Nicaragua - Letter to a former Swedish solidarity brigadista

Submitted bytortilla onMié, 07/07/2021 - 08:21

Jorge Capelán, Managua with Love, July 6, 2021

Hello, my friend,

I am glad to have received an email from you, albeit with the terse text "What do you think of this?" regarding a lamentable letter from former European aid workers in Nicaragua, embittered and surely very much affected by the general decay of the "old world".

It is incredible that you think I would support a dictatorship. You know well my history and that of my family. I would never desecrate my mother's memory by becoming someone who supports a dictatorship. I know very well what a dictatorship is, I know what it is like to have the police constantly ask for your ID card, I know what it means to walk past police stations barricaded with sandbags, I know what it means to go looking for missing relatives in one police barracks after another, I know what it means to put up  stickers saying "Free the political prisoners" in the school bathrooms at the age of seven and I know very well what it is like to have my house in the middle of the night filled with soldiers looking for a family relative. In Nicaragua nothing like that happens, on the contrary. And the guarantee that Nicaragua will have a democracy is called the FSLN under the leadership of Daniel Ortega.

I know very well how the Uruguayan police and military behaved during the dictatorship and I know very well how the Nicaraguan (and Swedish) police usually behave. Frankly, the Nicaraguan police are the best.

However, those who kidnapped, tortured, robbed, murdered and raped citizens here in Nicaragua in April 2018 were the coup promoters. They themselves recorded everything with their cell phones. They even set fire to murdered sandinista comrades in the street. Through their blood-stained media they called for the persecution of Sandinistas. For a few weeks they managed to fool some people, but their support disappeared as soon as they showed what they were really made of at the roadblocks they controlled. Don't think they were the only ones who took to the streets to protest, after a few weeks the Sandinistas also held big demonstrations in support of the government, but the media in Europe didn't show that, nor all the terrible acts the coup perpetrators committed. Perhaps the reason for that is because you live in a "democracy", the same "democracy" that "gave" Nicaraguans a William Walker, a Somoza, a Contra and those contemptible coup perpetrators who tried to destroy this country 3 years ago.

Those who have been detained recently are under investigation, according to the law you can detain someone for up to 90 days if there is a clear risk that the person in question may flee the country. And there is a risk, as Bolivians can attest, as several of the worst human rights violators in that country fled and took refuge in the United States. The same has happened in many other Latin American countries. It is always like this: human rights violators in Latin America always receive help from the U.S. Why is that? Well, who are the people under investigation here in Nicaragua? The group includes:

- The heads of the two largest banks.

- Several speculators with offshore companies in Panama.

- Some large landowners.

- A former Minister of Education who became famous under neoliberalism after ordering the burning of literacy books from the 1980s. He also became famous for saying that 4 years of schooling was enough for the poor, since no more than that was necessary to be able to get a job in the free trade zones.

- A USAID employee from Arnoldo Alemán's party who became Enrique Bolaños' Minister of Defense and was one of the architects of the failed coup attempt 3 years ago.

- Arnoldo Alemán's wife.

- A son of Violeta Chamorro who handled drug trafficking for the Contras in the 1980s.

- A daughter of Violeta Chamorro whose main achievement in life has been to be her mother's daughter.

- Three former Sandinistas (Dora María Téllez, Hugo Torres and Víctor Hugo Tinoco) who left the FSLN after losing influence in the FSLN Congress of 1994, created another party which never obtained more than 6% of the votes (rather, its usual participation has been 0.02%) and which several months ago eliminated the word "Sandinista" from its name. Téllez went so far as to say that he was "disgusted" ("repello", in Nicaraguan) by the word.

Why are these people being investigated?

1) For having received a lot of money from USAID (and also some European states) for political activity in Nicaragua. The fundamental laws of the Kingdom of Sweden do not allow citizens to receive foreign state funding for political purposes, it is called "receiving funds from a foreign power" or something similar. No civilized country allows that. It is not about solidarity committees selling coffee and cookies on the streets of Europe, it is about something much bigger, it is about State funds. It is about the hundreds of millions of dollars that these coup plotters have received since the Sandinistas returned to power in 2007, all to guarantee by all possible means the reinstatement of the US neoliberal agenda.

These people are NOT being investigated for running NGOs. Here in Nicaragua there are over 6,000 NGOs of all types. Only a fraction of them participated in the coup attempt. The absolute majority of NGOs here operate within the law. In Nicaragua it is NOT prohibited to represent a foreign company or government, that is, to be what is called a "foreign agent". It is only a matter of one: a) Registering; b) Agreeing not to interfere in national politics; and c) Actually carrying out the activities for which they have registered. Nicaragua's Foreign Agents Law is modeled on the U.S. FARA Act of the 1930s, which is still in effect.

2) For not presenting clear accounts of the money they received. As far as I know, there are at least $15 million dollars for which there are no receipts. Why? Well, because if you go to buy gangland weapons, crack, explosives and other things for the criminals who participated in the coup, they usually don't give you receipts. Unfortunately, that is what the coup perpetrators were doing in 2018.

