Differences between an Attempted Coup D’état and a Popular Civic Insurrection

By Carlos Fonseca Teran, translated to English by Nan McCurdy

[Ed. Son of Sandinista founder Carlos Fonseca and a leader and thinker in his own right, Carlos Fonseca Teran compares and contrasts the attempted coup in Nicaragua last year with the just ended popular uprising against IMF structural adjustment policies in Ecuador. For those who have not followed Ecuador, under President Rafael Correa (2007-2017) Ecuador was considered part of the Pink Tide of countries leaning toward socialism in Latin America. Current President Lenin Moreno was Correa’s vice-president and was elected to succeed him on a platform of continuing Correa’s economic policies. Instead he immediately began privatizing the economy, reinstating neoliberal policies, and criminalizing Correa much like what was done to Lula in Brazil.]

  1. In Nicaragua, the 2018 crisis was triggered by opposition to social security reforms replacing those the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wanted to impose. The government reforms were opposed to the interests of big business, and favorable to the interests of working people.

In Ecuador, the current crisis was triggered by the obedient application by the government of the policies dictated by the IMF to the detriment of the people and for the benefit of the big businessmen.

  1. In the riots in Nicaragua armed groups attacked the police and supporters of the revolutionary process, as a result of which there were deaths on both sides. The number of deaths among the Sandinistas were higher than among the opponents.

In Ecuador the protests are carried out without the use of weapons (through October 11 there was no evidence of any protester being armed) and there are no violent attacks on government supporters. Government supporters have not demonstrated in defense of the policies of a shaky government that responds to the interests of the elites, unlike Nicaragua, where with a popular and revolutionary government, hundreds of thousands of citizens demonstrated in defense of their government and their revolutionary project.

  1. In Nicaragua, the government called for dialogue from the very first moment of the crisis and, in order to create an environment conducive to it, provisionally repealed the social security reforms.

In Ecuador, the first thing the government did was to say that the measures applied remained firm.

  1. In Nicaragua, as a sign of good will, the government sent the police to their barracks, which were besieged by violent armed groups. And with the police in their barracks, the number of deaths per day increased, demonstrating that the deaths were not the result of any repression.

In Ecuador, police forces have been active in permanently repressing demonstrators.

  1. In Nicaragua, the armed and violent groups, taking advantage of the police in their barracks and the willingness of the Sandinista Front to engage in dialogue, and in collusion with organized crime, took possession of entire cities. They kidnapped their inhabitants, capturing Sandinista militants, torturing and murdering them. As a result of this, there were more deaths at the opposition roadblocks than in the street confrontations during the offensive to recover the cities and other strongholds of the armed opposition by dismantling of the roadblocks.

In Ecuador there have been no reprisals by demonstrators against government supporters, nor has there been armed and violent territorial control by government opponents.

  1. In Nicaragua, after the repeal of the social security reforms, the opposition did not raise any other social demands because it is Sandinismo that has defended those demands. Social rights which were lost while the current opposition governed were recuperated by the Sandinista government through its policies. Those demands had been ignored by the neo-liberal governments of the time and the rights of the people were trampled underfoot.

In Ecuador the demonstrators made a whole series of social demands provoked by the neoliberal policies applied by the current government. Among those demands are:

-Restore fuel subsidies, recently eliminated by the government, thus provoking a strong rise in the prices of basic necessities;

-The re-application of taxes and tariffs to vehicles and materials that form the fixed capital of the big companies, which had been eliminated, the State ceasing to receive a great amount of resources that could be used in benefit of the most impoverished sectors.

-The maintenance of workers’ salaries and of the public employees’ thirty days’ vacation, which was recently eliminated; and repeal of a 20% reduction in salaries established for contract renewals and of the monthly donation to the State of a day’s salary by public employees.

  1. In Nicaragua, opposition actions were financed by foreign agencies, among them the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which are used by the United States to destabilize governments not behaving in its interests. Big business, the right-wing media, the traditional politicians of the “sell-out” parties, and the leadership of the Catholic Church participated.

