Even over the holidays things didn’t calm down for Nicaragua. During the break the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States, Luis Almagro, has tried to begin proceedings against Nicaragua under the Inter-American Decmocratic Charter. He cited Article 20 of the Charter, which states it can be activated when a “member state produces an alteration in the constitutional order that seriously harms democratic order” (see here for a typical report on the story, which was taken from Associated Press coverage).
Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister, Denis Moncada Colindres, responded immediately, writing to his fellow Ministers in the OAS. He said:
“The Inter-American Democratic Charter does not empower Secretary General Luis Almagro to support coup groups against the State and the legally constituted Government of Nicaragua, as Mr Luis Almagro has done in violation of the Charter of the OAS….”.
A full radio interview with Denis Moncada is available here on a US public radio station.
The aim of the move by Almagro is not to expel Nicaragua from the OAS (though that is possible), but to speed up the sanctions against Nicaragua proposed by the United States in the recently signed off NICA Act.
Nicaragua clashed with Almagro earlier this autumn, when the OAS Secretary General called for military intervention in Venezuela. His remarks came days after US Senator Marco Rubio (who has been the main cheerleader for the Nicaraguan opposition during the attempted coup) called for military action to remove President Maduro, and also called for the international community to ‘asphixiate the dictatorsip which is being installed in Nicaragua” (see here). Almagro’s remarks were widely condemned, even as he tried to say he had been misquoted. However he still drew criticism for his increasingly hawkish views (see here for a response from the OAS Ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda – No Vigilante Action in the Americas).
The Nicaraguan opposition visited Washington this autumn after Almagro’s military intervention comments. Violeta Granera, an ex-vice presidential candidate with the PLI and a former minister in the Bolanos Government 2000-7, joined fellow Liberal Jose Pallais (a former deputy Foreign Minister during the Chamorro Government 1990-97) to lobby Alamagro to activate the Democratic Charter (see here).
The pair are no strangers to Almagro, or indeed in calling for the activation of the Democratic Charter. In 2016, three days before the presidential elections which Daniel Ortega won with over 70% of the vote, the pair travelled to Washington to meet with Almagro. On his return Jose Pallais said their dialogue with the OAS was “the first step before the activation’ of the Democratic Charter” (see here).
The OAS meeting will take place next week. Almagro’s call can expect support from Trump’s United States and the Brazilian government led by President Jair Bolsonaro, widely described as a fascist. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, travelled to Brazil on Jan 2 to attend Bolsanaro’s inauguration. Their agenda, and indeed the agenda of Almagro, is clear. Pompeo said Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua were countries that do not share the democratic values that unite the United States and Brazil. “We have an opportunity to work alongside each other against authoritarian regimes,” he said at a news conference (see here).
On Friday night, whilst Wales NSC is hosting Dr Florence Levy in Mold, another type of meeting will be held in London. SOSNicaraguaUK have organised their most high profile meeting so far, with Bianca Jagger and Felix Maradiaga. Jagger, although a longstanding opponent of the Sandinistas, has been a fairly benign figure in the human rights movement. However, how this squares with her recent meeting with now ex-US envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is anyone’s guess. The extreme Right in the Republican Party – Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Marco Rubio amongst them – queued up to mourn the political passing of Haley four days after this photo (see here).
Maradiaga is another kettle of fish. He’s one of the self-appointed poster boys of the Nicaraguan opposition, and the darling of the #SOSNicaragua crowd. He has met with many right-wingers in Washington and actively lobbied for the NICA Act. In September, Haley used her presidency of the UN Security Council to invite Maradiaga to address the UN as a ‘member of Nicaraguan civil society’.
Maradiaga is described in the publicity for the Friday meeting as an ‘academic and social entrepreneur’ by SOSNicaraguaUK. His ‘social entrepreneurship’ includes a spell working with Grupo Coen, the network of firms owned by one of Nicaragua’s richest families; and currently Pioneer Capital Partners, a venture capital firm specialising in Latin America.
