NicaNotes: Hands off Nicaragua!

By Arnold Matlin

[This essay appeared in The Livingston County News on July 29, 2021.]

(Dr. Arnold Matlin traveled to Nicaragua for the first time in 1988, and has been in solidarity with the Nicaraguan Revolution since then, receiving the Medal of the 25th Anniversary of the Revolution in 2004.  He is a member of the board of the Alliance for Global Justice.)

Dr. Matlin (center) and Magda Lanuza converse with an expectant mother at the Casa Materna in El Sauce. With nearly 200 maternity wait homes in the country, maternal mortality has dropped dramatically.

As high schoolers, most of us learned about the Monroe Doctrine. Many people assume that the Monroe Doctrine is U.S. law, and possibly even international law.  It isn’t either of these. President Monroe proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, in his State of the Union Address. Now, almost 200 years later, we still use the Monroe Doctrine to justify our interference in the internal affairs of other countries in the Western Hemisphere.

The Monroe Doctrine has symbolized the United States’ self-proclaimed right to run roughshod — whenever and wherever we please — over sovereign nations to our south. The U.S. has invaded and occupied many countries. For some of them, like Nicaragua, we’ve done this more than once.

Since President Monroe stated his doctrine, there have been more than 50 U.S. interventions in Latin America, including our support of the 2009 coup in Honduras. This coup has resulted in chaos, gangs, high-level drug dealing, and a flood of the country’s poor clamoring at our border.

We have supported the killing of progressive leaders such as Augusto Sandino of Nicaragua in 1934. We have organized and supported the overthrow of numerous democratically elected presidents.  Among them were Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954 and President Salvador Allende of Chile in 1973. Allende died defending the Chilean National Palace during a military coup supported by the US.

After the Nicaraguan Sandinistas’ successful war of liberation against the Somoza dictatorship (1979), the U.S. began its own proxy war against the new government (1981-90). This was known as the Contra War. To fight that war, we armed, directed, and supplied the Contra mercenaries.  We put an economic embargo in place.  We actually sold weapons to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in exchange for money that would enable the continuation of our patently illegal war, after Congress had outlawed sending money to the Contras.

In 1986 the International Court of Justice ruled that the United States had violated international law by supporting the Contras.  The U.S. ignored that ruling.

It’s sad to say that we’re at it again. And once again the reason is simply that the Nicaraguan government (democratically re-elected in 2016) doesn’t meet the approval of the U.S. State Department.

Nicaragua’s economy is mixed—capitalist and socialist. Nicaragua provides free health care to its citizens and universal free education, preschool through college.  Half of all candidates for office, by law, must be women. The highways are excellent.  Literacy is up and maternal mortality is down.

Most revealing is the fact that the Nicaraguan poor do not flee in droves to the U.S. border. Why should they? They know that their government is doing its best to protect and serve the people of Nicaragua.

In 2018, the Trump administration supported a violent coup attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government. That coup failed.  Sadly, the Biden folks are following the same agenda.

A recently-leaked document (RAIN) from USAID, a U.S. government agency, stated that the program Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua is intended to re-install a right-wing government that would privatize all services, cut programs to the poor, and bring Nicaragua into the circle of U.S. client governments.

The U.S. Congress is considering the RENACER Act, which would impose further sanctions on Nicaragua. Why does our government insist on punishing Nicaragua? As we said in the 1980’s, Nicaragua poses “the threat of a good example.” Nicaragua wants to be a free and sovereign nation, and the U.S. Government can’t tolerate that.

The Nicaraguan presidential election will take place on November 7th, 2021. The Sandinistas will win, and the U.S. will use the Big Lie to claim that the elections were stolen or rigged.

When you hear that, consider that the Monroe Doctrine is just a way of looking at the rest of the hemisphere through a U.S.-dominated lens.

Try to convince our government to keep its hands off Nicaragua! [For more information use this link: https://www.afgj.org/category/nicanotes

[Jim Lukens contributed to this essay.]

