The disturbing events in Nicaragua between April 20 and April 24 provoked the usual corporate and alternative media 'fake news,' and social media disinformation attacking a progressive government resisting U.S. foreign policy. The hypocrites avow concern for democracy and human rights, while helping deliberately to destroy them. Superficially, the main propaganda point was that President Ortega's government had lost legitimacy and had to go. This is the classic regime-change mantra used in 2011 against Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory Coast; Muammar al Gaddhafi in Libya; Bashar al Assad in Syria; in 2016 against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and, since 2013, against President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. These vicious, cynical assaults to destabilize – and, if necessary, destroy – whole countries cloak the inescapable global economic reality that Western corporate capitalism is hopelessly uncompetitive compared to emerging rivals Russia and China.
These countries and their regional allies place their national interests and their own people at the center of economic development policy. In Nicaragua, the trigger for the initial protests was extreme misrepresentation of proposed social security reforms. Right-wing news outlets and social media networks demonized and distorted the government's proposal for modest, fairly distributed increases in social security contributions, plus better healthcare coverage for pensioners. But they systematically omitted the business sector's savage, IMF-inspired neoliberal proposals to cut benefits, reduce coverage and privatize public sector clinics. Subsequently, violent shock groups comprised of several hundred well- organized, highly mobile, armed opposition activists hijacked the ill-informed student protests. They provoked death and the destruction of property so as to create the false impression of a repressive government struggling to repress out-of-control events.
All that was done in close coordination with right-wing news outlets and effective, sophisticated use of social media to sustain permanent disinformation dominance of available information networks. But the extremists over-reached. The government withdrew the proposed reform and restrained counter-violence on the streets. Likewise, important private business sector interests called for an end to the violence, fearing damage to Nicaragua's economy would increase their costs and reduce their profits. Those developments isolated the violent shock groups of opposition activists and their paid delinquent accomplices, depriving them of both moral support and any credible pretext. President Ortega then put the right-wing church hierarchy on the spot by requesting that they mediate a national dialogue for peace, something they could hardly refuse given the national mood of rejecting minority extremist violence.
The Sandinista government and the Sandinista-controlled legislature then announced an investigation into the deaths and injuries during the disturbances; a Victims Committee for justice and reparation by Nicaragua's official human rights office, and a Truth Commission of leading public figures instigated by the National Assembly. Subsequently, at this year's May Day march, held on April 30 to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of Comandante Tomas Borge, well over 100,000 government supporters listened to President Ortega declare the government's commitment to work for peace and to defend workers' and pensioners' rights under all circumstances, "however difficult," in a clear reference to the possibility of increased aggression against the Sandinista government from the United States and its local proxies.
This is the context in which the international media have paraded their spectacular ignorance, cynicism and hypocrisy. NATO propaganda outlets such as the New York Times; the BBC; Spain'ss El Pais; the Washington Post, CNN spread the usual poisonous disinformation they've always produced targeting progressive governments in Latin America. However, just as in the case of Libya in 2011, alternative and anti-U.S. media also published and broadcast spurious reports distorting events in Nicaragua, very much in line with the imperialist psychological warfare offensive. The reports of the Real News Network in the United States; Iran's HispanTV; Russia's RT, the supposedly anti-imperialist Spanish-language Rebelion website and the social democrat Nodal website all reported on Nicaragua just as most international news media did on Libya, parroting the egregious falsehoods and disinformation of the U.S. government and its paid local proxies.
The main political figures behind the manipulation of the student protests and the infiltration of violent shock groups were embittered former Sandinista leaders, many funded for years by the U.S. government and openly working with extreme right-wing U.S. political figures such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Former Sandinistas such as Sergio Ramirez, Dora Maria Tellez and Edmundo Jarquin have been allies of Nicaragua's political right-wing since 2006. Likewise, for well over a decade, ex-Sandinista Carlos Fernando Chamorro has been not just a leading center-right anti-Sandinista media figure, but also coordinator of CINCO, the most influential U.S. government- and European Union-funded NGO in Nicaragua. Among intellectuals promoting U.S. intervention and destabilization in Nicaragua, one finds supposed leftists such as the Argentinean Marcelo Colussi, Uruguay's Raul Zibechi and, in Nicaragua, former Sandinistas Monica Baltodano and Oscar Rene Vargas. These pseudo anti-imperialist writers have long promoted the falsehoods of the U.S.-funded Nicaraguan opposition attacking President Daniel Ortega and Vice-President Rosario Murillo.
Reserves of Sandinismo
All these figures are apologists for the sinister, extreme political violence which exploited the highly manipulated and ill-informed student protests to try to advance in Nicaragua the U.S. government's broader regional policy of regime change. But Nicaragua's right-wing and its phony leftist collaborators face two fundamental problems in its efforts to facilitate the U.S. regime here. Ideologically, just as in Venezuela, the extreme right-wing in Nicaragua is a small minority. Most people in Nicaragua want the kind of mixed economy and social programs that, under President Ortega's Sandinista government, have brought unprecedented stability and prosperity. Secondly, Nicaragua's wealth does not come primarily from the private business sector, but rather from public sector investment in infrastructure, health and education and from the 70 percent of the population working in the informal economy, in small- and medium-sized businesses, in small-scale agricultural and livestock production and in the vibrant cooperative sector.
Nicaragua's political opposition is a structural minority in national politics while also representing the interests of a structural minority in the economy, so the conundrum the U.S. government has to solve in order to overthrow the Sandinista government is not just a matter of eroding President Ortega's social base, as U.S. Ambassador Laura Dogu and her colleagues work constantly to do, but also destroying Nicaragua's economy. Everything indicates that the United States and its local proxies are gearing up for the next phase of their regime-change agenda. Just as in Venezuela, their plans are likely to involve sanctions; persistent outbreaks of terrorist violence, and even more intense psychological warfare. However, as they have always done, they underestimate the intelligence and resourcefulness of the people in Nicaragua, and the deep reserves of Sandinismo, which has shown its resilience and durability ever since Sandino's murder at the behest of the U.S. government in 1934.