By Jorge Capelán and Stephen Sefton – May 29, 2021
One of the reasons comrades elsewhere have difficulty perceiving this revolutionary model of Sandinista Nicaragua in its true dimensions is because for the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua the development of the productive economy is a central task.
In a recent article “Washington: new attempt to overthrow the Nicaraguan government” Pablo Jofre Leal recognizes that Nicaragua, is the target of imperialist aggression by the U.S. and its regional pawns, more than ever now in this election year. He also notes the absurdity of the US authorities’ declaration that Nicaragua is a danger to US national security and observes how the media routinely falsely portrays Nicaragua as a dictatorship, focusing its hate campaign mostly on President Comandante Daniel Ortega. Jofre Leal accurately and correctly summarizes that Nicaragua, like Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela is the object of a conspiracy between the U.S. and its European allies to destabilize the country through economic warfare, psychological warfare, and the financing of opposition organizations and politicians.
His article then goes on to enunciate a series of problems that in his opinion the government of President Daniel Ortega has to overcome, but he does so on the basis of a completely false account of Nicaraguan reality. Jofre Leal documents his reservations in relation to the government of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and President Ortega by means of a reference to this article by Tomás Andino Mencia in which the author demonstrates his total ignorance about the reality of Nicaragua. Anyone who wants to get an idea of Andino Mencia’s fallacies can follow this link.
That intelligent people accept this kind of falsehood promoted by the Nicaraguan opposition and its regional supporters indicates a lack of intellectual rigor in sectors of the Latin American left in relation to Nicaragua. Almost all of these falsehoods originate from individuals and organizations financed by imperialist governments, primarily though non-governmental proxies in Nicaragua. That fact alone is sufficient to indicate the falsity of these sources of information. It is worth noting that, as a rule, both official Sandinista government sources, as well as associated media and even independent media supporting the Sandinista revolution, are de facto routinely ignored and made invisible.
To be sure, both Nicaraguan revolutionaries themselves and international solidarity comrades inside and outside Nicaragua have, over the years, produced a considerable amount of material on the reality of the country from every conceivable angle. For example, the books “Live from Nicaragua – Uprising or Coup?” and “The Revolution Will Not Be Stopped” or writings by international anti-imperialist authors such as Fabrizio Casari, Dick Emanuelsson, Brian Willson, Giorgio Trucchi, Max Blumenthal, Rick Sterling, John Perry, Alex Anfruns, Steve Sweeney or Dan Kovalik. It is striking that most leftist analysts generally prefer to ignore this intellectual production in solidarity with the Sandinista revolution in favor of material of highly dubious origin and veracity.
On the subject of solidarity with Nicaragua in the face of aggression by the United States and its allies, Jofre Leal cites the solidarity of governments in the region and movements such as the Sao Paulo Forum. This solidarity emphasizes the defense of fundamental concepts of international law such as non-intervention and self-determination. But we should clarify that Nicaragua is not simply an object of the Sao Paulo Forum’s solidarity, but in fact a leading actor in this continental coordinating body of the Latin American Left. Together with Brazil, Nicaragua is the country that has most often organized the Forum’s meetings and had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s meeting would have been held in Managua for the fourth time.
Jofre Leal states that the hysterical obsession of the U.S. government against Nicaragua indicates the failure of imperial policy in the region but, after mentioning the words of President Ortega denouncing the constant meddling of the U.S. Ambassador in Nicaragua, he concludes by arguing:
“The government and the people of Nicaragua can independently find the peaceful solution to their difficulties that have arisen in the interest of guaranteeing the sustainable socio-economic development of society, respecting constitutional norms and principles, with respect for human rights and civil liberties but also with all-out combat against the threat of a coup. For this, the Ortega government must also deepen social reforms that allow satisfying social needs and this implies following a path, which avoids maintaining a model whose shortcomings have been demonstrated by other countries in Our America.”
It is good that Jofre Leal cares enough about Nicaragua and its people to offer well-intentioned advice to President Ortega. However, he ignores the tremendous efforts the Nicaraguan government has made to foster a national dialogue, efforts which continue to date with no serious response from the country’s political opposition. Instead, Nicaragua’s opposition calls for economic aggression against their own nation by the imperialist powers and seeks the intervention of Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS. On the other hand, some sectors of private enterprise that never allied themselves with the coup perpetrators maintain excellent relations with the government. So, it is not for lack of willingness to dialogue that the Sandinista government has not been able to reach a new consensus after the pre-2018 consensus broke down.