In Ecuador, the protests have been promoted by social organizations, trade unions, indigenous and other organized sectors of society, as well as by revolutionary political militancy, identified with the interests of the people. On the contrary, private enterprise, the right-wing media, right-wing politicians and their parties, and the Catholic ecclesiastical leadership support the government and repudiate the demonstrators.

  1. In Nicaragua, destabilizing actions were possible thanks in large part to the manipulation of the media and social networks with false news and memes.

In Ecuador, the actions of the popular movement in rebellion against neoliberal policies did not arise from virtual reality, but from the true reality faced by the Ecuadorian people, with a brutal rise in the cost of living, among other social calamities against which that brave people rose.

  1. In Nicaragua there was no situation that justified early elections; the government was always engaged in dialogue, which was repeatedly suspended by the opposition, and the Nicaraguan Constitution does not contemplate early elections.

In Ecuador, the Constitution provides for the holding of early elections in situations of national upheaval and even establishes the corresponding procedures.

  1. In Nicaragua, the imperialist powers headed by the United States, as well as their international instruments such as the Organization of American States (OAS), publicly supported the opposition in its attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government.

In Ecuador it is the opposite: the reactionary forces of the world’s powerful support the neoliberal government and reject the actions of the popular sectors that claim their rights against the policies of the current government.

Finally, A brief Reflection

As we have seen, the differences are profound between an attempt to violently overthrow a legitimate government that defends the interests of the people and the nation against the pretensions of imperialism, which tries to impose its will and intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign countries, and that of an unarmed popular rebellion, demanding rights curtailed by a government that defends the interests of the oligarchy and responds to the dictates of imperialism through organizations such as the IMF.

Almost all of the leftist governments that emerged in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1999 after the triumph of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela emerged from popular struggle, rather than from electoral processes. These were rather the culmination of those struggles, the product of which in some countries neoliberal governments had even been overthrown (up to three presidents in a week in the case of Argentina, as well as different governments of that type in Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil). In the case of Venezuela, there had been a patriotic armed rebellion of military forces committed to the ideals of Simón Bolívar, shortly after the massacre of a popular uprising by the very democratic government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, who in life was a great friend of the opponents described above.

It is impossible for the people to conquer power and start a revolutionary process if not through popular struggle, regardless of whether it later has political expressions of an electoral type, which in the current world political conditions are also necessary.

In the case of Nicaragua, for example, Sandinismo would never have returned to power without the accumulated popular struggles waged against neoliberalism in the seventeen years (1990-2006) in which the right wing governed our country in favor of the rich and the US, despite which Sandinismo never proposed to overthrow any of those puppet governments of imperialism which were similar to that of Somoza. But in the case of Somoza, conditions did not allow for a peaceful and electoral solution.

When there were popular uprisings in the nineties against the neoliberal policies, a certain correlation of forces was achieved. They negotiated to reach at least partially the popular demands that motivated those protests, and the popular forces demobilized temporarily by their own will and political discipline, contrary to what happened with the coup forces last year, whose only objective was the overthrow of the Sandinista government.

Now a very beautiful slogan has emerged, inspired by that of the time of the guerrilla struggle in El Salvador, which said: “If Nicaragua won, El Salvador will win. This new slogan now is: “If Nicaragua won, Ecuador will win.”

If Nicaragua defeated the forces of greed led by U.S. imperialism and succeeded in preventing them from overthrowing our revolutionary government, Ecuador will defeat those same forces, but in their case they are in government.

…through organized popular struggle, and led by a revolutionary political vanguard upholding a political program oriented to social transformations that guarantee the improvement of the life of the people through a just distribution of wealth and the exercise of political and economic power by the organized popular forces, under the guidance of a political force which lives up to the people to which it belongs and whose struggle it makes its own to conquer popular victory. The godchildren of imperialism and the traitorous rulers of Ecuador could not and will not be able to confront this heroic people mobilized in permanent and victorious popular struggle. 

Until victory, always beyond, country, freedom or death.


