Nicaragua

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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Fri Jun 03, 2022 1:57 pm

NicaNotes: When Art Bloomed in the Secret Gardens of Managua
June 2, 2022
By Becca Renk

(Becca Renk is part of the Jubilee House Community, which works in sustainable development in Ciudad Sandino. The JHC also works to educate visitors to Nicaragua, including through their hospitality and solidarity cultural center at Casa Benjamin Linder. The first installment of this series on Managua’s murals was published in NicaNotes here: https://afgj.org/nicanotes-managuas-missing-murals.)

When I look back on the neoliberal period in Nicaragua from 1990 to 2006, my memories appear in shades of gray, covered in a layer of dust. There is a pervasive sense of helplessness and a numbing depression. Those were monochrome years of societal and cultural drought, when hope was suffocated.

In those years, Managua was gray – figuratively and literally. After a decade of the Contra war, thanks to U.S. meddling and funding, U.S.-backed candidate Violeta Chamorro had won the 1990 presidential elections, ushering in the 16-year neoliberal period.

Chamorro’s government erased the social gains of the Revolution. She welcomed the World Bank and IMF and followed their structural adjustment programs, which meant charging fees for public education and health care, refusing to raise wages for teachers, police, or any public worker. In the neoliberal era, the poor got poorer and the rich got richer until Nicaragua became one of the most unequal societies in the world.

The entirety of the country’s railroad tracks were torn up and sold for scrap, stoplights where people washed windows to survive became traffic circles where begging was impossible; crime and gang violence – nearly non-existent during the Sandinista Revolution of the 1980s – rose at an alarming rate…and the colorful murals of the Revolution were erased with gray paint under the cover of night.

In the “capital of mural painting,” Managua, fervently anti-Sandinista mayor Arnoldo Alemán ordered revolutionary murals to be systematically painted over in an act of cultural imperialism that aimed to erase the Revolution itself and destroy the spiritof the Nicaraguan people.

With the neoliberal government’s antipathy toward cultural projects, artists, artisans and musicians found themselves struggling. Nicaraguan muralists, unable to find work in their own country, often travelled to Europe to seek commissions. Yet, in Managua there were pockets of hope – some murals were being guarded day and night, while a few new murals were being painted, blooming in secret gardens around the city.

One of these gardens was at Casa Benjamín Linder. In 1992, the Nicaraguan Foundation for Integral Community Development (FUNDECI), founded in the 1970s by former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister and Maryknoll priest Father Miguel d’Escoto, had its offices in Casa Ben Linder. Casa Ben Linder had been founded in 1988 by a group of U.S. citizens opposed to the U.S.-funded Contra war, and the Casa space was offered to solidarity organizations. Father Miguel, who died in 2017, in addition to being a liberation theologian, revolutionary, and statesman, was also a great lover of Nicaraguan art. Between 1993 and 1995, Father Miguel commissioned 12 murals at Casa Ben Linder that now are of historic and cultural significance. Although one mural was painted on the outside wall of the house; as murals around the city were erased, all the other murals were painted safely inside the walls of the Casa where they could be protected.

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At the Santa Maria de Los Angeles Church in Managua’s Barrio Riguero, the murals are now covered because of their “disturbing images.”

Although there are other revolutionary murals in Managua that – through much effort – were saved, many of them are not accessible to the public. The unique murals that lift up the preferential option for the poor through images of Nicaraguan history in the Santa María de los Ángeles Church in Barrio Riguero, for example, were under constant threat for years despite being the only murals to be declared Cultural Patrimony of the Country twice. The priest of the parish, liberation theologian Father Uriel Molina, and a group of artists sent cease and desist letters to the church to stave off their destruction. In the early 2000s, after Father Molina was moved from the parish, a Franciscan priest from Guatemala oversaw the destruction of the altar, the baptismal font and other integral parts of the mural until the group sued the church and the priest for the destruction. Although the murals are still there, when the recent Light & Legacy Brigade went to the Santa María de los Ángeles Church recently, we weren’t allowed inside the sanctuary, which was completely sealed with tinted and curtained windows so as to not even allow a glimpse inside. We were informed we could come back for mass, but during mass the murals are hidden behind sheets and lace curtains so as to not offend the delicate sensibilities of churchgoers with “disturbing images.”

Let me take you on a tour of some of the murals that you can see today in Managua, ones that either survived Alemán’s gray brush, or were painted during that time of destruction.

At Casa Ben Linder there are four murals depicting the life of Ben Linder. Ben was an electrical engineer from the U.S. who came to Nicaragua in 1983 to support the Revolution, working on micro-hydro systems to bring electricity to villages in the war zones. We’ll dedicate a future article to the murals about Ben’s life.

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“Empowerment” by Julie Aguirre at Casa Ben Linder, Managua. Painted in 1995, restored in 2005.

Father Miguel D’Escoto also commissioned two murals by Julie Aguirre, an important Nicaraguan artist from the PRAXIS movement. “Empowerment” is a typical Nicaraguan street scene done in the primitivist style. Although originally painted in 1995, an oven on the other side of the wall damaged the mural and in 2005 and 2006 the artist restored and also modernized it by adding details in the wall graffiti in the street scene. These changes are now like a snapshot of the neoliberal time period. For example,”6%” is written on the walls along the street, which refers to annual student protests demanding funding for universities. Another example is, “No más alzas al agua, luz etc.” which refers to the constant rate hikes in charges for basic services including water, electricity and transportation at the time. The “No al TLC, Sí a la Vida” refers to protests against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, which favored big business and was being debated at the time before it passed into law in April 2006.

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“Güegüense Petroglyph” by Orlando Sobalvarro at Casa Ben Linder, Managua.

Casa Ben Linder also has a group of works called “Petroglyphs” by Orlando Sobalvarro, some are mosaics made of glazed clay tiles – “Petroglyphs of Matagalpa” – and some are incised concrete “Extraterrestrial Petroglyph” and “Güegüense Petroglyph.” Sobalvarro’s abstract art was a contrast to the mainly realist and primitivist work done during the Revolution. Sobalvarro, who died in 2009, believed that not only were abstract art and revolution compatible, but that capitalism impedes us from understanding abstract art, something that should be remedied as any form of illiteracy would be. He said, “It is important that the concepts of abstraction be understood by the general public, since the same pictorial qualities apply to painting as to political propaganda.”

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Part of “Characters in History” showing Jesus and Dorothy Day by Diederik Grootjans at Casa Ben Linder, Managua

One of the most unusual murals at Casa Ben Linder is “Characters in History” by Dutch artist Diederik Grootjans in 1993. The artist was a volunteer with a Nicaraguan sister city project when he was invited to paint a mural at Casa Ben Linder by Father Miguel. Grootjans says that when he arrived at the house, Father Miguel already had the clay tiles laid out on the patio. Father Miguel pointed at the tiles and told Grootjans who was to be depicted in the mural – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a Nicaraguan worker woman, Dorothy Day, Jesus Christ, an Indigenous Nicaraguan woman, Leon Tolstoy, a Mayangna girl, and Mahatma Gandhi. The mural style is acrylic on clay tile, using the terracotta color of the tile as shading on the faces.

At the same time the murals at Casa Ben Linder were being painted, a few blocks to the west, community members in the Batahola Norte neighborhood were taking shifts to safeguard their fledgling Cultural Center where solidarity workers and children had painted murals in 1988. The community saw murals around the city being destroyed, and refused to accept that fate for their own murals, which were vulnerable in their open-air center. The people stood watch over their murals for months, eventually building a fence around their Center to protect them.

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“New Dawn,” Batahola Cultural Center, Managua. Painted by the Boanerges Cerrato Artists Collective in 1988.

Although many murals have been painted at the Batahola Norte Cultural Center since the 1990s, the most well-known were painted with the Boanerges Cerrato Artists Collective in 1988. In the space the Center uses for mass is “New Dawn,” a manger scene with all people of color. In the center is baby Jesus, reaching for three angels above him. In the foreground, people modeled after real community members approach with offerings of fruits and vegetables. Guiding them are Che Guevara, FSLN founder Carlos Fonseca, anti-imperialist hero Sandino and Saint Oscar Romero of El Salvador.

In 1988 the Artists Collective also helped a group of children to develop their own ideas and paint their own mural, which today gives us a sweet glimpse into the minds of children living through a popular Revolution under constant threat of U.S aggression. The children decided to paint the history of the world, starting with the Big Bang, evolution of animals, and people. With the arrival of the atomic bomb, the dove of peace is killed and “black birds” circle. During the Contra war, U.S. planes would regularly fly over Nicaraguan air space and break the sound barrier as a terror tactic – these were called “Black Birds.” When they would hear the planes, the children of Managua would run for the bomb shelters that citizens had built in their tiny back yards, sometimes spending hours cowering in the damp spaces.

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“Sandino’s hat protects us from the black birds,” by the children of the Batahola Norte Cultural Center, Managua.

The Batahola children’s mural continues with the return of peace with the Revolution, the martyrdom of FSLN guerillas and agrarian reform. In the next panel is painted, “Sandino’s hat protects us from the Black Birds,” and shows a black bird falling to the earth after being hit with lava spewing from Sandino’s hat. The next panel shows gains of the Revolution: houses built, the literacy campaign, and the “eradication of polio and Somocismo.”

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Visitation under the Volcano” Grupo Artístico Contraste, Casa Ave María, Managua

A few blocks to the east of Casa Ben Linder, Episcopal priest Father Grant Mauricio Gallup commissioned Grupo Artístico Contraste to paint “The Visitation under the Volcano” in the early 1990s. The mural depicts Mary and Elizabeth pregnant with two liberators to be born, a rosary of women – including Dorothy Granada – who sacrificed for the social cause in Nicaragua, and Christ on the cross. Mary squats below the cross, hands uplifted over Jesus’ wounds. On the ground a photo of dictator Anastasio Somoza burns, in the background Managua’s Old Cathedral is covered with triumphant revolutionaries. According to Father Grant, who died in 2009, the mural illustrates Luke 1:52, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.”

https://afgj.org/nicanotes-06-02-2022
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Fri Jun 17, 2022 4:04 pm

Nicaragua a ‘Dictatorship’ When It Follows US Lead on NGOs
JOHN PERRY
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AP (6/2/22) reported that “the government seems intent on wiping the landscape clean of any organization it does not control.”
President Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua is “laying waste to civil society,” according to the Associated Press (6/2/22). The Guardian (6/2/22) called it a “sweeping purge of civil society,” while for the New York Times (2/14/22), Nicaragua is “inching toward dictatorship.” According to the Washington Post‘s Spanish edition (5/19/22), the country is already “a dictatorship laid bare.” In a call echoed by the BBC (5/5/22), the UN human rights commissioner urged Nicaragua to stop its “damaging crackdown on civil society.”

What can possibly have provoked such widespread criticism? It turns out that the Nicaraguan National Assembly’s “sweeping purge” was the withdrawal of the tax-free legal status of a small proportion of the country’s nonprofit organizations: just 440 over a period of four years. In more than half the cases, these non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have simply ceased to function or no longer exist. In other cases, they have failed (or refused) to comply with legal requirements, such as producing annual accounts or declaring the sources of their funding. Modest legal steps that would go unnoticed in most countries are—in Nicaragua’s case—clear evidence that it is “inching toward dictatorship.”

None of the media reports asked basic questions, such as what these nonprofits have done that led to the government taking this action, whether other countries follow similar practices, or what international requirements about the regulation of nonprofits Nicaragua is required to comply with. There is a much bigger story here that corporate media ignore. Let’s fill in some of the gaps.

Three basic questions

There are three basic questions. First, is Nicaragua exceptional in closing nonprofits on this scale? No, the practice is widespread in other nations. While figures are difficult to find, government agencies in the United States, Britain, Australia and elsewhere have closed tens of thousands of nonprofits in the last few years.

For example, between 2006 and 2011, the IRS closed 279,000 nonprofits out of a US total of 1.7 million; it closed 28,000 more in 2020. The Charity Commission in Britain closes around 4,000 per year. And in Australia, some 10,000 nonprofits have been closed since 2014, one-sixth of the total. In Nicaragua, four years of closures have so far affected only 7% of a total of more than 6,000 nonprofits.
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Reprinting an AP story, the Guardian (6/2/22) used scare quotes to suggest that NGOs that took foreign money were not really “foreign agents.” When the paper (9/20/18) reported that “Washington has ordered two Chinese state-run media agencies to register as foreign agents,” quotation marks were not seen as necessary.
Second, does Nicaragua impose tighter rules than other countries? Again, the answer is no. Rules introduced in 2020 required nonprofits to register as “foreign agents” if they receive funds from abroad: The AP report (6/2/22; picked up by the Guardian, 6/2/22) puts this in scare quotes, but the term is borrowed from the far heavier requirements that have applied in the US since 1938 under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The Financial Times (4/10/20) dubbed the Nicaraguan legislation “Putin’s Law,” erroneously linking it to Russia, not the United States.

The US has some of the world’s strongest and most detailed powers, but they are not unique: The Library of Congress has examples of 13 countries with similar legislation. In Britain, the government consulted last year on the introduction of a “Foreign Influence Registration Scheme,” which is similar to FARA. Nicaragua’s law is not exceptional, and nor were its consequences in reducing NGO numbers; when Australia introduced similar laws in 2014, there were 5,000 nonprofit closures in the following year as a result.

An important factor is that Nicaragua, like other countries, has to comply with international regulations that address the risks posed by unregulated nonprofits. These include widespread international concern that nonprofits are susceptible to money-laundering.

Whether deliberately or out of ignorance, media ignore the fact that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), set up in 1989 by the G7 governments, imposes rules that apply globally. In 2020, Nicaragua was praised by the FATF for “largely complying” with its requirements. FATF specifically endorsed the tougher controls and the sanctions for non-compliance that the government introduced, including the threat of withdrawing an organization’s legal status.

Third, have nonprofits been given time to comply with the rules? According to the Guardian (6/2/22), “the government was not giving them an opportunity to get in line with new legal requirements,” yet I know this to be untrue. I have talked to leaders of several nonprofit organizations who have completed the process or are working their way through it. The rules are tough, and the government ministry is under-resourced for the task it has been given, but hundreds of NGOs are taking steps to comply. Many of those who fail the test are given the option of reconstituting themselves as businesses without tax-free status.

Rules apply to good and bad alike
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In testimony to Congress, the heads of the groups that funnel US government money to overseas NGOs “boasted about their ability to change foreign governments” (Lobe Log, 7/3/18).
Do the media ask if Nicaragua might have introduced these stringent laws because of obvious transgressions by nonprofits? No: On the contrary, the media assume that the NGOs’ complaints about the rules are justified.

The reports make only dismissive reference to the recent history of abuses by some Nicaraguan NGOs. They ignore the key fact that some of them existed principally to channel millions of dollars in US funding into activities that blatantly interfered in Nicaraguan politics. They ignore the largesse of agencies funded by the US government, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID, which poured money into Nicaraguan NGOs after President Daniel Ortega was voted back into office in 2007, with the specific aim of training people to oppose his government and create the conditions for regime change.

That the NED, USAID and other US agencies use national NGOs in this way is hardly a secret. Global Americans (1/5/18) reported that the NED was “laying the groundwork for insurrection” in Nicaragua in 2018; Lobe Log (7/3/18) revealed that the National Endowment for Democracy had bragged to Congress about its efforts to create young disciples of regime change, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (10/2/19) described in detail the indoctrination process in which they took part.

Of course, this interference has been happening for decades across the world. Six years ago, Telesur (6/8/16) showed how it worked in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Similar activities funded by the NED and allied agencies have been carried out in Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and many other countries.
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The New York Times (2/14/22) speaks of Nicaraguan private education in the past tense, writing that “universities had been among the last remaining centers of resistance”—before going on to acknowledge in passing that six colleges remain private for every one that was nationalized.
The Financial Times (4/10/20) went so far as to quote the NED’s Aimel Ríos, who urged tougher international pressure on Nicaragua: “It does seem that is the only language the regime will understand,” he said. The obvious conflict of interest went unchallenged. Contrast this with the media’s hypervigilance about any suggested interference by Russia or China in Western politics.

Apart from the political issues, there is a wider question of the value of nonprofit organizations to Nicaraguan society. It must be said, of course, that many nonprofits do excellent humanitarian work. But there are significant exceptions, quite apart from the examples above.

For example, local “human rights” bodies have been totally partial in their work, becoming little more than propaganda merchants, as I have shown elsewhere. Many of the medical bodies now closed also existed mainly as propaganda organizations, rather than as genuine professional institutions—particularly during the pandemic, when they attempted (with some initial success) to deter people from using the public health service.

