeuvre and a sip of wine, the beautiful souls of the European Left, the armchair guerrillas and the cocktail strategists, will raise criticisms and doubts because they love the Left that loses, never the one that wins. But there is no room for debate on whether the new laws are appropriate or about their impact on the international scene. Any action to defend peace and legitimate political rivalry is necessary because the US, the OAS and the EU have already decided not to recognize Nicaragua’s democratic process, regardless of the course the electoral campaign may take. They want to delegitimize that electoral process, because doing so delegitimizes Nicaragua’s democratic system, something which is fundamental in order to set in motion an internationally acceptable coup d’état. The goal is not to win or lose an election, but to destroy Sandinismo, and they will leave nothing undone in order to achieve that.
The OAS condemned the enactment of the new Nicaraguan law in defense of national sovereignty, and that was to be expected. In a useless communiqué, it recalled the agreements of technical advice for changes in the electoral law, forgetting that the body’s political and technical credibility and the moral authority of its Secretary General lie dead and buried in Bolivia. The OAS is now an empty shell, a suffocating container of quisling subculture, a ventriloquist’s dummy of the region’s neocolonial leaders, its knees worn out with groveling at the feet of the Empire. It is not a place for dialogue and continental cooperation; it is a political body readily superimposed over the infamous Lima Group, that cabal of Latin American governments some of which are in the hands of the United States, others controlled by narco-traffickers and still others controlled by both.
If there are to be changes in the procedures and norms regarding the Nicaraguan electoral campaign, they will be the result of a sovereign decision to make citizen participation in the vote even more effective than it is already. No foreign power, through its employees, should be allowed to disturb the peace, the elections and the vote of Nicaraguans, the exclusive owners of their nation.
In the last days of 2020, the Nicaraguan National Assembly passed a law transferring the companies that operate the electricity network throughout the country to state ownership. With electrical energy in the hands of the community and no longer destined for private profit, the government’s solidarity and socialist model is further strengthened. And the program of handing over property to Nicaraguan families also continues; in 2020 alone, 26,000 property titles were given to their owners. In the same period, after being passed two months earlier, the law punishing cybercrimes came into force. It updates the list of crimes provided for in previous legislation. It is hardly out of the ordinary, since there are identical laws in force in 57 other countries, but it is an indication of a government that protects its population in socioeconomic terms, as well as the security of each citizen.
It is a further demonstration of how Sandinismo prioritizes political self-determination, economic growth and the extension of social rights. Sandinismo, in fact, is the affirmation of the Law against arbitrariness, of national sovereignty against foreign interference, protecting the country’s integrity against mercenary opportunism, of patriotism against collaborationism, of peace against terrorism.
The right of Nicaragua to give Nicaraguans the future they want is being reaffirmed with the necessary rigor and strength, built on the dream of overcoming hunger and impotence and erasing forever even the idea of surrender. These are dreams that have become principles, ground that is no longer negotiable. Because, for Nicaraguans, the pride of being Sandinistas has become a way of thinking, living and governing. And of winning against whatever enemy they may face.
By Nan McCurdy
Poll Shows FSLN Most Preferred Political Party
The Sandinista National Liberation Front has consolidated itself as the most preferred party among the population. According to the latest survey by M&R Consultores “Nicaragua towards 2021”, released Jan. 12, the FSLN would obtain between 47.1% (those classified as committed FSLN voters) and 74.3% (including voters less committed to the FSLN) in the November general elections. In answer to another question, 41.9% of those polled said they were sympathetic to the Sandinista Front, compared to 8.9% who said they were sympathetic to the opposition and another 49.2% who declared themselves independent. Of those interviewed, 58.4% said that with an FSLN government Nicaragua would do better, and 59.6% believed that they would have more opportunities to succeed in life. The survey conducted in December of last year in the country’s 16 departments and 2 autonomous regions found that more than 80% of Nicaraguans are satisfied with the different types of services offered in the country (health, education, roads, transportation, electricity and drinking water).
