Stephen Sefton, Tortilla con Sal, October 7th 2018
In a recent activity of the right wing Inter-American Dialogue organization in Washington the moderator Michael Shifter asked guest speaker, Nicaraguan Vice Foreign Minister Valdrack Jaentschke, how he explained the consensus among various foreign news reporters that the attempt to overthrow the Nicaraguan government resulted from popular protest rather than a coup attempt. Jaentschke explained that foreign, mainly US, funding of opposition aligned NGOs facilitated a fake news version of events. That fake news subsequently fed into meretricious reports by the human rights bodies of the Organization of American States and the United Nations.
Jaentschke might have added that the process was identical to the fake news facilitating the infamous NATO country interventions of 2011, with the connivance of the United Nations, in Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria. The same process facilitated US and European Union support for the 2014 coup in Ukraine and sustains the permanent regime change offensive against President Maduro’s government in Venezuela. Reporting on all those events, Western NGOs as well as corporate and alternative media have frequently served as apologists for extremist terrorism and sectarian mass murder. Now those same NATO country media and NGOs have attacked Nicaragua.
The lines of attack are always that the target government is corrupt, anti-democratic and brutally repressive, somewhat like the regime in the United States of North America, but worse. In Nicaragua’s case, the narrative was that peaceful protests led to a brutal massacre of students leading to a nationwide protest movement supported by most of the population, viciously suppressed by means of wholesale human rights abuses. However, that fantasy right wing opposition version has collapsed both inside the country and in the majority world beyond. The Western media and NGO regime change offensive has not gone as well as they might like.
The US fomented coup failed in Nicaragua because the opposition’s lies do not resist common sense scrutiny or day to day reality. Peaceful protests do not result in 23 dead police officers with another 350 or so suffering gunshot wounds. Officers of a police force internationally recognized for its community policing model do not overnight turn into mass murderers. Dozens of public buildings and offices do not spontaneously combust and burn themselves down. Now, confirmed deaths linked to the failed coup attempt total around 200 people between April 18th and July 15th , the great majority of them Sandinistas or bystanders killed by opposition and associated criminal gangs...
While international human rights organizations claim widespread abuses, inside Nicaragua around 200 opposition activists and associated criminals are facing trial on indictments including murder, grievous bodily harm, torture, arson, kidnapping, extortion, robbery with violence, criminal damage, obstructing access to health care, theft and illegal possession of firearms. Amnesty International has championed several of these cases including those of Amaya Eva Coppens and Edwin Carcache, both of whom face damning witness testimony and other evidence very likely to result in conviction. Despite that undeniable context, Amnesty International have doubled down on their false accusations of human rights abuses claiming, as well as denial of due process and prison visits, that prisoners have been tortured and women prisoners have been sexually abused.
The government has rejected all the accusations, either disproving them outright or casting reasonable doubt on their truthfulness. All the accusations are based on unverified testimony from activists of US funded opposition organizations or alleged victims' relatives co-opted and coached by those organizations. Likewise, regular massive marches of supporters confirming the popularity of the Sandinista government contrast with embarrassingly small turnouts for Nicaragua’s opposition events. For its part, Amnesty International shares its defense of violent criminals and demonstrably false allegations of torture and abuse of prisoners with the Inter American Commission for Human Rights and the UN High Commission for Human Rights both of whom have presented reports based almost entirely on unverified opposition media reports and information collected by US funded opposition NGOs.
Journalists, researchers and investigators are supposed to seek out independent sources before reliably reporting something as fact. But, around the world, Western corporate and alternative media news journalists now routinely source their reports from two or three US funded or allied organizations, making believe that charade corroborates their reporting. In Nicaragua’s case, apart from Telesur, hardly any visiting journalists have corroborated events with Sandinista sources. Of the writers who have, in the US, Dan Kovalik and Max Blumenthal have been the most combative in trying to give a true and fair view of events in Nicaragua.
In recent articles, Blumenthal has exposed a writer called Carl Goette-Luciak as a committed activist working with the country’s political opposition to overthrow Nicaragua’s government. Photographs show Goette-Luciak posing with armed opposition gunmen. A video shows him accompanying violent opposition thugs as they abuse and torture one of their victims. The UK Guardian, National Public Radio and the Washington Post all used this writer's material uncritically to report events in Nicaragua. Tellingly, their response to Blumenthal’s report has been to close ranks, attempting to suppress exposure of their professional misconduct and to counter-attack Blumenthal with the false smear that his legitimate reporting endangered Goette-Luciak who has now been deported by the Nicaraguan authorities.
None of those defending Goette-Luciak said anything about the violent armed arson attack by Goette-Luciak’s fellow opposition activists on the Nuevo Radio Ya station which supports the Sandinista government. That attack seriously endangered the lives of 22 journalists and radio workers as well as firefighters and police who came under fire and suffered several wounded trying to protect the firefighters. Nor have Goette-Luciak’s apologists said anything to condemn the arson attack that destroyed Radio Nicaragua, a government radio outlet. Blumenthal’s reporting was also attacked in The Daily Beast a corporate news outlet posing as independent, but faithfully parroting US government and Nicaraguan opposition propaganda, while also adding falsehoods of its own.
For example, the Daily Beast’s Charles Davis falsely describes my blog at Tortilla con Sal as a Nicaraguan government outlet. But I have run this blog on my own in my spare time since July 2008 with contributed material both from official sources and from friends who, like me, work in solidarity with the Sandinista Front. We do so for two main reasons. Firstly, the Sandinista Front and its government led by Daniel Ortega have implemented a successful National Human Development Plan, which has achieved internationally recognized results greatly improving the lives of the country’s impoverished majority. Secondly, Nicaragua’s political opposition are dominated by the country’s greedy elites who despise their own people, preferring to serve foreign, especially US, interests.
Part of that opposition, the electorally insignificant, right-wing MRS political movement, has always consistently deceived national and international public opinion, even before they began taking US government money back in 2005. Their collaboration with US foreign policy means Western media give them a free pass on Nicaragua while smearing genuine reporters like Max Blumenthal who contradict their fantasy reporting via outlets Western corporate elites cannot control. None of these corporate money shills, from the Daily Beast to the New Yorker to Democracy Now, acknowledge that all Nicaragua’s opposition NGOS and various media outlets, which they treat as reliable sources, are funded directly by the US and allied governments or their satellite NGOs. That, as Valdrack Jaentschke tried politely to explain, is the answer to Michael Shifter's question .