Nicaragua and the ‘Axis of Good’
Published Apr 20, 2005 3:48 PM
The Bush administration and its pundits have
launched a full-court press in the media as part of a campaign to destabilize
the upcoming presidential election in Nicaragua.
On a visit to Latin
America in March, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld announced the suspension of
all U.S. military assistance to Nicaragua—about $2.3 million—for its
failure to destroy its arsenal of SA-7 missiles. As long as the government in
Managua was on Washington’s leash, this didn’t bother them. But now
Rumsfeld is said to be worried that the Sandinistas may win the upcoming
election, and they still have deep roots in the Nicaraguan Army.
Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) led a popular army in a guerrilla
struggle that overturned U.S.-backed dictator Gen. Anastasio Somoza Garcia on
July 19, 1978. In response, the Reagan administration set up, funded and armed a
group of counter-revolutionaries—who came to be known as
“Contras,” for short—to carry out a dirty war against the
The Soviet-made SA-7 shoulder-to-air missiles that
the U.S. now wants destroyed are part of the military aid the socialist USSR had
sent to help the Sandinista-led movement defend itself against U.S.-armed
As the CIA-orchestrated Contra war ground down the population,
Washington also spent money hand over fist to manipulate an election to get the
Sandinistas out and a U.S.-financed puppet in. Former U.S. President Jimmy
Carter traveled to Nicaragua in 1990, ostensibly to observe the voting. But on
the eve of the election he appeared on the front page of the daily newspaper
with Violeta Chamorro—the opposition candidate and owner of the newspaper.
Their hands were clasped together, raised in a salute to her anticipated
Now Washington and Wall Street are orchestrating another media
campaign and manipulation of Nicaragua’s elections aimed against the
Sandinistas, who reportedly still have many supporters in the barrios and in the
Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega has opened up his fourth campaign
for the presidency of Nicaragua. Ginger Thom pson wrote in the April 5 New York
Times, “Particularly among Nicaragua’s desperately poor masses,
Ortega, now 59, has remained popular, and he has been able to call on his
support to make the country ungovernable.”
Thompson added in
another article on April 10 that it has been more than two decades since the
struggle in Nicaragua “kept Washington awake at night.” But, she
added, “In recent months, new fears, but the same old politics, have
revived that tossing and turning.”
A specter is haunting Washington.
happening in our neighborhood?” howls neo-con Otto Reich, U.S. assistance
secretary of state for the West ern Hemisphere. This right-wing Cuban exile and
longtime Republican dirty-tricks operator added that “a leftist-populist
alliance is engulfing most of South Amer ica. Some Andean and Central American
countries are sliding back from economic reform.”
government is preparing to confront what it will call a threat of terrorism in
Latin America with economic, military and political might. Reich says blatantly,
“The first task of the U.S., and whatever coalition of the willing it can
muster in the region, is to confront the dangerous alliance posed by Cuba and
In an article called “Defeating the Cuba-Venezuela
Axis” in the April edition of the right-wing National Review, Reich
asserts “Pro-democracy, anti-radical civil society is under violent
threat—violence is the favorite tool of the radicals—and thus needs
the moral, political, and material support of the free nations of the
Violence is the favorite tool of the radicals? One media
analyst calls the media campaign and the Bush administration
“irony-impaired.”(FAIR, April 6)
Resistance to U.S. military
and economic repression is burgeoning in Latin America. Sounding the tocsin for
U.S. intervention in Latin America, Reich’s warning that some countries
are “sliding back from economic reform” is an admission that U.S.
imperialist trade demands, like the new Central American Free Trade Agreement
due to be completed in May, are facing serious challenges.
mounted major demonstrations in March against CAFTA and the resumption of U.S.
aid to the Guatemalan military. The Guatemalan government responded with
violence and a new round of disappearances.
In response to the proposed
free trade agreement that presaged CAFTA, the Sandinistas warned that such
agreements would cause bankruptcies in Nicaragua and allow “poverty and
unemployment to increase.” (Prensa Latina, March 30)
1990 has been a prime example of the aggressive economic programs that have
privatized land and resources, deepened the misery of the poor and cut social
services to the majority of the population.
Throughout the region the
devastating free trade neoliberal reforms have “vastly increased the
numbers of the poor and ‘extremely poor,’ and widened the gulf
separating rich and poor in Latin America and the Caribbean.” The number
of poor in this vast region has been estimated at between 130 and 196 million
people. (Atilio Borón, “Democracy or Neolib eralism,” Boston
At the same time, Cuba and Venezuela are providing a beacon by
continuing to focus on improving conditions for the mas ses while withstanding
The threat of what Venezuelan Pre si dent Hugo
Chávez has called the “Axis of Good” has Washington worried.
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