Some private universities have lost their status for failing to produce accounts, and have been taken over by the state. Far from the impression given by the New York Times (2/14/22), I have been told by various academics working with their former students that they are much happier now that they have access to better, state-run facilities. Their fees are fixed and they no longer have to pay extortionate fees (in some cases, $1,000) to graduate.

The Washington Post (6/2/22) picked out for criticism the closure of the “94-year-old Nicaraguan Academy of Letters.” Yet one of its board members admitted that it was in “total administrative disorder” and had never complied with requirements to file its accounts, even though it was receiving $62,000 in government funds each year.

‘To advance US interests’
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In Nicaragua, a country that has experienced a century of military occupation, CIA-backed guerilla warfare and ongoing efforts at regime change, openDemocracy (6/1/22) presents a registration requirement for NGOs that take foreign money as “a policy of sweeping away any form of organization that is not under state control.”
Perhaps the wildest claims about the importance of NGOs have been made by openDemocracy (6/1/22), a nonprofit web outlet that claims it “challenges power, inspires change and builds leadership among groups underrepresented in the media.” Many services for women, such as reproductive health services, “are vanishing,” it says, repeating claims made by a Nicaraguan NGO that refuses to comply with the new laws. Without them, apparently, “prospects…are bleak.”

The article seriously misrepresented the situation of women’s health in Nicaragua, which has one of the best public health services in Central America, free to all. It has, for example, reduced maternal mortality from 92.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006, to 31.6 in 2021, a reduction of 66%. In part, this is due to its 180 casas maternas, which offer dedicated care to pregnant women. The state also provides family planning free of charge in all health centers, including tubal ligations for women who do not wish to have more children.

It is true that many NGOs provide healthcare, often with foreign funding, and most of these are perfectly happy to register under the new legislation and continue working in cooperation with the health ministry.

It is of course almost inconceivable that Nicaragua can be given any credit in the media for its achievements in healthcare, or many other aspects of social provision. As FAIR has pointed out on various occasions, corporate media are consistent in making every news story an attack on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, with no attempt at balance or genuine investigation of stories presented to them by the government’s opponents, especially those coming from the hostile Nicaraguan media.

The US State Department begins its summary of its policy on “US Relations With Nicaragua,” updated last September, with the surprisingly honest statement that “the US government works to advance US interests in Nicaragua.” Sadly, the international media appear to do the same.

https://fair.org/home/nicaragua-a-dicta ... d-on-ngos/

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Nicaragua’s Finance Minister Ivan Acosta: “We are going to have GDP growth … of between 4 and 5%, which is important!”
June 16, 2022
[This interview by Dennis Schwartz took place on the Revista En Vivo program on Nicaragua’s Channel 4 on June 8, 2022. The interview has been edited for length. Translation by Tortilla con Sal and AfGJ. The entire interview can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTiAukig1hs]

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Finance Minister Ivan Acosta appearing on the Channel 4 program Revista en Vivo.

Dennis Schwartz: Let’s start! How has May been economically for our country? How is our economy doing?

Minister Iván Acosta: The year 2021 was an exceptional year in economic performance, in growth, across all the numbers. If we look at expenditure, it means that the construction of roads is accelerating, the momentum in drinking water and sanitation is continuing; more resources are being invested to make an impact on employment and above all on the welfare of the population.

In the first months of this year, up until May 2022, 22,000 new jobs have been recovered, which is also important from the point of view of the Social Security Institute records. Therefore, all indications suggest that the economic evolution of 2022, as of May 31, is in line with the projections made by the Central Bank, that we will have a GDP growth. We are not talking about the Monthly Index of Economic Activities but about Gross Domestic Product, of between 4% and 5%, which is important. Four or 5%, according to those data that you have probably seen from ECLAC and the World Bank, would place us close to those that are going to have the best performance in the economy of 2022, in spite of the turbulence and fluctuations of the international economy.

From January to May, the economy has evolved close to the estimates…. Furthermore, as regards the budgetary execution performance of public institutions the expenditure part is going at a higher pace than in 2021.

It is important to make the comparisons, 2021 was a year of a reactivation, a growth of 11.3%, the highest ever combined figure. During the COVID pandemic in Latin America there was 8.3% growth over the two years, 2020-21, and definitely those numbers have been the base scenario that we are acting on in 2022.

How much is it estimated that the economy has moved in the first five months? The third month cut-off tells us that the Monthly Activity Index is performing above 6%, as of March. And we estimate that with the fiscal data for May, economic activity is still very strong. ….

Schwartz: How has this worked out?

Acosta: First, one can see financial activity recovering, which was one of the sectors most delayed during the reactivation. Credit is increasing little by little; there is a positive impact on deposits. Deposits are [growing] close to 4%, similar to their best figures which were in March 2018, at 4%. Reserves exceed by more than US$1.5 billion the best figures of December 2017. That is, we are talking about over US$4.3 billion as against US$2.7 billion approximately.

We are talking about more than US$1.5 billion extra in reserves, so we have a much stronger Central Bank than in 2017…. We see fiscal performance expressed via taxation with a lot of activity; April was extraordinary and May is even better. So, the accumulated results from January to May in tax and fiscal terms are on a very good path and support the budget expenditures, which is the most important thing.

Schwartz: When we talk about spending, people believe that we are standing still, and in order to spend more we have to receive more, through our activity.

Acosta: Fundamentally, the budget is a question on which one probably always wonders, how is the expenditure financed? The fundamentals of the economy and the economic policies and public policies defined by President Daniel Ortega, are that most of the expenses must be financed with tax revenues. That is to say, expenditure expands as a higher growth rate of tax revenue is achieved, and this is expressed in the budget deficit.

In the last seven or eight years, or about 10 years, a decade, … the amount of resources from tax revenue, from other budget revenue, plus the evolution of previous savings allows us to finance the budget, adding in too some bond issues in the securities market and also international financing via loans or donations. If they are loans or donations these are incorporated into the budget.

When one looks in the end at what you have in your favor and what you spend, it is very important that the Nicaraguan economy, financial policy, and fiscal policy have been very prudent; that is to say, seeking the greatest efficiency and strengthening savings at opportune moments so as to be able to resist shocks such as the one in 2018, or the pandemic. I think this is very important, that is, we are always spending according to what we have, not spending beyond what we have.

Schwartz: It is very meticulous work, to be making adjustments, to be carrying it out where possible while not stopping the social programs that are fundamental. Based on this, controlling prices in fuel, energy, imports of the agricultural products that are required now that we are in the rainy season, how is it being achieved? How do we maintain it?

Acosta: The global economy is suffering from several shocks, a set of shocks that have had an impact on the global international economic performance. …. Nicaragua is part of the Global Economy, and so, since February, President Ortega has given us instructions to look ahead as best we can and to formulate solutions that guarantee the least impact on our population, on consumption, and above all to protect production.

So, what has been done? In his speeches of May 4 and May 18, President Ortega stated very clearly that we had to adjust to the new times and face the turbulence or fluctuations in the economy. And thus there are four or five containment measures that are having a positive impact to offset as much as possible the effects apparent in the global economy.

First of all, the most important, very important resources have been invested in keeping the price of gasoline, diesel and cooking gas stable. …. Secondly, there is a very meticulous management policy, the issue of the electricity rate in which there is a policy that began back in 2019, to take all measures to maintain rate stability in energy, which is another of the leading prices of the economy. If energy rises, the whole chain of productive costs rises, but it also has a direct impact on Nicaraguan families. The policy of containment measures and energy subsidy [for households where] the consumption is less than 150KWh/month has been guaranteed for a long time, but as of 2019 the electricity rate has been stabilized….

Since the Government took office in 2007, we have worked to transform the electricity generation matrix. That is to say, a very important amount is being generated, sixty or 70%, from renewables. So, this isolates it from the global impact of oil; but, there is a part which is still generated with fuel oil. So, it is important that the policies defined by Comandante Ortega include controlling those rates, and that guarantee that the rates have not fluctuated since 2019, but they have been controlled via a clear Policy of Rate Subsidy to protect the production, employment and tranquility of families.

On the other hand, there is a whole Production Promotion Policy, to ensure market supply. One of the most important issues against inflation is that there is production, and for that … we must attend to producers, we must assist, we must transfer capacities to the producers in order to guarantee good production. Besides, with a good rainy season there must be a good production and a good supply to the market.

At the end of May we can confirm that the preliminary numbers on exports show growth of 18.5% with more than US$1.88 billion exported. That18.5% rate, having closed in 2021 at US$3.6 billion, indicates that we are going to end the year above US$4.0 billion. This is a forecast, in other words, we should be above US$4 billion. Why are we going to be above US$4 billion? Because the volume of coffee exports has increased and prices are on the rise; they have reached US$335 [per hundredweight] today. Gold remains above US$1,850 [per ounce] and volumes are also increasing. …. Likewise, in products derived from sugar cane, we are talking about rum, more is being exported. Peanuts, tobacco products [mainly specialty cigars], even dairy products and beans are growing significantly with respect to 2021.

That is to say, you have a higher total export volume of 2% higher than in 2021, and in values it is 18.5% higher; this indicates that we are going to have higher exports than in 2021. I estimate about US$400 million more than in 2021, together with a positive impact on domestic demand, because there is a good volume of family remittances arriving in the country. The Central Bank said that they grew 26% in April, and I believe they will continue to grow in May.

On the other hand too, investments have been recovering. The Central Bank also announced that in 2021 it closed [foreign investments] at more than US$1.2 billion and this rhythm will continue. That is to say, if all the sectors, investors, private sectors, producers, transportation, commerce, popular commerce, popular markets continue working hard, we are going to have a very good year, regardless of the turbulence or fluctuations in the international economy.

Schwartz: That is what is foreseen at a global level, what had been calculated to be going up has in fact collapsed. But our economy, thank God, is well managed.

Acosta: The World Bank and the Monetary Fund … are very conservative, [and] with the indicators they have, they had estimated the Global Economy growing at 3.4% and they have lowered it to 0.9%. The Emerging Economies … have been adjusted by two points less, from 5.4% to 3.4%. …. In the case of Central America and even Latin America it has been adjusted down, but we have Central Bank Indicators indicating that despite the fluctuations we remain between 4% and 5%. …. So we would be in a known range, where the Nicaraguan economy has shown its performance and that is close to its potential GDP, as economists say. It is close to its described capacity.

Also, and it is very important, so I am going to emphasize this, if I am producing, if I am finding markets, and I am getting good prices, and my internal demand is supported by the family remittance transfers, and also investments are coming back; if my trade balance is going well, foreign investment and private investment are reactivating, and we have a macroeconomic stability policy keeping sufficient resources in the Central Bank, so that the banking sector is funded, and we have a good execution of expenditure, and the public investment program is at the same pace as in 2021, all of this means that you have good results, regardless of what may be forecast abroad…

So we foresee that we are going to be the economy with the best evolution in Central America.

Schwartz: We are growing economically with small and medium producers, and those who have already invested too. This creates openings, because the banks are looking for where to put more money, and they have money. Now they are the ones who are looking for clients to lend to. We are talking about this economic stability that we Nicaraguans have thanks to government policy. We say, physically healthy mind, healthy body, healthy country, healthy economy. We are advancing also by managing public investment. In relation to the priority investments that we have, what are they?

Acosta: The priority investments that have been defined since 2007 by Comandante Daniel Ortega and Compañera Rosario, who have placed great emphasis on improving the competitiveness and productivity of the country. We have concentrated on eight fundamental sectors and, of these, four are very visible.

Very visible is everything that has been done in electric energy, the electrification program whose coverage is already at 99.2%. This is very important because it gives competitiveness; it gives dignity to those who were excluded … and incorporates them as protagonists and economic agents. We are talking about 92.2% coverage after it had been at 52%, 53%, 54% until 2007 [when it began increasing].

We are rapidly approaching 6,000 kilometers [of] highways, in what we call our transportation programs, when [in the past] the most highways we had was 2,000 kilometers and of those only 600 kilometers were in good condition.

These are issues that are very visible. We are talking about building the bridge over the Wawa River, and it is not that we are thinking about it, any more than we were merely saying there will be a road to Bilwi. We are building the bridge over the Wawa River, a bridge of more than 350 linear meters.

There has been enormous progress in potable water and sanitation, bringing potable water to municipal headwaters that were excluded for centuries; we are talking about Bluefields and Bilwi too. We have invested in Chinandega and Masaya, which are Pacific departmental capitals, but we have also reached the center of the country, Santo Tomás, Acoyapa; there is an important effort in water and sanitation in Nandaime. In other words, these are broad programs, with big investments and this is very visible to the population.

Another one of the programs is the largest investment in hospital infrastructure in Central America….. World class hospitals are being built in the departmental capitals and also in the municipalities where there are now a large number of primary hospitals. We are [also] talking about … investment in the quality of services in well-known hospitals in Managua. The Manolo Morales is not the same as it was 20 years ago; the Manolo Morales has had investment in the operating theaters. In Granada US$515,00018 are being invested at this moment. ….

Here COVID could be addressed because there was planning and strategic vision by Comandante Ortega to invest in health and education. Education and health are fundamental issues that had been abandoned during the long and dark years of neoliberalism from 1990 to 2006. That has changed and it is very clearly seen in public investment. But there are also other important investments that have been advancing that are probably less noticeable; for example, the strategic improvement to the Port of Corinto.

It is well known that this is linked to economic activity, to export and import activity, but there is a national investment strategy of almost US$200 million in ports, improvement of airports, including Bluefields and Corn Island, important works of modernization.

But back to education, there is also a sustained policy of improving educational infrastructure, investing in quality, in what we would call improvements in all the pillars that influence secondary education. That is to say, not only in infrastructure but also in access to the internet, information technology, the social policies of education, the policies that minimize desertion, by guaranteeing the best conditions. The school meals program falls within this educational policy.

We are designing a program to strengthen the teacher training colleges, the entire teacher training college network, which is a very important issue. There is an effort to strengthen telecommunications. You may have heard about the broadband program that has to do with rural telecommunications, and certainly being in Managua one cannot imagine how someone from the region of El Tortuguero communicates with the rest of the country. So this is a rural telecommunications program and it is very important to incorporate it.

The ones I am mentioning are programs that of course, if you are not involved in them, then you cannot see it happening, but the whole country is getting connected, no matter from which rural hamlet you are connecting. This has been a part of the modernization of the country during the administrations of Comandante Ortega.

There is a strong momentum in production. We are strengthening our technological development centers, for example, related to improvements in research for the development of seeds resistant to climate change. We are talking about strengthening the Bovine Traceability System from IPSA, strengthening testing laboratories, and technical capacities. Infrastructure of all kinds are also focused in that area. ….

Schwartz: We address it practically every day but it is good to remind ourselves, how the international economic environment is affecting Nicaragua….

Acosta: The classic thing is that if you increase the interest rate, you have to make efforts from the production side to keep the markets supplied. In our case, in addition to keeping our market supplied and working hard for food security, we have to produce enough surpluses so we can look for food markets.

We produce a lot of food, so it is very important to produce when it is being said that there could be an international food shortage. In that case we will be able to sell more beans, more dairy products, more meat, more coffee, more sugar. It is very important to work on that in order to have enough supply for our [domestic] market and also to support our exports….

So from the point of view of ensuring that the economy is not negatively impacted, we must promote greater investment to create the necessary conditions for investment to continue. What are the basic conditions for investment to take place? Working hard for macroeconomic stability and fiscal discipline; that is to say, low deficits and monetary stability. These are a great attraction to investment and we have seen that investment continues to come, which is important.

Schwartz: In addition, there is great recognition of Nicaragua in this regard.

Acosta: There is another important issue, namely maintaining what we call debt stability. For example, there are countries here in Central America that have accumulated debt of 75% or 80% of GDP, while we are around 52% or 54%; so that is very important. There are publications with these figures, so this is public information that can be verified. These are essential indicators for investment and, when investment comes, it generates employment to counteract the threats of recession and economic decline, above all.

That is why I was telling you that there are important positive economic indicators: employment is growing, 20,000 jobs in the first four or five months of the year. That is very important. Exports are growing; production is growing. Not only exports in terms of price, but also the volume of exports is increasing.

Schwartz: Iván Acosta, Minister of Finance and Public Credit, thank you for your visit. We hope to see you soon here again. Be well.

Acosta: Thank you very much, Dennis.

https://afgj.org/nicanotes-06-16-20226
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Fri Jun 24, 2022 2:24 pm

NicaNotes: Since when is dismantling a coup d’état “dismantling democracy”?
June 23, 2022
By Edwin Sánchez

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(This article was originally published in Spanish by Nicaragua Sandino and can be read here: http://nicaraguasandino.com/desde-cuand ... emocracia/. It was translated into English by Tortilla Con Sal.)

[Nicaragua journalist Edwin Sánchez writes a heartfelt comparison between what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, in the United States and the US-supported coup attempt of April to July 2018 in Nicaragua.]

