By Lauren Smith/ Originally published in Counterpunch.
On December 20, 2018, President Donald Trump signed H.R. 1918, the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018. It was introduced by Miami based, ardent anti-socialist Congresswomen Ros-Lehtinen in the House of Representatives on April 20, 2017 as the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2017. Its short title was ramped-up to remove some of the irony of its passage, given the United States own abysmal electoral system, since the official title remains “to oppose loans at international financial institutions for the Government of Nicaragua unless the Government of Nicaragua is taking effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections, and for other purposes.” The law as listed in the December 11th Congressional Record now recites a litany of slanderous unsubstantiated allegations voiced by Washington funded and/or controlled Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), “human rights” organizations and news media outlets. Yet, the standard Nicaragua is held to and is in compliance with is actually violated routinely in the U.S.
Before elaborating on the irony mentioned above and in the article’s title, it’s first necessary to outline: some of President Ortega’s accomplishments; how Washington’s ruling elite perceives them; and lastly, why Washington’s efforts against President Ortega failed to install its coup, just like it did in the 1980’s under the Reagan administration. Then, it will be clear how poorly Trump and the U.S. fair in comparison to New York state-sized socialist Nicaragua.
However, this irony might not be obvious at first due to the virtual news blackout on any information supportive of President Daniel Ortega and Nicaragua’s revolutionary Sandinista government. While this is to be expected in mainstream corporate news media, it remains disconcerting to see in alternative news media. The unfortunate reality is that many alt-news outlets have been infiltrated and compromised by the power of neoliberal funding, if not actual CIA operatives. As such, the burden remains squarely on the reader to always be analytical and question each piece of written work. Perhaps alt-news media is reasonable on some issues; however, most are not when it comes to Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) states and viable socialist models.
Even Venezuela’s own Telesur has mostly ignored Nicaragua despite Venezuela being its staunch political ally. Instead of featuring breaking news articles about Nicaragua in its prominent Latin American news section, it merely and occasionally lists supportive articles in its less publicized Opinion section. Telesur even omitted the U.S. attempted coup in Nicaragua in its 2018 recap of The Top 10 Stories from Latin America Witnessed in 2018.
In the United States, respected supposedly alt-news media outlets such as Democracy Now have been damningly interventionist in their coverage of Syria and Libya as well as Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba, the “Troika of Tyranny” as called by U.S. security advisor, John Bolton. While the situation in Nicaragua today is virtually the same as when the Reagan administration unleashed the illegal Contra force upon it, what’s changed is that alt-media has failed to properly inform its base, and also it isolates its given targets with repetitive fake and contradictory news stories. In the case of President Ortega, he isn’t socialist enough; then conversely, he is considered a threat to private enterprise – when none of this has any foundation in truth. The sad result is that the NICA act passed unanimously in the Senate. Consider how similar the words and policies issued by Trump are to those of former President Reagan and how Reagan, a vastly more popular President, was still opposed by Senators and Congresspersons as well as the left. Both Trump and Reagan called impoverished and tiny Nicaragua, a “threat to National Security” and imposed devastating financial sanctions against it, and have funded violent opposition to overthrow its government.
President Daniel Ortega Accomplishments Vs. Washington’s Ruling Elite’s Perception
As a steadfast defender of the impoverished and working class through democratic socialist programs and progressive non-aligned geopolitical and economic relations, Washington’s ruling elite is no fan, to say the least, of President Daniel Ortega. So the fact that he won over 72% of the vote in 2016 remains hotly contested by their lackeys located in Nicaragua and Miami, as President Ortega directly thwarts the progress of their oppressive worldwide neoliberal agenda.
Similarly irksome to its ruling elite is the fact that Washington’s own IMF and World Bank sang President Ortega’s praises as recent as 2018 and noted his successful world-class renewable energy accomplishments. Equally troubling to Washington’s ruling elite is the fact that under President Ortega’s stewardship the people of Nicaragua enjoy: the lowest murder rate in Central America; unprecedented public healthcare and education, and a national police force it can trust and rely upon – since it is founded on the admirable principles of community policing. To the frustration of Washington’s ruling elite, President Ortega’s success in fighting the drug cartels and keeping them out of Nicaragua is also exemplary in a region otherwise plagued by narcotics, weapons, human trafficking and inexplicable violence.
