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Is turmoil in Nicaragua being fueled, instigated by U.S. government?

By Brian E. Muhammad, Staff Writer | Last updated: Sep 18, 2018 - 2:16:30 PM

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Protesters in Managua, Nicaragua, call for changes in policies relating to social services April 18. Photo: MGN Online

Nicaragua is still in turmoil and has been since Spring uprisings in the Central American country occurred stemming from policy changes in social security. According to reports, opposition groups, leaders and student groups organized demonstrations in the country that escalated into clashes with police and government forces.

Protesters have called for longtime Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to resign from power and international rights organizations have charged the Sandinista National Liberation Front government with human rights violations, repression and “disproportionate use of force” to quell demonstrations, which it denies.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued a report in mid-August condemning alleged actions of the government against the protesters and called on the international community to do the same.

“The violence and repression seen in Nicaragua since demonstrations began in April are products of the systematic erosion of human rights over the years and highlight the overall fragility of institutions and the rule of law,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, now former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in an early July statement.

However, some observers disagree and called the spate of violence CIA organized chaos. President Ortega in several recent media interviews blamed the United States’ meddling in the internal affairs of Nicaragua and maintains the U.S. has conspired to undermine his government since his party resumed power over the country in 2007.

“It’s a matter of not respecting the Nicaraguan people, but of carrying out a policy of permanent intervention to obligate people to favor this intervention,” President Ortega told ACAN-Efe news agency in Managua.

“It’s very clear we returned to government, and the hostility from the United States returned,” he added.

President Ortega served as president since 2007, but first coming to power in 1979 after the Sandinista Revolution overthrew the unpopular U.S. backed government of Anastasio Somoza. The U.S-Nicaragua relations has been antagonistic since that time.   After opening the country to elections, Mr. Ortega was democratically chosen and led from 1985 to 1990. 

After April violence earlier this year, President Ortega directly accused Washington of plotting a coup and along with drug-traffickers, arming groups protesting against the Sandinista government.

“There’ve been activities there that originated with the far-right groups in Florida. A permanent umbilical cord was left there from the time of the Contra war. A very close relationship between the North American politicians in Florida and the Contras, that later evolved into a friendship,” he asserted.

The Contras were the opposition forces illegally financed by the Ronald Reagan administration to overthrow the Sandinista government and Mr. Ortega during the 1980s.

Max Blumenthal, author and the editor of—just returning from Nicaragua—told The Final Call the U.S. has been training student activists and opposition organizations in insurrection and creative media tactics. He says the recent turmoil was born out of U.S. efforts in the country.  “The U.S. started intervening after about 2010, 2011,” said Mr. Blumenthal.

He said the National Endowment for Democracy contributed $4.1 million to opposition, groups NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and media in Nicaragua by 2014. The group is a private, nonprofit foundation that funds and trains activists, practitioners and scholars of democracy worldwide according to its website.  He added that the USAID gave another $5 million between 2014 and 2017.

“They were funding groups that were posing as human rights organizations but were really there to just simply indict the government. They were training students to go on Facebook and start doing memes and different kinds of media that would get people out into the streets,” said Mr. Blumenthal.

He questions the extreme response by young Nicaraguans to the government changes in social security benefits that primarily effects retirees, not the young people who took to the streets. Mr. Blumenthal pointed out that opposition groups began to use subversive methods including violence directed at Sandinistas, police and people in support of the government.

Brian Becker, national coordinator of ANSWER (Act Now to End War and Racism Coalition), said U.S. media has been quiet except for a narrative that says the people are rising up against the tyranny of the Sandinistas who are employing limitless violence on righteous dissenters.

There is a concerted effort by the CIA and corporate media in the U.S. to “thoroughly demonize the Sandinista leadership with the goal of overthrowing that progressive government,” said Mr. Becker.

He compared it to an historic pattern of U.S. destabilization in Central and South America going back 45 years ago with the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. “What we are witnessing in the past months in Nicaragua is almost identical,” Mr. Becker said.

It’s the future of regime change where the U.S. and internationally funded NGOs and opposition lay the groundwork for insurrection. The U.S. doesn’t march in with troops or the CIA doesn’t go in and assassinate someone, explained Mr. Blumenthal.

 “They have cult revolution or certain elements of protesting and they get violent; the government strikes back; some of them are killed and then the human rights groups come in and condemn, and the U.S. sanctions and the pressure gets turned up intensely until the government leaves,” said Mr. Blumenthal.