Now that the AP reports that members of the House Committee investigating the assault on the US Capitol have “additional evidence to be exposed this week that shows that Donald Trump and his advisers conducted a ‘large-scale effort’ to spread disinformation and pressured the Justice Department to accept the then-president’s false assertions,” why does the White House not accept that Trump, at the head of the US Government, also made “large-scale efforts” to “spread disinformation” against the Constitutional Government of Nicaragua, and pressured his related agencies, human rights commissions, OAS, the media, think tanks, and other “institutes,” “foundations,” “commissions,” etc., subordinated under facades of “independent” bodies, to also accept the then president’s false assertions about Nicaragua?

Now that President Joe Biden has denounced that the shadow “forces” behind the assault on the Capitol in 2021 remain a threat to his country’s democracy, why is Nicaragua being harassed, accused, sanctioned and economically blockaded for dismantling the sinister plans of the “forces” that former President Donald Trump himself sponsored to attack peace, stability, development and democracy in Nicaragua?

Now that a special committee of the US Congress has concluded that the events on Capitol Hill, which lasted a few hours and not even the whole day, were a failed coup d’état, why is the armed and fascist barbarism of three long months in 2018, financed by the US against Nicaragua, being covered up at this point with the cynical narrative of “civic demonstrations?”

Now that the President of the United States is sounding the unanimous warning bells about the dangers to democracy in his country and, with one voice, Congress, the police and security organs, the judiciary, and the executive branch itself are coordinating to defend the voting results and the legitimacy of the Electoral College, and therefore its American democratic system, why is it that Nicaragua, while complying with the legal system of the Republic to defend democracy, the legitimacy of the Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council and the Constitution, is accused of “not having a division of powers?”

Now that Mr. Biden warns: “It is important for the American people to understand what really happened and to understand that the same forces that led [to the insurrection on Capitol Hill] on January 6th are still active today,” why is it difficult for Mr. Biden to understand what, with evidence in hand, Nicaragua has shown happened: that millions of dollars of the budget of the noble American people were squandered on the thwarted coup, and that the same forces that bled [the country with the attempted coup of April to July] 2018 are still active today, even demanding the expulsion of Nicaragua from the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)?

Now that President Biden dramatically states that “The insurrection of January 6th is one of the darkest chapters in the history of our nation. A brutal assault on our democracy, a brutal attack on law enforcement, with some losing their lives,” … why does the United States want the … the people of Nicaragua, and especially the families of the victims to glorify the atrocities committed by Trump’s coup plotters in 2018 as one of the brightest chapters in our nation’s history?

How will Washington dictate Nicaragua’s national sentiments and translate those months of savagery, mourning and pain provoked by demonic sociopaths in 2018 into “a cultured and pious defence of democracy?”

How is Nicaragua going to celebrate, praise and describe as “a Christian shelter of protection and mercy to the forces of law and order and overflowing love for the homeland,” the merciless onslaught against the authorities during the attempted 2018 coup, which resulted in the murder of 22 policemen, a considerable number of seriously wounded [more than 900 police wounded], harassment of defenceless relatives of officers, and the burning of many houses with children and elderly mothers inside?

Where in God’s name is humanism?

If January 6th was a terrible, dark and brutal chapter for the American Union…

Without an artillery barrage of gun-toting, heartless men or gleeful arsonists.

Without a single block of the District of Columbia taken.

Without drivers and truckloads of food and goods hijacked and held up at the gunpoint of violence along endless miles of highways.

Without a single metre of interstate highways obstructed.

Without a single TV channel stoking hatred and confrontation.

Without a literal medieval bonfire burning people alive, as in the sector of Mebasa, Masaya.

No “democratic” kidnappers and executioners.

Without a single American who lived through the horrendous torture of citizen Bismark Martínez, recorded on videotape by his captors, who later dismembered and murdered him at the roadblock of San José de Jinotepe, 45 kilometres south of Managua.

Without a prevaricating Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) at the service of “the Capitol insurrection.”

Without an Organization of American States appeasing the “peaceful demonstrators” of 6 January.

Without a single building set on fire and not a single state property destroyed outside the perimeter of Congress.

Without the Nicaraguan Embassy in Washington attacking the national security of the United States.

What does Mr. President think Nicaragua suffered with those abominable volumes of infamy, iniquity and unconscionable wickedness against human life?

Must we, because we are Nicaragua, endure interventions, occupations, interference, coups d’état, destabilisation, blockades, economic sanctions… and even “peaceful protests” not from admirers of Mahatma Gandhi, but from Heinrich Himmler, the maximum chief of the Schutzstaffel (SS), in charge of the Nazi concentration camps?

Is it our role in life to be the target of the smoking Knox Note 1909 calibre historical repeating rifle, loaded with incessant ammunition of pretexts, justifications and Manifest Destiny?

Now that Bennie Thompson, head of the legislative committee dedicated to investigating the events in Washington, has stated in no uncertain terms that ….

“Donald Trump was at the centre of this conspiracy,” why should the Government of the Republic of Nicaragua, why should the people, why should the bereaved of the mortal victims of the 2018 coup attempt say that it was angels, archangels and cherubim who were at the centre of the conspiracy against Nicaragua in 2018, and not who it really was?

Now that all the constitutional powers of the United States are going all out against the 6 January coup d’état, wouldn’t it be fair that the TV networks, written and electronic press, the OAS and Ms. Bachelet of the UN, the Human Rights organizations, etc., in every “fake news” launched as a news dispatch, in every “honourable” tribune, in every misguided pulpit, in every manipulation written as a “report”…, denigrate the United States and label it a “dictatorship”, which “violates democracy,” persecutes the “defenders of liberties” and holds as “political prisoners” the “patriots” who took over the Capitol?

Recall that the then US national security adviser John Bolton of the Trump era called Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua a “troika of tyranny”. What was the reason for these labels? Who gave Bolton and Co. the power to designate the status of nations?

It is in this context that Trump’s hands typed his lavishly paid narrative to overthrow a constitutional government, elected by the population of Nicaragua. And by population they mean real people, flesh and blood and Nicaraguan souls, not juridical ones, not empty acronyms; not uninhabited parties and boards of directors of foreign-born NGOs that no one elected and no one even remembers their names, let alone knows if they are solvent and honest representatives of anything but their own vested interests.

In the ecstasy of their fury, such “democrats,” masquerading as civil society organizations “committed to democracy, civil liberties, human rights,” etc., and bypassing the laws of the Republic, went so far as to demand “the surrender of the government.” And, after prefabricating their “civic alliance,” a sector of the Catholic hierarchy delivered the “primer” on the outcome of the coup d’état, under the sibylline name of “road map.”

If January 6, 2021, the day of the assault on the Capitol, “is not in the past: it is present every day,” as The New York Times wrote on 5 January 2022, how much more so three months of cruelty and bloodshed inflicted on Nicaragua in 2018?

If it is not in the past, “It is in Donald Trump,” the paper asserted, “who continues to fan the flames of conflict with his rampant lies and whose distorted version of reality still dominates one of the nation’s two major political parties.”

The strange thing is that the former administration’s “rampant lies and distorted version of reality” are maintained against Nicaragua by President Joe Biden, who has been challenged by his predecessor for “illegitimately” occupying the White House.

What the NYT editorial illustrates and warns about their country also looms over Nicaragua: “Simply put, the republic [not just the US, we add Nicaragua as well] faces an existential threat from a movement that openly disdains democracy and has demonstrated its willingness to use violence to achieve its ends. No autonomous society can survive such a threat by denying that it exists. Rather, survival depends on looking to the past and to the future at the same time.”

The newspaper can give no better advice: “To truly face the looming threat means to fully understand the terror of that day a year ago.”

It is the obligation of a sovereign country. Nicaragua has done so.

To dismantle any threat to Democracy and Constitutional Order is also to fully understand the terror of three months, four years ago….

President Biden and members of Congress with democratic values should break once and for all with the Trump legacy, and open the way for dialogue and cooperation between the United States and Nicaragua.

To promote…

Relations of concord and understanding between two sovereign states and not between the Monroe Doctrine, its Roosevelt Corollary and the Big Stick versus the battered nation.

Friendly relations and not Metropolis to Subaltern.

Civilised relations between the Homeland of Walt Whitman and the Homeland of Rubén Darío.

Dignified and mutually beneficial relations between the Homeland of George Washington and the Homeland of Augusto César Sandino.

In short, moving from the senseless Monroe Doctrine to peace and reciprocal respect between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean would give more meaning on Earth to Neil Armstrong’s stellar phrase than wasting it on the fathomless solitude of the Moon: “One small step for a man, but one giant leap for mankind”.

It would be to feel, at last, the first breezes of the Sea of Tranquillity in our Hemisphere.

https://afgj.org/nicanotes-06-22-2022

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Food Insecurity Increases in the U.S. While it Declines in Nicaragua Whose Socialist Government Has Defied U.S. Regime Change Designs
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on JUNE 23, 2022
Nan McCurdy

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Workers at Houston food bank. [Source: time.com]

Expansion of Public Sector in Nicaragua Has Improved Quality of Life for Everyone

In 2018, 48% of U.S.-based churches had their own food-distribution ministry or supported efforts run by other churches or organizations such as food pantries or food banks.

These faith-based ministries, unlike government programs, provide immediate help to hungry people with no requirements. And more than two million people volunteer at a food pantry, soup kitchen, emergency shelter or after-school programs in the U.S., working more than 100 million volunteer hours a year—according to Hunger in America 2014, a study conducted by Feeding America.

This wave of charity recognizes a serious problem in the United States: Despite being a wealthy nation, food insecurity remains high.

People in the U.S. Are Not Food Secure

In the U.S., the average percentage of households with food insecurity stayed between 10% and 15% from 1995 until 2020, when the numbers shot up. Despite volunteer and government food aid, hunger grew 9% from 2019 to 2020, when 38 million people were hungry.

According to recent research by the Census Bureau from the week before Christmas 2021, 81 million people experienced food insecurity, and 45 million reported not having enough food. Families with children have suffered most: The rate of hunger has been 41% to 83% higher for households with children than adult-only households.

In 2020, one in seven (14.8%) households with children could not buy enough food for their families. The prevalence of food insecurity was much higher in some states than others, ranging from 5.7% in New Hampshire to 15.3% in Mississippi from 2018 to 2021.

5 Surprising Facts about Hunger in America | United Way Worldwide

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[Source: unitedway.org]

Twice as many Black households experience hunger than white households. During the pandemic, 19% to 29% of Black homes with children have reported not having enough to eat; 16% to 25% of Latino homes and 7% to 14% of white homes reported the same. Black families go hungry at 2 to 3 times the rate of white families.Some 43% of Black households with children have experienced food insecurity during the pandemic—the highest rate in recorded history. Children get sick more often if they are not consuming enough nutritious food, and hunger impedes learning.
Thus, one in four people in our nation, the richest nation on Earth, did not have adequate access to sufficient nutritious food needed for a healthy life.

In the face of this pervasive food insecurity, families turn to a variety of sources for help.

More than 42 million people rely on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. During the Covid pandemic, the USDA increased the purchasing power of the plan—by 21% —for the first time since 1975. There were also emergency allotments that increased the value of food stamps people received. This part will likely end soon.

In 2019, 35 million people relied on food charity, another sign that millions of people do not earn a living wage.

Undocumented immigrants are more dependent on food pantries because they are excluded from government programs. Church-related food programs make a big difference for these people’s lives, especially for their children.

One in eight families have reduced their food spending to pay for health care. And Black families are twice as likely to be unable to afford health care. Impoverishment in the United States includes food insecurity, lack of decent housing, lack of health care, poorly paid employment or no employment, and poor quality public education.

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Source: indepthnews.net]

Approximately 80% of households receiving food stamps had at least one worker, indicating that millions of people do not earn a living wage.

In 2019, unemployment of Black individuals was double the rate of whites and Blacks were much more likely to only earn minimum wage or less.

In 2020, the average Black family had $1,500 for emergency spending, while white families had $7,500. Only 10% of Latino families had savings to last six months, while 36% of whites did.

In January 2020, at least 580,466 Americans were without a home, and 30% of those were children. Marginalized racial groups are more likely to be without homes as a result of segregation and discrimination in housing and employment as well as in many other areas of life. Hunger is not universal among unhoused people; however, it is much more frequent than among the housed population.

“Vehicle residency is one of the fastest-growing forms of homelessness,” said Sara Rankin, Professor of Law and Director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project at the Seattle University School of Law.

U.S. foreign policy has had a major effect on hunger and nutrition in developing nations for many years. U.S. agricultural policies aggressively promote creating markets for our farmers by promoting international reliance on U.S. food exports.

U.S.-Related International Food Insecurity

U.S. loan policies are never aimed at the food security of the population of developing nations; instead, they promote production and export of products such as bananas, sugar and coffee to the point that many developing nations are producing and exporting the same things. Thus, the international price stays artificially low, and the countries benefit little from these exports.

Small and medium-scale farmers plant the food that local people eat, like corn, beans, rice, vegetables and fruits, and they also raise farm animals in a more healthful way than large corporations. But U.S. policies have contributed to placing that land into the hands of large landowners and corporations.

The U.S. influences national policies of developing nations such that it is very difficult for small and medium-scale farmers to get loans or any other kinds of government support.

The U.S. subsidizes its own farmers to the point that products like corn and rice are actually sold below what would be the real price.

In this way, we put small and medium-scale corn and rice producers out of business in developing nations—they simply cannot compete with the large-scale subsidized farmers. So, most end up having to sell their land, leading to more large export-based farms—many now owned by U.S. corporations.

This whole process also leads to more migration out of these countries.

Dependency on food imports from the U.S. also undermines the international goals formulated at the 1974 UN World Food Conference to encourage food self-reliance and security from hunger.

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Image[Source: twitter.com]

An Example of Food Sovereignty for the United States and Other Nations

The small nation of Nicaragua in Central America has worked on ending poverty for the last fifteen years. One of the most important strategies has been to develop food security, and today they have reached approximately 90% food security.

This means that small and medium-scale farmers are producing 90% of the food that Nicaraguans eat: corn, beans, rice, plantains, vegetables, fruits, chicken, fish, pork, beef, honey, sugar, etc. Their population is much more food secure in times of crisis, whether it be a climate-related crisis or a political crisis. There are no factory farms of cattle, pigs or chicken. There are large and corporate producers of export crops like sugarcane; but even coffee production for export is held more in the hands of small and medium-scale producers.

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[Source: peoplesdispatch.org]

Along with this, they now have almost 100% electricity coverage, more than 90% of people have potable water in their homes, and there is good universal health care and education including technical and university education. The government subsidizes transportation, electricity and water for their more vulnerable population.

Since petroleum prices skyrocketed in March 2022, the government is covering all the increases in electricity, gas and gasoline. Since 2007, amazingly, they have increased renewable energy from 20% to almost 80% and are in third place worldwide.

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DSCF1102 (1)[Source: greenbuilt.org]

They had a major land reform in the 1980s that put land into the hands of nearly a million people. During three governments by and for the wealthy from 1990 to early 2007, much of that land returned to the hands of the wealthy. But government policies have helped nearly 600,000 families legalize their property. The government also makes technical assistance, training and low-interest loans available to micro and small-scale farm families.

It is interesting to note that, during the years of the Somoza-family dictatorship, supported by the U.S. from the 1930s to 1979, there was much concentration of land in a few hands. That impacted what was grown and how. In the western Pacific area, there were so many pesticides used for production of cotton that, even today, pesticides are found in the breast milk of women from this area.

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Somoza DynastyAnastasio Somoza Garcia with his sons, future dictators Anastasio Somoza Debayle and Luis Somoza Debayle. [Source: latinamericanstudies.org]

Because of current Nicaragua policies that benefit the people instead of U.S. corporations, the U.S. has been doing many things to destabilize Nicaragua politically, and even directed and financed a coup attempt in 2018.


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[Source: truthdig.org]

Although it didn’t fly, it cost the economy billions of dollars, and the U.S. continues to try to destroy the excellent example Nicaragua is giving to the world. Just visit Nicaragua and you will see that another world is possible and that we could be employing similar policies in our country.

Corporate Profits Limit Food Security and Health in the United States

Monoculture production of grains on a corporate scale is not good for the land and requires enormous amounts of fertilizers and pesticides. Whereas sustainable farming practices control weeds, insects and other pests with ecosystem management, farmers who monocrop are dependent on pesticides. Pesticides are linked to multiple health problems, including neurological and hormonal disorders, birth defects, cancer and other diseases.

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qqxsgmethyl-iodide[Source: pesticidereform.org]

Production of cattle, pigs and chickens on a corporate scale is terrible for the environment and there are many cases of water sources being polluted.

Corporate-raised animal products such as beef have lower levels of important nutrients and are higher in LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol. Grass-fed cows eating in a field produce milk and meat higher in omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality fats, and precursors for Vitamins A and E.