So when all the money in Washington could not ruin President Ortega’s electoral victory, despite its slanderous campaign of lies on mainstream and alt-news & social media through its front organizations such as NED and USAID, and its fascist Opus Dei shills disguised as clergy, Washington then paid, armed and trained foreign drug cartel thugs and local criminals to impersonate student protestors. If Washington’s mercenaries weren’t deadly violent, the contrast between the news media’s photos of them and its captions about them would be comical – as Rambo type men with forearms the size of tree trunks, shown shooting weapons in trained fighting stances, frequently accompanied headlines that read: “Peaceful Student Protestors.”
Starting on April 18, 2018, Washington’s mercenaries infiltrated protests over modest changes to its social security system. Then, their thugs set up roadblocks, and shot-up and firebombed public facilities, and news media stations. Additionally, they intimidated, raped and killed Nicaragua’s police officers, government workers, journalists and Sandinista supporters, as well as peasants and misplaced tourists.
After a few months of siege, local peasants dusted off their guns – that dated back to the overthrow of the U.S. puppet dictator Anastasio Somoza and Washington’s Contras – and fought alongside Nicaragua’s police officers. Collectively they drove out Washington’s 2018 brand of mercenaries. Washington didn’t anticipate the peasant’s participation. They believed President Ortega could be goaded into using his military to remove their mercenaries and thereby give the U.S. a pretext to invade Nicaragua. What Washington and its ruling elite never understand is that it is really difficult to install a coup in a country where the sitting President remains popular and every slanderous remark is ultimately revealed as a blatant lie. Washington’s strategy is to blame President Ortega for victims of its own mercenaries, and to defend its murderous thugs as “political prisoners” through its financially captive human rights and regional organizations. Then, Washington uses these lies to justify the passage of the NICA act – because even the most contemptible U.S. politician has trouble with the irony of this act being signed by Trump, a sitting president that lost the popular vote.
Trump, Electoral Freedom, Repressed Dissent, Imprisonment & Torture in the U.S.
For not only did Trump lose the popular vote, but also he lost it via massive voter suppression against people of color, and the gerrymandering of electoral districts that favor republican candidates.
“According to David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Hillary Clinton won a total of 65,844,610 votes – 48.2 percent – compared with Trump’s 62,979,636 votes – 46.1 percent. Other candidates took 7,804,213 ballots, or about 5.7 percent of the popular vote.”
Considering the above referenced results, where is the international outrage on Trump’s presidency and that of the U.S. electoral system? Why isn’t the rest of the world blocking the United States funding until it takes effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections? Could it be that Trump, despite all his embarrassing lies and faults, does the bidding of the ruling elite and is thus protected? He has in fact delivered massive tax cuts to the wealthy and neutered all federal oversight agencies charged with monitoring the elites’ industry & finance as well as gutted agencies charged with protecting public lands and health.
The U.S government has violated many protections afforded its citizens in its Bill of Rights, by virtue of the Patriot Act and its prison system. Under the Patriot Act, protections against surveillance and unreasonable search and seizure are waived. Incarceration can be indeterminate and without charge, as long as there is suspicion of something. And with 2.3 million prisoners, the United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the highest per-capita incarceration rate. It can be argued convincingly that the death penalty and living conditions in prisons constitute cruel and inhuman punishment. Added to the number of prisoners are 41,000 immigrants in detention centers.
Consider that the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 makes it easier for the U.S. government to criminalize protest. It is a federal offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison to enter or remain in an area designated as restricted (such as a tar sands pipeline on indigenous land) or to protest anywhere the Secret Service might be guarding someone. In 2013, its military was empowered to attack its citizens through changes in the rules of engagement under the Posse Comitatus Act. Further, its military practices war games against its civilians and acknowledges in its reports that due to the failings of capitalism it is only a matter of time before civil unrest erupts over: scarce resources (i.e. food, water and energy); disparities in wealth and power; collapsing financial systems; climate change and natural disasters.
Accordingly, when politicians cease to be representative and the government is held captive by an oligarchy, then the political system must be abolished as represented in the Declaration of Independence which reads as follows:
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Presently Trump has shut down the United States government and, without winning the popular vote, he has no mandate. Perhaps it’s time for U.S. citizens to exercise their constitutional rights? Could this be the real concern of its ruling elite that its own citizens may become emboldened by the progressive policies of President Daniel Ortega and the fearlessness of Nicaragua’s citizens, and that they too might pick up their dusty weapons and use them to remove the elite and their lackeys from power? Probably not, this would first require U.S. citizens turn off Netflix, put down their beer can, slice of pizza and joint. It seems U.S. Americans are happy to remain lost in a sea of amusements until prison doors slam shut directly behind them. Only, then will it be too late?