Whilst he tried to present himself as an ‘independent spokeman’ for Nicaragua, the organisations he is associated with are kept afloat by a lake of US money. The former Secretary General of Nicaragua’s Ministry of Defence under the neo-liberal Bolanos administration has headed up Nicaraguan organisations awash with dollars from the US National Endowment for Democracy. They include:
Movement for Nicaragua – $395,423 from the NED for ‘democracy promotion’ over four years
IEEPP – $224,161 from the NED – the IEEPP has also been linked to some of the students who toured the UK and Europe during the summer
Leadership Institute for Civil Society – set up by Maradiaga in 2007, it is funded by the National Democratic Institute, part of the NED ‘family’
Fundacion Libertad, set up by Maradiaga in 2012
The last organisation is one of the most interesting. It’s funding is not obvious, but its alliances are clearer (see here). The US Atlas Network is a right wing libertarian organisation with a web of partners throughout Latin America. It is particularly notorious for its activities in Brazil (see here for a expose in the Intercept last year). The German Friedrich Naumann Foundation is another ultra-free market organisation up to its neck in Latin America. It funds the RELIAL network (see here), with some crossover with members of the Atlas Network.
As the saying goes, ‘By their friends ye shall know them’ (to mis-quote Matthew). We know who Maradiaga’s friends are. And we now know who SOSNicaraguaUK’s friends are as well.
Don’t forget our meeting on Friday:
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.
Since 1994 Wales NSC has organised 14 delegations to Nicaragua. Over 24 years we have had upwards of 300 meetings and visits. We have met with everyone from Government Ministers to community groups, Sandinistas and non-Sandinistas, to try to give the delegations as broad a picture of Nicaragua as possible. As one Sandinista said to us in our last visit in February, ‘go back and tell everyone about the good and the bad’, as no place is perfect.
As well as the formal meetings you also meet up with fellow visitors, and their impressions also help build up the picture. One of our members went out to work in Nicaragua between delegations in 2010 and 2011, and that’s when he met up with Carl-David and Wyatt, two young men from the United States, wanting to find out more about Nicaragua and with a taste for adventure.
People’s trajectories in Nicaragua are always interesting. Some that we’ve met up with have gone from community activists to Assembly Members. Some working in NGOs are now leading voices in the opposition, turning up in the National Dialogue. But what happened to Carl-David was particularly unusual.
Fairness and Accuracy?
In May his by-line – Carl-David Goette-Luciak – started turning up in the Guardian, the Washington Post and the BBC, amongst others. His reports were highly critical of the Ortega government, to the point he seemed almost embedded with the opposition. A cursory glance at his social media would have confirmed this. His re-tweets were often from opposition leaders, and many of his ‘friends’ on Facebook were historical opponents of the FSLN from the time of the split in the party in the mid-nineties.
His standard line (which was music to the ears of publications like the Guardian), was that this was the violent suppression of a peaceful insurrection. The one-sided nature of coverage of the violence has been examined by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, in the United States), which looked at 45 articles posted by Reuters (see here). As more and more articles from Carl-David appeared in the mainstream media, social media started asking what exactly was Carl-David’s agenda? There were accusations that he had witnessed and wilfully ignored opposition violence.
As the evidence built up (which is one of the things journalism is supposed to do), it was finally all gathered together in an article by Max Blumenthal (see here), published on Sept 26. It details Carl-David’s involvement with the opposition, his failure to report opposition violence, and as the accusation of bias increased, his attempts to remove photos of himself and opposition leaders from his social media.
Who Guards the Guardian?
Predictably, the Nicaraguan government finally lost patience with him and he was deported on October 1. Even more predictably, the Guardian said he was kicked out for “covering Nicaragua’s political upheaval” (see here for the full account). The Guardian stated that Blumenthal’s article was a “lengthy, insinuation-infused attack on the journalist”, and just in case we were left in any doubts about the young man’s motives, they quoted his father: “He is driven by his love for the Nicaraguan people and nothing else.”
The Guardian also called up as evidence the Committee to Protect Journalists, who had issued a statement on September 26, denouncing the smears and threats against Goette-Luciak. Our own National Union of Journalists then bravely joined the fray, raising ‘serious concerns about the safety of journalists in Nicaragua.” It is worth noting that the NUJ said nothing when the pro-government station Radio Ya was burnt to the ground, forcing the 22 workers there to flee.
So is this yet again another example of Nicaraguan government’s persecution of anyone who opposes them, and how fortunate we are to have a free press in the UK and the US, who act only with integrity and concern for the truth?
Perhaps so. Except for one thing.