The volume of animal waste produced on factory farms is much greater than that of human waste. Household waste is processed in sewer systems, while animal waste is often stored in lagoons and applied, untreated, as fertilizer to farm fields. That excrement stored in lagoons has pathogens such as E.coli, residues of antibiotics, animal blood, bedding waste, cleaning solutions and other chemicals. Manure pit gases with hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane fill the air, along with dust and irritants.

Factory farming is especially threatening to ground water supplies. Bacteria, viruses and nitrates can enter the supply and the community can be exposed to disease and nitrate poisoning. Nitrate poisoning is dangerous to infants and fetuses and can lead to birth defects and miscarriages. It has also been associated with esophageal and stomach cancers.

There is substantial overuse of antibiotics on factory farms—80% of antibiotics sold in the world today are for corporate farming. Antibiotic overuse leads to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Then with mutations, these bacteria can jump to humans, causing pandemics. Pandemics are also associated with viral mutations promoted by the large number of animals in very small spaces. In recent years, we have seen an increase of zoonotic diseases; these are infectious diseases caused by a pathogen such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion that has jumped from an animal to a human. Examples are salmonellosis, Ebola, influenzas, and bird and swine flu.

In the United States, along with food charity, it is essential for us to become involved in changing food production policies that support more small and medium-scale farmers who can be encouraged to use sustainable practices through loan policies, for example.

We also need an agrarian reform plan and laws to limit how big a farm can be so that we prioritize the health of our population instead of prioritizing the profits of corporations. And, of course, we need good jobs that pay a living wage so that everyone can enjoy good nutrition—and we must recognize this as a human right.

One last point as food for thought. The U.S. has already sent $13.6 billion in arms to Ukraine and it appears on the verge of sending $33 billion more in arms. To end world hunger would only cost $45 billion. Why do our lawmakers so easily spend billions on war but do not even consider spending money on peace?

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/06/ ... e-designs/
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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Tue Jul 12, 2022 4:26 pm

NicaNotes: Language of Revolution
July 7, 2022
By Becca Renk

(Becca Renk is part of the Jubilee House Community, which works in sustainable development in Ciudad Sandino. The JHC also works to educate visitors to Nicaragua, including through their hospitality and solidarity cultural center at Casa Benjamin Linder.)

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Jaquelin Rivera Mayorga, a protagonist in the Zero Usury low-interest microloan program for women, making a piñata for her small business. Jaquelin is also a teacher of decoration, beauty and piñatas at the free Ciudad Sandino Trade School.

When I was in college, I took a class called Methods of Peacemaking. We students from the liberal arts college were assigned to go out into our blue-collar Midwestern town and visit all the major churches, malls, bowling alley – even the Moose Lodge — to engage the locals in conversation. After returning to campus, we were to make vocabulary lists including words that came up repeatedly in conversations, and then analyze our lists to identify themes and to discern what issues were important to the people of the town. After more than two decades of community development work in Nicaragua, I still consider it to be the most useful class I took in college: it taught me how to listen and showed me that language is a reflection of who we are and how we view ourselves.

Based on language alone, it is obvious to me that there has been a sea change in Nicaragua in recent years.

In 1980s Nicaragua, the word compañero was ubiquitous. Roughly translated as “comrade,” the Popular Sandinista Revolution loved the word compañero. It was often shortened to the gender-neutral “compa” which was also a synonym for Sandinista soldiers (as in, the Compas vs the Contras). Compañero was also the term used for life partner – it was uncommon in those days for the popular classes to legally marry their partners. The expense associated with both a legal marriage and a church wedding (the two are separate in Nicaragua) made it impractical, and society did not frown upon unmarried partnerships – “accompañado” or “partnered” is, in fact, still a recognized marital status in Nicaragua.

With the advent of neoliberalism in 1990, however, compañero quickly disappeared and was replaced by a classist hierarchy of titles – Doctor (for medical doctors, PhDs and lawyers), Engineer (anyone with a degree in science or engineering), and Licenciado (anyone with a college degree in other areas) – and anyone with no college education was just referred to by their first name – perhaps with a respectful don or doña thrown in front of it (Sir and Madam). In a country where, at the time, less than 9% of the population had a college degree, the inequality inherent in this language of titles was stark and damaging.

It became more uncommon to use compañero to mean “life partner” as well. The Church began coercing couples to marry by refusing to baptize babies unless the parents had been married in the Church, and over time the term compañero/a was gradually replaced by “esposo/a” (husband/wife), even for those not married in the Church or by law.

With the return of the Sandinistas to power in 2007, however, the language of revolution is returning as well. Compañero is now once again in common use – even those possessing official titles often eschew them for compañero or stick compañero in front of their title, as in compañera Mayor. [Also Vice President Rosarillo Murillo prefers Compañera to Vice President.] There’s an egalitarian feel to it – it’s nice to avoid the social fumbling of getting someone’s title wrong or not knowing their name – everyone is “Compa.”

The reemergence of compañero is not the only language development in Nicaragua in recent years.

Not too long ago I listened to a municipal agronomist explaining how to make organic fertilizers to a group of local farmers. His language was relaxed and he used common terminology. But he repeatedly talked about farming practices that protect “la Madre Tierra” or “Mother Earth.” I tried to envision an equivalent scenario in the U.S. – an Iowa corn farmer talking about Mother Earth – and I admit that it was pretty hard to imagine. But the absolutely unselfconscious way in which this portly middle-aged agronomist was talking about Mother Earth and the matter-of-fact response of the farmers made me realize that the Earth as our Mother is a concept with which they are all familiar and comfortable. I began to ponder, how does it change our relationship to the earth when we call her Mother? Does our language only reflect our attitudes, or can the language we use also influence our attitudes?

Since 2007, the government has created a whole host of programs aimed at improving the lives of the poor, particularly poor women. For example: the Zero Hunger program has given 275,000 women in rural areas pigs, a pregnant cow, chickens, seeds, fertilizers, and building materials. This project has benefitted one sixth of the country and has increased both the participating families’ food security and the nation’s food sovereignty – Nicaragua now produces 90% of the food it consumes.

A number of years ago I began to notice that when speaking about its poverty reduction programs, the government never used the term “beneficiary,” – a passive recipient – but had instead replaced it with the active “protagonist.” At first I heard this term mostly from government workers, but now it is in common use.

Currently the Casa Ben Linder is sponsoring a virtual class with an in-person delegation component called Women in Nicaragua: Power and Protagonism. In a recent session, we discussed the term and its meaning. Since “protagonist” is more commonly used in Spanish than English, the co-host of our series, Camille Landry, gave this helpful explanation, “When we talk about women as protagonists,” she said, “we mean that they are taking the lead in their own lives, making their own decisions to benefit themselves, their families, their communities – instead of being passive, powerless gears in the wheels of capitalism whose only value is to serve and enrich others.”

Our class then heard directly from women participants in these programs – the protagonists themselves. I listened carefully to their words to hear what they consider the important aspects of their protagonism.

“The truth is that I was a very submissive person, I even used to ask my husband permission to go to the market,” confessed Ángela Galeano of the Zero Hunger program, whose testimony was shared via video from Justa Pérez, the Minister of Family, Associative and Cooperative Economy. “I couldn’t milk a cow, but once I got my own cow in 2008, I learned, and since then I have been breaking that taboo of fear…The message I give to all women is, let’s not be scared; let’s empower ourselves! Because even though our projects might be small, when you are empowered, you feel satisfied and very happy.”

Flor Avellán also spoke. Flor comes from a very humble background. She is a member of the self-employed workers union, a leader of the union’s Women’s Secretariat, and now also a member of the legislature – in Nicaragua, the law requires that 50% of all elected officials be women. “We are not fighting for space anymore,” declared Flor. “Now we have that space and we are empowered every day.”

All the women who spoke showed their pride of ownership over their own projects, continually using the words “we” and “our.” Flor expressed a strong sense of agency not only in her own life, but also in the overall trajectory of the country. “We women exercise our power, we are empowered, and that is why we say el Pueblo Presidente, the people of Nicaragua are President. In previous years I never would have imagined that I would come to have a seat in the National Assembly, Nicaragua’s legislature… but everything is possible thanks to our inclusive model, a model of participation and direct democracy,” she said.

When President Daniel Ortega was inaugurated last January, he was given the Presidential sash and took the oath of office. He then took off his sash, held it out to the crowd, and had the people of Nicaragua swear an oath to help Nicaraguan families and to eradicate poverty – symbolically inviting all Nicaraguans to be take an active lead in their own lives, families, and communities as “the People, President.”

If “the People, President” were simply a slogan, then it would ring hollow, because language is organic – you can’t shoehorn a concept or a term into everyday use by force. When the meaning behind a term is heartfelt, however, then it is truly a reflection of how we see ourselves, and a reflection of who we really are. Today, all around Nicaragua, protagonists are becoming the heroes of their own stories.

https://afgj.org/nicanotes-07-07-2022

NicaNotes: Open Letter to 60 Minutes: Stop Spreading Lies about Nicaragua
June 30, 2022
By Susan Lagos

[Susan Lagos worked as a Spanish and ESL teacher for 30 years. She has lived in Ciudad Dario, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, for 18 years; and also lived in other Latin American nations for 16 years.]

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“A 60 Minute team [should] actually come to Nicaragua to interview the people that live here whose lives have improved amazingly since 2007 with free universal education and health care.” Photo of new hospitals built recently from Nicaragua Sandino.

Dear 60 Minutes:
I was appalled to see your program on Nicaragua of June 19, 2022.

I have enjoyed many other 60 Minutes programs, but this one was totally one-sided and false. I have lived in Nicaragua since 2004, and traveled here many times in the 1980’s and 1990’s. So I have lived among people with a totally different reality than those you interviewed.

The two women you interviewed are the wives of Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Felix Maradiaga, from among the wealthy, closely connected with the US government, who studied in US universities and who speak English. Berta Valle, wife of Maradiaga, happens to be from the family down the block from me in Ciudad Dario, Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

The Chamorro and Maradiaga non-profits (IEEPP and FUNIDES respectively) were funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), founded to do overtly what the CIA has done covertly and also by other US organizations like the IRI and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), US foundations, and similar European organizations. The USAID has given more than half a billion dollars to Nicaraguan nonprofits like these since the Sandinistas regained the presidency in 2007. The USAID also organized and funded a destabilization plan known as RAIN (Responsive Action in Nicaragua) for the pre and post November 2021 election periods which is likely still functioning.

In August 2021 the Public Prosecutor’s office accused Maradiaga and Chamorro of being part of a major group conspiring with the US against Nicaragua continually since 2009 and headed by Manuel Orozco Ramírez. Orozco is an associate of Creative Associates International (CAI), a global agency funded by USAID to “engineer political transitions” with over US$2 billion in US government contracts as reported by Mintpress.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Orozco was in charge of triangulating resources from international organizations to Nicaraguan pro-coup foundations, among them IEEPP, Fundación Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, FUNIDES, CINCO and Movimiento Puente por Nicaragua. In turn, these organizations channeled resources to armed groups, and to gangs of communication assassins (call centers of people paid to spread lies that would favor the destabilization of Nicaragua), coordinated to overthrow the constitutional government of Nicaragua.

Orozco formed a criminal group with the accused José Pallais Arana, Felix Maradiaga Blandón, José Adán Aguerri Chamorro, Juan Sebastián Chamorro García, Arturo Cruz Sequeira, Violeta Granera Padilla, Tamara Dávila Rivas and others under investigation, who received money to manage US aggression against the State of Nicaragua. Likewise, they incited foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs, the destabilization of the country with foreign financing and actions to discredit the legitimately elected Government of Nicaragua.

The nonprofits funded by the US also include pro-US media that the United States not only funds but helped to found; these are used to attempt to destabilize Nicaragua with constant disinformation and lies then picked up by the US corporate media.

Maradiaga and Chamorro’s nonprofits were involved in channeling funds for the 2018 US-directed coup attempt against Nicaragua. This was a very violent three-month long attempt to get the democratically elected Sandinista government out of power – many people were kidnapped, tortured and killed by US-paid thugs, people’s homes and government buildings were burned. People in Nicaragua are still terribly traumatized by the level of violence that took place.

The reason these men were arrested in 2021 is because they committed treason and fraud and laundered money to try to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. That is a crime in any country. It is a lie that they were pre-candidates for the November 2021 election. They represented no party and had no followers or platform, so could not register to run. No one here would vote for them, because they were part of the attempted coup in April-July 2018, which not only tried to remove President Ortega, but attempted to ruin the economy by setting up road blocks everywhere that prohibited travel to school, work, hospitals, anywhere – to get past you had to “pay”; many people were captured, kidnapped, torturing, robbed and killed at these roadblocks. There is a video of Maradiaga with gun-toting thugs at a university in Nicaragua, the Universidad Politécnica (UPOLI), taken over in April 2018 and used as one of the headquarters for those carrying out the coup attempt.

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Maradiaga at the UPOLI with thugs involved in the April 2018 coup violence. Photos taken from a YouTube video.

The US government has, since the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, tried to control all of Latin America, but especially Nicaragua: William Walker in the 1850’s, the US Marines who occupied and ran Nicaragua, including most elections between 1909 and 1933, the US backed Somoza dictatorship from 1936-79, the Contra War (Nicaraguans call it Reagan’s war) of the 1980’s, and the neo-liberal governments in favor of the wealthy and US interests from 1990 to 2007. Then we had the attempted coup, previously planned according to Gene Sharp’s theories and carried out by his disciples, US agents, including Felix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastian Chamorro.

Chamorro, nephew of US-backed president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990 – 1997), was chosen by the US to head the Millennium Challenge Corporation under President Bolaños where he was known for giving contracts to his friends.

The correction of this travesty of reporting from 60 Minutes requires a 60 Minute team to actually come to Nicaragua to interview the people that live here whose lives have improved amazingly since 2007 with free universal education and health care; 99.2% of homes have electricity; about 90% have running water; the best roads in the region; housing programs; more than half a million people have received a registered title to their land. The primary goal of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity is the elimination of poverty.

Your team needs to see with your own eyes the truth and reality here, that this government of Daniel Ortega was elected by over 75% of voters in a legal election, with six other parties participating and nearly 300,000 people involved in making sure the election was free and fair. Why? Because the population sees that he cares about the future of the country and the well-being of its citizens.

I bet US citizens would prefer a government that uses their taxes for housing, health care and education, instead of starting conflicts all over the globe, spending more than half of the national budget on weapons and war, for the benefit of corporations who make weapons.

Please let me know what you plan to do to rectify your very lopsided and false report on Nicaragua.

Sincerely,
Susan Lagos

https://afgj.org/nicanotes-06-30-2022?e ... 6645fd708c
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Thu Jul 21, 2022 3:49 pm

Alba-TCP condemns measures imposed by the US on Nicaragua


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The sanction includes the revocation or prohibition of a US visa; and the prohibition of entry or admission to that country of such officials. | Photo: DW
Published 17 July 2022

The regional bloc urged the international community to denounce this type of actions that violate the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America-People's Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) condemned the unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States (USA) against 23 Nicaraguan judges and prosecutors.

In a statement issued this Saturday on its official Twitter platform account, the bloc stressed that this measure imposed illegally and illegitimately seeks to politically and socially destabilize that Central American country.

To which they added a call to the international community "to denounce this type of aggression that violates the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter."


Similarly, the regional bloc ratified its position of support in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and government, as well as in the search for reconciliation and unity of the nation.

The measure imposed by the Department of State includes the revocation or prohibition of a US visa; and the prohibition of entry or admission to that country of such officials; based on the Law to Strengthen Nicaragua's Adherence to the Conditions for Electoral Reform, known as the Renacer Law.

This coercive measure imposed by the US on Nicaragua is added to several of a unilateral nature dictated by the White House to other countries such as Venezuela, Cuba and Russia; to the latter country increased after the start of the armed conflict with Ukraine.

These attempts to establish a hegemonic power and curb positions of multilateralism on the part of Washington have found rejection not only in the ALBA-TCP, but also in the international community and in dissimilar forums of various kinds.

https://www.telesurtv.net/news/alba-con ... -0005.html

President Ortega rejects US aggression against Nicaragua

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"They live because they are the ones who guide us," said leader Rosario Murillo, referring to the heroes of freedom and the Nicaraguan Revolution. | Photo: @MarinaD_Guerra
Published 20 July 2022

President Ortega emphasized that his country is betting on the construction of a multipolar world, without imperial hegemonies.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega highlighted the anti-imperialist character of the Nicaraguan revolution and assured that his people and government would like to have relations with the United States, but this is impossible.

