October 17, 2018
NicaNotes is a blog for Nicaragua activists and those interested in Nicaragua, published by the Nicaragua Network, a project of the Alliance for Global Justice. It provides news and analysis from the context of Nicaragua Network’s long history of struggle in solidarity with the Sandinista Revolution.
Humanitarian Intervention: False Doctrine
By Chuck Kaufman
I am really angry that passage of the NICA Act in its even worse form, the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018 (S. 3233), appears to be a fait accompli – and by unanimous consent at that!
If this Act has not passed by the time you receive these NicaNotes, please call your Senators using the talking points here: https://afgj.org/urgent-tell-your-senators-hands-off-nicaragua. If you are leaving a message, don’t forget to include your name and zip code.
What have we come to as a solidarity movement that we can’t even stop Senators Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin from co-sponsoring regime change bills like the NICA Act and S. 3233? Unanimous consent for heaven’s sake! One single Senator could object and then they would at least have to vote on the bill which would almost surely push it off until the lame duck session after the vote. Hopefully, primary sponsor of S. 3233, Ted Cruz, will be on his own way to the dustbin of history following the Nov. 6 vote and we can at least delay the bill to a quiet death.
But that kind of “inside the beltway” political calculation isn’t really the point. What makes me angry are the number of people who I used to consider comrades, who have contributed to this sad state of affairs.
My political consciousness began during the Vietnam War era. I can only personally speak of the time from then until now. During the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement was comprised of a majority who wanted the US to stop killing and to get out of Vietnam. There was also a minority that wanted the Viet Cong to win. During the Central America wars of the 1980s, the anti-war movement was composed of a majority which was against the US killing and wanted it to leave its hands-off Nicaragua in particular. There was a minority that supported the Sandinista Revolution and wanted it to thrive.
In both cases – Vietnam and Nicaragua – both factions opposed US intervention. That was our common denominator. That was what we agreed on and it enabled us to ignore the things we disagreed on. Some of us called it US intervention; some of us called it US imperialism, but whatever we called it, we agreed that there was no positive role that the US could play in the internal affairs of either country.
Then came 1999 and the Bill Clinton administration’s dismemberment of Yugoslavia under the banner of “Humanitarian Intervention,” supposed righteous military attack to prevent human rights violations by the government of another country. The succeeding George W. Bush administration turned it into a Doctrine and made humanitarian intervention official policy of the United States government. Obama further embedded it, and Trump, although by nature an isolationist, has been pressured by his foreign policy apparatus to continue to toe the line. It is such a handy Doctrine. Few of us will fight for oil, but apparently, majorities will support a bloated Pentagon budget and voluntary wars in multiple countries in the belief that we are protecting some mistreated population from abuse.
Somewhere between 1999 and today, large sectors of the peace and solidarity movements have bought into the concept of humanitarian intervention so that the anti-war movement became divided and confused on US interventions in the Middle East and Africa and now Latin America, including Venezuela and Nicaragua.
I can understand that there are solidarity activists who don’t support the government of President Daniel Ortega. Some people have been consistent in that regard for going on 40 years. But it is a very big – and illegitimate – step from not supporting Daniel Ortega to not opposing US intervention. Some even go farther and call for passage of the NICA Act, sanctions, early elections. These are mortal sins. You cannot fail to oppose US intervention in the sovereign affairs of Nicaragua and continue to call yourself Left or progressive.
You cannot be both anti-imperialist and pro-intervention at the same time. It is simply disingenuous to say, “Of course I oppose US intervention, but…” There is no “but.” You have committed the unpardonable sin. If you are leaving a message, don’t forget to include your name and zip code. The Nicaraguan people will have the final say on what kind of country, what kind of government, they want. Our job is to work to expose and oppose US intervention that constrains their ability to decide without outside influence.
By Nan McCurdy
- 30 Arrested for Protesting without a Permit
Both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) allege that peaceful protesters were repressed on October 14 when 30 were arrested for protesting without a permit. The organisms insisted that Nicaraguans have the right to demonstrate and that “they cannot be subject to prior authorization.” They argue, “The Nicaraguan Police want to establish a prior regulation to prevent or declare them illegal and repress them” and “this contradicts international law.” The UN stressed that citizens of Nicaragua should be able to protest freely and peacefully and reiterated its call for a political dialogue to end the crisis in the country. On Oct. 13 the Police warned that it would not allow demonstrations that did not have the proper permission. On the 14th they arrested 30 opposition activists. All 30 were released on Monday. (Informe Pastran 10/15/18)Note from Nan: In most countries in the world marches and protests require police permits. For the last five months, almost every time the opposition marches in Nicaragua there are violent incidents – a murder, torture, burning of police vehicles or private vehicles, etc. The majority of people in Nicaragua are seriously traumatized every time they hear that the opposition is going to march. The police simply had not been requiring the opposition to abide by the law and request a permit. The idea is that the leaders who request a permit will be held accountable for violence, so hopefully, there won’t be violence. Most people don’t want more violence, so I believe the police will continue to require permits.
