Hailing from all corners of the United States and Canada, 22 delegates ranging from the ages of 10 to 80 traveled to Nicaragua from January 7-16, 2023 to investigate the conditions and the lives of Nicaraguan women on a delegation organized by the Jubilee House Community – Casa Benjamin Linder and Alliance for Global Justice. We had the opportunity to meet with a plethora of community organizers, workers, and public officials: from peasant feminist farmers to self-employed unionists; from urban community health workers to nurses and doctors; from battered women’s program directors to women leaders in the police, National Assembly, and Ministry of Women. We met with Nicaraguans from all walks of life and heard their stories of resilience and empowerment despite two hundred years of imperialist aggression and efforts to undermine their sovereignty.
A poll found that Nicaragua is the top country in the world where citizens feel at peace. The United States and Western media outlets have long demonized Nicaragua’s Sandinista government and its President Daniel Ortega, sponsoring violent coup attempts against him and imposing illegal unilateral sanctions aimed at hurting the Central American nation’s economy. But studies show that the Sandinista Front is very popular among the Nicaraguan people, who enjoy a high quality of life compared to their neighbors. CNBC reported this January that Nicaragua is the “No. 1 country where people say they are ‘always’ at peace“.
After two years of Joe Biden’s presidency, four times as many undocumented migrants are trying to cross the border into the United States, and he’s getting desperate to explain away the increase. In September, the administration discovered a new narrative: that migrants are fleeing “communism.” The White House ignores that fact that in the fiscal year just ended, migrants coming from the three countries he labels “communist” formed less than a third of the total: of the 2.7 million people “encountered” at the border, only a fifth came from Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela. Half of all migrants still come from the four countries closest to Texas: Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. If Biden blames migration on “repression” he has an excuse for renewed attacks on governments his administration demonises.
Entering adulthood alongside the dwindling of 2020 uprisings for Black liberation (that I had naively seen as the beginning of the end), I felt very stuck. Understanding I am a poor queer Black woman, I saw myself facing a world where the options presented for survival were dehumanizing at best, and the innate dream of living as a free person essentially destroyed. I wanted to fight the liberal tendency of American youth to begin with strong spirits of resistance, before colleging, working and/or drugging, and ultimately, laying down into the nuzzle of the state we once claimed to relentlessly hate. I myself knew that I was seriously struggling, on so many fronts, save the one struggle that might bring peace. I knew a spoonful about Nicaragua and their struggle, but became personally interested after hearing report-backs of comrades who traveled to Nicaragua to observe the November 2021 election and January inauguration of President Daniel Ortega.
Under the slogan Uniting the world to tackle climate change, the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will be held in Glasgow (UK) from 1 to 12 November 2021, will bring together representatives of some 200 governments with the aim of accelerating climate action to fulfill the Paris Agreement. The Presidency of the conference is already working with civil society and business to prepare the annual event and inspire climate action ahead of the event. What is COP: The Conference of the Parties or COP is the supreme body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty that sets out the basic obligations of the 196 states (or parties) and the European Union to combat climate change.
Why are more Nicaraguans heading north to the United States looking for jobs? Until July 2020, numbers were tiny. But in the last 1½ years numbers have increased sharply. Suddenly this has become a story, and government detractors argue, with little evidence, that people are fleeing political repression. “They’d rather die than return to Nicaragua,” is a typical headline. Manuel Orozco, a Nicaraguan based in Washington who strongly opposes the Sandinista government, told The Hill that “Nicaragua’s dictatorship is criminalizing democracy and fueling migration to the U.S.” Then, on September 20, this became the official explanation when White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Nicaraguans are “fleeing political persecution and communism.”
Sunday, November 6, saw the latest municipal elections in Nicaragua, with mayors and councilors elected for every city hall in the country, from the smallest to the largest (the capital, Managua). In the last general election, a year ago, 66% of voters took part. This time, not surprisingly, the percentage was smaller (57%), but still very respectable in international terms. Neighboring Costa Rica’s last local elections brought only a 25% turnout. Across the U.S., only 15 to 27% of eligible voters cast a ballot in their last local election. In the UK, turnout is usually about 30%, and only in Scotland have a few small districts seen turnout exceed 57%. Here are some provisional results. On the day, 2.03 million valid votes were cast (some 80,000, or 3.79%, were judged to be invalid or spoiled).
