an unusual and extraordinary threatPosted: December 2, 2018
So it came to pass. Trump, following in Reagan’s footsteps, has passed an Executive Order describing Nicaragua as an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat’, and declared ‘a state of emergency to deal with that threat‘. On the same day, the NICA Act passed the US Senate, which will allow it to be signed off by Trump in the near future. The sanctions it contains on Nicaragua seek to cut the country off from international loans, which help fund economic development and social programmes. There’s no doubt that the sanctions will lead to hardship and, in some cases, threaten lives. But that is their point. Like the blockade against Cuba and the sanctions against Venezuela, they are there, as Nixon ordered the CIA in Chile, to ‘make the economy scream’.
Just in case we were in any doubt, the White House National Security Advisor, John Bolton, helped us understand in a speech on November 1. Bolton has been at the heart of US imperialism for decades. In his speech he praised Brazil’s fascist president Jair Bolsonaro. He went on to name Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as the ‘troika of tyranny’, with Bolivia also in his sights.
On Saturday in Adelante! Latin America Conference 2018 these countries were attacked by SOS Nicaragua UK for standing in solidarity with each other. Even a cursory glance at their twitter feed reveals that the agenda goes beyond changing the government in Nicaragua. Venezuela and Bolivia are also due for the same treatment.
It is important to put the attempted coup in a regional context. You only need to look over the border in Honduras. The country has been receiving global attention because of the ‘caravana’ of refugees which made its way to the US border before the mid-term elections in early November. Very few articles looked at the reasons why.
Honduras during the 1980s was known as ‘USS Honduras’. the US Army’s Central American aircraft carrier. Today the US is strengthening its presence in Honduras, particularly around the Soto Cano Air Base, where 600 US military personnel are permanently stationed. It is the centre for the US military’s operation against drugs in Central America, and has recently seen its runway facilities improved. President Manuel Zelaya’s opposition to the US presence in Honduras was one of the main reasons he was removed in a coup in 2009 (see here for an analysis of the effects of the US military presence on Honduras).
In the decade under Reagan huge joint US-Honduras military wargames consisted of thousands of US troops landing in Honduras, then leaving their equipment for the Contra. Trump has already talked about a military invasion of Venezuela. So watch out for ramped up military ‘wargames’ in Honduras. We know what the results will be.