Remember Carl-David’s friend, Wyatt, at the beginning of the article? The two young adventurers wanting to find out more about Nicaragua? Well Wyatt Reed went back to Nicaragua with Carl-David in 2016. Back in the United States two years later, and reading his friend’s articles, he finally felt the time had come to speak out (see here for an extended interview with him in the Canary). He wrote to the editor of the Guardian after their report on Carl-David’s deportation – the letter is reproduced below. Up to now he’s had no reply.
To the editor,
As a long time friend and former collaborator of your correspondent with the Nicaraguan opposition, I feel compelled to make a few points clear in light of the recent media frenzy over the deportation from Nicaragua of Carl–David Goette Luciak. I must be extremely clear: in the six months we lived and worked together in Nicaragua we were both very open about our plan to use our friendships with Nicaraguan opposition figures to push for the end of the Sandinista government and create careers for ourselves as journalists or consultants in the process. We were not CIA—but we were in many ways serving its same historical purpose.
I must stress that I wish no ill will on Carl-David. I’ve known him since middle school, we were best friends for much of our lives, and I want only to set the record straight. Having already spent several years in Nicaragua, I had made connections with multiple prominent anti-government groups at the time of our partnership. And since I introduced him to many of them, I feel compelled to state publicly that any notion we had of being impartial and objective journalists was simply a lie. We arrived together in Managua in January 2016 without prior journalistic experience but with a shared understanding that the Nicaraguan government represented a fundamental betrayal of socialist ideals, and the shared understanding that the ruling Sandinista party needed to be removed from power.
In the time since, I’ve come to understand that regardless of our personal feelings on the Nicaraguan president or government, any illusions we had of being uniquely capable of helping the Nicaraguan people achieve self-determination were ultimately founded in a kind of white savior complex. I left, realizing Americans cannot liberate the Nicaraguan people. Not thirty years ago, when the US government created the Contra army to fight a decade long war against socialist Nicaragua, and not now. Americans can only help destroy their government, and in the process hand power over to the same conservative neoliberals who seek to roll back the Nicaraguan safety net, privatize national resources, and undo a decade of improvements in poverty reduction and healthcare.
I have many disagreements with the Sandinista party. However, I do not feel that the violent overthrow of their government can in any way benefit working class Nicaraguans. I mourn with them the tragic deaths of the hundreds killed in the gunfights between police and armed opposition. But if the Sandinista government falls we must ask ourselves: how many tens of thousands more will die when the health clinics are closed? How many children will go barefoot, hungry, and uneducated if their welfare state is abolished? They can’t just fly back to the United States. Unlike them, the westerners who bring about “regime change” rarely have to stick around and suffer the consequences.
It looks like the worst of the violence in Nicaragua is over. It would seem that the self-declared aim of the opposition – to remove Daniel Ortega from power – has failed, at least for now. Though it is likely that there will be sporadic outbreaks of further violence, both sides will now examine the reasons why protests over pensions turned into violent confrontation which led to 300 dead, and what looks like a soft coup (see here for an on the spot account by a US human rights activist) .
After the initial protests and deaths, the opposition coalesced around the Alianza Civica. Many of the players in this unlikely alliance came from the business sector (previously happy to sit down with the Sanindistas); civil society; and students. Some of the organisations were directly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. Others had decided the wind was now blowing against the Ortega Presidency, and it was time to jump ship. All were held together by the ‘mediation’ of the Catholic Church. Ironically, the church could be said to have sown the seeds of a lot of the discontent with the Sandinista government when they manoeuvred to get rid of the right to abortion three weeks before the Presidential election in 2006, which the FSLN won after 16 years out of power.
Contradictions in the Nicaraguan opposition
If you want to find out what the opposition hoped for, you can do no worse than read this by Azahálea Solís (who was part of the National Dialogue), written shortly after the National Dialogue talks broke down at the end of May. The reality is this was the high point in the opposition to the Ortega government, with a single demand for him to step down with elections to follow quickly.
This was explicit from the beginning. Miami-born student leader Lesther Aleman received widespread praise from some sections of the Nicaraguan and international press when he told Daniel Ortega in the first Dialogue meeting: “This is not a dialogue table, it is a table to negotiate your departure, and you know it very well because it is the people who have requested it!… Surrender before the entire population!”