By Nan McCurdy

Bank President Says Nicaragua Has Perfect Project Portfolio Execution Rate
During the groundbreaking ceremony for the new offices of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) last week in Managua, CABEI President Dante Mossi reaffirmed the commitment of the Bank to support development projects in the country.  “Nicaragua is a significant partner that has a perfect execution rate of its project portfolio and serves as an example for other Central American countries on how to plan investment projects and implement them efficiently.” The Nicaraguan Government and CABEI are currently carrying out 29 projects including hospitals, roads, electricity, water and sanitation, aimed at the development of productive infrastructure and the fight against poverty. (Nicaragua News, 10/14/19)

Nicaragua Congratulated for its Gender Equity and Balance in the Nicaraguan Cabinet
Nicaragua participated in the International Seminar on Violence against Women, held October 8-10 in the Dominican Republic with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The aim of the Seminar was to foster dialogue between representatives of the national statistical offices of Latin American and Caribbean countries and to exchange experiences in the collection of information on violence against women and its impact on public policy formulation. During the Seminar, Nicaragua was congratulated for its important achievements in gender equality and restitution of women’s rights, highlighting the recent publication of the UN Women and Inter-Parliamentary Union “Women in Politics” map, which noted that the Nicaragua Government cabinet is made up of seven men and ten women representing 58.8% of Ministers, making it the third country in the word in terms of gender balance. (Nicaragua News, 10/14/19)

Protecting Labor Rights in the Free Trade Sector
Last week the International Labor Organization (ILO) presented the results of the Better Work program being implemented in Nicaragua since 2011. Better Work is an ILO and World Bank program that encourages collaboration between workers, companies and the government to improve working conditions and increase industry competitiveness. According to the results from the first phase of implementation, Nicaragua has achieved significant improvement in salary practices and the right to overtime remuneration. Better Work is carried out in collaboration with 26 companies and 36,700 workers in Nicaragua. (Nicaragua News, 10/14/19)

Opposition Members and Groups at War over US Funding
During recent weeks, opposition groups have been busy disqualifying one another in their fight over US funds. One opposition member, Victor Cuadras, who is living in Costa Rica, started a social media war among the opposition groups on Oct. 10 when he revealed that, thus far in 2019, opposition groups have received US$7.37 million of an alleged US$15 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) “and other Washington-based agencies.”  He wrote, “The biggest recipients of this money are the Civic Alliance, UNAB (Blue and White National Unity) and the people that make up these groups.” Felix Maradiaga on television recently said that the opposition has received US$15 million since 2015 from USAID – but he claims it’s all above board because it was used for 70 activities (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_aZ0wdMFDM)! Others complain because there is no accounting for money.

In other opposition news, big business is not currently supporting strikes and civil disobedience because they disrupt their businesses. They won’t allow businesswoman Irlanda Jerez to be part of the new Civic Alliance Board due to her strident calls from Miami for civil unrest. And finally, opposition leader Bosco Matamorros attacked the Civic Alliance for wanting hegemony with the government in electoral law negotiations. (Radio La Primerisima, 10/11/19, youtube)

Nicaragua to Invest US$110 Million in the Natural Reserves
Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) Javier Gutiérrez announced that US$110 million dollars will be invested in the conservation of Bosawás Nature Reserve and the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve. The financing comes from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Green Climate Fund and the General Budget of the Republic. The initiative is part of the Bioclimate Project that MARENA is implementing to contain deforestation and forest degradation in the country. Nicaragua presented the Bioclimate project at the Preparatory Meeting of the UNFCC 25th Climate Change Conference (PreCOP25) held in San Jose, Costa Rica on October 7. (Nicaragua News, 10/10/19)