"We would like to have relations with the United States, but it is impossible. There has never been a single aggression against the United States from here," said the dignitary, who on the subject recalled the phrase of the Argentine guerrilla and hero, Ernesto Che Guevara when he asserted that "imperialism cannot be given even a little bit like that, nothing."

Previously, President Ortega made a historical sketch analyzing the precedents of the Bolivarian revolution and the tradition of struggle of the people and why at the time it was necessary to take up arms and not negotiate against Yankee imperialism.


“The world is fighting the battle for multipolarity; The United States and Europe are not prepared to seek understanding, they are prepared to impose, bomb, assassinate, as they have done throughout history," said President Ortega, arguing with facts the historical behavior of the empire.

Consistent with his speech of detailed historical analysis, the dignitary highlighted the role of youth in the present, since it is in charge of continuing the revolutionary legacy of Sandino and the Sandinista revolution.


“Youth represents the strength, the vitality of this country, of this nation. For you runs the blood of our heroes, "she added.

To conclude his message, emphasizing the decoration of San Vicente Prime Minister Ralf Gonsalves with the Augusto César Sandino order, Battle of San Jacinto degree, the leader dedicated the 43rd anniversary of the revolution to the leader of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, acknowledging his work both in their country as well as in the region and globally.

Vice President highlights unity of the people
During the speech for the celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, the Vice President of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, highlighted the unity of the people of the Latin American nation.


“Love reigns here, here we live in peace, working to move forward. Here we live with love, hate does not reign here. Sandino lives here, here is the soul of the thousands of Nicaraguans who received the triumph of the revolution 43 years ago with such confidence and such hope in the power of the people,” the leader stressed.

Similarly, the vice president emphasized the importance of continuing the legacy of the heroes, of the leaders who made the revolutionary triumph possible, because "they live because they are the ones who guide us," she stressed.

Murillo highlighted the defeats that imperialism has suffered against the nation that it leads together with President Daniel Ortega, both in combat and in the framework of the economic, political and media war that the Nicaraguan people and government are still waging.

"We are a force of victory, of Revolution, of a conscience that is renewed and grows, whether anti-imperialist, because here we have suffered them, but we have also defeated them and we have expelled them at all times," he emphasized.

In the event that took place in Managua, a capital city, the Prime Minister of Cuba, Manuel Marrero Cruz, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josefina Vidal, were present.

Venezuela is also represented in the central act for the triumph of the Sandinista revolution on July 19, 1979, with a delegation that was led by Foreign Minister Carlos Farías and Vice Foreign Minister Rander Peña.

In addition to the aforementioned countries, delegations from nations from all latitudes such as Honduras, China, Russia, Italy, Mexico, Peru, among others, are in Managua to accompany the people and Government in the celebration.

Decorate the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
President Ortega presented the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, with the Augusto Sandino order during the act for the 43rd anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution.

"Ralph Gonsalves, tireless anti-imperialist fighter, who has dedicated his life to peace, in favor of peace, to work for peace, unity, integration, and prosperity; for the happiness of our Latin America and the Caribbean", Vice President Murillo highlighted.

In addition, he assured that Gonsalves has led the anti-colonial struggle of the Caribbean peoples, "firmly demanding that the colonial States recognize fair reparations for the genocide of indigenous peoples and the consequences of slavery in the countries of the Caribbean Community."


For his part, the Prime Minister accepted the distinction, highlighting the close relationship between Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. He also urged the United States (USA) to get closer to the Central American nation. "I call on the United States of America, a country of great achievements, to approach in friendship with the people and Government of Nicaragua. Is that so difficult?" He questioned.

Likewise, he reiterated that his country subscribes to great principles such as "the defense of sovereignty and independence, non-interference and non-interventionism in our own affairs, being able to lead ourselves and our civilizations further, and being able to walk with all peoples around the world, in friendship, but not in subordination”.

https://www.telesurtv.net/news/nicaragu ... -0042.html

Google Translator

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Nicaraguans Rate Ortega’s Administration as Positive: Poll

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According to the results of the latest survey conducted by M&R Consultores, the approval rating of President Daniel Ortega's administration is 77.3%. | Photo: Twitter @Canal2Nicaragua

Published 14 July 2022

A recently published M&R Consultores poll revealed that 70.2 percent of those surveyed said that Daniel Ortega is leading the country in the right direction.

More than 85 percent of Nicaraguans rate positively the current administration of President Daniel Ortega. According to the results of the public opinion monitoring system, presented by the company M&R Consultores, 85.3 percent of Nicaraguans rate his management capacity positively.

On another point, 81.8 percent of those polled indicated to be satisfied with public services. In this sense, 88.8 percent of those consulted were in favor of public education, roads (88.1), public health (86.8), transportation (86.1) and electric energy (86.1).

The data corresponding to the second quarter of the current year rate the work of the Nicaraguan president with 77.3 percent approval and 80.6 percent said that Daniel Ortega's government generates hope.


According to the recent survey conducted by M&R Consultores, 71.3% of Nicaraguans say that Commander Daniel Ortega seeks unity and reconciliation among the people of Nicaragua .
They also revealed that 70.2 percent of those polled affirmed that Daniel Ortega leads the country in the right direction, while 77.6 percent said the head of state works for the interests of the population in general and 71.3 percent said he seeks unity and reconciliation among Nicaraguans.

According to the M&R Consultores study, 74 percent of those polled have a positive image of President Ortega.

Likewise, the results of the survey reflect that 75.8 percent of those polled consider that there is more security in Nicaragua compared to five years ago, with 73.3 percent rating as positive the work of the National Police and 81.6 percent recognizing the degree of professionalism of the police institution.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Nic ... -0003.html

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Sandinista supporters in Masaya, July 2022. (Photo: John Perry)

Nicaragua celebrates 43 years of revolution: a clash between reality and media misrepresentation
Originally published: COHA (Council on Hemispheric Affairs) on July 19, 2022 by John Perry (more by COHA (Council on Hemispheric Affairs)) | (Posted Jul 21, 2022)

July 19th is a day of celebration in Nicaragua: the anniversary of the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. But the international media will have it penciled in their diaries for another reason: it’s yet another opportunity to pour scorn on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. We’ll hear again about how the government “clamps down on dissent,”1 about its “political prisoners,”2 its recent “pantomime election,”3 its “damaging crackdown on civil society”4 and much more. All of these accusations have been answered but the media will continue to shut out any evidence that conflicts with the consensus narrative about Nicaragua, that its president, Daniel Ortega, has “crushed the Nicaraguan dream.”5

Mainstream media tells its own story

Since the violent, U.S.-directed coup attempt in 2018, in which more than 200 people died, it has been very difficult to find objective analysis of the political situation in Nicaragua in mainstream media, much less any examination of the revolution’s achievements. In disregarding what is actually happening in the country, the media is ignoring and excluding the lived experience of ordinary Nicaraguans, as if their daily lives are irrelevant to any judgment about the direction the country is taking. Most notably, instead of recognizing that 75% of Nicaraguan voters supported the government in last November’s election, in which two-thirds of the electorate participated, the result is seen as “a turn toward an openly dictatorial model.”6 This judgment is backed by confected claims of electoral fraud from “secret poll watchers,”7 which ignore COHA’s strong evidence that no fraud took place.8

Streets show the political reality

In the run-up to the anniversary of the revolution on July 19th, Sandinista supporters have been filling the streets of every main city with celebratory marches. In Masaya, where I live, I took part in a procession with around 3,000 people and discovered afterwards that three other marches took place at the same time in different parts of Masaya, with even more people participating in each of those. People have much to celebrate: the city was one of those most damaged by the violent coup attempt in Nicaragua four years ago, but has since lived in peace.

During the attempted coup, for three months the city of Masaya was controlled by armed thugs (still regularly described in the media as “peaceful” protesters). Five police officers and several civilians were killed. The town hall, the main secondary school, the old tourist market and other government buildings were set on fire. Houses of Sandinista supporters were ransacked. Shops were looted and the economic life of one of Nicaragua’s most important commercial centers was suspended. My own doctor’s house went up in flames and a friend who was defending the municipal depot when it was ransacked was kidnapped, tortured and later had to have an arm amputated as a result.

So one strong motive for the marches is to reaffirm most people’s wishes that this should never happen again: 43 years ago a revolutionary war ended in the Sandinistas’ triumph over Somoza, but this was quickly followed by the U.S.-sponsored Contra attacks that cost thousands more lives. For anyone over 35, the violence in 2018 was a sickening reminder of these wars. Since then, not the least of the government’s achievements is that Nicaragua has returned to having the lowest homicide level in Central America,9 and people want it to stay that way.

Progress under Sandinistas is not recognized internationally

But this is far from the government’s only success since it returned to power in 2007. It inherited a country broken by 17 years of neoliberal governments by and for the rich (after the Sandinistas lost power in the 1990 election). Nothing worked during those years: there were daily power cuts, roads were in shocking disrepair, some 100,000s of children didn’t go to school and poverty was rampant. When the Sandinistas regained the presidency in 2007, and helped by the alliance with Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela and a boom in commodities prices, the government began a massive investment program. For the second poorest country in Latin America, the transformation was remarkable.

Take the practical issues that affect everyone. Power cuts stopped because the new government quickly built small new power stations and then encouraged massive investment in renewable energy. Electricity coverage now reaches over 99% of households, up from just 50% in 2016, with three-quarters now generated from renewables. Piped water reaches 93% of city dwellers compared with 65% in 2007. In 2007, Nicaragua had 2,044 km of paved roads, mostly in bad condition. Now it has 4,300 km, half of them built in the last 15 years, giving it the best roads in Central America.10

Its remarkable advances in health care were evidenced by how Nicaragua handled the COVID-19 pandemic, with (according to the World Health Organization11) a level of excess mortality far lower than that of many wealthier countries in Latin America, including neighboring Costa Rica. It now has one of the world’s highest levels of completed vaccinations against the virus (83%),12 exceeding levels in the U.S. and many European countries. There has been massive investment in the public health service: Nicaragua has built 23 new hospitals in the past 15 years and now has more hospital beds (1.8 per 1,000 population)13 than richer countries such as Mexico (1.5) and Colombia (1.7).14 The country has one of the highest regional levels of public health spending, relative to GDP (“PIB” in Spanish–see chart), and its service is completely free.

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Source: Centre for Economic and Social Rights, p.58. www.amnesty.org

Nicaragua is 6th out of 17 Latin American countries in public health investment

Look at education. School attendance increased from 79% to 91% when charges imposed by previous governments were abolished; now pupils get help with uniforms and books and all receive free school lunches. Free education now extends into adulthood, so out of a population of 6.6 million, some 1.7 million are currently receiving public education in some form. Under neoliberal governments illiteracy rose to 22% of the population, and now it’s down to 4-6%.

Strides in gender parity: another victory

Nicaraguan women have been integral to the revolution. More than half of ministerial posts are held by women, an achievement for which Nicaragua is ranked seventh in the world in gender equality in 2022.15 Only two countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have a smaller gender pay gap than Nicaragua. More than a third of police officers are female and there are special women’s centers in 119 police stations. Maternal health has been significantly improved, with maternal mortality falling from 92.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006, to 31.6 in 2021, a reduction of 66%.16 This is partly due to the 180 casas maternas where women stay close to a hospital or health center for the weeks before giving birth. The state also provides family planning free of charge in all health centers, including tubal ligations for women who do not wish to have more children. It is also true, of course, that abortion is illegal, but (unlike in other Latin American countries) no woman or doctor has ever been prosecuted under this law.

At the moment, people’s biggest concern is the state of the economy and the cost-of-living crisis. Nicaragua has advantages here, too: it is more than 80% self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs and prices have been controlled because the government is capping the cost of fuel (both for vehicles and for cooking). Nicaragua’s economy grew by more than 10% in 2021, returning to 2019, pre-pandemic economic levels, although growth was still not sufficient for the country to recover from the economic damage caused by the 2018 coup attempt. Government debt (forecast to be 46% of GDP in 2022) is lower than its neighbors, especially that of Costa Rica (70%), where poverty now extends to 30% of the population. However, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are economically interdependent, and the latter’s economic problems are a large part of the explanation for the growth in migration by Nicaraguans to the United States.17

Daniel Ortega enjoys high approval ratings

These are only a few of the factors that underlie people’s support for Daniel Ortega’s government. And this support continues: according to polling by CID Gallup,18 in early January President Ortega was more popular than the then presidents of Honduras, Costa Rica or Guatemala. M&R Consultants, in a more recent poll,19 found that Ortega has a 70% approval rating and ranks second among Latin American presidents. This was obvious when huge numbers of Nicaraguans celebrated November’s election result and it is still obvious as they go out onto the streets during “victorious July”.

At a meeting with Central American foreign ministers in June 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken urged governments “to work to improve the lives of people in our countries in real, concrete ways.”20 Blinken deliberately ignores the ample proof that Daniel Ortega’s government is not only doing that but has been more successful in this respect than any other Central American government. Yet the more that the international media parrot Washington’s criticisms of Daniel Ortega, the more that people here will reaffirm their support for his government.

John Perry is a COHA Senior Research Fellow and writer living in Masaya, Nicaragua.

Notes:
1.↩ “Nicaragua Seizes Universities, Inching Toward Dictatorship,” www.nytimes.com
2.↩ “Nicaragua’s Secretive Ruling Family Reaches Out Quietly to the U.S.,” www.nytimes.com
3.↩ “Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on Nicaragua’s Sham Elections,” www.whitehouse.gov
4.↩ “Nicaragua shuts down 50 non-profits in new crackdown,” www.bbc.com
5.↩ “Daniel Ortega and the Crushing of the Nicaraguan Dream,” www.nytimes.com
6.↩ “Nicaragua Descends Into Autocratic Rule as Ortega Crushes Dissent,” www.nytimes.com
7.↩ “The secret-poll watchers of Nicaragua. How they monitored a questionable presidential election,” www.latimes.com
8.↩ “If there was ‘fraud’ in Nicaragua’s elections, where is the proof?” www.coha.org
9.↩ See www.statista.com
10.↩ “Nicaragua posee las mejores carreteras de Centroamérica,” revistamyt.com
11.↩ See www.who.int
12.↩ See ourworldindata.org
13.↩ See the Nicaraguan government White paper, downloadable at www.el19digital.com
14.↩ See www.cia.gov
15.↩ The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report for 2022 (www.weforum.org)
16.↩ “Nicaragua ha logrado disminuir la mortalidad materna,” radiolaprimerisima.com
17.↩ “The UN Refugee Agency is exaggerating the number of Nicaraguan refugees,” www.coha.org
18.↩ See www.cidgallup.com
19.↩ See www.myrconsultores.com
20.↩ “Blinken urges Central America to defend democracy to alleviate migration,” ticotimes.net

https://mronline.org/2022/07/21/nicarag ... evolution/
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Mon Aug 15, 2022 2:50 pm

The US Targets Nicaragua
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on AUGUST 14, 2022

Today, all Caricom states, with the exception of SVG, joined the U.S. and its satellite states in voting in favor of an interventionist resolution condemning the revolutionary Sandinista government for safeguarding its sovereignty and ejecting illegal foreign agents.

There is no logic to this disgraceful vote. Almost every Caricom country has in some form or another spoken out against the brutality of the US blockade and sanctions on Cuba, and now Venezuela, and say the OAS lost legitimacy due to Luis Almagro’s actions and the Bolivia coup.

Despite their occasional statements of protest, Caricom governments continue to default on/adopt the positions of Washington on a large number of issues.

Only countries to vote No, Abstain or Absent: SVG, Mexico, El Salvador, Bolivia, Honduras, Colombia.

Real revolutionary governments use the state, its laws, its constitution, and legislative and judicial powers to protect their population from US-sponsored terrorism. It is their duty to prohibit foreign agents, NGOs, religious organizations, etc. from causing harm to citizens.

People ask why coup leaders like Guaido and Añez’s allies are still not rotting in jail. I commend the revolutionary FSLN government for fulfilling its duty and mandate, given by the people, and locking up US-backed terrorists and criminals in order to protect the people.

Revolutionary governments continue to show an astounding level of tolerance and restraint towards certain churches and church leaders which have a documented history of promoting destabilization and which ally with the far-right. Religious organizations cannot be above the law.

These are not “NGOs” and “religious organizations” which are “critical of the government”. These are proxy organizations which have shown nothing but contempt for the Nicaraguan people and the Revolution they’re advancing.

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– Canada, Chile and “the leadership of the delegation of Antigua and Barbuda” are credited “for championing efforts to develop” today’s resolution.

– The resolution was presented by Antigua and Barbuda,
Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, the United States and Uruguay.

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The United States has put target on Nicaragua, manufacturing bogus claims around human rights, press freedom, political prisoners and detentions. U.S. groups which purport to be anti-imperialist have a responsibility to condemn the blatant and sinister hypocrisy of the US/OAS.

