By S. Brian Willson – Apr 26, 2021
“A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.” Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, 1933-1945
President Ortega is a dictator! President Ortega is a dictator! President Ortega is a dictator! Say it over and over, and it becomes accepted truth with absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Welcome to the post-truth world—a Goebbels world.
In 1979, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN for its initials in Spanish) triumphed over the more than four decades of US-supported Somoza dictatorship. Thus ended the “stable” playground for the wealthy, right-wing Nicaraguan families and their affluent US investor friends, preserved at the expense of the vast majority of the Nicaraguan people. To this day the US has never forgiven the social-minded Sandinistas for having forced the end of the Somoza era. Many of the wealthy opposition now live in Miami, Florida.
Ten years of Reagan’s brutal terrorist war against the Sandinista government came to an end in 1990 after more than 50,000 casualties. The FSLN lost the 1990 elections in which the US financed with nearly $50 million dollars a “Liberal” Party candidate, Violeta Chamorro, as an alternative to the FSLN. During run-up to the 1990 Nicaragua elections, the Bush administration stated its intention of “keeping the Sandinistas guessing” through secret intelligence operations (New York Times, June 11, 1989) aimed at influencing the election. New monies for the opposition parties were justified in order to “level the playing field” to boost the US-created opposition forces’ chance of ousting Sandinista President Daniel Ortega (Miami Herald, Oct. 18, 1989). President Bush had promised in November 1989 that the devastating trade embargo and terrorist war against Nicaragua would be immediately lifted if the US-backed presidential candidate, Violeta Chamorro, was elected by a majority of the Nicaraguan people (Washington Post, Nov. 9, 1989). Understandably, the exhausted Nicaraguans and the FSLN lost the election, but did regain power through democratic elections again in 2007 after 16 years of repressive Liberal rule.
In diplomatic cables, the US described the Violeta Chamorro government (1990-1995) as one that created “economic shambles”, and the subsequent Aleman and Bolaños administrations (1996-2006) as totally corrupt. Social progress, including women’s rights, experienced serious setbacks during this period. Nonetheless, every US administration since 2007 has continued its determination to oust the Sandinista government headed by President Ortega who remains demonstrably popular with the vast majority of Nicaraguans. The US uses the same old ad nauseum evidence-free accusations— that he’s running a corrupt dictatorship.
The incoming Sandinista-led coalition created a government where the “recuperation of rights” has played a major role, guiding diverse policies, including renewed literacy campaigns and the reconstruction of public education and public health care, among other key areas. Social infrastructure, including roads, parks, farmers’ markets, child care centers and maternity homes in each municipality of the country, became the hallmark of the new government. These policies have contributed to Nicaragua having among the highest rates of economic growth in Latin America between 2007 and 2020. Nicaragua has improved its human development index score faster than other than six countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, while also reaching the highest ranking in the region for gender equality.
Examining Wikileaks cables, Department of State memos, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and US Agency for International Development (USAID) budgets, and documents seized in arrests of the US-orchestrated 2018 Nicaraguan coup suspects, it is clear the US has expended perhaps as much as $200-300 million to oust the Ortega-led Sandinista government. Alarmed by the November 2006 Sandinista electoral victory, the US’s explicit goal has been the achievement in an immediate future of a government akin to the interest of the US government, and creation of conditions for regime change.
In a memorandum, an NED affiliate, identified ways to destabilize and change Nicaragua’s “regime” that includes strengthening civil society to facilitate a coup d’état against Daniel Ortega. The US Embassy and USAID have been preparing conditions for a coup since at least 2013. Their efforts culminated in the violent but unsuccessful US orchestrated and financed April–July 2018 coup attempt that took several hundred Nicaraguan lives, including 23 uniformed police. Between 2017-2020, USAID has funded numerous “humanitarian” efforts with over $100 million dollars, all designed to weaken the Sandinista government. USAID claims its purpose is to “further America’s interest while improving lives in the developing world”. In that same period, 2017-2020, NED has funded 68 projects in Nicaragua with over $5 million, ostensibly to teach Nicaraguans about Democracy, even though the US has never experienced one, nor ever intended to have one.