By the end of the third meeting at the end of May opposition organisations were acively encouraging a military coup. On June 1 electoral observation organisation Etica y Transparencia called on “the corresponding authorities to ensure the appearance in the courts of these two (Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo) thus-far alleged criminals” and on the Army to “ensure implementation of the prompt and necessary arrests, as well as a fair trial.” Etica y Transparenica have long received National Endowment for Democracy funding through the National Democratic Institute. In 2012 one of EyT’s leading lights made the jump in the other direction after 11 years with Etica y Transparencia. Abril Perez became a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she still works today.
Seen from two months on, it’s easy to see that if the oppositon had not obsessed with removing Ortega here and now via a soft coup, instead of making changes to the electoral system and timetable (which was already being discussed with the Organisation of American States), then they would now be in a strong position. The OAS said that electoral reform proposals would be presented to the government in January 2019.
Instead, the Alianza went down the road of more road blocks, more confrontation, more economic pain. Or what Michael Healy, one of the business leaders in the National Dialogue, stated: “We are willing to pay the price [of continued street conflict] to see Ortega leave.” The reality was, of course, it wasn’t Healy and his fellow members of the Alianza who were paying the price on the streets. Their position is comprehensively taken apart here, describing the contradictions which existed within the Alianza.
Contradictions at home
Those same contradictions exist with those who having been supporting the opposition outside of Nicaragua – Wales and the UK included. At first glance their criticism of the FSLN governments since 2007 comes from the left. Ortega has betrayed Sandinismo, with Nicaragua’s neo-liberal ‘navigation of capitalist waters’ (as one journalist described it to us in February). It is curious then to see SOSNicaraguaUK re-tweeting messages from Florida Republican Congress members, some of the most reactionary in the US. Stranger still to see them re-tweeting Trump Vice President Mike Pence, who’s politics are straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale. The VP for Gilead has called for the removal of a string of governments in Latin America.
Many of the opposition supporters in the UK have had long relationships with Nicaraguan NGOs. Many of the NGOs sprung up after the chaos that engulfed Nicaragua when the revolution ended in 1990. The huge experiment in participatory democracy in 1980s Nicaragua cleaved into two halves – a ‘professional’ NGO sector which attracted foreign funding, and grassroots organisations (‘GROs’, like the co-operatives, unions and the Movimiento Comunal) which were left to themselves. Their fates couldn’t have been more different. From 1990 to 2005 NGO numbers grew from 300 to 2,000, and their funding grew from $90 million in 2000 to $289 million in 2005. GROs fared less well. Trade union membership fell from 22% in 1989 to less than 8% in 2008. The number of co-operatives fell from 3,800 to 400 in 1999 (see here for an excellent analysis of the NGOisation of Nicaragua). The success of the NGOs were due to neo-liberal programmes emphasising the sector over governments, and many of the brigadistas during the 80s moving into positions within aid and funding agencies, and channelling funds to ‘trusted partners’ in Nicaragua.
To a great extent this has been reversed since the FSLN regained power in 2007. Trade unions membership has grown considerably, and the number of co-operatives has passed 4,500. At the same time the funding of NGOs in Nicaragua has been squeezed, as donor countries have either chosen to prioritise other regions, or have refused to support an Ortega-led Nicaragua.
Accountable to whom?
What has all this got to do with the unrest? Many of Nicaragua’s NGOs have thrown in their lot with the opposition. Many of the grassroots organisations – like the ATC, the Co-operative sector, and the Movimiento Comunal – have continued to call for support for the National Dialogue. Unlike the trade unions, these three have no formal link with the FSLN. On many occasions they have challenged the government on their policies. But they still were quick to support the dialogue.
The difference between the NGOs and GROs is striking for a very important reason, one which was highlighted by the research above. The grassroots organisations are constituted from the ground up, accountable to their members, and speak on their behalf. The NGOs have no formal accountability to their beneficiaries (they rarely have members), and are more accountable to their donors than Nicaraguans. As we have noted elsewhere, many of the most vocal organisations in the oppostion have received over $4 million from the National Endowment for Democracy over the past four years. Even more striking, USAID pumped $31 million into Nicaragua last year.
What is puzzling is that many of the supporters of SOSNicaraguaUK know this. Many have visited Nicaragua for decades, have long lasting friendships within the NGOs, but have also worked with the grassroots organisations.