Not one claim that has been made about Nicaragua by U.S. functionaries/the OAS is true. These campaigns are lined top to bottom with a comprehensive set of completely manufactured lies, conceived in Washington and Miami. Anti-imperialists must respond to this relentless campaign.

The near-total silence, cowardice, and mistaken positions on Nicaragua by of some of the largest organizations and voices with large platforms is again being utilized by the United States and destabilizing forces. They refuse to confront the war on the Sandinista Revolution.

In the last year, Nicaragua:
– is subsidizing gas and diesel for citizens who have not seen an increase during the conflict
– maintained low inflation and a stable economy
– reestablished relations w/China
– joined Belt & Road Initiative
– increased trade & cooperation w/Russia
– increased cooperation w/Iran
– is advancing infrastructure and development projects
– had among the best covid policies anywhere
– has maintained peace 4 years after a brutal US-backed terror and destabilization plot
– highest level of gender equality on the continent



Representatives of North American delegations in solidarity with the Sandinista Revolution give a statement in Managua, read by Margaret Kimberley of Black Alliance for Peace.

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/08/ ... nicaragua/

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Visiting delegation meets with Limay mayor and the president of Casa Baltimore Limay’s counterpart board. L to R: Magda Lanuza, Barbara Larcom, Mayor Flora Mendoza, Marilyn Carlisle, Fundeproinso president Norlan Vanegas.[/quote]

Having had monthly conversations over many years with our Casa Baltimore-Limay friendship committee in Limay – our “sister” city – I had learned that many highways had been completed. I knew the pride in people’s expressions as the important bridges on those highways were also finished. Reducing our travel time was certainly an advantage, getting us to Limay in late afternoon without leaving Managua terribly early and with time for lunch in Estelí.
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Marilyn Carlisle visits with Tranquilino Garmendia, who since 1985 has been a leader in Casa Baltimore Limay’s counterpart committee and board. He is a former Delegate of the Word in the theology of liberation tradition. Three of his sons were kidnapped and killed by the Contra during the 1980s.
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We were able to renew acquaintances with folks we’ve worked with for 37 years—and who are not young anymore, of course. While that was very rewarding, it was not the goal of our delegation of two people. The improved health system, including more services at the local hospital, the free education including school lunches, and the relative ease with which people in need can get loans or grants have all made a difference in the lives of the people in the small villages surrounding Limay.

The day care center, faithfully supported by Baltimore donors, but now functioning largely with government support, was another high point.

All the streets of Limay are now paved, eliminating our wet and muddy experiences of walking from here to there in previous visits. I also noticed that only once or twice in a week did someone ask if we would give them some money; our appearance surely made us stand out as visitors from another place, but we did not have the experiences we’ve had in the past in this regard.
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Leonardo Silva, veterinarian and agronomist, provides the leadership for Casa Baltimore Limay’s agroecology projects. These include family patio gardens and poultry, fruit trees, beekeeping, soil improvement and conservation, energy-efficient ovens, and wells and water storage. (All photos by Barbara Larcom)

As rich as my experience was in San Juan de Limay, I am most grateful for the opportunity we had to meet with cabinet-level government ministers in Managua. We learned the ways in which the government in the past 15 years has been able to improve health, education, infrastructure, and the economy. From the Finance Minister we learned that the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, established by the Alliance for Progress some 60 years ago, is pleased with the fact that Nicaragua has a project completion rate of 95-97% for its projects; therefore, the Bank is willing to continue extending loans for many new projects. In fact, the World Bank, IMF, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s all recognize the improvements in the economy since 2007 when the Sandinistas were returned to the government.

The GDP rose from US$6.5 billion in 2006 to US$14 billion in 2021, with at least a 3.5% increase expected in 2022. Nicaragua is 90% self-sufficient in food, exporting beans and beef, and producing the amount of corn and other basic foods the population eats. It is still importing rice, but importation is down from 4.5 million quintales (100-weight) in 2006 to 1 million today. Exports have increased each year, as has public spending. Tourism has been very important to the economy, but of course it diminished after the failed coup attempt of 2018 and during COVID.

The Health Minister instructed us about infant and maternal mortality, the former down from 29/1000 in 2006 to 12.5/1000 in 2021, and the latter down from about 93/100,000 in 2006 to 31.6/100,000 now. Ninety-three percent of the population has received one dose of COVID vaccine and 87% are fully vaccinated (two-year-olds and older). Under Liberal administrations from 1990 to 2006, families paid about 50% of their health care costs. Now, unless they choose private hospitals, they pay nothing.

There are many more facts and statistics to be shared, but I have always enjoyed visiting the safest country in Central America and the 7th safest in Latin America.

The optimism and joy we encountered among the people cannot be denied.



Briefs

By Nan McCurdy

Nicaragua Has Best Covid Vaccination Rate in Central America

The Pan American Health Organization reported that with 89% of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Nicaragua is the country in Central American with the highest percentage of fully vaccinated people followed by Costa Rica (81.5%), Panama (71.4%), El Salvador (66.2%), Honduras (54.2%), and Guatemala (35.8%). (Nicaragua News, 5 August 2022)

New Women’s Police Stations

A new Women’s Police Station was inaugurated in Bonanza, North Caribbean, and another one in Masaya, specifically in the municipality of La Concepción. A new crime laboratory unit opened in Siuna, also in the northern Caribbean. (Informe Pastran, 2 August 2022)

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Wawa Boom Bridge Advancing

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure made a site visit to evaluate progress on the “Wawa Boom” bridge over the Wawa River in the Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region that will benefit 234,898 inhabitants. The massive 240 meter-long bridge which costs US$21 million and is financed by the General Budget and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, is 75% completed, and will be operational in November this year. It will replace the current ferry crossing and cut travel time between Bilwi/Puerto Cabezas and the towns of the mining triangle (Bonanza Rosita and Siuna). See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias ... wawa-boom/ (Nicaragua News, 3 August 2022)

First Semester School Retention was 98%

The Ministry of Education released the education indicators corresponding to the first semester of 2022. The report states that school retention was 98%; grade approval 93% and there was an average attendance of 88%. Education Minister Lilliam Herrera said, “The indicators were very solid and are the result of the hard work of the students and the commitment of the education system to provide access to quality infrastructure, resources, and teachers with the ability to effectively and creatively manage the challenges and opportunities that Nicaraguan children face.” (Nicaragua News, 8 August 2022)

Nicaragua Still Safest Country in Central America

A study published by U.S. magazine Insight Crime entitled “2021 Homicide Rate in Latin America and the Caribbean” states that with a homicide rate of 5.7 per one hundred thousand inhabitants, Nicaragua continues to be the safest country in Central America and the third safest in Latin America, surpassed only by Peru (4.3) and Chile (3.6). (Nicaragua News, 4 August 2022)

More Food Security

The Nicaragua System of Production, Consumption and Commerce reported that the 2021-2022 first harvest of corn was 5.4 million quintals (hundred weights), 8% growth over the first harvest of the previous agricultural cycle. Minister of Agriculture Isidro Rivera said that “production during the period guarantees supply for national consumption and food security of the country.” (Nicaragua News, 4 August 2022)

More Schools with Internet

The Ministry of Education reported that 31 primary schools and high schools have recently been connected to wireless internet. The connection allows access to libraries, encyclopedias, conferences and online courses in order to facilitate the development of classes. During this second semester, the educational connection network will be expanded with the installation of wifi internet in 76 more schools. The centers have been equipped with computers for technology rooms. They also will receive mobile digital classrooms, laptops, printers, interactive projectors and technological accessories. To date, 50,746 teachers have specialized in the use of technology and digital tools in the classroom. (Radio La Primerisima, 6 August 2022)

Support for Family Gardens

In support of cultivation of family gardens, the Nicaragua Institute of Agricultural Technology delivered 25,500 vegetable and fruit plants to 1,000 small producers in Carazo, León, Boaco, and Chinandega departments, as well as both Caribbean Autonomous Regions. The initiative is part of the Healthy Garden Program of the Creative Economy Model. (Nicaragua News, 9 August 2022)

Water Pumping Improvements Will Impact Nearly 20,000 People

The Nicaraguan Water and Sewage Company (ENACAL) completed the improvement of infrastructure in two wells located in the Jorge Dimitrov and Colonia Máximo Jerez neighborhoods in Managua. The works included the improvement of perimeter fences, sidewalks, gates, booths, installation of lighting, electrical equipment and pumping strings. The works will improve service to some 3,500 families (19,000 citizens) in Jorge Dimitrov, Francisco Meza, Máximo Jerez and El Riguero. The investment of US$22,000 was financed by the government and the Inter-American Development Bank. (Radio La Primerisima, 3 August 2022)

New Sewage System in Tola

The Water and Sewage Company inaugurated a sewage and wastewater sanitation system in Tola municipality, Rivas Department, that will benefit 4,400 inhabitants. The project which cost US$2.7 million was financed by the General Budget with support from the Inter-American Development Bank. (Nicaragua News, 3 August 2022)

Remittances Continue to Grow

The Central Bank reported that the flow of remittances in the third quarter continued its positive trend, totaling US$763.6 million, a 44% growth compared to the same quarter of 2021 (US$529.8 million). Cumulative remittances to June totaled US$1.39 billion, 35.5% higher than those received during the same period of 2021 (US$1.03 billion). (Radio La Primerisima, 4 August 2022)

Nicaragua Committed to Nuclear-Weapon-Free World

The Government of Nicaragua has again demonstrated its commitment to nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. On August 3, the debate continued at the United Nations at this important conference that takes place every five years to review the implementation of the agreements of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to formulate recommendations and concrete measures in order to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. Jaime Hermida Castillo, Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the UN, stated that the highest priority continues to be the elimination of nuclear weapons. Nicaragua stated its position of principle in relation to the Disarmament Agenda, joining the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement and other friendly countries that advocate complete disarmament throughout the world.

Nicaragua expressed its concern about the increase in expenditures for the modernization of the nuclear arsenal of the nuclear-weapons countries, which contravenes the obligations contracted under Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nicaragua reiterated that all these economic resources used in the modernization of nuclear weapons could be used to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 UN Agenda, especially the eradication of poverty. As a state party to the NPT, the Republic of Nicaragua reaffirmed its commitment to take effective measures to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. Hermida noted that President Daniel Ortega has stated this on numerous occasions, remembering that Nicaragua is a member of the first declared nuclear-weapon-free zone in the world. The Treaty of Tlatelolco, the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, was signed in 1967. (Radio La Primerisima, 4 August 2022)

Media Network Financed by US Dismantled

The Nicaraguan authorities thwarted a destabilization plan intended to be carried out through the financing of opposition propaganda media owned by political agitator Rolando Alvarez in Matagalpa. Alvarez is also the Bishop of both Estelí and Matagalpa but has primarily done political work for many years. He was a leader in the 2018 failed coup attempt and has been considered a US agent. The plan consisted in depositing money to Rolando Alvarez’s media accounts to be later distributed to opposition groups and thus “heat up the streets” and begin again the destabilization of the country. But this same week the authorities dismantled the network of illegal communication outlets (five radio stations and a local television channel) that would be used as a platform for financing media and street terrorism.

In her daily radio broadcast on August 5, Vice-President Rosario Murillo said, “Here in this blessed homeland there are also laws, taking into account that you cannot, you should not break the laws and much less, much less commit crimes.” She went on to say, “We have all known throughout our lives, institutions that deserve respect, and generating discredit towards those institutions that deserve respect, is also a crime. It is a sin against spirituality.” (Informe Pastran, 5 & 8 August 2022; Viva La Paz Sebaco [Facebook Page], 8 August 2022)

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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Wed Aug 24, 2022 1:55 pm

Nicaragua: Bishop of the Money Gods
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on AUGUST 23, 2022
Fabrizio Casari

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The liberation of the Matagalpa cathedral, which had been occupied by Bishop Alvarez, ended an attempt to unleash a climate of confrontation in that city. The coup-supporting bishop is now in the capital, Managua, where he is under house arrest, but enjoying the presence of his family and visits from the prelates of the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference.

Contrary to what his fascist friends such as the coup-mongering ideologue Monsignor Baez say, there was no abduction. There was a police detention, confirmed to be an arrest. There is no persecution, much less religious persecution. This was an operation to prevent the commission of political crimes which had taken the form of terrorism. The police intervention, in fact, was necessary to prevent precisely the kind of provocation through which Alvarez sought to unleash activities which would raise tensions to levels that would require police monitoring.

Rolando Alvarez is a bishop known to have fascistic sympathies, a super ego, and be devoid of any spiritual dimension. He is an enthusiastic political actor intent on designing a series of provocations to contaminate the country’s civic life and produce a climate of confrontation before the municipal and administrative elections in November. The plan was to transform Matagalpa’s cathedral into a gathering place and symbol for all of the opposition and pro-coup forces in the city. The idea was for provocations to emanate from the cathedral, in a crescendo of tension that would depict the Monsignor as an opposition leader—a role from which he would also launch his candidacy to head the Bishops’ Conference.

To this end, Alvarez had begun to use his network of private media outlets, which, spewing lies and false alarms, would call attention to him and his private war against the government. In fact, his two roles dovetail perfectly with his ambitions as a political leader and spiritual guide (although in these circumstances the spiritual part is corrupted by him). His penchant for theatrics and the absurdity of his arguments are the key ingredients for the sickly display of his character, fed by his delirious quest for omnipotence.

Part two of the plan was to co-opt a group of fascist priests from other cities who had already distinguished themselves for the roles they played during the attempted coup d’etat of 2018. They did this by fomenting an armed revolt and then providing it with political support, turning their churches into storehouses for weapons, food, money, and propaganda for the coup forces. They even showed up in person at improvised rallies at the roadblocks of hate. There, using money from the US embassy and other US and European agencies, they rallied their mercenary thugs to war, killing, raping, and pillaging Nicaraguans to the edge of the abyss.

When Comandante Daniel Ortega decided that the time was right to restore lawfulness and peace to Nicaragua, the Sandinistas regained control over all the plazas and streets in the country in a matter of hours. That was when, faced with the military might of Sandino’s faithful descendants, the coup mongers (who had been such brave warriors against the defenseless), turned tail and fled on foot to Costa Rica. Nicaragua liberated itself from the nihilistic terrorism and murderous fury of the millionaire prophets, who all quickly fled. There was no longer a trace of those who urged a storming of the presidential house, of those who said thousands of deaths were worth it to get them back into office. A generous, but provisional, amnesty was granted, with clearly stipulated conditions. This was further evidence of the chasm separating Sandinista ideology, politics, and ethics from those of their detractors.

Alvarez is one of the fascist priests that never wanted to acknowledge the end of the attempted coup. His spiritual mentor is the sex maniac, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and his political guide is the coup-mongering Bishop Baez. Meanwhile, he despises the fragility of Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes and hates the bishops who preach God’s love, such as Monsignor Sándigo. That is why he has been plotting for years to take over leadership of the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference. Convinced that he would never be discovered, he has been organizing his small kingdom (which he will soon have to abandon) and formed his own small army that will not fight any battles.

What happened in Matagalpa has reopened the chapter on the Bishops’ Conference of Nicaragua. Its political defeat has had three kinds of consequences. The first is financial and what is closest to the bishops’ heart. The government has cut in half State aid for houses of worship and maintenance of the Bishops’ Conference facilities. The faithful, meanwhile, are taking care not to fill the void.

The second consequence has been a constant loss of the faithful, who have been driven away precisely over the politically hysterical nature of the Nicaraguan Catholic Church. Since 2018 these Catholics have sought out Evangelical churches; in their private prayers, they seek the religious consolation they no longer found in a Church that had become a bunker for coup mongers.

The third consequence is both the premise and result of the previous two: it is the loss of the political role played by the Bishops’ Conference in the country. This role was allowed not only because of the Church’s influence with the faithful, but also because from 2007 to 2018 the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity south to include the Church, representatives of the big business sector (COSEP), and workers from different trade unions in the planning and management of government programs. Such programs continue to bring about the greatest social transformation in Nicaraguan history.

That model of government—conceived and desired by Comandante Ortega—sought to place these intermediate groups near the levers of power, making them almost as important as political-parliamentary representation. This was out of a belief that national unity at all levels was the correct and most important approach to take during a period of political reconciliation among all Nicaraguans. It was a way to put the matter of peace in first place, as the premise and purpose of all other forms of reasoning in a country that had been abused by war imposed from the outside and hunger imposed by the racist oligarchs inside the country.

But COSEP and the Catholic Church were the ones who trashed that model, and they did it underhandedly through deceit and betrayal. It was understandable that COSEP would want to return to the days of latifundios; but the coup-mongering aspirations of the Church were the fruit of pure ideological hatred. At the same time that it purported to mediate the crisis in the country, the Bishops’ Conference of Baez, Alvarez, Mata, and Brenes gave Daniel Ortega an ultimatum: resign and leave the country. They were not mediators but political and ideological parties to the coup attempt who used their role in society to try and turn the people against the government. They did not succeed, except during the time it took to show everyone, from the cleverest people to the most naïve, who the coup plotters really were, what they wanted, and who their political leaders were.