Propaganda on steroids: Weaponizing social media 
The US incorporates the latest in the Defense department’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) tools in using social media—called the Social Media in Strategic Communication project (SMISC). Using voluminous paid social media sites and platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter, complemented by the pathetic, reliable lapdog corporate media, the US and its proxies spin propaganda narratives that spread like wildfire at the speed of light with a click of the mouse. This has proven effective in creating an instant group mind, a collective hallucination convincing much of the US public, and the international community, of “repressive dictators” in social democracies. Thus, the cast is set for Congressional and public opinion support for US “corrective” intervention, i.e., “humanitarian regime changes”, even as the scripted narrative is totally fabricated and absolutely untrue. The US was able to use these communications techniques in 2018 to claim that Nicaraguans were violently oppressing its own citizens to provoke a coup.
Overwhelming power of propaganda – molding our thoughts – spin and hype
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister from 1933-1945, formulated a principle that if a lie is told often enough, it becomes accepted as the truth. And he wanted the masses to believe so fervently that the people became “addicted” to the German cause. Thus, through the contrived use of propaganda to manage and manipulate public opinion, one can effectuate the death of the integrity of language—distort the genuine meanings of words in efforts to convey a fact or idea to suit an agenda—or what I call linguicide.
The United States obsession with ousting the democratically elected Sandinista President Daniel Ortega approaches a kind of insanity. With socialist policies benefitting the impoverished, Ortega is perceived as impeding “US interests.” But the history of US meddling and intervention reveals a vast arsenal of techniques, tricks, lies, bribery, methods for “manufacturing consent”, and infliction of domestic economic and political pressures to achieve its goals of neoliberal regime change. As many readers know, for the US privatization of capital is like a neoliberal religion, which inevitably creates de facto class warfare.
The progressive Sandinistas
Since the Sandinistas regained political power in 2007, they have overseen the emergence of the most progressive state in Central America (CA). The achievements include:
* 2nd highest economic growth rates and most stable economy in Central America (CA)
* only country in the region producing 90 percent of the food it consumes
* poverty, and extreme poverty rates halved—country with greatest reduction of extreme poverty
* reached the UN Millennium Development Goal of cutting malnutrition in half
* free basic healthcare, including medicine
* free education for all preschool, primary and secondary students
* illiteracy virtually eliminated, down from 36 percent in 2006
* average economic growth of over 5 percent for the five years preceding 2018 (per IMF and WB)
* safest country in CA with one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America
* highest gender equality in the Americas (World Economic Forum Gender Gap Reports)
* kept out drug cartels, while pioneering community policing
* has not contributed to the migrant exodus to the US (unlike Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala)
* has the best roads in CA
* leader in renewable energy
* the leading tourist destination in CA (before the 2018 US coup attempt and orchestrated media demonization campaign)
* virtually uninterrupted electricity to 99 percent of the country.
US-orchestrated but unsuccessful coup in 2018
On May 1, 2018, Benjamin Waddell wrote an article in a National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded news website, Global Americas, “Laying the groundwork for Insurrection: A closer look at the US role in Nicaragua’s Social Unrest”. He reported that NED had funded 54 projects in Nicaragua between 2014 and 2017, promoting “a new generation of democratic youth leaders… defending democracy”. Waddell concluded by saying that “regardless of whether Mr. Ortega is removed from power, the NED’s involvement in Nicaragua reveals the power of transnational funding to influence political outcomes in the 21st century”. The problem is that Nicaragua possesses a stable democratically elected government, but the fact is simply ignored by the US because Nicaragua possesses socialist programs, rejecting strict neoliberal privatization.
USAID’s and NED’s education programs at universities within Nicaragua, especially UCA and UPOLI, prepared a network of over 2,000 young people (some estimates are as high as 5,000) in courses such as social media skills for “democracy defense”. Gifting the students with computers, phones, etc., they were trained to troll Facebook and Twitter with disinformation. Use of social media campaigns where origins of information are unknown and uncorroborated, is able to create thousands of fake profiles, sponsor Facebook ads, produce thousands of WhatsApp messages to distort facts, and issue fake reports.