Anniversary of the San Carlos National Guard Headquarters Seizure by the FSLN
Vice President Rosario Murillo announced commemorations of the anniversary of the historic seizure of the Somoza National Guard headquarters in San Carlos. “On October 13, San Carlos, in the Department of Rio San Juan, celebrates the forty-second anniversary [of this seizure]. This date really marked the beginning of the insurrection.” “Nicaragua… is a homeland for all. Nicaragua, land of brave people, sacred land of visionaries, land of warriors who have fought for dignity and respect. Land that cries out to the world for respect for our sovereignty, our decisions, our convictions that are for peace and good; land that cries out to the world from the example that we have given throughout our history of knowledge, of struggles and of honor because we want to live peacefully, to practice our faith, our devotions, our traditions, working, learning, undertaking and prospering because we have the right to work and prosper, for rights for all in our Nicaragua,” proclaimed Murillo. See photos of the water carnival celebration: https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:95293-vistosa-y-colorida-onceava-edicion-de-carnaval-acuatico-en-san-carlos-rio-san-juan (El19Digital, 10/12/19)

Major New Hospital in Mulukukú
On October 10, the Nicaragua Ministry of Health (MINSA) inaugurated a new hospital in Mulukukú municipality in the Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region, benefiting 50,000 inhabitants. The new 3,350 m² hospital has an outpatient unit, emergency room, gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics and surgery departments among others. The new US$911,000 hospital was financed by the General Budget of the Republic and is part of the Family and Community Health Model being implemented throughout the country. (Nicaragua News, 10/10/19)

New PAHO Representative: “Nicaragua Has Achieved Great Progress in Health”
The new representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Ana Solís-Ortega, said on her arrival October 8 that “PAHO has a special commitment to Nicaragua because it is a country that has achieved great progress in health indicators such as national vaccine coverage, maternal mortality, child nutrition, among others. Even with these advances, Nicaragua authorities maintain a clear perspective of what aspects need to be improved and the ways in which PAHO can support this work through technical cooperation,” Solís said. (Nicaragua News, 10/9/19)

CABEI Lauds Poverty Reduction, and Access to Education, Health, Electricity
October 8, Minister of Finance and Public Credit Iván Acosta and Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) President Dante Mossi, signed two new loan agreements totaling US$585.4 million for improvement and expansion of highways, potable water and sanitation systems in seven Nicaraguan cities. The CABEI President said, “Nicaragua has made important social advancements recognized by multilateral organizations such as access to health and education, electricity coverage, poverty reduction, eradication of extreme poverty, among others. The Bank has supported and will continue to support economic and social development in the country.” (Nicaragua News, 10/9/19) 

Electricity, Potable Water and Sanitation Will Merge, By Law
The Nicaragua National Assembly approved a Reform of the National Electricity Transmission Company (ENATREL) Law, which will incorporate the Nicaragua Water and Sewage Company (ENACAL) to the ENATREL directive board. The Reform seeks to strengthen the work of the two institutions ensuring that electricity, potable water and sanitation projects are executed in a coordinated manner. Nicaragua will end the year with 97% national electricity coverage and 85% potable water and sanitation coverage in urban areas. (Nicaragua News 10/8/19)

New Investment in Ports
First Executive President of the National Port Company Virgilio Silva said new investment in ports “will improve conditions for the transfer of materials between ships and land. Puerto Corinto is being modernized and is now in the dredging phase and 2020 will begin with engineering and equipment purchase. This work has a cost of US$116 million with funds from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and has generated about 450 jobs. (Radiolaprimerisima, 10/9/19)

Recently Discovered Petrogylphs in Diriá Area of Carazo
Near the trails around the Laguna de Apoyo [a large beautiful volcanic lake less than an hour from Managua] in the sector of Diriá, on San Bartolo Hill, is a new attraction for hiking and viewing petroglyphs. A beautiful hike takes you to where the tribe of the cacique (Indian Chief) Diriangén lived and where, as evidence, his footprints were engraved in stone, which has been called the stone of the “Woman of the Vessel.” A few meters away is another stone at the foot of a spring, with incredible petroglyphs of a howler monkey, one of the animals that abound in the forests of the Laguna de Apoyo. The small waterfall is known as the “Cascada del Duende” (Elf Falls). History Professor Merlo Moraga rediscovered the petroglyphs and the spring and now works to lead hikes and preserve this Dirian history. To see pictures of the petroglyphs: https://www.tn8.tv/departamentos/487378-marena-promueve-senderismo-ruta-arqueologica-laguna-diria/  (Canal 8, 10/14/19)