As we all know, the U.S. already has imposed sanctions on Nicaragua, but they haven’t yet brought about the kind of hunger and poverty and suffering that some U.S. policymakers think is necessary to overthrow the popular Nicaraguan government. So there is a new sanctions bill co-sponsored by Marco Rubio and Tim Kaine that will try to further depress the Nicaraguan economy, increase unemployment, decrease revenue for the government’s popular programs so the government will be less popular. The stated goal is the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government and a “free and fair election” to replace Daniel Ortega.
These are times of challenges, of difficulties testing the revolutionary mettle of those who in our region of Latin America and the Caribbean at some point even took up arms to overthrow a pro-imperialist government in the service of Capital, in the service of drug trafficking. There are those who have stood firm throughout history, as all of you have stood firm, beloved brothers and sisters of the National Police, brothers and sisters of the Army, Sandinista sisters and brothers. Others take part for a while but when the conditions become adverse, then cowardice makes them change sides, cowardice makes them become agents of the Yankee Empire, and makes them betrayers, they betray themselves, betray those who gave their lives when they were leading those guerrilla movements.
The Sandinistas defined several specific goals in their vision of how they wanted the country to change. Regarding the Caribbean region, the vision was for people there to become full participants in the country. He stressed that achieving the goals in the Caribbean region were difficult, but this struggle succeeded in being able to implement the autonomy process, which is allowing the region to make a number of important changes for the development of the region. One of the first hurdles was the old thinking that national unity meant uniformity and homogeneity. This included only recognizing Spanish as the official language and a deaf ear to the whole concept of multiculturalism.
On June 27, 1986, the World Court condemned the United States for illegal war and aggression against Nicaragua and ordered the US to compensate Nicaragua for damages estimated to run to US$17 billion dollars, what today would be more than US$55 billion. On June 27 of this year, President Daniel Ortega demanded that the US fulfill its obligation. He stated, “On June 27, 1986, the International Court of Justice condemned the US and directed it to compensate Nicaragua for all damages caused as a consequence of military activities against Nicaragua. In a situation of armed aggression such as that carried out by the US, no amount of reparations – neither economic nor moral – could compensate for the devastation of the country, the loss of human lives and the physical and psychological wounds of the Nicaraguan people.
By July 2018, three months of violence—over 200 deaths on both sides, including 22 police officers, kidnappings, torture and destruction of property—had exhausted the Nicaraguan population, and they were desperate for the government to restore order. The calls for the government to clear the tranques (roadblocks) that had strangled the country became deafening. Daniel Ortega’s strategy had worked: had he removed the roadblocks too soon, the resistance might have been much more violent, and it would have left deeply divided communities. He had waited until he had the backing of most of the population.
The Nicaraguan people have struggled courageously to defend their right to determine their own future in the face of Washington’s assaults. From resisting the U.S.’s contra war of the 1980s to opposing the devastating impacts of neo-liberalism in the 1990s and early 2000s, which was imposed on the country following an electoral defeat in 1990 of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in an election taking place under the direct threat of military attacks by the U.S. armed and backed contras, the Sandinistas have led a relentless struggle to defend Nicaragua’s sovereignty and improve the living standards of the Nicaraguan people.
On December 9, 2022, the government of the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on Sadrach Zelodón Rocha and Yohaira Hernández Chirino, the well-known Sandinista mayor and vice mayor of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, accusing both of “promoting and supporting grievous violations of human rights.” The sanctions, subjecting both to “an asset freeze and travel ban,” also extended to members of their immediate families. As one of us has known Zeledón Rocha and the rest of his immediate family for more than 30 years, the accusations struck us mostly as false. Furthermore, if they turned out to be true, the punishments seemed strangely irrelevant given the magnitude of the crimes, since they almost certainly would have close to zero personal impact.
“We are fighting against the Yankee enemy of humanity,” explained Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, setting the tone of the 44th anniversary celebration of their revolution. Later, her husband Daniel Ortega, the country’s president, elaborated in his hour and a half address: “When we use the term Yankee we mean those who have a racist, imperialist attitude, which is not the case with the US people…Indisputably, given the weight of the capitalist system, the weight of the military-industrial complex will bend any president, who despite many promises he makes then comes to occupy the presidency of the US.”
The latest book by labor and human rights attorney, Daniel Kovalik, Nicaragua: A History of US Intervention & Resistance (2023, Clarity Press, 292 pages), is a worthy addition to the author’s collection of works on countries targeted by U.S. imperialism, such as Venezuela, Russia, and Iran. While giving readers a thoughtful and much fuller picture than one can glean from the corporate media, this volume tells an engaging tale based on personal experience and extensive research. Dan Kovalik is an author, activist and labor attorney.
Friday, June 30, WTF returned to Managua, Nicaragua to do follow-up study of Caribbean Coast government funded infrastructure projects and to celebrate the 44th Anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution on July 19. While on assignment, each week we will share with you segments of the documentary Nicaragua Against Empire. The film journals our March 2021 Sanctions Kill / Friends of the ATC, Nicaragua delegation. This episode is an inside look at the Latin American Institute of Agroecology (IALA) Ixim Ulew in Chontales, Nicaragua. Ixim Ulew means "Land of Corn" in Maya K’iche’, paying homage to the Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica.
In the United States, the word “socialism” has come to have a negative meaning. In that meaning, the word implies the loss of individual sovereignty, rejection of religion and the institution of authoritarian political measures. While denounced as socialist by U.S. propagandists and repeated by the ill-informed media, in fact, Nicaragua has a mixed economy based on traditional humane Christian spiritual beliefs under the concept of Sandinismo. It also encourages multiple political parties in line with genuinely social democratic ideals. The foreign media denounce the Ortega administration for its alleged oppression though, in reality, the people who have suffered at its hands are individuals and groups who have repeatedly taken part in U.S. regime-change violence against Nicaragua’s government, people and public institutions.
The U.K., along with the U.S. and Canadian governments and the European Union, has created a sanctions regime targeting around 40 countries across the globe. While economic sanctions against states are best-known, they also include thousands of individuals whose assets have been frozen or confiscated, their travel restricted and their ability to do business constrained. Typically, names are added to a government’s sanctions lists with no prior warning or “due process.” The individuals affected are in practice unable to challenge their inclusion, since it would require expensive legal action in different countries with an uncertain chance of success.
On July 19, Nicaraguans will celebrate the 44th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. This month also marks the fifth anniversary of the defeat of the US-backed coup attempt against President Daniel Ortega. Clearing the FOG speaks with solidarity activist and journalist John Perry, who is based in Masaya, about the state of the revolution today and what happened in 2018. Perry has been writing a series of articles about the role of the US and Catholic Church in the violent road blockades, attacks on Sandinista supporters, police and bystanders, and the destruction of public infrastructure. He also exposed the failures of major human rights organizations to report accurately on crimes committed by the opposition.
According to Amnesty International (AI), five years ago the Nicaraguan government committed an extraordinary and horrendous crime. In October 2018, AI published a report, Instilling Terror, concerning the violent coup attempt that took place in Nicaragua in April-July of that year. Among the incidents they covered, they gave prominence to a claim that on July 8, 2018, Faber López Vivas, a young member of the national police force’s Directorate of Special Operations, was the subject of a possible “extrajudicial execution” by his fellow police officers. The report alleged that two days earlier, disenchanted with his duties as a police officer, he attempted to resign.