Briefs

By Nan McCurdy

Two Alliances and Five Parties Registered Candidates for November Election

The registration of candidates for President, Vice President, National Assembly Deputies and Central American Parliament Deputies for the general elections to be held on November 7, lasted from July 28 to August 2. Magistrate Brenda Rocha, President of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), reported that a total of 1,564 candidates were registered by two Alliances and five political parties. The CSE will have from August 3 to 9 to evaluate and verify that the candidates comply with the requirements for the positions they are aspiring to. The official list of candidates will be published on August 18. (Radio La Primerisima, 2 August 2021)

Sandinista Congress Chose Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo

On August 2 the Congress of the Sandinista National Liberation Front unanimously ratified President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo as its presidential ticket for the November 7 elections. This will be the second time that the two run together after they won the elections of 2016. In the 2006 elections, the candidate for Vice President was an ally, Jaime Morales Carazo; and in 2011, the former head of the Nicaraguan Army, retired General Omar Halleslevens. The party Congress also approved the government program for the period 2022-2026 focused on reducing poverty and creating more well-being for the population.

The FSLN Congress was attended by 2,932 delegates from 27 territorial units in the country. Among the delegates there were 1,485 women, 1,447 men, 1,199 young people under 30 years of age, 560 militants of the historic generations, and 560 militant leaders of youth and student groups. During the session, the 20 candidates for national deputies, the 70 candidates for departmental deputies and the 20 candidates for deputies to the Central American Parliament were approved. According to the law, half of the candidates must be women. On August 2, the legal representatives of the FSLN, Edwin Castro Rivera and Jaime Morales Carazo, proceeded to officially register the candidacies before the Supreme Electoral Council.

Deputy and leader of the National Assembly, Gustavo Porras said that the Sandinista militancy at the Congress considered it necessary to give continuity to the transforming model that the Government of the Sandinista Front has been promoting, in order to maintain stability, peace and prosperity. He said that the FSLN project has anti-imperialist principles and revolutionary thinking. Photos and lists of candidates: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias-generales/destacado/el-pueblo-seguira-siendo-presidente-listas-de-candidatos/ (Radio La Primerisima, 2 August 2021)

Vice Presidential Candidate for CXL Alliance Accused of Promoting Violence

The Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDDH) on August 3 received a complaint from victims of the 2018 coup terrorism and their relatives. According to the complainants, on August 2, Berenice Quezada Herrera, vice presidential candidate of the Alliance formed by the Citizens for Liberty Party (CxL), publicly made statements considered by many as an apology for the crimes of 2018, calling implicitly for more violence. She made the statements at the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) when she was there to register as a vice presidential candidate for the CxL Alliance. Those placing the complaints requested that she be inhibited from running for public office on the grounds of violating several articles of the Electoral Law. The PDDH accepted the complaints that her statement threatens peace, security and the right to develop the elections as a civic celebration. (Radio La Primerisima, 3 August 2021)

Nicaraguan-Honduran Agreement to Eliminate Malaria

The Nicaragua and Honduras Governments signed a “Binational Agreement for the Implementation of Joint Cross-Border Actions to Eliminate Malaria in Border areas of Honduras and Nicaragua.” The purpose is to ensure information sharing for detection, early action and joint management of medicines, supplies, and diagnostic testing. (Nicaragua News, 28 July 2021)

Amazing Investments in Sports Infrastructure and Electricity

The maximum investment in sports infrastructure made by Nicaragua’s neoliberal governments (1990-2006) in one year was one million dollars, while the Sandinista government invests US$16 million annually, that is, as much as the three neoliberal governments invested in total, according to National Assembly Deputy Carlos Emilio López. He said that, thanks to the sports investments by the Sandinistas since 2007, the country is now reaping the fruits, and every time Nicaragua participates in an international tournament it is positioned as a country that has excellent athletes. “The right to sports is a reality for our youth from the countryside and the city, from the popular sectors. That is to say, our government is not a government of the elite, it is a government of the people; … it is a government of the families and of all the community of Nicaragua,” stated the deputy.