The arrest of a bishop does not happen every day, and evidently this has caused reactions from all quarters. But not Pope Francis, who naturally had a duty to intervene in defense of his bishop. He simply limited himself to saying, “My conviction and my hope is that through an honest and open dialogue, grounds can still be found for respectful and peaceful coexistence.”

It would be better if bishops went back to the business of saving souls, as they used to do, and resigned themselves to the fact that they will have less money to spend and enjoy less of a consensus. Imagine a Nicaragua in which even the stupidest people realize that staging a coup will be impossible. Even the most naïve people will no longer believe that further indulgences will be granted. The Nicaraguan judicial system is not full of people wearing cassocks, and although it does not take a spiritual approach, it has the authority to act. In the afterlife, God will take care of eternal peace; in the here and now, the Sandinistas will protect it.

Translation by Rita Jill Clark-Gollub

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/08/ ... oney-gods/
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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Tue Sep 06, 2022 1:46 pm

U.S. Interference in Nicaragua is not of now
August 25, 2022

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U.S. Interference in Nicaragua is not of now
By Jorge Capelán
*article originally published in Spanish on Vision Sandinista.

U.S. interference in Nicaragua did not begin with the return to power of the Sandinista Front in 2007 nor with the defeated coup attempt of 2018, it has been an ingredient of its entire history.

Interference was permanent during Somoza’s dictatorship, during the 1980s and also during the so-called “long neoliberal night” between 1990 and 2006. During that period, the U.S. Embassy did not rest for a second in its efforts to destroy Sandinismo and to prevent Nicaragua from being free and sovereign. In this article we refresh the memory of some of those acts of intervention.

The Anglo-Saxon powers began meddling in Nicaraguan affairs as early as the beginning of the 19th century. For example, in 1825, the United States appointed as ambassador to Central America “a diplomat in charge of opposing the construction of a canal in Nicaragua by a Dutch company”, according to the Argentine historian Gregorio Selser in his Chronology of Foreign Interventions in Latin America.

We know quite well all the military interventions of the United States in Nicaragua, from William Walker to the Sandinista struggle, and we also know that the US had General Sandino assassinated at the hands of Somoza, “their son of a bitch”. Nicaragua under Somocismo was a Yankee protectorate. In the U.S. Embassy reports, murdered and tortured Sandinista guerrillas, or peasants thrown out of helicopters were simply called “terrorists”. On the other hand, if any leader of the liberal-conservative opposition was imprisoned, they went to visit him, worried about him and even gave the dictator a (not too hard) slap on the wrist.

We also know what they did in the 80s: They turned Nicaragua into the Syria of those times. They invested hundreds of millions in their so-called “low intensity” war against our people, in addition to applying a brutal blockade and mining our ports. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) financed the National Opposition Union (UNO) with 12 million dollars of the time for the 1990 elections alone.

The interference continued in the 1990s, now with the participation of European governments through a whole network of NGOs. The objective was to guarantee the implementation of the neoliberal model, and above all to destroy the Sandinista National Liberation Front, yhe political instrument of the people organized and empowered by the revolution in 1979.

The United States soon realized that if they only financed the Liberal and Conservative groups, they would not get very far. The privatization policies they intended to implement generated great rejection among the population, and even the former foot Contra soldiers themselves realized that the promises of land and other benefits they had been given during the war would never be fulfilled.

For this reason, USAID decided to change its strategy and try to corrupt the Sandinista ranks by creating NGOs that had a patina of greater credibility among the population. The idea was to divide the Sandinista Front, discredit the leadership of Comandante Daniel, destroy what was left of the Armed Forces of the 1980s and blackmail the organized people with so-called “aid” from NGOs financed by the United States and Western governments.

For example, a 1996 USAID document entitled “Evaluation of Strengthening Democratic Institutions (SDI) USAID Nicaragua 524-03 16-C-00-5010” stated that “The tactic of supporting institutions that stood in opposition to Sandinista organizations was not particularly successful in terms of building sustainable institutions. Cases in point are the labor and human rights sectors (…) it must be recognized that this tactic did not further the accomplishment of the project purpose to as high a degree as the present tactic.”

The “current tactic” referred to in the document consisted of financing MRS NGOs such as Vilma Núñez’ CENIDH, Ethics and Transparency, Carlos Fernando Chamorro’s Grupo CINCO and many others. For example, one of the first USAID-funded activities of Ética y Transparencia was an observation visit to Fujimori’s local elections in Peru in 1995. The following year would see the dirtiest elections in Nicaragua’s history, in which the Sandinista Front, the front-runner in the polls, was snatched from victory.

Likewise, NGOs of a supposedly broad political character were financed to defend US interests in Nicaragua, for example, the Institute for Studies and Strategies of Public Policies (IEEPP) of the coup leader and now imprisoned Felix Maradiaga, which through seminars and “broad” meetings (i.e., with Sandinistas considered sympathetic to the MRS) tried to generate support for the MRS.

The U.S. government was trying to generate support for U.S. policies, especially its pressure on the Nicaraguan Army to turn over the Soviet SAM 7 missiles received during the war of the 1980s.

At the same time, European governments joined the U.S. strategy by promoting the smear campaign against Sandinismo. At the same time, they blackmailed thousands of Sandinistas active in many of the Western NGOs they financed to distance themselves from the FSLN on pain of losing their jobs or funding. Likewise, some European ambassadors, such as Sweden’s Eva Zetterberg, were known for issuing opinions on internal Nicaraguan politics every week in the media. These opinions generally aimed at attacking the Sandinista Front and in particular Commander Daniel Ortega.

The Zetterberg case is a clear example of the blatant interference of Western governments in Nicaragua’s internal affairs at that time. The ambassador appeared in the media week after week criticizing the Sandinista Front or anyone who in the eyes of the U.S. Embassy was seen as a factor that could improve the adverse correlation of forces that Sandinismo faced during the neoliberal period. In an interview with the Tortilla con Sal website prior to the FSLN’s return to government in 2007, Zetterberg went so far as to say that the IMF and the World Bank “had” to intervene in the country’s internal affairs because “Nicaraguans are incapable of managing their own affairs.”

Under the leadership of today’s Dora Maria Tellez and her cronies, the MRS collaborated extensively with the U.S. government.

Classified State Department cables released by WikiLeaks and analyzed by The Grayzone (06MANAGUA2434_a and 06MANAGUA1961_a) show that Téllez and other leaders of her MRS party met frequently with the U.S. embassy and served as informants for years.

In regular meetings with U.S. officials, Tellez, Sergio Ramirez, Hugo Torres Jimenez, Victor Hugo Tinoco and other senior MRS figures provided intelligence to the United States about the FSLN and Nicaragua’s internal politics in an attempt to prevent the Sandinistas from returning to power. They then helped Washington attempt to destabilize the government of President Daniel Ortega after he won the 2006 elections.

The embassy clearly stated that “the USG [U.S. government] position [is] that the MRS is a viable and constructive option, with whom the United States would maintain good relations” (cable 06MANAGUA1961_a).

The embassy added approvingly, “If the MRS can swing the votes to the FSLN and get some of the undecided votes, it is still a viable option and could be the key to keeping Ortega from winning.”

Prior to the 2006 elections, the MRS chose former Managua mayor and then MRS presidential candidate Herty Lewites, who met with the U.S. ambassador for breakfast assuring Washington that if he won he would maintain close relations with the United States.

Another Lewites, his nephew Israel, then spokesman for the MRS, also met with the embassy to reaffirm his total loyalty. From the published cables it is known that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), one of the State Department’s main channels for political interference in other countries, had trained 30% of the party’s prosecutors for those elections.

The rest of the story is known: The Sandinista Front won the 2006 elections and determinedly but methodically set about continuing what had been interrupted in 1990. The interference of the United States and European countries continued all the time, but their local “peleles” (wimps or puppets), as General Sandino used to call them, sank deeper and deeper into political irrelevance. The US tried a defeated “color revolution” against the people in 2018 that ended up teaching the whole population what their real agenda towards the country was.

Today Nicaragua has a set of laws and institutional structures that effectively defend it against foreign interference, especially that of the United States. It can be said that since its beginnings as a nation Nicaragua has developed in spite of and against U.S. interference, and that it has achieved its true independence thanks to the popular victories of July 1979 and November 2006.

https://afgj.org/u-s-interference-in-ni ... not-of-now

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The Catholic Church and Nicaragua
SEPTEMBER 5, 2022

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Celebration of the Virgen of the Nancite, community of Cuajachillo No. 2, Ciudad Sandino. Photo: Casa Benjamin Linder.

By Becca Renk – Aug 25, 2022

Becca Renk has lived and worked in sustainable community development in Nicaragua since 2001 with the Jubilee House Community and its project, the Center for Development in Central America. The JHC-CDCA also works to educate visitors to Nicaragua, including through their hospitality and solidarity cultural center at Casa Benjamin Linder.

Recently a deluge of headlines about the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has appeared in international media – but not one of the articles has accurately explained what is happening. Below I’ll break down Nicaragua’s relationship with the Catholic Church and recent events, all links are to excellent articles for those who want to delve deeper.

Background – Just how far back does this go?

Colonization: The Catholic Church first came to Nicaragua with the Spanish colonizers and, as elsewhere in the world, the hierarchy and much of the clergy facilitated colonial conquest through conversion. In Nicaragua, the indigenous population was utterly decimated: most of the population was killed, died of disease, or were abducted and sold into slavery. With the notable exceptions of some individual priests like Antonio Valdivieso, the Church was not only complicit but actively participated in the horrors of colonization.

Insurrection: Post independence, the Church hierarchy and Nicaragua’s wealthy elite ran the country together; for generations, each powerful family had a son who became a priest. In the 20th century, the Catholic hierarchy supported the bloody Somoza dictatorship during the almost 45 years of their rule, and only at the very end did some in the hierarchy support the people’s liberation.

Revolution: Unlike in Cuba, the Nicaraguan revolution was never secular – in fact, Nicaragua’s Revolution was so influenced by liberation theology that in the 1980s there was a popular saying was “Between Christianity and revolution there is no contradiction.” There were priests in the government – several Ministers – but they were not the priests of the Church hierarchy, they were working to improve the lives of the poor majority. The Catholic hierarchy was openly opposed to the Sandinista Revolution;* Pope John Paul II came to Nicaragua and chastised the priests in government, the Vatican later censored them.

Government of Reconciliation and National Unity

When the Sandinista party came back into power in 2007, they formed the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity and sought not only to work with former enemies from the war – the Contra’s political wing joined the Sandinista alliance and nominated the Vice President for that term from within their ranks – but also included the Church, big business, and trade unions in the planning and management of government programs – the Church was given a place at the governing table. But big business and the Catholic Church effectively ended that model when they conspired to overthrow the elected government in 2018 and used their role in society to try to turn the people against the government.

2018 Coup Attempt

In April 2018, protests began that were ostensibly against proposed reforms to the social security system. It quickly became obvious, however, that the protests were about something else: an attempt to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. Armed opposition groups set up hundreds of roadblocks which paralyzed the country and became epicenters of violence. The roadblocks lasted for nearly three months, some 253 people were killed, and many more injured. While opposition sources blamed the government for nearly all deaths, a careful study by the Nicaraguan Truth, Justice and Peace Commission showed otherwise. Journalist’s investigations have shown that the U.S. government was funding the violence through USAID, NED, IRI – all “soft arms” of the CIA.

Although the U.S. was funding the attempted ousting of Nicaragua’s democratically elected Sandinista government, the Catholic Church hierarchy in Nicaragua was instigating it. You can read first-hand accounts of priests initiating violence, including in neighborhoods of Ciudad Sandino, here. While the Bishop’s conference was supposedly “mediating” a national dialogue, its own priests were calling for violence. At these “roadblocks of death,” as they came to be known, Sandinista supporters were identified, beaten, raped, tortured and murdered – with priests watching and sometimes participating in the violence.

Although hundreds were arrested and convicted of violent crimes in 2018, opposition demanded the release of what they called “political prisoners.” In the interests of peace and reconciliation, the Nicaraguan government declared a general amnesty and freed everyone who had been charged in conjunction the attempted coup, including known murderers, on the condition that they not reoffend.

Consequences

The hierarchy’s participation in the failed coup attempt in 2018 has had consequences for the Catholic Church: the Nicaraguan government has reduced by half its financial support for cathedrals, churches and maintenance of the Bishops’ Conference facilities. But the Church has also lost its people: I’ve talked to many Catholics who no longer go to mass because their priests continue to promote violence and seek political ends from the pulpit. These people have not lost their faith – they continue to pray at home and take part in religious celebrations outside the Church – but they no longer attend mass. This sentiment is widespread – recent polls show that only 37% of Nicaraguans today identify as Catholics, as opposed to 50% only a few years ago.

Recent events

So what’s going on now that has caused so many inaccurate headlines? The first week of August, Nicaraguan authorities dismantled the network of communication outlets (five radio stations and a local television channel) owned by Rolando Alvarez. Alvarez is Bishop of Estelí and Matagalpa, but he is also a political actor, one of the leaders involved in the violent coup attempt in 2018 and his discourse has created a climate of confrontation, perhaps in an attempt to destabilize Nicaragua’s government in the run up to November’s municipal elections.

Alvarez’ private media outlets were closed because are alleged to have been used to launder money to pay for street violence to feed destabilization attempts. Following the closure of his media outlets, Alvarez was placed under house arrest while he is under investigation for a series of crimes. Even following his arrest, however, Alvarez continued to foment violence which threatened the safety of the population of Matagalpa. Last week he was moved to house arrest in Managua where he will remain while he is being investigated; he is receiving visits from his family and from the Cardinal with whom he has spoken at length.

Other priests arrested

Alvarez isn’t the only priest to be arrested in Nicaragua in recent months – Nicaraguan authorities have arrested, tried and convicted a priest who raped a 12 year old girl and another who beat his partner (the Nicaraguan public didn’t blink an eye at the fact that the priest had a partner, but they were outraged that he beat her). Interestingly, we have not seen international media using the cases of the rapist and wife-beating priests of Nicaragua to claim religious persecution the way that they are for Alvarez, but all three are cases of Nicaraguan authorities holding Catholic priests accountable for their individual actions, just as they would anyone else.

Is there religious persecution in Nicaragua?

Religious persecution is defined as societal or intuitional attacks on people specifically for their religious beliefs. What we have seen in Nicaragua’s recent events is the investigation and arrest of individuals who have broken the law, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Religious persecution can also be defined as attacks on religious institutions, of which the international press also accuses the Nicaraguan government. Few concrete examples are given – most are alleged defacements of churches that cannot be attributed to the government or its institutions. The most often cited incident is a fire in July 2020 in the Managua Cathedral which destroyed the image of the Blood of Christ. Church authorities claim it was caused by a firebomb attack on the Cathedral. In their investigation, however, the Nicaraguan police and the fire department found no evidence of a firebomb and concluded that the fire was caused by a spray bottle of alcohol used for sanitizing hands which was left too close to an open flame in the poorly ventilated chapel. Eyewitnesses saw no suspicious activity; there were only two people in the cathedral at the time of the fire. Regardless of the results of the investigation, the Church hierarchy maintains their claim of “persecution” and has left the chapel as it was following the fire, encouraging visitors to pray to the charred crucifix.

Not only is there no religious persecution in Nicaragua, but there is an atmosphere of thriving religious expression. For proof of this, one just has to look out a window in Nicaragua right now – August is patron saint festival season in this country. While international media has been printing tales of religious persecution, dozens of Nicaraguan cities and towns have been busy celebrating their Catholic saints in festivals supported economically and logistically by municipal governments. Our own village is celebrating the Virgin of the Nancite this weekend and in Ciudad Sandino we celebrated Little Santo Domingo last weekend. But the largest celebration of all was tens of thousands of people who walked and danced freely through Managua’s streets on two separate public holidays dedicated to Santo Domingo. In Nicaragua, the Church hierarchy may be sequestered inside walls, but the church of the people is in the street joyfully celebrating its faith.

https://orinocotribune.com/the-catholic ... nicaragua/
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Re: Nicaragua

Post by blindpig » Wed Sep 21, 2022 1:36 pm

NicaNotes: Nicaragua a ‘Dictatorship’ When It Follows US Lead on NGOs
September 15, 2022
By John Perry

[John Perry lives in Masaya, Nicaragua, and writes on Central America for The Nation, FAIR, The London Review of Books, OpenDemocracy, The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Counterpunch and other outlets.]

