During the 21st century, the US, working with corporate elites, traditional oligarchies, military, and corporate media, has continually attempted coups against Latin American governments which place the needs of their people over US corporate interests. US organized coups in Latin American countries is hardly a 20th century phenomenon. However, this century the US rulers have turned to a new coup strategy, relying on soft coups, a significant change from the notoriously brutal military hard coups in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and other countries in the 1970s. One central US concern in these new coups has been to maintain a legal and democratic facade as much as possible. The US superpower recognizes successful soft coups depend on mobilizing popular forces in anti-government marches and protests.
Nicaragua has an election to choose their president and national assembly on November 7. According to polls, the Sandinista Front (FSLN) currently in government is expected to win the presidency and a majority of seats in the assembly. At the same time, the Sandinista government is intensely disliked by Washington and there has been a steady stream of negative news and accusations. One theme of accusations concerns the indigenous peoples. In October 2020, PBS Newshour broadcast an episode claiming the US is importing “conflict beef” from the indigenous regions of Nicaragua. This story relied on an Oakland Institute report which alleges rampant violence against indigenous communities and a complicit Nicaraguan government.
Nicaragua has been under heavy fire from the corporate-owned media lately. The government of Daniel Ortega has arrested several opposition figures in the midst of an upcoming election. The US government and corporate media have been expressing their outrage about what they consider to be the growing dictatorial nature of the Ortega ‘regime’. But there is more to the story than they let on. A deeper investigation shows that the situation is not as clear-cut as they make out. And as is so often the case with Latin America, it falls to independent media to add some nuance and balance to the flagrantly right-leaning and pro-Washington coverage of the corporate-owned press.
We have had a good many people to write us and ask us what in the world is going on in Nicaragua as they read all the international reporting. This is our attempt at trying to put the recent arrests in a way that people living in the United States might better understand. We are finding that if we do comparisons, that other people can maybe get a feeling of what this little nation that we love so much is doing. First let us explain some before we get to the comparisons between Nicaragua and the U.S. USAID and other U.S. government entities have sent astronomical sums of money to NGOs in Nicaragua, a poor country of only 6.5 million people. A comparison of the wealth of the two countries makes the figures even more outrageous. Nicaragua’s GDP is around $12 billion, while the GDP of the US is around $21 trillion—that makes the U.S. economy more than 1,750 times larger than Nicaragua’s. We multiplied the figures of money sent to Nicaragua by 1,750 to show what an equivalent sum would mean in the U.S. in the comparisons below.
Since the Sandinistas won the 2006 election their anti-poverty policies have had enormous success. The country is 90% self-sufficient in food. 99% of the population have electricity in their homes that is now generated with 70+% green energy; International financial Institutions including the World Bank, the International Development Bank and The Central American Bank for Economic Integration praise Nicaragua for its excellent, efficient project execution. it has one of the best health systems in Latin America praised by the International Monetary Fund, with 20 new state of the art hospitals since 2007 achieving one of the lowest Covid mortality rates in the world. Poverty, extreme poverty, maternal, child and infant mortality have all been cut at least in half. Nicaragua is number one in the world in both women in politics and women in ministerial positions and it is fifth in gender equity behind the Nordic nations.
The first and most important element of context is that Nicaragua is a country under attack. Since the 2018 coup attempt, documents have come to light indicating that the leaders of the violence were receiving tens of millions of dollars from such CIA front groups as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) through programs to “promote democracy” and “facilitate transition”—code words for regime change. Additionally, as revealed in August 2020, there is an ongoing USAID coup plot called Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (RAIN) which seeks to ensure that this year’s election results in a government to the liking of the U.S. The document even admits that the FSLN is likely to win in a fair election, in which case a “sudden, unanticipated transition” may be necessary.
