Protestors in Nicaragua – but do they know what they are protesting about (Picture: Al Jazeera )
As civil unrest takes hold in the Central American republic, we are seeing reports that Nicaraguan student protest leaders have met with Washington DC, neocons, a publication funded by the US government’s regime change arm, the ludicrously misnamed National Endowment for Democracy (NED), boasts of spending millions of dollars “laying the groundwork for insurrection” against Daniel Ortega
Corporate mainstream media outlets are portraying the violent protest movement sweeping Nicaragua as a progressive grassroots upswell but the country’s student leaders have suggested otherwise.
In June this year, young Nicaraguan political activists went on a junket funded by US taxpayers to Washington DC, hosted by right-wing advocacy group Freedom House. The Nicaraguans were there to lobby Donald Trump and other right-wing US government officials for help in their fight against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
During the trip, the young activists posed for photo-ops with leading Republican Party neocons and warmongers including Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The Nicaraguan party also had meetings with top officials from the State Department and the US government soft power organization USAID. There, they were reportedly assured they would have Washington’s full-throated support in the event of a rebellion against Ortega.
A month before those meetings , a publication funded by the US government’s regime change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), revealed that organizations backed by the NED have spent years and millions of dollars “laying the groundwork for insurrection” in Nicaragua.
This article, openly boasting of US meddling was repoted by the Latin America news website Global Americans, and was reputedly authored by US academic Benjamin Waddell, the academic director of the School for International Training in Nicaragua. Following publication of this piece, Global Americans replaced the term “insurrection” with the less incendiary word “change.” The original headline can however still be seen in the article’s URL.
Waddell’s article offers a remarkably honest assessment of the impact of the National Endowment for Democracy’s long term activities in Nicaraguan domestic politics. The author’s conclusions tended to confirm assertions made by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and members of his government, who have claimed the protests are a carefully staged plot backed and organised by Washington.
“International press has depicted the rapid escalation of civil unrest in Nicaragua as a spontaneous explosion of collective discontent, triggered by the government’s changes to its insolvent social security system and rooted in more than a decade of authoritarian rule by the Ortega-Murillo family,” Waddell wrote. “And while the underlying causes of the turmoil are rooted in government mismanagement and corruption, it’s becoming more and more clear that the U.S. support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”
In another striking passage, Waddell concluded, “the NED’s current involvement in nurturing civil society groups in Nicaragua sheds light on the power of transnational funding to influence political outcomes in the 21st century.”
The USA has a long history of meddling in the domestic politics of small, thirds world nations, often unsuccessfully and frequently with catastrophic results. The NED has been one of the leading agent of US soft power since its founding in 1983, at the height of the Cold War, its function being to fund and organise opposition to governments that refuse to serve US geopolitical ambitions. The first NED success took place in Nicaragua, where it incubated anti-Sandinista media outfits like the La Prensa newspaper and right wing political groups.
In 1990, the Ortega’s party, the Sandinistas, were defeated at the polls by the right-wing candidate Violeta Chamorro, whose family happened to own La Prensa. Chamorro’s victory represented the culmination of nearly $16 million dollars in NED grants to anti-Sandinista political parties and media outlets.
More recently we have seen US led regime change efforts either fail ignominiously, as in Afghanistan and Syria, succeed catastrophically as in Libya, under Colonel Gadaffi Africa’s more prosperous and socially advanced nation, now after Libya was bombed by he US, France and UK (the FUKUS axis,) it is a failed state enmired in a tripartate civil war, or simply achieve the opposite of what was intended as in Ukraine where a deeply corrupt but democratically elected government was overthrown in a CIA engineered coup, only to be replaced by an equally corrupt neo – Nazi government.
Kermit Roosevelt, a member of the famous American political family but who made his contributions to the nation in the shadowy world of spy craft, even bragged about it publicly in his book Countercoup, revealing there was a manual in circulation at the CIA dealing with how you overthrow governments.
Mr. Roosevelt’s best-known exploit was as director of the 1953 coup that overthrew the leader of Iran, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a nationalist who concerned Washington because he was supported by the Iranian Communists at the height of the cold war.
So it seems to me this was a playbook coup détat is something reheared by the CIA many times over decades. The is no denying Washington’s role in the Ukraine regime change of course, Vitoria Nuland, at the time Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, working with the US Ambassador, in a famous open mic moment complained that the US had spent a billion dollars organising the coup with the aim of getting Ukraine into the European Union and thus controlling Black Sea shipping routes to Russia’s only warm water ports, only to find the right wing extremists they had supported were not acceptable to the EU. Many copies of the recording made of that slip up still exist, here’s a link to a BBC transcript.
Ukraine was a particularly embarrassing fail for the US DoD Regime change Agency,
What is surprising is that the warmongers of Washington have learned nothing from all this and, as we can see from the reports coming out of Nicaragua, are getting ready to make the same foreign policy mistakes all over again.