Stephen Sefton, Tortilla con Sal, August 18th 2021
Apologies to John Heartfield's
“Whoever reads bourgeois newspapers becomes blind and deaf"
No one need look further to explain US and allied foreign policy failures of recent years than the endless corresponding reporting failures of their governments and their media. They deliberately omit fundamental facts, systematically exclude inconvenient witness testimony, never give adequate context and seldom seriously question official data. The result is a kind of malevolent fantasy fiction projecting as if it were normal the demented world view of psychotic US and allied policy makers who are completely out of touch with reality. A good example of this is The Guardian's recent typically false article on Nicaragua by Tom Phillips, which might just as well have been written by some CIA or MI6 operative. Perhaps it was.
The staple of his report and practically all similar reports on Nicaragua is to misrepresent human rights concerns so as to upend Nicaragua's reality, making the opposition look like blameless victims when they are the very opposite. Clearly, neither Tom Phillips nor his editors could care less about human rights in Nicaragua since they have never reported the systematic massive human rights violations committed by Nicaragua's opposition in 2018. Honest reporters like Max Blumenthal, Dick Emanuelsson, Dan Kovalik, Steve Sweeney, John Perry, Ben Norton, and myself, among others, have published numerous reports, many including indisputable testimony of the savage murderous crimes which unscrupulous misreporters like Phillips and USAID collaborators like Carlos Fernando Chamorro or his accomplice Wilfredo Miranda, another Guardian contributor, have dishonestly suppressed.
In this they follow the deeply fraudulent misreporting of the US government dominated Inter American Commission for Human Rights and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, currently led by stalwart US government ally, former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet. This time around, Tom Phillips tries milking his readers' sympathy by reporting an interview with former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Francisco Aguirre's daughter, who lives in the US, who dutifully portrays her father as a harmless old man posing no threat to anyone. Phillips places that portrait among a gallery of alleged injustice supposedly perpetrated by President Ortega.
He reports “Police have arrested at least 32 people since late May, including important opposition figures who were challenging the revolutionary hero-turned-autocrat as he seeks a fourth consecutive term.” Even more so than usual, Philips' report leaves out basic facts and contrary testimony but also hugely important national and regional context, about all of which he cannot fail to be well aware. The fundamental basic fact Philips omits is that in August last year a quite detailed USAID plan to destabilize Nicaragua came to light explaining how the US government hopes to bring about the illegitimate regime change in Nicaragua it failed to achieve in 2018.
The plan is called Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (RAIN) and lays out a series of unconstitutional options to secure a “government of transition”, a phrase the document uses over 100 times. The text explains how the US will help any new right wing "government of transition" authorities to purge the police, the army, the courts, the electoral system and public life in general of Sandinistas and to suppress the Sandinista Front for National Liberation as a legal political party for good. Given that around half of Nicaragua's six and a half million people identify as Sandinistas, naturally enough, over the last couple of months, the Nicaraguan authorities have acted within the law to disarm that blatant US government menace to disrupt this year's elections and provoke another violent coup attempt.
Thus, most of the people currently under investigation by the Nicaraguan authorities are longstanding collaborators with USAID and other US government associated organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy. Another group are individuals who, like Francisco Aguirre himself, have publicly called for or welcomed US and European Union measures against their own country, including economic and diplomatic and other unilateral coercive measures. All of these behaviors are illegal in Nicaragua, as they are in the US itself and in practically all European Union countries too.
Over 60% of Nicaraguans support President Ortega and the Sandinista Front
So it is completely false of Tom Phillips to suggest the recent arrests, including Aguirre's, are an arbitrary measure related in some way to party political electoral concerns. In that regard, it is ridiculous to claim that any of the figures arrested are “important opposition figures” in an electoral sense. Practically none of them are members of a Nicaraguan political party and none of them had been selected as a potential presidential candidate. Even if they had been so selected, opinion surveys consistently show that none of the opposition political parties have been, or are now, anywhere even close to challenging the electoral support for President Ortega which has been consistently at or over 60% all year long. Another basic fact Phillips omits.
At a regional level, Philips studiedly omits the current repressive assault by El Salvador's president Najib Bukele against the former governing left wing FMLN political party. Bukele is imposing in El Salvador exactly the kind of repressive political extermination campaign against the FMLN which the USAID RAIN document sketched out as its objective in Nicaragua against the FSLN. In Nicaragua, those being investigated are not leaders of political parties, but individuals with a well established record of having abused supposedly non profit funding from foreign sources for domestic political activities or else of having colluded with foreign intervention to damage and destabilize Nicaragua's economy or intimidate, calumniate and harrass Nicaraguan citizens and government officials.
On the other hand in El Salvador, the authorities are using unfounded accusations of corruption to destroy the FMLN leadership and party supporters exactly in line with US government policy for that country. Earlier this year, even Michelle Bachelet felt obliged to express concern about president Bukele's takeover of the courts and the public prosecutor's office. However Tom Phillips has nothing to say about that neighboring assault on political freedom in El Salvador despite its extreme relevance as an example of what Nicaragua's right wing and its US owners plan to do in Nicaragua if they get the chance.
Over 90% of Nicaraguans consistently reject opposition destabilization
Phillips applies a similar double standard to the human rights concerns he links to the recent arrests in Nicaragua. He quotes Juan Vivanco of Human Rights Watch who also falsely claims that president Daniel Ortega is targeting potential electoral opponents. It certainly makes sense that Juan Vivanco and Human Rights Watch want to cover up money laundering, fraudulent abuse of non profit status and multi-faceted treasonous collusion by US destabilization proxies in Nicaragua. Juan Vivanco and Human Rights Watch supported the fascist coup in 2002 against Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez and have consistently supported US government aggression and destabilization against any government and its people resisting Western efforts to effectively recolonize Latin America and the Caribbean.
More importantly, in the current electoral context in Nicaragua, it is absolutely clear that the authorities are responding to very real public concern about any possible repeat of the murderous opposition violence of 2018. The highly respected M&R company opinion surveys have repeatedly demonstrated that well over 90% of Nicaraguans reject any renewed attempt at violent destabilization. That fact on its own also demonstrates the absolute falsity of the US and EU big propaganda lie that the opposition's failed coup attempt in 2018 was remotely peaceful. Combined with overwhelming electoral support for president Daniel Ortega, it also means that the great majority of Nicaraguans diametrically contradict Tom Phillips' brand of bad faith fantasy reporting on their country.