Seventy-six percent of those interviewed said that the government respects the right to freedom of religion and 70.3% said that it respects the right of the population to choose the country’s authorities by voting. Of the citizens consulted by M&R Consultores, 76.3% said that they will probably participate in the general elections next November. 92.7% said they had a voter identification card, and of these 77.4% said they had the new format and 15.3% the old one. (Radio La Primerisima, 12 January, 2020; https://www.myrconsultores.com/nicaragua-rumbo-al-2021-5ta-encuesta-pre-electoral/)
Those Who Lead or Finance Coups Cannot be Candidates
On Dec. 21 the National Assembly passed Law 1055, the “Law in defense of the rights of the people to independence, sovereignty and self-determination for peace.” The purpose of this law, as outlined by National Assembly Deputies, is to make the constitutional principle of independence, sovereignty and self-determination prevail, as well as non-interference in the internal affairs of the Nicaraguan people. The new law states that, “Nicaraguans who lead or finance a coup d’état, who alter the constitutional order, who promote terrorist acts, who undermine independence, sovereignty, self-determination, and who incite foreign interference in internal affairs, shall not be eligible for elected office.” Members of the National Assembly, on passing the law, pointed out that Article 147 of the Constitution prohibits any Nicaraguan who leads or finances a coup d’état from running for president and added that any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Nicaragua or any attempt to undermine the country’s sovereign rights attempts against the life of the people. (Informe Pastran, 21 Dec. 2020)
Nicaragua Named Safe Travel Destination
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) named Nicaragua a “Safe Travel” destination in recognition of the rigorous application of biosafety measures for the prevention of Covid-19. The “Safe Travel” seal of the WTTC and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recognizes destinations around the world that have adopted standardized health and hygiene protocols in the context of the pandemic. The Nicaragua Tourism Board Director (INTUR) Anasha Campbell stated that, “from the beginning of the pandemic, government authorities, entrepreneurs and tourism service providers have worked together to develop rigorous biosafety protocols that provide confidence to the tourism sector. This seal is a recognition of the implementation of established protocols and the overall handling of the pandemic in Nicaragua, one of the least affected countries in the region. Nicaragua promotes responsible and accessible tourism, prioritizing the health of Nicaraguans and foreigners who visit the country.” (Nicaragua News, 6 January 2021)
CABEI Supports New Bilwi Hospital
The Central American Bank for Economic Integration will provide US$52.9 million to help with the replacement of the Nuevo Amanecer Regional Hospital in Bilwi, northern Caribbean. The works consist of a total construction area of 18,415 square meters.
CABEI will also provide US$30 million for the Sustainability of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project to benefit rural and indigenous areas with an improved drinking water supply in municipalities such as Waspán on the Northern Caribbean Coast. Currently, the project for the construction of the sewage system of Bluefield is being executed with US$38.8 million dollars. (Informe Pastran, 6 January 2021)
New Road from Northeast Managua to Masaya Inaugurated
On Jan. 6 The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure inaugurated the new stretch of 29 kilometers from the Las Mercedes travel circle, near the free trade zone on the north highway out of Managua to El Coyotepe, Masaya, benefiting more than 200,000 people. The new road generated 200 new direct jobs and 400 indirect jobs during 22 months. This road will benefit the municipalities of Managua, Tipitapa, Nindirí and Masaya. (Informe Pastran, 6 Jan. 2021)
Vaccination Campaign Begins Against Influenza
On Jan. 6, the Health Ministry launched the national vaccination campaign against influenza, aimed at people over 50 years of age and who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes. This campaign will run from January 6 to February 5, and its goal is to apply 24,400 doses nationwide. (Radio La Primerisima, Jan. 6, 2021)
860 Businesses Created from Nov. 16 to Dec. 15
Vice President Rosario Murillo presented the monthly report on growth of new small business ventures in Nicaragua stating that 860 new businesses were created between November 16 and December 15 this year, generating 4,270 new jobs. The new small and medium size businesses are in sectors such as sale of food products, tourism services, carpentry, and mechanical workshops. Between January and December this year, 10,923 new businesses have been established creating 54,615 new jobs in the country. Nicaragua News, 17 Dec. 2020
Good News for Electricity Sector in 2020 and for 2021
Beginning January 1, 2021, families will benefit from a 12.5% average reduction in electricity rates. The government achieved 98.5% electricity coverage nationwide in 2020; energy was brought to 12,223 new homes and the supply was improved in 6,049 homes, which entailed an investment of US$27.7 million. In public lighting, the goal was surpassed, with 30,046 street lights installed nationwide. This month the Central American Bank for Economic Integration approved US$143 million to strengthen the electricity sector to help achieve the goal of 99. 9% national coverage. Projects will be carried out in the period 2022-2025 to meet that target. US$87 million will be allocated to electrification, which translates into 35,000 illuminated households for which more than 2,000 km of distribution networks will be built. (Informe Pastran, 29 December 2020)
Energy Distribution Returns to State Ownership
On Dec. 21 the National Assembly approved the “Law of Sovereign Assurance and Guarantee of the Supply of Electrical Energy to the Nicaraguan Population,” through which electricity distribution is once again in the hands of the State, ending the privatization of this strategic area that was carried out under the government of Arnoldo Aleman. The distributor companies DISNORTE and DISSUR, created in 1999 with the objective of distributing and commercializing electrical energy, received this right of exploitation for 30 years. But, with this law, electricity distribution is now again in the hands of the State, including all the shares owned by TMI S.A. in DISNORTE and DISSUR thus guaranteeing coverage and quality. It is established that “by virtue of this law, … in order to guarantee the continuity of the electric energy service to the Nicaraguan population, the companies DISNORTE and DISSUR will be operated and administered by the institution(s) and/or companies that the State, through that the Ministry of Energy and Mines authorizes or delegates for such purpose.”