The US government has spent years cultivating a ring of right-wing media outlets in Nicaragua that played a central role in a violent 2018 coup attempt. This network is now being investigated by the Nicaraguan government on allegations of money laundering. These publications are an integral part of a political opposition that Washington has carefully managed, trained, and funded with millions of dollars over the past decade. While relentlessly accusing Nicaragua’s leftist government of corruption, they have been suspiciously obscure with their own finances and record-keeping. The institution at the heart of the US-backed influence network is called the Fundación Violeta Barrios de Chamorro para la Reconciliación y la Democracia, or Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy – often referred to simply as the Chamorro Foundation.
On Tuesday, May 19, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, decried that the US government “is already taking too long” to respond to the diplomatic note sent to the US Embassy in Mexico, last May 6. The aforementioned note, sent by the government of Mexico, sought explanation regarding the financing of the NGO Mexicans against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), as well as funding of other political groups disguised as civil associations.
Red Lines host Anya Parampil explores a new report issued by USAID's Office of the Inspector General which admits the agency's policy on Venezuela was driven by the State Department and National Security Council's push for regime change. The report specifically investigated USAID's attempt to use the US military to force aid through Venezuela's border with Colombia on February 23, 2019. Anya highlights the most interesting findings in the audit, including that USAID failed to put proper fraud controls in place in order to appease US officials seeking to overthrow Venezuela's elected government.
It took a variety of approaches to market the 2003 war on Iraq. For some it was to be a defense against an imagined threat. For others it was false revenge. But for Samantha Power it was philanthropy. She said at the time, “An American intervention likely will improve the lives of the Iraqis. Their lives could not get worse, I think it’s quite safe to say.” Needless to say, it wasn’t safe to say that. Did Power learn a lesson? No, she went on to promote a war on Libya, which proved disastrous. Then did she learn? No, she took an explicit position against learning, publicly arguing for the duty not to dwell on the results in Libya as that might impede willingness to wage war on Syria.
President-elect Joe Biden has selected longtime Democratic insider Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “There is simply no one better to ensure our development agenda is a core pillar of our foreign policy,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said in a video statement, claiming that, under previous Democratic administrations Power, “fought tirelessly to prioritize human rights.” USAID styles itself as a human rights organization, a Washington-sponsored group promoting democracy and development around the world. But if one delves deeper than merely the surface level, the organization has been crucial in financing a number of regime change operations across the globe.
Just when it seemed that Joe Biden’s coming administration couldn’t be more of a horror show, Axios reported that he’s likely to appoint another monster from the deep, violent know-it-all Samantha Power, to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID). I rescheduled my piece on contact tracing’s potential to further empower the surveillance state for next year’s first Black Agenda Report and instead updated my 2015 piece “Samantha Power: Africa’s Problem from Hell.” As I said then, when Power was serving the second of her four years as President Obama’s US Ambassador to the UN, she was on a mission to save Africans from African savagery, but her largesse extends to all those who need American bombs to calm ethnic strife.
Organizations that led the coup attempt in 2018 against the constitutional government of President Daniel Ortega, continue to receive foreign funding from the United States and some European countries. The latest information on USAID funding of the US-directed opposition was made available by journalist William Grigsby on Radio La Primerísima’s Sin Fronteras Magazine. USAID fiscal year 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020-Sept. 30, 2021) foreign assistance includes “funds to support the restoration of democracy and human rights in the region.”
A recently leaked USAID document highlights “the breadth and complexity of the US government’s plan to interfere in Nicaragua’s internal affairs up to and after its presidential election in 2021.” The stated aim is to replace president Daniel Ortega with “a government committed to the rule of law, civil liberties, and a free civil society.” HighlightingWashington’s aim, Ben Norton notes, “the 14-page USAID document employed the word ‘transition’ 102 times, including nine times on the first page alone.”
Masaya, Nicaragua - An extraordinary leaked document gives a glimpse of the breadth and complexity of the US government’s plan to interfere in Nicaragua’s internal affairs up to and after its presidential election in 2021. The plan, a 14-page extract from a much longer document, dates from March-April this year and sets the terms for a contract to be awarded by USAID (a “Request for Task Order Proposal”). It was revealed by reporter William Grigsby from Nicaragua’s independent Radio La Primerisima and describes the task of creating what the document calls “the environment for Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.”