The Biden administration has announced new sanctions which are intended to hit the poorest Nicaraguans – both in their pockets and in the public services on which they depend. This latest attack on a small Central American country is, as usual, dressed up as promoting democracy saying that the sanctions will “deny the Ortega-Murillo regime the resources they need to continue to undermine democratic institutions in Nicaragua.” But everyone knows the real target is ordinary Nicaraguans who voted overwhelmingly to return a Sandinista government to power in last year’s elections. Anyone hearing or seeing the NPR news item on the sanctions will have read that they are aimed at “Nicaragua’s gold industry,” with an implicit message that this hits President Daniel Ortega’s personal treasure chest.
The Biden administration has announced new sanctions which are intended to hit the poorest Nicaraguans – both in their pockets and in the public services on which they depend. This latest attack on a small Central American country is, as usual, dressed up as promoting democracy: the sanctions will “deny the Ortega-Murillo regime the resources they need to continue to undermine democratic institutions in Nicaragua.” But everyone knows the real target is ordinary Nicaraguans who voted overwhelmingly to return a Sandinista government in last year’s elections. The new sanction are aimed at “Nicaragua’s gold industry,” with an implicit message that this hits President Daniel Ortega’s personal treasure chest. The reality is very different.
The Biden administration said on Monday that it would ban US citizens from doing business with Nicaragua’s gold industry. The White House also raised the possibility that it may impose further trade restrictions on the central American nation, which could include stripping 500 government insiders of their US visas. Previous rounds of sanctions have focused on President Daniel Ortega, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, who is Mr Ortega’s wife, and members of their family. But the new executive order greatly expands a Trump-era decree by accusing Mr Ortega of hijacking democratic norms, undermining the rule of law and using political violence against opponents. The order will make it all but illegal for US citizen to do business with Nicaragua’s gold industry.
Nicaragua’s Sandinista government used its platform at the United Nations General Assembly to call for a global rebellion against the “imperialist and capitalist system” that is “bleeding the world dry.” “It is time to say enough to the hypocritical imperialism that politicizes, falsifies, and denigrates human rights, that they themselves violate and deny every day,” declared Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada. “Imperialism and its coercive actions are anti-life, in all spheres, and because of this, they are contrary to international law,” he added. In his September 26 UN speech, Moncada proclaimed, “A better, just, multipolar world” is “already being built, and we are here to keep creating it, and to defend it.”
The international main-stream media rarely focuses on good news from Nicaragua, on its achievements in reducing poverty, and maternal and infant mortality, or on its expansion of health care, education, electrification, water and sewerage, renewable energy, and roadways. However, a recent article published on the web page of the Center for Strategic and International Studies conceded that Nicaragua had made major advances economically and, in spite of US sanctions, had “rebounded relatively well from Covid-19” and had ensured that Nicaraguans could feed themselves. The article noted that the Nicaraguan economy grew by 10.1% in 2021 and foreign investment increased by 39% from 2020 to 2021 with particular strength in energy and mining.
The top Latin America advisor for US President Joe Biden, Juan Sebastián González, threateningly said of Colombia’s new left-wing president: “40 years ago, the United States would have done everything possible to prevent the election of Gustavo Petro, and once in power it would have done almost everything possible to sabotage his government.” González is the Western hemisphere director for the US National Security Council (NSC). He previously worked in the State Department and NSC in the Barack Obama administration. González made these incendiary comments in Spanish in an interview with the Colombian media. Obliquely acknowledging the long history of US meddling in Latin America’s sovereign internal affairs, González added, “Those are the policies of the Cold War, that to a certain point today for some people are a justification from revisionist perspectives that characterize the policy of the United States in the context of a local manifestation of an empire.”
This past week, I visited the community of Tomabu in the department of Estelí. It is a small campo community with an incredibly curvy and uneven dirt road that leads to the top. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by Dolores and Bernardino in their home, where they shared with us that Dolores was born in the community and they have been campesinos/campesinas their entire lives, currently working with 4 manzanas of land, and that the community’s main crops are corn and beans Dolores and Bernardino have one of the ATC’s projects behind their home – cama profundas, as they are called in Spanish – a deep bed system for reproducing pigs that will either be sold within the community or consumed by community members. During our visit, we got to see the first piglets from the mother pig in the deep bed system.