USAID approved the audit report of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation despite the fact that (contrary to US law itself) the external auditor was not reviewed by an independent company. USAID itself admits that it could not guarantee the veracity of the audit report. This is how USIAD has acted all these years, I know because I have seen these documents myself. It is absolutely disgusting the way they have openly broken the law. That's the way Western governments regard Third World countries, but that relatonship is over in Nicaragua.

When Violeta's daughter, Cristiana, was called by the country's prosecutor to be interviewed about her foundation's accounts, she had the nerve to say that "everything is in order because USAID has approved it". Really? Do you think the Swedish kingdom's prosecutor would accept that answer if it were an investigation into financial crimes in Sweden? I don't.

3) For trying to repeat the failed coup attempt of 2018. Since late last year, a USAID project has been circulating in Nicaragua under the code name RAIN to sabotage this year's elections, create unrest and call for foreign intervention and form some kind of "transitional government". The network currently under investigation has received large sums of money in recent years from USAID, NED, NDI, IRI and the EU.

4) For calling for coercive measures and foreign intervention in the country. During all these years, these people have repeatedly traveled to the United States lobbying in favor of the Nica Act and the new RENACER law, that is, coercive measures aimed at hindering Nicaragua's access to loans and the purchase of medicines by the Ministry of Health, such as vaccines against Covid-19. These coercive measures are rejected by the vast majority of Nicaraguans: up to 85% oppose them. Nicaraguan law strips those calling for coercive measures against their own country of all political rights. Those currently under investigation have known this for a long time but they continued to campaign for sanctions.

5) Some of those currently under investigation were imprisoned after the failed 2018 coup attempt, but were granted amnesty under ONE CONDITION: NOT TO COMMIT THE SAME CRIME AGAIN. The amnesty law clearly states that, in case of recidivism, all previous crimes committed during the coup attempt would count for subsequent sentences. The people under investigation received an amnesty they have violated and offers of dialogue that they squandered, because their reasoning has always been that the government should resign. Why have they not wanted to go to elections if they were so sure of winning? They have always rejected the democratic path, simply because they know they will lose any election.

Are these people "opposition leaders"? In three years these groups have not been able to organize even a children's party. Why? They lost any the support they may have had after their failed coup attempt which forced one out of four businesses in the country into bankruptcy. What kinds of business suffered ? Well, small farmers, the women who sell tortillas in the markets, the artisans, the owners of small hotels, ordinary people, in other words. The vast majority of the Nicaraguan people were affected by the coup. Most of those killed were actually sandinista supporters.

It is not at all true that the Nicaraguan police are repressive. Nicaragua has the smallest police force in all of Central America, and the smallest police budget. The Nicaraguan police base their work on contact with the population and on very good intelligence work, not on repression. Nicaragua cannot be compared to Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala. Other police forces in the region move through society almost like sailors. The number of murders per 100,000 inhabitants in Nicaragua is much lower than in the rest of Central America and neither the drug cartels nor the "maras" have managed to establish themselves here.

The coup in Nicaragua is a dead end. The vast majority of Nicaraguans reject violence and these people who are currently under investigation have very low support on opinion polls, even in the opinion polls published by the right wing newspaper La Prensa.

These people are neither election candidates nor "pre-candidates", as Western propaganda claims. The registration by parties of their election candidates does not begin until the end of July. Moreover, most of those currently under investigation do not belong to any legally registered party. For three years, the coup promoters network, with the support of the US Embassy and the USAID-funded media, tried to impose its "candidates" on the legally registered parties. Bit why should those parties they hand over their own hard-won electoral structures overnight?

Most of the Nicaraguan political class has chosen to comply with the law and participate in the electoral process. In every department ansd region, electoral councils composed of party representatives have already been constituted and sworn in, as well as in all the country's municipalities. The electoral councils are elected at each level according to previous election results for the two main parties (normally led by the FSLN and the PLC), while the rest of the council members are distributed among the other parties. And the composition has to be at least half women at each level, which requires a willingness to compromise and reach consensus. 17 national and regional parties are participating in the process. Most of them are in opposition to the government, but they have had plenty of freedom to choose their electoral council members. Why? Well, because most Nicaraguans live in Nicaragua and make their living in the country's economy, not from the tax haven income or payments from foreign embassies. Even the Citizens for Liberty (CxL) party, considered the closest to the network now under investigation for serious crimes against the country, also participates in the electoral process.

None of those being investigated are under investigation because they belong to a particular party. María Fernanda Flores, Arnoldo Alemán's wife, who has also been arrested, has no influence in her own party, the PLC, whose parliamentary group decided several months ago to revoke her parliamentary immunity due to corruption accusations. We will see what evidence the prosecution has against her.

In the end, these people will be indicted, or not, and the courts will have the final say.

This has nothing to do with Daniel Ortega being afraid of losing the elections. It is about whether Nicaraguan law governs Nicaragua. If the Nicaraguan government does not act now, all the forces that think they can use violence against the people and then get an amnesty will continue relentlessly until the Nicaraguan State collapses, but the majority of Nicaraguans do not want that.

