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  • A supporter of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega takes part in an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, in Managua

    A supporter of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega takes part in an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, in Managua | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 August 2019

There has always been significant neocolonial left-wing opinion in North America and Europe, willingly misled by supposedly liberal or progressive news media.

Progressives in Europe and North America attacking Nicaragua's Sandinista government consistently exclude from their version of events in 2018 the extreme, sadistic violence and economic hardship imposed on Nicaragua's people by the country's U.S.-supported political opposition. The demonstrable facts of the failed attempt to overthrow President Ortega stubbornly contradict the outright lies and misrepresentations promoted by the Nicaraguan opposition's foreign supporters.

Consequently, Western progressives opposed to President Ortega's government face various intractable dilemmas as they try in vain to distance themselves from the country's U.S.-owned right-wing political opposition, suppressing the fact that the center-right MRS party, whose propaganda they promote, lobbied for support from extreme right-wing U.S. Congress members Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros Lehtinen. In Ireland, the latest ploy by progressives to cover up their association with Nicaragua’s right-wing has been to revive the long moribund Irish Nicaragua Solidarity Group.

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40th Anniversary of the Sandinista Victory—But So Much More

In this context, the solidarity tag invokes the phony, US-driven, anti-monster hyperbole familiar from NATO government and media propaganda against, among others, Syria and Venezuela, rather than anti-imperialist support for governments and peoples resisting the U.S. and allied country sanctions and threats of intervention. This political alignment immediately compounds the initial dilemma facing Western supporters of the Nicaraguan opposition. Their recycling of falsehoods and misrepresentations promoted by Nicaragua’s right-wing opposition is further exposed by the lack of anyone to show solidarity within Nicaragua untainted by their association with that same US-owned right wing. Essentially, their dilemma derives from class loyalties leading them naturally to support their class counterparts in Nicaragua: unrepresentative NGO managers, marginal phony revolutionaries, minority social democrat politicians and their associated media. 

In Nicaragua, there is no credible left-wing opposition to President Ortega’s Sandinista government outside the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN). The authoritative M&R opinion polling consultants' survey of May this year showed that the main opposition political parties, all of whom are right-wing, together have the same level of national support they had consistently between 2011 and 2018, namely under 10%. No political left-wing with significant support exists. Implicitly recognizing this, North American and European progressives tend to argue that, absent any representative left-wing political party, they support purportedly progressive social movements opposed to the government. But a look at the role of those social movements' in last year's failed coup attempt reveals that they have zero claims to a progressive program with majority support.

The main participants in the failed coup attempt were: the US government supported the Sandinista Renewal Movement, along with ex-Sandinista allies like Monica Baltodano and her circle; the most reactionary Catholic Church bishops; the main private employers organization COSEP; US and EU country-funded NGOs; the foreign-funded Anti Canal Movement and the extreme right-wing Ciudadanos por la Libertad political party as well as individual local politicians, mayors for example, from the other right-wing political parties. The coup attempt was stridently supported by U.S. government-funded media oligarch Carlos Fernando Chamorro and other sympathetic right-wing media. 

Given the unprecedented psychological warfare assault, a large number of Nicaraguan students understandably initially supported the coup. But the great majority of public university students realized within a couple of weeks that the coup attempt was in fact a class war against them and their families. That was made very clear when Nicaragua’s wealthiest business leader Piero Coen, on Saturday, April 21, 2018, publicly declared his support, urging demonstrators to continue their violent protests. 

The class attack on low-income students and their families intensified with the violent, criminal occupation of the UNAN and UPOLI, universities serving students from low-income families while private universities were left untouched, and by the opposition's attempted murder of student leader Leonel Morales because he opposed the coup attempt. Most private university students supported the opposition violence at arms' length, so long as they were not directly affected. Likewise, opposition feminist NGO leaders, with practically no social base, openly worked in alliance with the most reactionary anti-abortion Catholic bishops, with the wealthy private business leaders of COSEP as well as with well-known right-wing politicians.

On the other hand, women opposing the coup attempt included the huge mass membership of women in the country’s labor unions, cooperative movement and popular economy organizations. Women now comprise around 45% of all cooperative members (112,000 out of 253,000 in 2014), compared to just 26% in 2006. This and similar facts, like Nicaragua’s leading global example in women’s political representation or the halving of maternal mortality since 2006, attest to the unprecedented advances of women in Nicaragua since 2006, a process led by the FSLN, guided in particular by Vice President Rosario Murillo. Those advances contradict attacks on the government by unrepresentative feminist NGO leaders, including beneficiaries of US government funding like Sofia Montenegro and Violeta Granera, and other marginal figures, like Sandra Ramos or Azahalea Solis.

