In recent weeks Nicaragua, a nation never far from the minds of western intelligence agencies, has once again become a hot topic in the global media even popping up in our local papers. The nation, which is soon to have an election, is on the lips of The Guardian, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and more due to the fact that reporters and politicians have been arrested. Reading these papers, one would be forgiven for thinking that the nation has fallen into the hands of a dictator, that people en masse are being rounded up and that dissent, especially the peaceful variety, has been all but silenced.
The media shows proof of this by giving us what is admittedly a long list of journalists and politicians who have been locked up by the state and persons who have fled the state seeking to arrest them, but as with everything in this world and especially news dealing with nations that are deemed enemies of the West, all is not is as it would seem to be when looked at with sober eyes not blinded by partisan politics.
Context, that is a thing which always seems to be lacking with these news reports, and context is always important when presenting a story or relaying information of events in the world, so let us lay out the context for recent events in Nicaragua.
To do this we must begin in 1979, when the FSLN movement ousted the Somoza dictatorship. This movement was and remains a broad national front which is dominated by members who are ideologically left-wing (socialists, Marxists, communists etc), but as a broad national front also includes capitalists, the clergy and everything in between. From day one this government was targeted by the US sponsored, trained, and armed contra movement whose aim was to overthrow the revolutionary FSLN government and re-instate a dictatorship amenable to the US. After 11 years of terrorism the people of Nicaragua voted to remove the FSLN movement so that the contras would end their rampage through the country which after all had the express aim of destabalising the country until the FSLN were removed.
In 2006, some 16 years after the people were terrorized into removing the FSLN, they were voted back into office and the movement which still retains its eclectic but left dominated mix, resumed where it left off in creating a nation which would be independent of US dictates and lift the standard of living of its population. Sanctions were re-imposed on Nicaragua shortly after and remain in place, and the US did what it does best, through USAID it sponsored the opposition and funded NGOs and journalists, turning them into tools of US imperialism (though truth be told many of these people were members of the contras in the 80s).
In 2018, violence erupted in Nicaragua with FSLN members along with citizens who had no political leanings whatsoever being lynched in the streets, women raped, children killed, and police outposts firebombed and under a hail of constant gunfire, all committed by far-right thugs. The perpetrators were known to be sponsored by the US, UK, Canada, the EU and their ‘aid’ agencies and the state once calm had been restored as opposed to handing out lengthy jail sentences (as is the case in the UK, France, and the US) gave them a slap on the wrist and sent them on their way. The violence was disproportionately one sided and came from the US backed opposition, the police were begging to be given the order to retreat of fight back, but the state said no. The army was ready to go out and restore order by dealing with the renegades and coup mongers, but the government said no those days of the army killing citizens left with Somoza. It was the people who on 2018 ended the violence, it was the brave men and women in the cities, the campesinos in the countryside and university students who restored order and subverted the US backed coup.
Now that in 2021 these people, these coup mongers, have received their just rewards and have either been banned from running in election or arrested for breaching Nicaraguan law the West led by the US that paragon of virtue is crying foul and labeling Ortega a dictator. The truth is they have broken the law, USAID has been banned from Nicaragua and accepting money from them is a crime with persons and institutions which do so being liable for arrest and being wound up. Where in this scenario of Chamorro and co, persons who were not only known to be trying to overthrow the government, but openly bragged about trying to oust Ortega in 2018 being barred from elections or arrested can the state be deemed in the wrong? Is it in upholding national law, abiding by court rulings, following the will of the people or the defence of national integrity that they have messed up or some other area?
The US as we all saw during the Trump presidency will arrest you if they think you are working for a foreign country (or at least the wrong foreign country), the electoral laws of Jamacia have sanctions for parties which accept foreign donations, and the list of nations goes on. Why is Nicaragua any different in that when it aims to uphold its laws that it comes under threat? Why do they warrant weeks of news ink, for that matter, why does the government of Bolivia come under attack for arresting their coup plotters or Cuba condemned for arresting dissident artists?
We know why these actions are taken by the Nicaraguan, Cuban and Bolivian governments and it is not because they fear or despise opposition. Anyone who has spoken to people in or from those nations know they will freely express criticism and sometimes very scathing criticism of their governments, that is not the issue. The attempted violent overthrow of the government is the problem and we in the global south who have been on the receiving end of this sort of ‘western concern’ know to think twice when we see even the Antiguan ambassador to the OAS, a man who genuinely means well, express concern over Nicaragua. The concern is not the Nicaraguan government and their arrests and barring of politicians but of continued US aggression against Nicaragua. It is their use of internal proxies which forces Nicaragua to take measures which seem extreme at first but upon closer examination are revealed to be the only logical option.
Yes, Nicaragua is arresting some members of the opposition and some members of the journalistic community, but that is not the beginning and to omit the reasons for their arrest or feeling the need to flee does an injustice to the Nicaraguan people who have repeatedly said no to these quislings and compradors and does a disservice to people across the world who wish to know the truth of the matter in that nation. I don’t expect everyone to be a dyed in the wool communist-socialist, I don’t expect everyone to like the FSLN movement, but I do know that people in the global south who are not communists side with the government on this cause because they understand that the crime they have committed is that of putting the interest of the nation before that of the empire.
We must not lose sight of the fact that the US then and now has it out for Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia as it relates to this hemisphere and that any action which these nations take as it relates to national security and justice must be viewed though that lens or with that fact in mind. To pretend that we live in a Utopia where violence can be eschewed and our violent and well-funded opponents can have the same rights as the masses is naïve and to practice such policies would have seen the Bolivarian revolution rolled back, the Cuban revolution strangled and the FSLN revolution decapitated, destroying the true and tangible changes which they have brought to their nations such as food security (Nicaragua), one million houses (Venezuela), and a world class medical sector (Cuba).
We must stand with Nicaragua, push back on the propaganda which emanates from the US and her allies and ensure that the nation and its people are able to see their people’s revolution to its conclusion. It is funny that we are told how much of a dictator Ortega is, how he and his ‘clique’ rule with an iron fist and alone. The FSLN movement is at its heart a grassroots people’s movement which is lead in a bottom-up fashion, all decisions must be ratified by the base first before they are sent to the party executive, and the party base makes up the bulk of the politically active population and population of voting age. It is an insult to these people who through their sweat and blood won freedom, endured a counterrevolution and regained power to say that they are ruled by a dictator, these brave men and women would never accept it and they would be the first to move against anyone who sought to impose themselves as one, they the people armed ended the coup in 2018 and it is they who will guarantee the security of the revolution.
The counterrevolutionaries will fail, the Caribbean though worried will not be broken, even if its politicians are, the people will not be, they have long memories, and the scars will never heal as we remember our own dealings with the US when we had independent minded leaders. The government and people of Nicaragua must do whatever is needed to ensure that subversion is ended, and that saboteurs and coup plotters are rounded up or hounded out, this must be endorsed by everyone. We must in a united voice say that no one has the right to interfere with another country’s sovereignty and elections, no one has the right to oust another government, and no one has the right to practice imperialism, we must stand with the oppressed nations and as such we must stand with Nicaragua and the FSLN movement as they seek to continue their people’s revolution acting as living proof that another better way is indeed possible.