Bismarck Martinez Program for a Dignified and Secure Home
A new social housing program has already received almost one thousand applicants. The program, named for Bismarck Martinez who was kidnapped and disappeared June 29 at an opposition roadblock in Jinotepe. Last month the police found videos of his torture on phones of captured terrorists. The Vice President said the program will extend to other areas of the nation. (19 Digital 10/15/18)
Trial Continues of Cristián Josué Mendoza Fernández, alias “Viper”
During the fifth and sixth sessions of the trial of Cristián Josué Mendoza Fernández, alias “Viper,” the prosecutor presented the judge with 25 witnesses, including police experts, security guards, family members of victims and forensic doctors. In addition to Mendoza, those being tried are Emmanuel Largaespada, alias “RT,” and Alejandro Pérez Arauz, aka “TT”. The murder of security guard Eric Williams Espinoza Mendoza was covered in the fifth session. He was killed at about 3:20 am on May 13. A video showed men arrive in a white truck who shot him in the eye without a word and stole his 38 revolver. That same morning nine security guards were robbed of their regulation weapons. The perpetrators were the same 14 criminals who were aboard the white truck. Luis Hernández Down, driver of the bus that covers Route 104, told the judge how on the night of May 7 he and his bus unit were kidnapped with approximately 40 passengers including men, women and children. They screamed in terror at the sight of hooded criminals all armed with pistols. Hernandez Down identifies “Viper” as the one who directed the operation and then ordered the bus to be taken to the UPOLI (Polytechnic University), where they had their command post. (TN8, 10/11/18)
In the sixth session, the prosecutor showed that Mendoza was following a script written by the now fugitive from justice Felix Maradiaga Blandon, who explicitly ordered him to recruit members of gangs to sow chaos among working-class families in Nicaragua. According to their testimony, the three defendants received some of their weapons from Luciano García and Maradiaga. The Prosecutor’s Office offered the testimony of Yener Berrios who, in tears, said that in mid-May his wife asked him to get her some food. He lives near the UPOLI north gate. He was intercepted on his motorcycle by two criminals armed with pistols, who were at a roadblock. After the criminals found his FSLN card, he was involuntarily taken to the third floor of the UPOLI where he was tortured by the “Viper” and company. After beating him up they stripped him naked, they sprayed acid between his genitals, shouting “Orteguista” (Ortega lover) and then “damn police,” while others said “Viper, kill him!”. He was tortured until 2 o’clock the next day when he was left near the Multicentro Las Americas traffic lights. He was taken to a hospital where he stayed for several weeks. The Ninth District Judge scheduled the continuation of the trial for October 17. (Canal 2, 10/15/18)
- Firm rejection of interference in internal affairs
The Nicaragua Government expressed its disagreement and categorical rejection of the disrespectful and interventionist statements by Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of that country regarding internal affairs of Nicaragua. “The Government of Nicaragua does not interfere in the internal affairs of any country and does not comment or pontificate on the problems of other nations or on sovereign decisions made by other States in dealing with their problems. The Government of Nicaragua fully embraces the call for fraternity and respect that we owe each other as Central American governments and peoples, inspired by the wisdom of the Great Benito Juárez who said, “Respect for the Rights of Others is peace,” the Official declaration states. (Nicaragua News, 10/15/18)The government of Costa Rica had, on Oct. 14, had sent a memo calling on the Nicaraguan government “to end arbitrary detentions” and expressed its concern over what it called “systematic erosion of human rights.” (Contacto, 10/14/18)
President of the National Unity of the Elderly Died Sunday
Porfirio García Ramírez, President of the National Unity of the Elderly (UNAM) and well-known activist died October 14 in Managua. Garcia Ramirez leaves an important legacy to the Nicaraguan people and particularly to the elderly of this country. He gave himself completely in the 90s to the fight for the restitution of a small pension that had been eliminated by the neoliberal governments. After years of struggle, thousands of older adults obtained this important benefit. Porfirio led the fight for the pension with thousands of grandparents who walked the streets for fifteen years to get this right. Managua Vice-Mayor, Fidel Moreno said that thanks to the struggle of Porfirio García “today more than 50,000 older adults receive a small pension.” (Canal 4, 10/15/18)
New Primary Care Hospitals To Open Soon
A new San José de Matiguás Hospital, with financing from the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (BCIE), will open with a year and will be the third built in the department of Matagalpa under the administration of President Daniel Ortega. It will join the primary care hospitals of La Dalia and Mulukukú at a cost of US$109 million. FSLN militants and the population in general marched through the streets of Matiguás celebrating this event together with the mayor of the town. It was also announced that with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and government funds, the San Miguelito Primary Hospital will be built in Río San Juan. In the last months, the totally rebuilt Fernando Velez Paiz Hospital was inaugurated in western Managua, with 300 beds. The renovations to the Oscar Danilo Rosales hospital in León are in progress. Other renovations include the hospital of Chinandega, the primary hospital on Corn Island in the South Caribbean, the primary hospital of San José de Bocay in Jinotega, the primary hospital of El Jícaro in Nueva Segovia, the Aldo Chavarría Hospital and the hospital Héroes y Mártires del Cua.
In other hospital news, Army General Julio César Avilés Castillo inaugurated a Solar Thermal Energy System in what is the largest hospital in Nicaragua serving a major part of the population. It will allow production of energy for the air conditioning and the hot water systems in the Military Hospital, contributing in turn to the reduction of CO2 emissions. It is the second largest system in the world, the largest in hospitals and the only one in Latin America. (Informe Pastran 10/12/18)
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