(This article was first published in FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting): https://fair.org/home/nicaragua-a-dicta ... d-on-ngos/ )


The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID poured money into Nicaraguan NGOs after President Daniel Ortega was voted back into office in 2007 with the specific aim of training people to oppose his government and create the conditions for regime change.

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Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua is “laying waste to civil society” according to the Associated Press. The Guardian called it a “sweeping purge of civil society,” while for the New York Times, Nicaragua is “inching toward dictatorship.” According to the Washington Post, the country is already “a dictatorship laid bare.” In a call repeated by the BBC, the UN human rights commissioner urged Nicaragua to stop its “damaging crackdown on civil society.”

What can possibly have provoked such widespread criticism? It turns out that the Nicaraguan national assembly’s “sweeping purge” was the withdrawal of the tax-free legal status of a small proportion of the country’s nonprofit organizations: just 440 over a period of four years. In more than half the cases, these NGOs have simply ceased to function or no longer exist. In other cases, they have failed (or refused) to comply with legal requirements, such as producing annual accounts or declaring the sources of their funding. Modest legal steps that would go unnoticed in most countries are – in Nicaragua’s case – clear evidence that it is “inching toward dictatorship.”

None of the media reports asked basic questions, such as what these nonprofits have done that led to the government taking this action, whether other countries follow similar practices, or what international requirements about the regulation of nonprofits Nicaragua is required to comply with. There is a much bigger story here that corporate media ignore. Let’s fill in some of the gaps.

Three basic questions

There are three basic questions. First, is Nicaragua exceptional in closing nonprofits on this scale? No, the practice is widespread in other nations. While figures are difficult to find, government agencies in the United States, Britain, Australia and elsewhere have closed tens of thousands of nonprofits in the last few years.

For example, between 2006 and 2011, the IRS closed 279,000 nonprofits out of a US total of 1.7 million; it closed 28,000 more in 2020. The Charity Commission in Britain closes around 4,000 per year. And in Australia, some 10,000 nonprofits have been closed since 2014, one-sixth of the total. In Nicaragua, four years of closures have so far affected only 7% of a total of more than 6,000 nonprofits.

Second, does Nicaragua impose tighter rules than other countries? Again, the answer is no. Rules introduced in 2020 required nonprofits to register as “foreign agents” if they receive funds from abroad. The Associated Press report, picked up by the Guardian, puts this in scare quotes, but the term is borrowed from the far heavier requirements that have applied in the US since 1938 under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).The Financial Times dubbed the Nicaraguan legislation “Putin’s Law,” erroneously linking it to Russia, not the United States.

The US has some of the world’s strongest and most detailed powers, but they are not unique: The Library of Congress has examples of 13 countries with similar legislation. In Britain, the government consulted last year on the introduction of a “Foreign Influence Registration Scheme,” which is similar to FARA. Nicaragua’s law is not exceptional, and nor were its consequences in reducing NGO numbers; when Australia introduced similar laws in 2014, there were 5,000 nonprofit closures in the following year as a result.

An important factor is that Nicaragua, like other countries, has to comply with international regulations that address the risks posed by unregulated nonprofits. These include widespread international concern that nonprofits are susceptible to money-laundering.

Whether deliberately or out of ignorance, media ignore the fact that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), set up in 1989 by the G7 governments, imposes rules that apply globally. In 2020, Nicaragua was praised by the FATF for “largely complying” with its requirements. FATF specifically endorsed the tougher controls and the sanctions for non-compliance that the government introduced, including the threat of withdrawing an organization’s legal status.

Third, have nonprofits been given time to comply with the rules? According to the Guardian, “the government was not giving them an opportunity to get in line with new legal requirements,” yet I know this to be untrue. I have talked to leaders of several nonprofit organizations who have completed the process or are working their way through it. The rules are tough, and the government ministry is under-resourced for the task it has been given, but hundreds of NGOs are taking steps to comply. Many of those who fail the test are given the option of reconstituting themselves as businesses without tax-free status.

Rules apply to good and bad NGOs

Do the media ask if Nicaragua might have introduced these stringent laws because of obvious transgressions by nonprofits? No: On the contrary, the media assume that the NGOs’ complaints about the rules are justified.

The reports make only dismissive reference to the recent history of abuses by some Nicaraguan NGOs. They ignore the key fact that some of them existed principally to channel millions of dollars in US funding into activities that blatantly interfered in Nicaraguan politics. They ignore the largesse of agencies funded by the US government, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID, which poured money into Nicaraguan NGOs after President Daniel Ortega was voted back into office in 2007, with the specific aim of training people to oppose his government and create the conditions for regime change.

That the NED, USAID and other US agencies use national NGOs in this way is hardly a secret. Global Americans reported that the NED was “laying the groundwork for insurrection” in Nicaragua in 2018; Lobelog revealed that the National Endowment for Democracy had bragged to Congress about its efforts to create young disciples of regime change, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs described in detail the indoctrination process in which they took part.

Of course, this interference has been happening for decades across the world. Six years ago, Telesur showed how it worked in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Similar activities funded by the NED and allied agencies have been carried out in Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and many other countries.

Thailand is currently introducing similar laws to those in Nicaragua to restrict foreign manipulation of NGOs; it is far from the first to do so. Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon are urging that Thailand’s new laws be dropped, as they “would harm civil society” – just the kind of warning that media have echoed in the case of Nicaragua.

The Financial Times went so far as to quote the NED’s Aimel Ríos, who urged tougher international pressure on Nicaragua: “It does seem that is the only language the regime will understand,” he said. The fact that the NED had been directly involved in attempted regime change in Nicaragua was not mentioned. Contrast this with the media’s hypervigilance about any suggested interference by Russia or China in Western politics.

Apart from the political issues, there is a wider question of the value of nonprofit organizations to Nicaraguan society. It must be said, of course, that many nonprofits do excellent humanitarian work. But there are significant exceptions, quite apart from the examples above.

For example, local “human rights” bodies have been totally partial in their work, becoming little more than propaganda merchants, as I have shown elsewhere. Many of the medical bodies now closed also existed mainly as propaganda organizations, rather than as genuine professional institutions – particularly during the pandemic, when they attempted (with some initial success) to deter people from using the public health service.

Some private universities have lost their status for failing to produce accounts, and have been taken over by the state. Far from the impression given by the New York Times, I have been told by various academics working with their former students that they are much happier now that they have access to better, state-run facilities, their fees are fixed and they no longer have to pay extortionate fees (in some cases, $1,000) to graduate.

The Washington Post picked out for criticism the closure of the “94-year-old” Nicaraguan Academy of Letters. Yet one of its board members admitted that it was in “total administrative disorder” and had never complied with requirements to file its accounts, even though it was receiving $62,000 in government funds each year.

Western propaganda vs. facts

Perhaps the wildest claims about the importance of NGOs have been made by Open Democracy, a nonprofit web outlet that claims it “challenges power, inspires change and builds leadership among groups underrepresented in the media.” Many services for woman, such as reproductive health services, “are vanishing,” it says, repeating claims made by a Nicaraguan NGO that refuses to comply with the new laws. Without them, apparently, “prospects…are bleak.”

The article seriously misrepresented the situation of women’s health in Nicaragua, which has one of the best public health services in Central America, free to all. It has, for example, reduced maternal mortality from 92.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006, to 31.6 in 2021, a reduction of 66%. In part, this is due to its 180 casas maternas, which offer dedicated care to pregnant women. The state also provides family planning free of charge in all health centers, including tubal ligations for women who do not wish to have more children.

It is true that many NGOs provide healthcare, often with foreign funding, and most of these are perfectly happy to register under the new legislation and continue working in cooperation with the health ministry.

It is of course almost inconceivable that Nicaragua can be given any credit in the media for its achievements in healthcare, or many other aspects of social provision. As FAIR has pointed out on various occasions, corporate media are consistent in making every news story an attack on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, with no attempt at balance or genuine investigation of stories presented to them by the government’s opponents, especially those coming from the hostile Nicaraguan media.

The US State Department begins its summary of its policy on “US Relations With Nicaragua,” updated last September, with the surprisingly honest statement that “The US government works to advance US interests in Nicaragua.” Sadly, the international media appear to do the same.

Briefs
By Nan McCurdy

Central American Countries Working to Consolidate Peace
Beginning on September 9th each year, a torch symbolizing Central American Independence is carried by runners on a journey from Guatemala south to Costa Rica arriving at Nicaragua’s northern border on September 11. In a speech marking the torch’s arrival in Managua, President Daniel Ortega said that Nicaragua and the rest of the Central American countries are united, working to consolidate peace and bring progress to their peoples, emphasizing that it is essential to defend peace in the region. During the ceremony to receive the torch held at the Plaza de la Paz in Managua, Ortega recalled that on September 15, 1821, the Act of Independence of Central America was signed in Guatemala. Looking further back into the past, he stated that the struggle for freedom began with the arrival of the conquistadors and spread throughout the Americas. Today, he said, the struggle is for self-determination which, he insisted, “is fundamental to eradicating poverty and providing education and health care to all the peoples of our Americas.” (Radio La Primerisima, 12 Sept. 2022; El 19 Digital, 11 Sept. 2022)

Nicaragua with Second Lowest Public Debt in Central America
Last week, Forbes Central America web magazine published the results of a study entitled “Latin America and the Caribbean Economic Survey 2022”, prepared by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The report states that with a public debt of 43.7% of its GDP, Nicaragua has the second lowest public debt in Central American surpassed only by Guatemala with 32%. https://www.cepal.org/en/publications/4 ... -investing (Nicaragua News, 7 Sept. 2022)

Free Trade Zone Exports Increased by 23.5%
In the first half of 2022 exports from free trade zones reached US$1.96 million, an increase of 23.5% with respect to the same period of last year when it was US$1.59 million. The dynamism of textile products was highlighted with a 30.4% increase, vehicle wiring harnesses 5.6%, tobacco 19.6%, fishing products 24.4%, and African palm oil 61.2%. Eleven thousand more workers have been hired so that in August there were more than 143,000 workers in the sector. (Informe Pastran, 7 Sept. 2022)

Departmental Electoral Authorities Sworn In
With the presence of the Supreme Electoral Council Magistrates and complying with the calendar for the municipal elections, the departmental electoral authorities were sworn in. Nine women and eight men were sworn in as presidents of the 15 departmental and two regional electoral councils. Out of 51 proprietary positions for the 15 departmental and two regional electoral councils, there are 26 women and 25 men. (Informe Pastran, 7 Sept. 2022)

List of Candidates Announced for FSLN Alliance
The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) announced the official list of candidates of the alliance headed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front for the municipal elections to be held on November 6. To see the list: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias ... nicipales/ (Radio La Primerisima, 13 Sept. 2022)

CSE Processes 460,000 Voter ID Cards.
The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) has processed 461,104 voter identification card applications between January 3 and September 9, 2022. 96,265 are first time applications, 163,103 are renewals and 201,736 are replacements. As for online citizen verification, the CSE recorded 2,106,164 verification consultations from August 18 to Sept. 9. The CSE also received 87,191 requests for change of address. (Radio La Primerisima, 12 Sept. 2022)

Cervical-Uterine Cancer Deaths Are Down
The Sandinista Government has promoted policies that include the installation of new equipment in hospitals to reduce the mortality rate from cervical cancer by up to 25%. According to a report, in 2006 the death rate was 16 per 100,000 women over the age of 20, and in 2021 it was down to 12. The number of Pap smears has increased from 166,369 in 2006 to 978,893 in 2021 – an increase of 600%. In 2006 the treatment of cervical-uterine lesions was performed only in three hospitals in Managua; currently it is performed in all national, regional and departmental hospitals and in health centers. There is now a National Cytology Center, where Pap smear readings are taken and cervical lesions are identified. In 2006, there were three colposcopes in hospitals in the capital, and by 2021 there were 174, which are used to examine the cervix and detect the presence of suspicious areas of tissue that may indicate cancer. The report found that in 2006 there were three cryotherapy units and in 2021 there are 88, which are used for treatment of abnormal tissue and cancerous cells. (Radio La Primerisima, 7 Sept. 2022)

In Managua 3,100 Families Receive Homes
The Managua Mayor’s Office has turned over the keys to 3,100 houses to families in Villa Jerusalén and Villa Flor de Pino, Mayor Reyna Rueda announced on Sept. 12. By the end of this year 3,629 houses will have been delivered. “More than 50% [of the cost] is subsidized, part of the strategy of the government,” she said. Rueda mentioned also that to date 900 lots have been delivered and another 300 more will be delivered September 13. (Radio La Primerisima, 12 Sept. 2022)

Strengthening Technical and Creative Capabilities
The National Technological Institute (INATEC) reported that US$750,000 was invested to expand, and equip the Francisco Moreno National Center for Innovation and Technology, ensuring greater access to free and quality technical training for 4,000 students. INATEC Director Loyda Barreda stated that “The idea for the center arose from the technological innovation competition held in 2017 that inspired the creation of a national reference center dedicated to promoting innovation and creativity in the technological field. Nicaragua has a very creative young community that must be nurtured and supported so that they may reach their full potential.” Funding came from the General Budget. (Nicaragua News, 12 Sept. 2022)

Expanding Academic Coverage for Rural Youth
The National University of Engineering (UNI), as part of the University in the Countryside Program, is offering the Higher Technician Certificate in Irrigation Technologies and the Higher Technician Certificate in Agroindustry, aimed at all high school graduates from rural areas of the northern, central and southern departments interested in adopting new alternatives to help improve agricultural production techniques. The UNI has invested in a new computer laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment and specialized software, with which student teachers will develop skills and competencies in the technical and professional training of young people in the countryside. (Radio La Primerisima, 13 Sept. 2022)

Solid Economic Growth Reported
The Central Bank published its “Second Quarter Gross Domestic Product Report” on Sept. 9 which states that the country’s gross domestic product registered a 5% growth during the second quarter of 2022. The sectors with the largest contribution to growth during this period were tourism (19.3%); commerce (8.3%); manufacturing (6.6%); agriculture (6.5%); and transport and communication (5.8%). (Nicaragua News, 12 Sept. 2022)

Entrepreneurship Fair a Success
The V edition of the EXPOPYME entrepreneurship fair organized by the Ministry of Family Economy (MEFCCA) was held last weekend. MEFCCA Workshops and Small Businesses General Director Frania Peralta stated that “A hundred and ten exhibitors participated in the fair, registering US$22,000 in sales of products made by small and medium-size businesses. Likewise, 150 supplier agreements were signed and eight conferences were held to strengthen the operation, productivity, and quality of small and medium size businesses.” EXPOPYME is an annual fair that promotes the development, quality, and formalization of Small and Medium Enterprises. (Nicaragua News, 12 Sept. 2022)

Agreement Opens Opportunities to Export to China
The National Assembly approved the Early Harvest Agreement for exports to China. This initiative is in line with the National Plan for the Fight against Poverty and for Human Development, which seeks to guarantee economic stability and strengthen conditions for development by boosting trade. The Early Harvest Agreement also seeks to improve preferential access to foreign markets and constitutes an effective tool to promote diversification and increase commercialization of products. It also increases trade preferences with China. The agreement will increase employment and is consistent with the 2030 development agenda and the sustainable development goal that seeks to eradicate poverty and promote health. (Radio La Primerisima, 8 September 2022)

Cooperation with FIFA to Promote Football (Soccer)
A Cooperation Agreement for the Implementation of the FIFA for Schools Project in Nicaragua was signed between the Ministry of Education, the Nicaragua Football Federation (Fenifut) and the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA), that includes rehabilitation, construction, and equipping of sports centers for football (soccer) in the schools. Likewise, it will offer training for physical education teachers in FIFA workshops at the national and international levels. FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated that “FIFA is committed to the development of this sport in Nicaragua and will be working closely with Fenifut and the Ministry of Education to implement the project that seeks to inspire children in the country to learn life skills and competencies through sports.” The FIFA for Schools Project, carried out in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), seeks to contribute to the education, development, and empowerment of children by incorporating football into the educational system. (Nicaragua News, 9 Sept. 2022)

New Museum Pays Tribute to Lolita Soriano
A museum will be inaugurated September 12 to pay tribute to teacher and writer Lolita Soriano in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of her birth June 18, 1922, in the Barrio San Antonio of Managua. The museum has ten exhibition spaces, a terrace and two administrative offices. Soriano dedicated her life to teaching and promoting art and culture. She was known as the “Godmother of the Artists” because she promoted hundreds of musicians in Nicaragua. Her collection of long play and 45 acetate records of numerous composers and performers from the 1940’s to the 1970’s is exhibited in one of the museum spaces. Visitors will be able to see several musical instruments given to Lolita by musicians who visited her. (Radio La Primerisima, 11 Sept. 2022)

https://afgj.org/nicanotes-09-15-2022
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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