Let’s Think About the Consequences of our Actions

By Chuck Kaufman on June 6, 2018

As the crisis in Nicaragua intensifies and the US and European corporate media, the human rights industrial complex, and voices traditionally hostile to Nicaraguan sovereignty grow ever more strident, I have become mystified at the reactions of some people who I used to think were of the Left, or at least were solidarity activists.

Let’s do a brief review. In 1979, an armed rebellion led by the Sandinista Front for National Liberation toppled the Somoza family dynasty which, backed by the United States, had repressed the Nicaraguan people and robbed them of their national wealth for 45 years. For the next 10 years, first the revolutionary government and then the constitutionally elected government pursued a non-aligned foreign policy anddomestically developed a democratic, pluralistic political system and a mixed private/State-owned economic system with what Liberation Theology called “a preferential option for the poor.” Despite the war, there were huge advances in economic and social justice and in health and education.

When Ronald Reagan gained the US presidency in January, 1981, he launched a proxy war by training and funding members of Somoza’s feared National Guard and he launched a simultaneous economic war to prevent Nicaragua from recovering from the war and Somoza’s greed. In 1990, exhausted and demoralized by almost 10 years of war and economic hardship, Nicaraguans voted for the Nicaraguan Opposition Union (UNO) Coalition candidates which was constructed and financed by the US government. Voting with a gun to their heads, Nicaraguans consigned themselves to peace, but even more economic hardship under three successive US-backed neoliberal governments which systematically dismantled the gains of the Sandinista Revolution. None of those elections met any half-way serious criteria for a democratic election.

In 2006, Nicaraguans had had enough of neoliberal hardships and elected Daniel Ortega once again to the presidency. His first action as president was to end school fees, allowing 100,000 children into the schools whose poverty had kept them uneducated. This was rapidly followed by his administration building the free public health system into a robust institution that treated people rather than just wrote prescriptions that the patients were too poor to fill. The peasant agriculture sector was revitalized bringing hundreds of thousands up out of abject poverty, especially women and children.

Impoverished Nicaragua became one of the first countries in the world to achieve the UN Millennial Challenge to cut poverty in half by 2015. Along the way, the Ortega government achieved sustained economic growth of 5% and achieved labor stability through the famous Tripartite Model in which unions and big business negotiated semi-annual increases in the minimum wage with the government intervening when the two other parties couldn’t agree. The World Bank, IMF, and European countries all praised Nicaragua for its lack of corruption and effective use of grants and loans. Finally, Nicaraguan women’s participation in public and private affairs raised Nicaragua to one of the top four countries in the world for gender equality.

President Daniel Ortega was elected democratically by increasing margins two more times, the third in 2016, and at the time that violence broke out on April 18-19, he had the best ratio of positive to negative ratings of any president in Latin America and the Caribbean according to the polls. Oh, and I should mention that Nicaragua’s community based policing, and their women’s police stations, specializing in domestic violence, were studied by police departments throughout the world and were famous for their record of positive community relations.

So now we are supposed to believe that all that changed on April 18 when the government declared changes needed to restore the social security system to solvency; changes that were far less painful for retirees than those supported by the IMF and the nation’s major businesses.

We’re supposed to believe that the National Police, which in the 39 years since the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution have not repressed the Nicaraguan people, are suddenly no different than the murderous Honduran police.

We’re supposed to believe that Daniel Ortega is a dictator when he’s been democratically elected with successively larger majorities in elections that no reputable international institution has claimed did not represent the actual will of the people.

We’re supposed to believe that the Ortega family is personally as corrupt as the Somoza’s were when all the bilateral and multilateral lenders praise Nicaragua for its effective use of loans and grants and the obvious improvement in the standard of living of the very poor.

US and European solidarity activists, when we start using the language of the New York Times and Fox News, it is time to ask ourselves just whose interests we are in solidarity with. Do we really want to contribute to throwing all of this away?

Every current and former US and European migrant and colonizer in Nicaragua with whom I’ve spoken agree that it would be a complete disaster if the Ortega government is driven out other than through democratic elections. So why, I ask, in your own minds is it okay for you to contribute by your social media postings and the blogs and articles that you write to exactly that outcome?

I am not telling Nicaraguans what they should do or say. I’m talking to those of us of European descent, both in Nicaragua and outside of it. You may have lived there long enough that you feel entitled to a voice in the debate, but that is your white privilege talking. You are not going to be as affected by whatever happens as are your Nicaraguan neighbors. At the very minimum you have an obligation to expose the actions of our home countries in exacerbating Nicaragua’s current agony, and you need to examine your own actions to insure that you are not contributing to fulfilling the goals of the Empire.

We “Me First” Worlders are responsible for the actions of our governments. Exposing and opposing those actions is our job. It is the job of Nicaraguans to determine what kind of country they want to create. We can share their joy and their sadness, but we can’t do that job for them.


Source: Alliance for Global Justice