It is also difficult to understand what Jofre Leal means when he suggests that Nicaragua should “move along a path, which is not just to maintain a model whose shortcomings other countries in our America have demonstrated.” In relation to that, one could say that South American intellectuals have a very superficial idea of what is happening here in Nicaragua. In fact, it is clear that if one takes as a reference the fantasies of writers like Tomas Andino Mencia one cannot have the faintest idea that here in Nicaragua the government and people are developing a truly revolutionary model.
One of the reasons comrades elsewhere have difficulty perceiving this revolutionary model of Sandinista Nicaragua in its true dimensions is because for the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua the development of the productive economy is a central task. Unfortunately, the Latin America and Caribbean Left generally and in rest of the world, have trouble visualizing what that means. In the worst case, they tend not to see beyond mere income redistribution or, at best, they tend to support some version of State capitalism.
But socialism is more than that, it means direct producers’ control over the means of production. That is what we are building in Nicaragua, where associative, cooperative and family enterprises today are responsible for a decisive part of the economy. The country’s former ruling oligarchy still exists, but they no longer control society’s strategic heights of society and no matter how hard they try, they cannot destroy the economic and political power Nicaragua’s people have now made their own.
Pablo Jofre Leal’s article shows there are comrades with the best intentions who want to support us, since it is indeed true that we are the under imperialist attack. For the Sandinista Front, being attacked by the empire in some shape or form has always been a permanent reality, it has not started just now and we must point out that sometimes not even our friends understand what our true situation really is.
We are not merely victims. Within the precarious Central American and Caribbean reality, we do have the means to defend ourselves and we have accumulated a wealth of experience. One might argue that at this moment the Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN are stronger than ever before in the last 17 years. And that is true despite the destruction the economy suffered as a consequence of the “soft coup” of April 2018, followed by the tremendous effects of the pandemic and the two strongest hurricanes of the last 20 years.
How is it possible to have achieved that level of resilience? Quite simply, because Nicaragua is guided by a Sandinista Revolution. Neoliberalism has no place in Nicaragua, because if it did:
There would be no public education or health, which is now not only free, but of a quality previously unthinkable in the country.
There would be no heavily subsidized and quality basic services (electricity, water and transport) for the majority of low income people .
There would be no constant improvement in the infrastructure of a country which, despite being one of the poorest in Latin America, is among the countries with the best roads in the region.
Food production would not be at a level where the country is almost 90% self-sufficient in terms of national consumption
Nicaragua would not prohibit the planting of genetically manipulated crops.
The country would not be a world leader in gender equality with majority participation of women in government posts and one of the countries with the highest number of women in parliament.
Nicaragua would not be among the countries that have most empowered women economically at every level.
Small and medium-sized landowners would not control 80% of the country’s land.
Nor would Nicaragua be a country whose small and medium-sized producers are the bulwark defending and making possible the country’s economy development.
An underlying problem preventing many people from understanding the Nicaraguan “miracle” is that they believe the 1979 revolution ended in 1990. This is not true. What has happened in Nicaragua from 1979 to date is part of a single process, one that had to overcome the extremely adverse conditions after the war imposed by the United States as well as resisting 16 years of constant attack by neoliberal governments on the achievements of the first period of revolutionary government of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The lessons of the 1980s were assimilated, and what is being done today derives from those lessons, now in the context not of a war but of a regional economy still being strangled by the dead hand of Western capitalism.
The Sandinista Front, with Comandante Daniel Ortega at its head, understood very deeply that the development of the real economy should be and is the fundamental task of contemporary revolutionaries. In a world in which capital controlled by the Western financial monopolies does not want to produce, it is necessary that workers become economic subjects, prioritizing and developing their productive capacity. To achieve this emancipation of the productive capacity of the Nicaraguan people, the Sandinista government is implementing a true democratization of all aspects of national life.
The government of President Ortega has promoted an economy with infrastructure policies, with a health system, with an education system, all working in an integrated way in favor of small and medium producers, both rural and urban, in favor of women, in favor of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, in favor of youth. Latin American and Caribbean opinion does not perceive this reality because, often unconsciously, it tends to accept uncritically the lies produced on an industrial scale by a Nicaraguan opposition managed and financed by its North American and European owners. If anyone really wants to offer a rigorous, serious opinion on the Nicaraguan reality, the best way to do so is to visit the country and see for oneself.
Feature image: Sandinista Flags