The DARPA SMISC program is able to identify persuasive campaign structures that influence messaging across social media sites and communities, and detects counter-messaging of adversaries. Employing fake news and false reporting on the internet traveling at the speed of light launched into the infectious cyberspace instantaneously creates rumors, lies, and misinformation. It is very difficult to subsequently correct the lies with corroborated truth. The systematic destabilization strategy often successfully manipulates public opinion.
From April 18-22, 2018, this group of social media warriors immediately shaped and controlled public opinion by “reporting” that Nicaraguan police “massacred” protesting students, which in turn contributed to violent protests throughout Nicaragua. On April 18 there were some students protesting changes to the social security laws (which made no sense since the changes were all in favor of the workers) who were all part of the US plan and had received different kinds of “democracy” training. Some of them faked being Sandinista Youth (by wearing their T-shirts) and faked hurting the “protesters” who themselves faked being hurt by putting something that looked like blood on their heads or bodies—it was all part of a well-orchestrated plan. They had still others who provocatively threw rocks or fired at the police, and the police defended themselves. The first day, April 18, the opposition convinced the nation that the police had killed a student, in reality no one was killed that day. But the entire nation was awash with news of massacres (which in fact did not happen) which inflamed the populace and enraged people in the US and Europe about the “repressive” Nicaraguan police. In fact, the first three people murdered the next day, April 19, were killed by opposition snipers: a policeman, a young Sandinista helping to guard the Mayor’s office from opposition in Tipitapa, and a passerby.
It was a planned set-up by the US, complicit with paid opposition leaders in Nicaragua and paid delinquent thugs. With the “uprising” lasting until late July, the participants were very confident of victory over the Sandinista government as they followed their disruption “instructions,” collecting huge amounts of US funds (Just USAID provided US$97.62 million from 2015 to 2018; and the Fundacion Violeta Barrios de Chamorro which is the main conduit for aid to opposition media received US$4.54 million during those same years. (See: https://explorer.usaid.gov/cd/NICUSAID). They openly and daily posted on various social media sites their murders and burnings of Sandinistas in the streets; the burning of a number of Sandinista homes, schools and offices; kidnappings and hundreds of tortures of Sandinistas; all designed to terrorize the entire population. Hundreds of roadblocks manned by heavily armed and hooded thugs were located throughout Nicaragua, making transportation both dangerous and virtually impossible. From July 8 to July 23 (“Caravana de la Paz”), the police with support from the population finally forcefully removed all the roadblocks. While many of the blockers fired at the police or refused to surrender upon police commands, there were 9 police killed during this removal process.
Edgar Chamorro, member of the prestigious Chamorro family, a former Jesuit priest and full professor at UCA (University of Central America), was an early member of the Directorate of the main Contra fighting force in the early 1980s, serving as their major public relations spokesperson. In 1987, Chamorro authored Packaging the Contras: A Case of CIA Disinformation. He wrote:
“In the excesses of inventing an artificial force, and in the need to stage events and to create impressions without consideration for substantial realities, there was no longer a distinction between reality and fiction. The image and impression were more important than substance….[L]ies were used to manipulate people and events to such an extent that behind the lies there was nothing but self-illusion and self-deception….[T]here was a negation of the moral distinction between good and evil…let to a legitimization of concepts such as a good war, a good crime, a good rape, a good lie. This is how murder and torture were justified, how the destruction of property and the sabotage of an economy and the social fabric of a nation were excused, all in the name of patriotism and anticommunism”.
This is exactly what happened in the coup of 2018, as the coup participants completely concealed reality with fiction using social media, negating the moral distinction between good and evil.
A leaked USAID memo in the summer of 2020, revealed up-to-date brazen US plans called “Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua” (RAIN) to overthrow the Nicaraguan government by “destroying public order and other violent actions”, that will include “network monitoring to create fake news”. Over 220 years ago, the Iroquois Indians described George Washington as the “Town Destroyer” (Iroquois: “Conotocarious”) after all their New York villages had been destroyed under his orders. The US has been destroying nations and villages ever since in the cause of the White Man’s Burden” (civilizing the world), justified by “exceptionalism”.
