Peace Leader Speaks Against US-backed Regime Change in Nicaragua, Confronted by Anti-Ortega Opposition

| Resist!

Above: Camilo Mejí speaking in Oakland. Photo by Bill Hackwell.

Camilo Mejía speaking in Oakland. Photo by Bill Hackwell.

Camilo Mejía prefaced his explanation of the seemingly inexplicable eruption of violence in his native Nicaragua with the admonition that no one should take his word but should research the facts as he has.

Mejía spoke at an event co-sponsored by the Task Force on the Americas, a 32-year-old anti-imperialist human rights group with a long history of supporting the Nicaraguan Sandinistas against the US-backed Contra War.

Gerry Condon, president of the other co-sponsor, Veterans for Peace, explained how the national organization was founded in 1985 by US veterans in response to the global nuclear arms race and US military interventions in Nicaragua and elsewhere.

Condon introduced fellow Veterans for Peace member Mejía, who is a celebrated Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. In 2003, after serving in the US military in Iraq and seeing the hypocrisy of the regime change effort, Mejía refused redeployment and has since been a prominent leader in the peace movement.

Photo by Roger Harris

Mejía presented a history of US regime change operations engineered by the CIA and more recently by US government surrogates for the CIA such at the USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by the USAID, NED and kindred groups are among the leadership of those trying to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua.

Mejía drew attention to similar regime-change programs by the US in Venezuela and the similarity of the media disinformation and violent guarimbas there to what is happening now in his home country.

Mejía showed well-authenticated video clips of Sandinistas in Nicaragua being tortured by opposition elements, demonstrating how sections of the opposition to the Ortega government have not only been violent but cruel. Particularly disturbing was footage of a Sandinista who had been assassinated and whose body was publicly burned in the street.

Photo by Roger Harris

The Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), Mejía explained, split from the main party and took with it most of the English-speaking intellectuals who had close relations with North American solidarity activists. The MRS has never been a popular electoral force in Nicaragua, garnering only 1.3% of the vote at its peak, but has turned to the right and aligned with US-backed extra-parliamentary means of changing what both consider the authoritarian regime of President Ortega.

To promote dialogue among those who seek peace in Nicaragua, but differ on whether to support the extra-legal overthrow of the Ortega government, the event sponsors gave Amy Bank time to present the other side. Bank, a North American, had formerly supported the Sandinistas. She granted that the Ortega government had achieved considerable material gains toward eradicating poverty and uplifting social conditions but had turned authoritarian.

Meanwhile, the advocates of regime change organized by the ad hoc Bay Area Autoconvocadxs held a well-attended and organized demonstration in front of the San Francisco Veterans Building, where the talk was being held. Mainly composed of expat Nicaraguans in a marriage of convenience between former supporters of the Sandinistas and the Contras, the prior mortal enemies were now united in their mutual hatred of the Ortega government.

The anti-Ortega demonstrators later filtered into the now standing-room-only lecture hall, periodically heckling Mejía. Scattered applause came from the opposition demonstrators at the mention of the US-backed Contras, showing the allegiance of some of them.

Calmly and graciously, Mejía welcomed the opposition elements and even allowed a senior woman who had been a Sandinista to take the microphone and make an impassioned appeal for regime change. But when the opposition elements became intolerantly disruptive to the expression of views contrary to their own, Mejía admonished: “By your actions, you demonstrate what kind of democracy you stand for.”

 Roger Harris, past president of Task Force Americas.

  • Tony Ryan

    Dear friends at PR, Please correct the caption of the top photo in this article to: Camilo Mejia – NOT Camilla Vallejo! Also fyi, this photo (taken by Bill Hackwell) was done on Sunday, Aug. 5 in Oakland – not at the San Francisco event on Friday, Aug 3. Otherwise the Roger Harris’ article is very good. TR

  • Sybil Cochrane

    Thank you for this article. I became very interested in the “Latin American Experiment” long ago and after reading Naomi Klein, am now impassioned about the subject. We can ‘thank’ Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand for the current shift to the ultra right. “May they go down in history as the monsters they are!” (Quote from a book by Alexander Foxleigh, Let’s Kill Capitalism, arguably among my top 5 best reads ever)

  • kevinzeese

    Thanks for catching those. We’ve corrected them.

  • mwildfire

    This makes it look like there must be something to the anti-Ortega movement, for so many former Sandinistas to support it.

  • Tony Ryan

    Now it says Camila. Should say Camilo. Thanks. TR

  • farabundomarti

    Camilo should take his advice and take it a step further and instead of researching the internet and taking talking points from others, go to Nicaragua and see for himself. Maybe Camilo should really talk to his dad, Carlos Mejia Godoy, an icon in Nicaragua and who wrote the Sandinista Anthem. Carlos Mejia has seen, has lived the last three months and is now in exile in Costa Rica due to death threats by orteguistas. Kevin, I read the letter you support written to DemocracyNow where it is written that they are being impartial. I mean, it’s DemocracyNow; maybe you should reevaluate your way of thinking about this. Even Chomsky is calling for new free and early elections-come on man, wake up. The letter says that calling for early elections is unconstitutional, please explain how. If the people want it, why not? What is ortega afraid of? Chavez did it over and over again and won, so what is ortega and your group of co-signers to the letter afraid of? The letter even says that ortega would win anyway.

