By Chuck Kaufman – Jun 17, 2021
Conversations have been taking place recently about the Nicaraguan government’s decision to arrest certain people for money laundering and violations of the Foreign Agents law passed in October 2020 as well as the December 2020 law making treason a crime. The Foreign Agents law, like the Foreign Agent Registration Act in the US requires individuals and organizations to register if they receive foreign funding and submit reports on how that money is spent. One would think that committing treason by calling for a foreign government to overthrow your own democratically-elected government would by its nature be a crime. Only in December 2020 did Law 1055 make it such in Nicaragua.
There is no doubt that these arrests and shutting down of some NGOs makes our solidarity work harder. But that is not a criticism of the elected government of Nicaragua. More than forty years of history confirms that Nicaragua gains nothing by trying to please the United States. My opinion is that nothing we, as solidarity activists, could have done to explain the reality in Nicaragua and nothing that the government could have done would have appeased the United States to recognize the validity of the upcoming presidential election anyway.
The Revolutionary Government led by Daniel Ortega in the 1980s tried to jump over hurdles set by the US. The US’s only reaction was to set higher hurdles. As solidarity activists, we are playing a fool’s game if we think our true, eye-witness accounts about the real Nicaragua will convince US politicians to change our country’s ingrained policy of imperialism. Reasoned arguments do not influence congressional votes. Money does. Fear of losing their power does. We can’t compete on the money level, but we can make them fear to lose the next election. In fact, we did accomplish that in the solidarity movement of the 1980s, even convincing Congress to cut off aid to the Contras for a while.
So it is important to make those calls to Congress and to write those letters-to-the-editor. It is not that any particular call is going to change a vote or that any particular letter is going to change public opinion, but they are tools to build a movement that will be able to influence policy no matter which party of the 1% holds the reins of power.
Solidarity is working to change—to smash—US imperialism and capitalism. That is why our work is never just about Nicaragua. It is about Nicaragua and Venezuela and Cuba, and Bolivia and on and on. Nicaraguan poet Roberto Vargas once told me, “Venezuela solidarity is Nicaragua solidarity because if Venezuela goes down, we all go down.” Alliance for Global Justice acts on that premise every day.
The Nicaraguans rose up in a bloody revolution that cast down the Somoza dictatorship and US domination almost 42 years ago. They have no obligation to play by the rules of Western Liberal Democracy which enslaved them in the first place. The electoral defeat of 1990 was partially the result of trying to meet the conditions demanded by the US while the US continued to kill and destroy and at the same time to throw an overwhelming amount of money and propaganda into the election. Too many lives were spent to win national liberation to give it away to the oligarchy-rigged nose counting scheme that we in the US call democracy even though the rules have been rigged in favor of Capital and white male property owners since we became a nation. Nicaragua has no obligation to cooperate in the unseating of its Revolution on a rigged roulette wheel.
Our solidarity strategies should not treat Nicaragua as a victim and we should not apologize that Nicaragua protects its sovereignty with similar rules that the US has to keep foreign money out of its elections. Nor should we apologize when people are arrested for crimes that are crimes in most of the world, including the US. Just because they are doing it to accomplish US imperialist objectives, that doesn’t make money laundering or inciting and treason legal nor the people arrested political prisoners. None of them are the nominee of any opposition party and none of them score above single digits in public opinion surveys, counter to what the corporate press would have us believe.
Our solidarity needs to lift up Nicaragua as the heroic country that it is; a country and a government which feeds its children, keeps them healthy, and educates them to be doctors and teachers and sustainable farmers. We repeat the old saying that Nicaragua is the threat of a good example, but we often don’t act as if that is the living, powerful call to action that it still is today!
I challenge us to put just as much energy into helping to tell the world Nicaragua’s stories of success in the face of unrelenting sabotage by the world’s strongest bully as we do emoting about the latest sanctions bill or NYT or Guardian article. I’m not saying don’t do those things, but let’s give equal time to the incredible Gains of the Sandinista Revolution and what those gains mean for our own struggle for liberation in our own country or countries.
Featured image: New and remodeled hospitals are among the advances seen in Nicaragua since the Sandinistas returned to power in 2007. Photo: El 19 Digital