López added that Nicaragua has had several significant advances, like electrification, a sector that in 2006 had a 53% coverage, while it is now at 99% coverage. “That is to say, half of Nicaraguans were in the dark under neoliberalism, and that half that had access to electricity had 8, 10 and even 12 hours of blackouts daily. He said that Nicaragua currently has a diversity of energy sources, including hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and biomass, for which reason the country has been recognized by international organizations. See photo here: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias-generales/destacado/diputado-destaca-notable-inversion-en-instalaciones-publicas/  (Radio La Primerisima, 28 July 2021)

Rowers Congratulated after Participation in Tokyo 2020

Athletes Félix Potoy and Evidelia González arrived August 1 in their native Granada, and were received by authorities who congratulated them for representing Nicaragua in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Potoy and Gonzalez, originally from El Arado Island, set national and Central American records. In the single sculls category, Potoy finished in second place in his heat of five participants, placing 26th out of 32 athletes in total; while González finished in third place out of six boats, placing 27th out of 32. Potoy covered the 2,000 meters in 7:28 minutes, setting a new national and Central American record, since no one had ever run under 7:30, according to a press release from the Nicaraguan Olympic Committee (NOC). Gonzalez obtained the mark of 8:10.87 in the 2,000 meters, also a national and Central American record. The cousins from the Islands were the first Nicaraguan rowing participants in the Olympic Games. (Radio La Primerisima, 2 August 2021)

Nicaragua Inaugurates Twentieth New Hospital Since 2007

The Nicaragua Ministry of Health (MINSA) announced that the new “Bello Amanecer” primary hospital will be inaugurated August 3 in Quilalí municipality, in the department of Nueva Segovia. The cost of the US$7.35 million hospital was financed by the General Budget and will benefit 47,000 people in 54 communities. See short video of the hospital: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R2SYWKxr-U (Nicaragua News, 28 July 2021)

Textile Exports Up

The Nicaragua Textile and Clothing Industry Association (ANITEC) reported on July 28 that US$704.2 million in textile products were exported from January to May of 2021, an increase of 34.5% in comparison to the same period in 2020. ANITEC Executive Director Dean García stated that “the good growth levels in the sector during the first five months of the year are due to the reopening of international markets and efforts by companies to quickly respond to an increase in demand for textile products.” (Nicaragua News, 28 July 2021)

Electricity Coverage Has almost Reached Goal of 99%

The National Electricity Transmission Company and the Ministry of Energy and Mines presented the first semester 2021 report of the National Program for Sustainable Electrification and Renewable Energy (PNESER) on July 29. The national electricity coverage has reached 98.83% and is expected to exceed the 99% projected for this year. MEM Minister, Salvador Mansell said that “Nicaragua is making great strides in expanding national electricity coverage in keeping with the United Nations 2030 Human Development Goals. Over the last 14 years we have been able to go from 54% national electricity coverage in 2007 to 98.83% at present.” (Nicaragua News, 30 July 2021)

New CABEI Loan for Sustainable Electrification and Renewable Energy

The National Assembly approved a US$40 million loan agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), in support of the National Program for Sustainable Electrification and Renewable Energy in Nicaragua (PNESER). The funding is to modernize of the National Center for Electricity Dispatch of the Bluefields Substation and expand La Esperanza Substation, ensuring a stable supply of electricity for 70,000 inhabitants. (Nicaragua News, 29 July 2021)

Nicaragua Stands Out in World Bank Portfolio Execution

The Government and the World Bank jointly reviewed project portfolio performance for the period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 (Fiscal Year 2021 for the Bank). According to a press release from the Bank, in FY21, Nicaragua completed disbursements of US$99.27 million, for a disbursement rate of 53.1%; both the amount and the rate being record figures in the last 10 years and place Nicaragua among the top 10 in the world, according to World Bank records. The Bank pointed out that, in this joint review, the planning for fiscal year 22 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) is also analyzed, with the objective of maintaining and surpassing the achievements reached in each of the projects, executed with transparency and responsibility, adhering to the regulations and conditions agreed to in the contracts with the World Bank. (Radio La Primerisima, 30 July 2021)

