The Nicaraguan crisis: A U.S. regime-change operation

MIAMI – Over the past four and a half months western corporate news reports about Nicaragua have painted a harrowing picture about the Central American country historically known for a revolutionary legacy that has put the nation at odds with United States foreign policy and interests. In this latest iteration of conflict between the two nations, the United States has made full use of its global propaganda machine and regime change apparatus not only to create chaos and instability there, but also to politically and diplomatically isolate it from the rest of the world.

The aim? To overthrow the Sandinista government and install a neoliberal puppet government in its place.

What we are hearing vs. what is happening

Whether we are getting our news from western media organizations like The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, the BBC, or any of the many U.S.-financed opposition news outlets in Nicaragua, the narrative about the recent wave of violence and chaos that has engulfed the country has remained uniform:

This past April the Sandinista government approved a series of reforms to the country’s social security institute, which prompted students to go out into the streets to protest. The government then unleashed its police force against the students and other protesters who were peaceful. From then on the government went on a killing rampage that resulted in the deaths of more than 400 peaceful protesters.

This narrative has not only been adopted and promoted by U.S.-financed non-profits and opposition news media organizations in Nicaragua, but also by national and international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. On the political and diplomatic front, Inter American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), the “human rights” arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OUNHCHR), have also taken the opposition accounts and included them in their reports without verifying the facts or vetting the organizations that produced the narrative in the first place.

The IMF, the U.S., and the Nicaraguan right

The opposition’s account, however, does not stand to scrutiny. For starters, it was the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and a powerful private business group (COSEP), who supported the original reforms to the social security institute, which included cutting out 53,000 retirees, doubling the number of contributions necessary to qualify for retirement, and changing the retirement age from 60 to 65. The government responded with a counter offer that didn’t cut anyone out, or changed the number of contributions or age of retirement, but increased contributions by employees and employers, and removed a salary cap to ensure Nicaragua’s highest paid persons pay in accordance with their income. The counter reforms incurred the wrath of Nicaragua’s wealthiest business people, who were in turn the ones who called for the initial protests, at first attended only by university students trained by organizations financed and directed by United States regime change agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The vast majority of political entities behind the opposition, starting with the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), the oligarchic political parties, media outlets, Catholic schools and churches, non-profit organizations, university students, and people from different sectors, have received financing from the USAID, NED, and other U.S. agencies. Many of the leaders, according to WikiLeaks’s embassy cables, have been meeting with U.S. officials at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, some since the 90s, and a couple of them since the late 70s, when the U.S. began trying to figure out who would replace Nicaragua’s embattled U.S.-supported dictator as “their new man.”

Human rights for regime change

The human rights organizations are all politicized against the Sandinista government. One of them, the ANPDH (Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights), was founded and financed by the Reagan Administration in the 80s for the sole purpose of white-washing the atrocities of the Contras, the mercenary army trained and financed by the U.S. with money from drug and weapons’ sales to Iran. The other organizations, national and international, also receive most, if not all, of their funding from the United States and Europe. They too have played a destabilizing role in Nicaragua by republishing accounts of government killings and atrocities without verifying the sources or conducting any kind of fact checking. 

One could look into the death reports, accusations of corruption and repression, the portrayal of the opposition as peaceful, none of the accusations publicized by these national and international groups, and easily see that not one matches even the most relaxed standards of journalistic or fact checking standards. However, they are supported and promoted by the most powerful country on earth against a small developing nation. So… they get away with it.

In all truth, the opposition has been made up of a mixture of U.S. trained operatives embedded within private university programs, non-profit organizations, media outlets, churches, and political organizations, that have unleashed a wave of political assassinations, destruction of government institutions, undermining of the economy, and a number of other tactics and strategies implemented through social media platforms and international news and human rights organizations, all in order to bring about the demise of the Sandinista government.

Why Nicaragua?

Because Nicaragua has been a thorn on the side of the United States since its very independence, or soon thereafter. Starting with interests around a possible U.S. canal through Nicaragua in the 1850s, and continuing with military invasions and occupations in the 1920s and 1930s, the 40-plus years of the Somoza family dictatorship, the Contra war, and this latest attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government, the United States has been trying to impose its will upon Nicaragua, and has always faced fierce resistance. In 2013 Nicaragua signed a concession law giving a Chinese company the rights to build and manage an interoceanic canal, which might require the Chinese to sell U.S. debt in order to start construction.

This time around Nicaragua, one of the least developed nations in the American Hemisphere, has managed to build a strong economy, much to the benefit of its poorest citizens, largely outside of neoliberal standards. Prior to the beginning of the protests in April, Nicaragua boasted one of the fasted growing economies in Latin America, with a steady 5% annual growth for the past few years. The country cut poverty by two thirds in record time since the Sandinistas returned to power in 2006. 

Nicaraguan citizens produce approximately 90 percent of the food eaten in the country. Lastly, Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in all of Latin America, and has been able to prevent the Central American drug cartels from establishing a presence there, which accounts for the lack of migration to the United States or other nations, as in the case of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Such a level of success happening outside the austerity-and-privatization, neoliberal economic model favored by the most powerful countries of the world does not sit well with the United States. The present aggression against Nicaragua merely seeks to turn Nicaragua’s economy into a cheap market so transnational corporations can easily ransack its natural resources and exploit its citizens.

The way forward

It is of the utmost importance for conscious Americans, especially within the veteran community, to stand up against U.S. interference in Nicaragua’s affairs. Such solidarity should include an effort to become informed about and vehemently oppose new forms of intervention into the affairs of other sovereign nations, even when such interventions are endorsed by reputable media and human rights groups that lend a veil of acceptance of the false narratives, when in reality they are doing the bidding of their funders, much to the detriment of those who depend on them to tell the truth. It falls upon us to find that truth, to expose it, and to defend it at all cost.

Camilo Mejía is a writer and political activist who lives in Miami. Born in Managua in 1975 to Sandinista parents, Camilo grew up in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the United States, where he joined the military at age 19. His on-the-ground experience in Iraq, along with his initial opposition to the war, led him to publicly refuse to return to his unit after a two-week furlough in the United States. In May 2003, Camilo was found guilty of desertion by a military court martial, and sentenced to 12 months of incarceration at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His conviction prompted Amnesty International to adopt him as a prisoner of conscience, the first in the U.S. since the Persian Gulf War, and to launch an international campaign demanding his safety and immediate release.

(From Tirades and Diatribes)