For three years these groups have tried to destroy the economy. The coup.promoting business leaders (COSEP, AmCham) have called many times for lock outs, but since the majority of people at grass roots now control the productive economy, they have failed. For three years they have called for sanctions only to earn the contempt of the majority of Nicaragua's people.

In 2020, Nicaragua was among the countries in Latin America least economically affected by the coronavirus, with a fall in GDP of only 2% despite the country being hit last November by two of the worst hurricanes since Hurricane Mitch. This year, all serious observers are forecasting economic growth, with the government expecting 5% or more and others 6% or more. This has all been achieved because most Nicaraguans want peace and stability, and because most Nicaraguans think that what the FSLN is doing is good for the country.

Nicaragua is an impoverished country, but there is a big difference between being poor in Nicaragua and being poor in the rest of Central America and Mexico.

- The tortillas Nicaraguans eat are produced in the country, and they are free of GMOs. Ninety percent of the population's staple foods (rice, corn, beans, meat and dairy products) are Nicaraguan, unique among other countries in Latin America.

- In 2006, approximately half of Nicaraguans had access to electricity; today, more than 99% do. Electricity and water were deficient, with long daily interruptions. Today the service is not only very good but, above all, heavily subsidized so that poor people and people on pensions can afford it. Bus fares in Managua have not increased since the Sandinistas came to power in 2007 and still cost just 2.50 córdobas (about US$00.07 cents). And today's buses don't compare to the yellow school bus molotov-cocktails-on-wheels of 14 years ago.

- There are many poor people, but everything possible is done for them to escape from poverty. Every child in school gets a hot meal a day and almost every child goes to school in Nicaragua. It must be said  that the FAO and UNICEF think highly of that. These children also receive uniforms and text books produced in Nicaragua, etc.

- The Sandinistas have built 14 new hospitals. Currently 7 more are being built and another 7 will be built in the next few years. All of the hospitals use high technology. Despite its small economy, Nicaragua today has the strongest public health system in all of Central America. Nicaragua now even performs fetal surgery on infants still in the womb. Nicaragua does not need to send cancer patients to Costa Rica, as it has advanced radiotherapy equipment with minimal side effects. People receive these health services without paying a single cent.

- Nicaragua has the smallest economy in Central America, but in this country, with the few resources we get (and despite the coercive measures) we do much more than other countries. Why? Well, we work to serve society, not to get rich, we do not live at the expense of society. You simply cannot systematically apply over 95% of all the money budgeted year after year and still manage to steal. It is just not possible. Thanks to the fact that the Sandinistas have distributed urban and rural property titles among the whole population, people at grass roots now control 80% of all businesses, producing more than 50% of gross domestic product and controlling over 60% of the country's disposable income.

The oligarchy no longer controls Nicaragua's economy. They stopped being a productive force in the country a long time ago. Now that they have demonstrated to Nicaragua's people that their objective is to destroy the country, it is more than fair that they should face the legal conseuences.

So, my friend, I remember all you did to help Nicaragua under the neoliberal governments. Since then, you have not been back to Nicaragua. But I can't believe you want Nicaragua to return to what it was in the 1990s or the early 2000s.

- The Nicaragua where almost the only thing kids said to tourists was "A dollar, please" is long gone.

- The Nicaragua where there were kids sniffing glue in every town is a thing of the past.

- The Nicaragua where children had to carry their own chairs to school is long gone.

- The Nicaragua where hospitals had no syringes, no medicine, no surgical thread is a fading memory for those who are now 25 or older.

- The Nicaragua where the roads looked like moonscapes because of all the potholes no longer exists. Nicaragua today has the best road network in Central America.

- Nicaragua is no longer a country where young people had no future. That is why so few Nicaraguans appear among the millions of Central Americans crossing Mexico to reach the United States.

- In Nicaragua today, there is no need to fight against the privatization of water, electricity, telecommunications, pensions, schools, etc., because all of these are enshrined as material rights being reinstated with each passing week.

I cannot believe you want the ghosts of the past to return to Nicaragua. I think you have been badly misinformed by people who want to destroy the country. In 2018, I received five death threats shortly after I and other colleagues started a campaign to counteract all the lies about Nicaragua that were being spread in Sweden.

As I said, I move freely in my community, I don't have a car, I go walking at any time of the day and nothing happens to me, because Nicaraguan people are not hateful by nature. The defeated coup of April 2018 was not an indigenous phenomenon, it was planned by and carried out by the same colonial powers that in 1856, in the name of "democracy" sent William Walker here with the project of imposing slavery. The same colonial powers that "gifted" Nicaragua the Somoza dictatorship and organized, financed and trained the Contras in the 1980s.

On November 7, the Nicaraguan people will vote and 60%, 70% or maybe even 80% will vote for the FSLN because they do not want to go back to the first two centuries of Nicaragua's "independence", when the liberal and conservative oligarchies fought over who would mae their fortune plundering the country and selling it off to foreigners.

Now, if you have changed your mind after reading this , let me suggest another open letter you might sign, namely this letter from the Alliance for Global Justice calling for an end to U.S. interference in Nicaragua's internal affairs.