When the distribution was privatized several state-owned generators were sold to private corporations at a cheap price. The companies didn’t invest in the sector, and this led to the collapse of the system under President Enrique Bolaños with regular electricity blackouts of 8 to 12 hours a day. At the time, distribution was in the hands of the Spanish company Union Fenosa. The electricity cuts were overcome with the return to government of the FSLN in 2007 and the emergency installation of a 60 MW diesel-based generation plant facilitated by the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. Union Fenosa decided to sell its shares to the Spanish company Gas Natural, which in turn sold to TMI S.A. (Informe Pastran 21 Dec. 2020)
US Energy Company and Nicaragua Sign Deal
The US company New Fortress Energy Inc. announced Dec. 21 that it has signed two long-term liquefied natural gas supply agreements to support its natural gas and electricity businesses in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua. “As a company, our goal is to match our LNG purchases as closely as possible to our customers’ volumes, thereby reducing our exposure to changes in the market price of LNG in our portfolio,” said New Fortress President and CEO Wes Edens. Informe Pastran noted that Nicaragua could become the new rising star of natural gas in Latin America with the signing of a power purchase agreement between the Nicaraguan energy company and the US company and with the beginning of activities for the construction of a natural gas based plant, which will be located in Puerto Sandino. The plant will be connected to the national grid through the Sandino Substation and its annual contribution will be 2,233 GWh-year. [Note: This power will support Nicaragua’s wind and other renewable energy sources which now provide over 70% of the country’s energy.] (Informe Pastran, 21 Dec. 2020)
Weekly Covid Reports from Dec. 22 to Jan. 12
Dec. 22: In the week of Dec. 15 to 21, the total number of registered cases was 4,790 with 4573 people recuperated. There was 1 death for a total of 163 since March.
Dec. 29: The week of Dec. 21 to 28 brought the total to 4,829 registered cases and 4,609 people recuperated. One more death brought the total since March to 164 dead.
Jan. 5: During the week of Dec. 28 to Jan. 4, there were 38 cases for a total since March of 4,867 registered cases with 4,650 people recuperated and a total of 166 people who have died with Covid-19.
Jan. 12: The week of Jan. 5 to 11 saw 55 new registered cases which brings the total since March to 4,916 cases, 4,694 people recuperated and 167 deaths. (Informe Pastran, multiple days)
Former Coup-Plotting NGO Headquarters to Serve Women
The Sandinista Government will set up maternity wait homes in Districts 1, 2 and 3 of Managua using the old facilities of organizations that financed and directed the 2018 criminal coup attempt. During the coup attempt gangs murdered in cold blood, burned down health centers, ambulances, city halls and public institutions directed by leaders of these and other organizations and politicians in the service of the US. A maternity wait home will be set up where the Popol Na Foundation was located, near Plaza España. Another Casa Materna will be in the Altagracia neighborhood of Managua where CENIDH operated. A Casa Materna will be set up on a property that used to belong to Miguel Mora, another coup plotter, which is located in front of the facilities of the former military hospital. (https://radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias-generales/destacado/construiran-casas-maternas-en-antiguos-edificios-de-ong-que-financiaron-golpe/ Radio La Primerisima, 23 Dec. 2020)
2021 Road Projects for Managua
For the year 2021 the Managua mayor’s office plans to build 767 blocks of new streets, with an investment of US$8 million to benefit 103 neighborhoods of the capital, according to General Secretary of the Managua municipality Fidel Moreno. In the second semester of 2021, construction will begin on sections 1 and 4 of the John Paul II roadway extension around Managua. Moreno expressed that this is the biggest project of the City Hall with an investment during that period of US$60 million dollars and could generate about 2,000 jobs. (Radio La Primerisima, 31 Dec. 2020)