So why have they decided to privilege the viewpoint of the NGO sector, whilst ignoring independent organisations in Nicaragua which are democratic and bottom-up, and who call for a National Dialogue as the best way to avoid further bloodshed in the country? Here are some of the views from Nicaragua they don’t share.
Extract from Statement by ATC, May 17 (Association de Trabajadores del Campo has 52,000 members, and is a member of Via Campesina)
Historically, the ATC has been a participant in the Sandinista struggle. In truth, we have not felt consulted or represented by the current FSLN government. The current coup attempt makes use of these historical contradictions and is trying to co-opt the symbols, slogans, poems and songs of Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution, since of course the rightwing has none of its own. However we may feel about Daniel Ortega, the ATC would never contribute to making chaos and sowing violence in order to force the collapse of the democratically elected government in order to install a more docile, Washington-friendly neoliberal government. There are clearly real frustrations in sectors of the
population, especially youth, and if these sectors are unable to find popular organizing processes, they will end up being the cannon fodder for a war, which would be the worst possible situation for the Nicaraguan people.
Extract from statement by SOPPEXCCA, July 12 (SOPPEXCCA is a second tier co-operative with 15 co-operatives made up of 650 families. Similar statements have been issued by the co-operative sector body CONACOOP).
‘The UCA SOPPEXCCA, as an entity of organised small producers, promotes a culture of peace, harmony, respect for the law and democratic participation.
We therefore give our support to peaceful solutions and call for an end to the culture of violence generated in our country owing to the events that we are experiencing and which affect us both individually and collectively, since the peace that we enjoyed in our Nicaragua disappeared in the most abrupt and tempestuous fashion.
We feel the grief of many Nicaraguan families who have lost loved ones, tranquillity and have to face up to the consequences.
We, as Nicaraguans, will also face consequences as it is evident that there will be an economic slowdown that will affect the majority of our people, especially the poorest families, the majority.
Sadly, many dreams are being left behind as we wait for the shining light of peace to emerge again; reconciliation and work will be our standard bearers as we endeavour to lift our country out of the poverty levels we find ourselves in.
The El Sueno Existe festival held in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, last week was a hotbed of debate. SOSNicaragua, who’s clearly-stated aim is to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, were there in force, including two Nicaraguan speakers flown in from Belgium for the event.
But the opposition kicked off with a statement from the floor from a representative of Amnesty International, who is also a former active member of the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. His message was simple, the Nicaraguan government ‘has killed over 300 protesters’.
The purpose of the message is clear. It is intended to undermine the Nicaraguan government, and make it easier for it to be removed. There’s only one thing that’s wrong with it – it’s a lie, and isn’t even based on the sources that Amnesty uses.
Amnesty’s report at the end of May relied heavily on Nicaraguan human rights organisations to provide them with information, as well as the local media (see here for their report on the violence in Nicaragua). It was also compiled after a limited number of interviews (30 face to face), and examining the documentation of 16 deaths. It used local newspapers as a source, and reviewed video and photo images, many of which are shared on social media. The report was heavily criticised at the time by a former Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience (see here).
Since then it has increased its estimates of the deaths, to the point where the Amnesty representative in El Sueno claimed over 300 -protesters have died. But even one of Amnesty’s main sources, CENIDH, doesn’t agree with this. In a recent report in Nicaraguan on-line magazine Confidencial (which is aligned with the opposition), CENIDH states at least 52 of the 292 dead are police and government supporters (see here).
Others have challenged this number as well. In a detailed analysis by Enrique Hendrix (see here), who is open about his support for the Sandinista government, he goes through the list of names compiled by human rights organisations in Nicaragua (ANPDH, CIDH and CENIDH), from April 18 – June 25. They add up to a total of 293 deaths, more than CENIDH’s figure a month later. This is partly explained by the fact that one of the organisations, the ANPDH, has consistently stoked the fires by exaggerating the numbers. As of two days ago, it was reporting in the United States that nearly 450 had died.
As the author of the analysis states, at the end of June:
A significant number of these deaths, however, are *not* the responsibility of the Nicaraguan government. When all the cases are examined individually, they can be broken down into the following categories:
51 deaths not related to protests in any way
60 persons killed by the *opposition* to the Nicaraguan government
59 deaths of demonstrators (protesters, anti-government opposition, roadblockers)
46 persons passing by the protests (not involved)
77 names with incomplete data and/or whose context could not be determined
Why is there such a huge difference? Since the beginning solidarity organisations have been saying the situation is extremely complex; information has been hard to verify, particularly after much of the country was shut down with tranques (roadblocks); and too many people have been killed on both sides.