  • Chris Sazn

    De hecho el comparar que Carlos Mejia piensa diferente a su hijo Camilo Mejia…no significa que Nicaragua y el pueblo completo esté en contra del gobierno actual de Daniel Ortega. Hay que tener una mente más amplia…Carlos y su hermano Enrique son del partido MRS desde los años 90’s. Yo he visto y vivido la manipulación de los antigobierno y muchos se fueron del partido…muchos dudaron de qué pasaba pero con paciencia las caretas fueron cayendo. Nunca fueron pacificos! Nunca fue por el Inns! Necesitaban muertos y los fabricaron. Luego descaradamente asesinaron y quemaron a personas que no concordaban con su pensamiento politicos y los democratas los torturaban y mataban.

  • mwildfire

    ?Es posible que hablas ingles? No puedo entender todos, y muchos de los que leer no puedan entender nada en espanol.

  • Will Duarte

    His dad is trash now to us.. trying to fake cry on television.. to bad is singing is better than is acting… you act like your the only pinolero living in Nicaragua… As a kid I would hear my dad play his songs in his guitar.. MRS are worst their only up for power.. my family went to one of those MRS meeting to hear them speak..their trash as well. CAMILO and his mom are sandinistas still.. you say lives in exile so why is his family adamant supporters of the fsln? Still

  • Will Duarte

    Only the rich and upper class sandinistas left…

  • Chris Sazn

    Utilice el traductor por favor. ¡Yo lo hice!

  • farabundomarti

    Nunca fue por el INSS, en eso estas correcto. Esto es por que el día de las protestas por las reformas al INSS lo malditos de siempre de la JS y las turbas llegaron a reprimir. Esto era de cada vez que cualquiera protestara por algo que no estuviera de acuerdo. Esta vez fue la última.

    No te equivoques y te inventes motivos. El gobierno de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo la cagaron, y esta vez, por última vez.

    Decís con tanta certeza, “nunca fueron pacíficos.” Queres que te comparta unos videos que te demuestren la protestas que DO organizaba en contra de los gobiernos anteriores? Era pacífico en sus tranques? En sus quemas de buses? Ustedes orteguistas no vengan con sus hipocresías de “Queremos Paz….” Los orteguistas nunca fuero pacíficos. Te recuerdo como llegaron al poder? A pura punta de fusil como quieren quedarse ahora.

  • Chris Sazn

    ¡A pura punta de facil! ? Ya veo que ud. Es un fanático antisandinista. Coincido en que sí hubo abuso de usar a la JS al inicio de las protestas autoorganizadas no autoconvocadas; pero ellos no mataron a nadie era un pleito de dos fuerzas politicas: sandinistas vr. Oposición. Y en ese momento los autoorganizados no autoconvocados vieron la oportunidad de tocar sentimientos y empezaron su jueguito…comenzaron a matar en las calles. Aunque ud. no lo reconzca tenemos a la mejor policia de centroamerica y comunitaria además; ésta no iba a empezar a matar a un pueblo luego de 39 años de revolución y luego de 11 años de llegar el sandinismo al poder. Prueba está que los primeros 3 muertos fueron el 19 abril y eran transeuntes y un policia ajusticiados por una bala certera. Para mí fue tramado y planificado; porque aunque el 19 los muertos fueron en el atadecer los estudiantes de la UCA desde las 10:00 am. ya tenían todo un plan ejecutándose para recibir víveres, agua, mascarillas y a escondidas “armas”. Y si vamos a hablar de historia…cuando el sandinismo era la oposición es correcto que se organizaba para protestar por las injusticias…pero le recuerdo que cuando los gobiernos liberales mataron a estudiantes en esas protestas no se aprovecharon para crear más violencia, no se aprovecharon para recoger viveres y engañar y armar a los estudiantes para autosecuestrar las universidades y comenzar una guerra con armas contra la policía, no se aprovecharon para recoger pandilleros y ponerles en el frente. ¡El hipócrita aquí es ud.! El sandinismo no secuestró universidades, no secuestro barrios, no secuestró ciudades ni centros de labores. El día domingo 22 abril seguian con los videos de “estudiantes actuando”, sería caradura sino reconoce los autoataques de estos niños manipulados.

  • farabundomarti

    ¿Perdón, le llevaron flores a la guardia? Estas equivocdo, soy Socialista que sí se el significado y actuó de esa manera sin sacrificar esa filosofía no como los orteguistas fieles a un supremo “comandante” que se socialista y comandante no tiene nada. El abuso de la JS no es algo nuevo, son cuerpos de choque entrenados para no dejar que la gente se proteste por ninguna razón que este en contra de el gobierno. Ahora, esos mismos son los que andan matando encapuchados, no me digas que no por que de esos tengo varios “amigos” y se exactamente lo que hacen.

    ¿Que el Sandinismo no se aprovechó? ¿No se hicieron de fusiles? Las huleras y piedras se convirtieron en fusiles y de esa manera llega el Sandinismo al poder, turqueando y matando; actos que ahora el orteguismo llama terrorismo. No es que no estoy de acuerdo con la caida de Somoza pero ahora que los orteguistas vengan con mierdas que, #NicaraguaQuierePaz, que somos pacificos, que somos todo amor…. por favor, no sean HIPÓCRITAS!

    No tengas miedo al aceptar que llegaron al poder a punta de fusil, no son los únicos, primeros, o últimos. Todavía tengo vivas las imagenes de los Sandinistas llegando a Managua con AKs y M16s en mano gritando VICTORIA!

  • Chris Sazn

    Años 80’s. zzzzzzzzz.
    Ud.s es un antisandinista. No me venga con el cuento de “tengo amigos”. No es capaz de reconocer o mejor dicho de aceptar la diferencia que hay en una revolucion y una contrarevolucion. La oposición violenta criminal que hoy quiere robarse el poder. Puras ansias de poder y de joder.