After the violent events of April 18th-April 23rd, involving well organized, extremely violent armed opposition attacks in at least ten important towns and cities, including Managua, Masaya, Leon, Granada, Jinotepe, Diriamba, Estelí and Bluefields, resistance to the attempted overthrow of the government quickly consolidated.

It included all the main labor unions; all the main cooperative organizations; all the main organizations representing small and medium-sized businesses; the nationwide Association of Rural Workers which is a member of Via Campesina; the main students’ union and, too, the Senior Citizens Union. On the Caribbean Coast, most indigenous and afrodescendant organizations supported the government. That reality further compounds the dilemma facing foreign progressives opposed to Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, because it renders absolutely clear the class war embodied in the failed coup attempt of 2018.

Ex-Sandinistas like Henry Ruiz and Monica Baltodano openly allied with the private big business owners of COSEP, with the most reactionary Catholic bishops, with US-funded proxies like Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Sofia Montenegro, among a host of other foreign government-funded figures, including CENIDH’s Vilma Nuñez. Monica Baltodano herself was a deputy for the center-right Sandinista Renewal Movement from 2007 to 2011 and consistently voted with Nicaragua’s right-wing political parties in the National Assembly.

More recently, she and her daughter Monica López have championed the Anti-Canal Movement, which has a limited rural base in Nicaragua’s central southern farming region and is most associated with Francisca Ramirez, a landowner and businesswoman from Nueva Guinea who poses misleadingly as a simple Campesina. They have worked closely with Nicaragua’s right-wing for years, for example with the right-wing media owner and former presidential candidate Fabio Gadea.

Not one of these so-called civil society leaders condemned the violence perpetrated by their militant supporters and paid delinquents at the numerous barricades and roadblocks set up in part to try and paralyze the country’s economic life and in part to terrorize people at grassroots.

To the contrary, they encouraged it and suppressed the truth of incidents such as the massacre of four police officers and a school teacher in El Morrito on July 12, 2018 carried out by Anti Canal Movement militants operating roadblocks under the leadership of Medardo Mairena. Vilma Nuñez's CENIDH activists violently invaded the UNAN campus and persistently broadcast systematic lies accusing the police and security forces of extremely serious crimes now proven categorically to have been committed by the opposition, for example, the family notoriously burned to death in Managua's Carlos Marx district on June 16, 2018.

All of this means that people in Ireland or anywhere else in North America and Europe expressing solidarity with the political opposition to President Daniel Ortega are supporting organizations and individuals allied with extreme right-wing politicians, with corporate capitalist business leaders, with local US-funded NGO mercenaries and with the most reactionary representatives of the Catholic Church hierarchy.

No other political opposition exists, either among Nicaragua's social movements or its political organizations. The M&R May 2019 poll results categorically confirm the lack of public support for Nicaragua's opposition. Even back in September 2018, only 28% of people in Nicaragua wanted to continue protests via barricades and roadblocks. By May 2019 that figure had dropped to 10%, with 32% of people in Nicaragua opposing President Ortega and 59% supporting him and his government. 

The dilemmas facing Western opponents of President Ortega's Sandinista government have led them into completely demented cognitive dissonance. Progressive foreign opponents of President Ortega simultaneously say they oppose US intervention while supporting a Nicaraguan opposition calling precisely for….U.S. intervention and sanctions. They claim to be anti-imperialist while contradicting explicit support for Nicaragua’s FSLN government from the most important anti-imperialist mass political front in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Foro Sao Paulo. They claim to be democratic while deliberately omitting and suppressing abundant information available within Nicaragua that would allow the general public in North America and Europe a true and fair view explaining President Ortega's majority support. 

These attitudes and behavior are nothing new. There has always been significant neocolonial left-wing opinion in North America and Europe, willingly misled by supposedly liberal or progressive news media and disingenuous NGOs like Amnesty International. But for the last thirty years, the same lies and psy-warfare motifs have been constantly repeated to the point where there is no excuse to fall for them yet again. As in the case of Venezuela, Syria or Iran, most Western progressives readily attack majority world governments and movements legitimately defending their national sovereignty. Nicaragua is another example of this kind of neocolonial injustice promoted by Western progressives colluding with the self-same imperialist policies they falsely claim to oppose.

Stephen Sefton, Tortilla con Sal, August 12th 2018

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