The same disinformation principles are being applied today with intentions of overthrowing the social revolutionary Sandinista government. That is why I choose to live in progressive Nicaragua, to document all the lies and disinformation produced with the intention of negating the incredible achievements of the Sandinista government.
 “How the US Purchased the 1990 Nicaragua Elections”: http://www.brianwillson.com/how-the-u-s-purchased-the-1990-nicaragua-elections/
 National Human Development Plan of Nicaragua (PNDH), (2012), Plan Nacional de Desarrollo Humano Actualizado 2012–2016. Available at http://www.pndh.gob.ni/
 “SOFT BLOW IN NICARAGUA WAS PREPARED IN ADVANCE” :https://bbackdoors.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/soft-blow-in-nicaragua-was-prepared-in-advance/
 Note that USAID claims its purpose is to further “America’s interest”, meaning of course, the United States of America. The US is but one of 35 “American” countries which have a combined population of just over 1 billion, residing on 16.4 million square miles. The USA with 331 million people comprises 31 percent of the “Americas” population, residing on 3.5 million square miles, or 21 percent of the “Americas” land area. Thus, USAID typically expropriates the entire Western Hemisphere as its domain.
 “Exposing the Founding Fathers and the US Constitution”: http://www.brianwillson.com/exposing-the-founding-fathers-and-the-us-constitution/
 P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking, Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).
 “DARPA’s SMISC Program To Identify Misinformation or Deception Campaigns on Social Media and Conduct Its Own Propaganda Campaigns”, https://idstch.com/home5/international-defence-security-and-technology/technology/ict/darpa-using-mind-control-techniques-manipulate-social-media/; “DARPA wants to simulate how social media spreads info like wildfire – DARPA SocialSim program develop high-fidelity computational simulation of online social behavior,” https://www.networkworld.com/article/3158707/darpa-wants-to-simulate-how-social-media-spreads-info-like-wildfire.html.
 Leonard Doob, “Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda,” Public Opinion Quarterly 14 (1950), 419-442, cited in Dan D. Nimmo and Chevelle Newsome, Political Commentators in the United States in the 20th Century: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997); Anthony Pratkanis and Eliot Aronson, Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion (New York: W.H. Freeman and Co., 1992), 8.
 Michael Zezima, Saving Private Power: The Hidden History of the ‘Good War’ (New York: Soft Skull Press, 2000), 4.
 Tragically, this long pattern of committing harm to others and the Planet Earth to materially benefit ourselves has occurred with little or no critical thought from the prevailing political, religious, economic or academic structures. Thus we tend not to think about it. When confronted by reality we have a way of denying it, and have developed such a rhetorical double-speak that we may have committed linguicide of our own English language. Our obsession with limitless materialism (and the huge profits derived therefrom) requires a constant need to steal more and more resources. Thus, we need to be assured of control over vast regions of the world where the resources, markets, and labor are located. In effect, the Cold War was a cover for this deeper battle of the Haves against the Have-Nots. Any kind of genuine local or regional people’s movement for economic and political autonomy, local reliance, and justice (the essentials of real democracy) becomes a threat to USA need for global hegemony. These perceived threats must be eliminated to assure the continuance of the American Way Of Life (AWOL). Thus, for example, Cuba’s existence as a revolutionary society has been a “threat” since its 1959 people’s revolution, as it is an experiment of a people’s society not subject to the whims and exploitation of an outside force such as the United States or Spain. Of course, many other people’s movements over the past century, especially since World War II, have been ruthlessly thwarted because they have posed similar “threats.”
S. Brian Willson is a Vietnam war veteran and trained lawyer. He has visited a number of countries examining the effects of US policy. He wrote a psychohistorical memoir, Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson (PM Press, 2011), and in 2018 wrote Don’t Thank Me for my Service: My Viet Nam Awakening to the Long History of US Lies (Clarity Press). He is featured in a 2016 documentary, Paying the Price for Peace: The Story of S. Brian Willson, and others in the Peace Movement, (Bo Boudart Productions). His web essays: brianwillson.com. He can be reached: email@example.com. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
Featured image: File Photo