Nicaragua: July news update
News from Nicaragua | Monday, 8 July 2019 |
Intensification of US aggression against Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela
On 16 April, President Trump’s security advisor, John Bolton addressed veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion, one of the many failed CIA plots to overthrow Fidel Castro. He reassured his sympathetic audience that ‘the Monroe doctrine is alive and well’ with the Trump administration standing in defence of “democracy, sovereignty, security, and the rule of law.” The Monroe doctrine of 1823 has been used ever since by the US as a self-proclaimed right to shape the Americas in its own image. John Bolton announced fresh economic sanctions against Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, his so called “troika of tyranny.” He went on to proclaim that once this ‘troika’ is brought down, the Americas would be “the first free hemisphere in human history” from “the snowcapped Canadian Rockies to the glistening Strait of Magellan.”
This extremely dangerous confrontational resuscitation of the Monroe doctrine has nothing to do with ‘democracy,’ or ‘respect for human rights’ but everything to do with economic interests and ridding the Americas of leftist governments. With Russia and China accusing the US of destabilisation and violations of international law this situation risks a confrontation not seen since the days of the Cold War.
In the case of Nicaragua, the sanction that will have the most devastating impact is the NICA Act which states that US representatives to international lending institutions will block further loans to Nicaragua, loans that are essential to the government’s drive to end extreme poverty.
According to UN Special Rapporteur, Idriss Jazairy, using economic sanctions for political purposes is a violation of human rights and the international law. He pointed out that such action may precipitate man-made humanitarian catastrophes of unprecedented proportions in which ordinary people become pawns and hostages.
Peace negotiations and amnesty law
An opinion poll by M&R Consultores published on 26 February indicated that over 90% of respondents want dialogue, peace and stability to guarantee the wellbeing of their families and communities. Against this background, negotiations started the following day involving representatives of the Government and the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy. These talks have been accompanied and witnessed by OAS representative Luis Angel Rosadilla, and Papal Nuncio Stanislaw Sommertag.
To date the most significant agreements have been procedures for strengthening the citizen’s rights and the release of persons detained for committing crimes related to last year’s violence, a process that is being overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
On 8 June, the National Assembly approved a law granting a full amnesty ‘to everyone who participated in the events that occurred throughout the national territory from April 18, 2018 until the date that this Law enters into effect.’ All those on a list agreed by the Government, the opposition Civic Alliance and the Red Cross have now been released. In addition, a process for agreeing electoral reform involving the government and the OAS has re-started.
The key issues that are pending are: the return of those who left the country in the context of the violent events of 2018; and a call for the suspension of illegal US sanctions in the form of the NICA Act, that will have a disproportionately negative impact on the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the country.
The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy has been the main opposition grouping responsible for negotiations with the Government. However, according to an article in Aljazeera on 11 June, there are 70 organisations that make up the opposition with a range of different agendas, many of them demanding that the Civic Alliance should break off negotiations and that the US strengthen sanctions.
OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro stated on 27 June there has been significant advances in the release of prisoners and praised the Nicaraguan government for improvements in health and education. For this he has been extensively denounced in the social media by the more radical opposition groups.
News in brief
- As Nicaragua prepares for the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution on 19th July, celebrations have taken place in Esteli, Leon, Jinotepe and other places marking the liberation of the respective towns. On 6 July, an event marking the tactical retreat (repliegue) of the Sandinista forces from the eastern suburbs of Managua to Masaya was marked with a ‘caravana’ of people walking, and others travelling by bus, car and motorbike.
- The Pacific and Caribbean Coasts for the first time ever have a road connection linking Managua with Bluefields. The construction was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Japanese government. The next stage of this development programme for the Caribbean Coast is the construction of an international port. However, this is dependent on funds being available from international lending institutions which could be blocked unless US sanctions are lifted.
- The Ministry for the Social Economy has been supporting small scale farmers and the self-employed in urban areas through providing training and organising fairs, markets and local carnivals to celebrate the beginning of the agricultural cycle. This is an important part of reactivating the economy as 90% of the work force is employed in this sector.
- Tourism was one of the sectors most badly affected by the attempted coup, with huge job losses. The National Tourism Authority INTUR has been conducting a campaign inside and outside Nicaragua to stimulate tourism, including co-operating with Mexico and Cuba to offer packages to include the three countries.
- Health fairs with mobile screening units have been organised in 50 communities, combining health care talks, consultations including with specialists, ultrasounds, PAP tests, sessions on natural medicine, dental consultations. These fairs reached 50,000 people in April.
- In 2007 only 54% of the population had mains electricity, with an even lower figure in rural areas. After an extensive electrification programme particularly in the countryside and on the Caribbean Coast this has reached 96% of the population.