Vaccination of Those 45 and Older Begins

36,480 doses of vaccine against Covid-19 were received on July 30 by the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). It was also announced that those 45 and older can now be vaccinated. The donation of vaccines is from Norway and comes through the COVAX mechanism. The PAHO/WHO representative in Nicaragua, Ana Solís-Ortega, pointed out that Nicaragua is the first country in the Region of the Americas and the world to receive vaccines donated by Norway. She added that PAHO has been supporting MINSA’s efforts for many years and now more than ever. “For us it is quite an honor, a pleasure, a tremendous joy, as you say here in Nicaragua. We are happy to receive these vaccines that bring hope, that bring health to the Nicaraguan people,” said Solis. (Radio La Primerisima, 30 July 2021)

Covid Report for Week of July 27 to August 2

The Health Ministry reported that for the last week there were 298 new reported cases of Covid-19, 276 people recovered and 2 deaths. Since March 2020 there have been 7,890 reported cases, 7,311 of these recuperated and 196 deaths. (Nicaragua News, 3 August 2021)


Ortega: Nicaragua Must Solve its Problems Peacefully, Without Intervention

At the FSLN Party Congress President Daniel Ortega reiterated that Nicaraguans must solve their problems among themselves, peacefully and without anyone serving as an instrument of the Yankee Empire. During the Heroic Pancasán Congress of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), in which the presidential and legislative formulas were selected, President Ortega reviewed the importance of elections as an ideal instrument to guarantee peaceful political processes.

He recalled that the FSLN was the first political party to hand over power peacefully after having conquered it first by force of arms. Likewise, it is the first Nicaraguan organization of armed origin to recover political power by electoral means. “Elections are a powerful instrument that we managed to conquer and put at the service of the people with the triumph of the Sandinista Popular Revolution of 1979.”

The Sandinista leader reiterated his warning that his government will not allow violence and death like in 2018 again, nor will foreign interference in the internal affairs of a nation forged with the blood of heroes and martyrs be tolerated. Despite all the benefits that the Sandinista Government has brought to all social economic sectors, powerful forces tried to destroy them and take them away, “but we managed to defeat that terrorist aggression that violated the human rights of Nicaraguans,” he said. He asked those who still have “bad thoughts” to get rid of them and assume a true role as Nicaraguans, so that together we can continue building peace and eradicate poverty.

“I say to my Nicaraguan brothers and sisters: we are siblings and we will be siblings as long as we are a family and we are a family. That sometimes we agree and sometimes we disagree, that is normal, but if someone from the family goes out to look for the Yankee or the European to come and attack his family here in his land, …to come and put the yoke on him, from that moment he stops being a Nicaraguan and becomes a sell-out of this nation,” he said.

Nicaraguans, he continued, can reach an agreement, respecting the institutionality of the nation, to advance towards economic development and “bring to Nicaraguans true human rights which are more health, more education, more electricity, roads, schools, welfare.” He indicated that all these rights have been achieved and defended in the most rational, peaceful and intelligent way, creating a great National Alliance, a great national agreement that is embodied in the Constitution. “That great National Alliance is to develop the economy, to fight poverty,” he stressed.

President Ortega recalled that the clergy have been at the service of the United States, the oligarchy and Somocismo. He noted that when the founder of the Somocista Dictatorship and the assassin of General Augusto C. Sandino was executed by national hero Rigoberto López Pérez, the Catholic hierarchy buried Somoza with honors as “Prince of the Church,” expressly authorized by Pope Pius XII. “I was formed in Catholicism, but neither I nor my parents, who were also very Catholic, could understand or accept a high clergy that blessed, praised and exalted to the skies the tyrant who murdered the Nicaraguan people and who also never criticized the thousands of crimes to which the Nicaraguan people were subjected, who never criticized the hunger, the unemployment suffered by the Nicaraguan people,” said the President.

The Revolution came to rescue the rights of the Nicaraguan people, “together we will continue to fight this battle in peace, because we are enemies of confrontation and war,” he said. “Three months away from the elections, we continue to work for the welfare of the people. That is why the dogs are barking, because we are doing well,” said the President. “We are riding, we are walking, let them howl because it means we are advancing,” he added. (Radio La Primerisima, 2 August 2021)