What’s Happening in Nicaragua, Statement from Task Force on the Americas

July 7, Chinandega

For more than a decade, Nicaragua was:

  • The safest country in Latin America. Its police force was internationally recognized for its innovative community policing policies. Unlike its neighbors El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, where undocumented immigrants were fleeing to the US border, Nicaragua had kept gang violence and organized drug cartels in check.
  • Far from a dictatorship. President Daniel Ortega was democratically elected and then twice re-elected, each time with an increasing percentage and number of votes.   In 2017, polls showed he had the highest approval rating of any chief of state in the entire hemisphere.
  • Where social indices were on the rise. Literacy, small businesses promotion, free public education, poverty reduction, and economic growth were among the highest in the hemisphere.

Then on April 18 things suddenly changed dramatically. Triggered by a minor adjustment to the social security program, which was designed to avoid austerity measures promoted by big business and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), violence broke out across Nicaragua.

Incongruously, the opposition was led by students from private universities, who had little material interest in old age pensions, and by rightwing elements that favored draconian cuts in social welfare programs. Despite the government rescinding the adjustment and its attempts to meet with the opposition and negotiate a settlement,  the violence has escalated with a death toll of over 200.
Road blocks have been set up on vital streets and highways throughout the country. They are forcefully maintained by young militants, with reports that many are paid. Organized crime, aligned with the violent protests, has infiltrated Nicaragua. Some believe the extreme opposition is intent on escalating the conflict to paralyze or overthrow the elected government.

This is within the larger context the US government targeting independent and progressive governments for regime change. Nicaragua is allied with Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia and has not served as a client state to the dictates of Washington.

The US has poured millions into Nicaraguan private non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in what is called “democracy promotion” but may be better understood as regime change training. Even sources hostile to the Ortega government admit US involvement in the current unrest. Meanwhile the US Senate is considering the NICA Act designed to cripple the Nicaraguan economy.

The Task Force on the Americas:

  • Recognizes the Nicaraguan people may have legitimate grievances with their elected government. But the rightwing attack is on what the Sandinistas have done right, not what they’ve done wrong.
  • Believes there is a huge amount of distortion and misinformation in how the situation is being portrayed.
  • Supports an objective and independent investigation of who carried out and who provoked the violence with all parties held responsible for their actions.
  • Commends efforts to mediate a peaceful settlement in Nicaragua, including dismantling the barricades and cessation of destruction of public property.
  • Opposes the NICA Act and US interference in the internal affairs of Nicaragua including through the NED, USAID, and other instruments of intervention.

http://taskforceamericas.org/statement-in-support-of-nicaragua/

Source: Task Force on the Americas