This uncertainty is not shared by Amnesty International. Part of the reason may be their Director for the Americas, Erika Guevara-Rosas. She travelled to Managua with the Amnesty delegation that compiled their May report. Even a cursory glance at her twitter feed shows she is openly siding with the opposition, regulary tagging #SOSNicaragua, and re-tweeting Fox News.
Erika Guevara-Rosas Retweeted
1 Ortega is a professional liar 2 He accepts existence of paramilitaries, the ones who operate in collusion with his police 3 He said no peaceful demonstration is attacked. I was there as
@amnesty observing the Mothers march and witnessed police and paramilitaries brutal attacks
Guevara-Rosas is also selective in what she choses to share on her Twitter feed. On July 13 she tweeted about the police clearing the tranques from Monimbo and Masaya, after the area had been cut off from the rest of the country for weeks. Tragically one police officer and two protesters died during the operation.
Erika Guevara-Rosas Retweeted
#SOSNicaragua: Condenamos enérgicamente los ataques casi simultáneos en Monimbó, Masaya, @UNANManagua y contra la iglesia de la Divina Misericordia. Es atroz que el Gobierno de Ortega y sus grupos parapoliciales continúen atacando indiscriminadamente a la población civil.
The previous day there had been greater loss of life in El Morrito (see here), something which Guevara-Rosas was silent about, as were much of the international media. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that the dead were four unarmed policeman and a teacher? Or that in this case it was the protesters who were armed. Or even that the march was led by Francisca Ramirez, leader of the anti-canal movement, who changed her story several times about the killings as she was challenged.
Anyone familiar with Guevara-Rosas work will not have been surprised by what she is pumping out and sharing on behalf of Amnesty. Before the 2016 Presidential elections in Nicaragua she wrote a piece (see here) telling her readers about four things they should know about the election. One of the four things was that women are second class citizens in Nicaragua, and she directly attacked the government’s record on maternal mortality. Unfortunately for Guevara-Rosas, the people who do know about these things – the Pan American Health Organisation, which is part of the WHO – says maternal mortality has been cut by more than half since the Sandinistas took over in 2007 (see here).
Amnesty has given up all pretence to be an impartial source of information about human rights in Nicaragua, something it now shares with other ‘independent’ human rights organisations in the country. One of them, the ANPDH (who’s claims did so much to ratchet up the tension at the beginning of the violence), has a long history. United States funding for the ANPDH goes back to the Contra War, where it openly supported the counter-revolution. It is also interesting to note that the OAS’s main human rights organisation, the IACHR, moved to ‘protect’ the head of the ANPDH at the beginning of June, as a ‘human rights defender’ (see here).
Another human rights organisation, the Comision Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua, has received substantial funding from the US National Endowment for Democracy (see here for more on the NED, in an extract from William Blum’s classic Rogue State). Last year the CPDH received the following from the NED:
Promoting Access to Justice and Human Rights in Nicaragua
Comision Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua
To promote and protect human rights in Nicaragua. The project will provide legal assistance to citizens facing challenges in accessing the justice system. Human rights conditions in prisons and detention facilities will be monitored and and proposals for their improvement will be presented to relevant authorities. International mechanisms will be used to monitor and report human rights violations and raise awareness about the country’s international obligations to protect human rights.
Promoting Free and Fair Municipal Elections
Comision Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua
To promote free and fair elections in Nicaragua. In partnership with other organizations, local activists and volunteers will receive training to monitor and document any voting irregularities during the November 2017 municipal elections. A call center will receive reports of human rights violations during election day and inform the public about its findings.
Of course, all the above could be dismissed as cherry picking, selective use of sources, and starting from a pre-determined bias which only gives room for one side of the story. But then again, isn’t that what SOSNicaragua, Amnesty and people like Erika Guevara-Rosas have been doing since the end of April?
The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group issued a new statement yesterday about the current situation in the country. It describes the events over the past three months, and repeats its support for the National Dialogue as a way of resolving the crisis which has shaken the country since April. See here for the full statement.