“Sovereignty is not argued about it is defended” – Cesar Augusto Sandino. It is an irrefutable fact that the United States orchestrated, financed and unleashed the violent coup attempt in 2018 against the democratically elected FSLN government.
Spokespeople of the U.S. establishment, from former president Trump, extreme right-wing senators and deputies, all the way down the food chain of its formidable ‘regime change’ machinery, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and, of course, USAID, repeatedly stated their aim was to bring about ‘regime change’ in Nicaragua. In this connection, the significance of U.S. Nicaraguan proxies is ephemeral and purely utilitarian (does anybody remember Adolfo Calero, Miami-based Contra leader?). Such proxies are activated to sow chaos, violence and confusion to facilitate a U.S.-driven ‘regime change’ intervention, but for the huge U.S. democracy-crushing machine, when plans do not work, its proxies are disposable human assets. In the 2018 coup attempt, the operatives on the ground, disguised as civil society bodies committed to the rule of law, democracy, civil liberties, human rights and other fake descriptions, were in fact U.S.-funded proxies entrusted with the task to bring down the FSLN government by means of violence. The resistance of the Nicaraguan people defeated the coup and thus the nation will go to the polls in November 2021, prompting the U.S. ‘regime change’ apparatus to launch, in despair, an international campaign aimed at demonising the electoral process itself.
The brutal ‘regime change’ machinery
The US, through open and shady channels, disbursed millions to pay, organise, and train thousands of the cadre that would carry out the coup attempt in 2018. Between 2014 and 2017 the U.S. funded over 50 projects in Nicaragua for a total of US$4.2 million. Furthermore, William Grigsby, an investigative journalist, revealed that USAID and the NED distributed over US$30 million to a range of groups opposed to the Nicaraguan government who were involved in the violence of 2018.
A pro-U.S. commentator, writing in NED-funded magazine Global Americans (1 May 2018), admitted that these resources had been deployed to lay the ‘groundwork for insurrection’: “Looking back at the developments of the last several months it is now quite evident that the U.S. government actively helped build the political space and capacity of Nicaraguan society for the social uprising that is currently unfolding”. Furthermore, millions of U.S. taxpayers’ money also went into financing a Nicaraguan coup-plotting media.
The ingredients of U.S. ‘regime change’ operations are buttressed by illegal unilateral coercive measures (aka sanctions) aimed at isolating internationally the target government and causing as much havoc as possible to its economy so as to destabilise it thus bringing about a crisis, leading to the ousting of the government, and to a U.S.-led transition.
For example, since 2016-17, the U.S. has applied 431 and 243 sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba, respectively. With the NICA Act and the RENACER bill, the U.S. is piling up sanctions against Nicaragua’s economy and FSLN government officials. The strategy is invariably complemented by a worldwide intoxicating corporate media demonization campaign labelling these governments ‘authoritarian’ and ‘dictatorial’, sometimes going as far as charging them as ‘fascists’ and, in the case of Nicaragua, even of ‘Somocismo’.
This technique has been used in the efforts to violently oust the government of Venezuela (including the recognition of Juan Guaidó as “interim president”), and also in the recent violent push to overthrow the government in Cuba. U.S. National Security Adviser, John Bolton identified Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua (“a troika of tyranny”) as target governments to be overthrown. In the speech (1 Nov 2018), he also praised Bolsonaro as one of the “positive signs for the future of the region”).
U.S. war on Latin American democracy
Reams have been written about U.S. interventions in Latin America (and the world) both by U.S. sycophants and detractors, who, despite their antipodal viewpoints, agree that notwithstanding the altruistic pronouncements of U.S. officialdom and their accomplices, they have never led to the establishment of democracy and, in most cases, such as in Salvador Allende’s Chile, ended in its total destruction. Thus, the 1954 U.S. military invasion of Guatemala leading to the violent ousting of democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz, was celebrated by U.S. president Eisenhower as a “magnificent effort’ and “devotion to the cause of freedom”, an event that was followed by decades of US-supported and US-sponsored slaughter of well over 200,000 Guatemalans.
El Salvador did not have the ‘benefit’ of a U.S. military invasion but in the 1980s, U.S.-funded, US-trained and U.S.-armed death squads, would slaughter about 80,000 mostly innocent civilians.
Nicaragua has been the target of many U.S. interventions, the largest being the military invasion of 1926-1933 that was heroically resisted by General Sandino’s guerrillas. It did not lead to anything resembling democracy but to the 43 years-long Somoza dictatorship that ended in 1979, when the Sandinista revolution implemented democracy for the first time in the country’s history. Sadly, the U.S. sought to prevent Nicaragua from pursuing an alternative, democratic, sovereign pathway by unleashing a destructive war by proxy through organising, funding, training, arming and directing the Contras under the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. The war led to the obliteration of the economy, the electoral defeat of the FSLN in 1990, and to well over 40,000 people killed. The Sandinistas respected the election result – even though it had been obtained under U.S.-led war conditions – did not engage in violent confrontations during the 16 years of neoliberal governments (1990-2006), and participated in all electoral processes during that period, dutifully recognising unfavourable election results in 1990, 1996, and 2001.
Neoliberalism in Nicaragua was socially and economically disastrous: by 2005, 62% of the population was below the poverty line with high levels of extreme poverty (14% in 2009); 85% had no access to healthcare systems; 64% of the economically active were in the informal sector with no pension or health cover; the level of illiteracy was 22% even though it had been eradicated during the 1979-1990 Sandinista government, and so forth, mirroring neoliberal wreckage elsewhere in the region.
Unsurprisingly, the FSLN gathered electoral strength: winning the presidency by 38% in 2006; re-elected in 2011 with 63% and again with 72% in 2016. The return of the FSLN to government in 2006 led to a reduction of poverty to 24.9% and extreme poverty to 7% in 2016, on the back of a 4.7% average rate of economic growth, one of the highest in the region. The country’s social economy, driven primarily by the informal sector, was given a gigantic impetus making Nicaragua 90% self-sufficient in food (a dream for nations under U.S. siege, such as Cuba and Venezuela). By 2018-19 poverty had been halved, 1.2 million children were taken out of food poverty, 27,378 new classrooms had been built, 11,000 new teachers had been employed, 353 new healthcare units had been created including 109 birth & childcare facilities, 229 health centres, 15 primary hospitals, plus social housing, social security, the mass inclusion of women earning the nation the 5th world position on gender equality, and much more. So why would the FSLN, enjoying an electoral support of 70%+, resort to state violence in 2018 when the economy was going well, social indexes were improving and standards of living going up? Why would the FSLN turn viciously against its own people by becoming a dictatorship overnight?