Chomsky aside, the Harris article provides a very useful summary of fundamental social and historical facts with respect to Nicaragua. It reminds us that, since returning to power in the elections of 2006, the Sandinista government has adopted policies that have created a stable economy, in which the nation produces 90% of the food that it consumes, and with an average economic growth rate of 5.2% in the past five years. In addition, Sandinista policies have reduced poverty and extreme poverty by 50%; have cut malnutrition by half; have virtually eliminated illiteracy, reducing it from the from 36% in 2006; have created the highest level of gender equality in the Americas; and have established free basic health care and education. Harris also notes that Nicaragua has kept out drug cartels through a pioneering community-policing program, and that, unlike Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, there has not been a migrant exodus to the USA. Reflecting this reality, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, who had won the presidency in 2006 with a 38% plurality, won reelection in 2011 and again in 2016, with first-round absolute majorities of 63% and 72.5%, in elections certified as free and fair by nothing less than the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States.
Harris also reminds us that, with respect to international affairs, Nicaragua is one of the clear voices against U.S. imperialism. Along with Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia, Nicaragua is one of the prominent members the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) [see “The rise of ALBA” 3/11/2014 in the category Latin American Unity]. In addition, Nicaragua regularly votes against backward US policies in international fora, and it is increasingly developing commercial and investment relations with China and Russia.
Harris stresses that the United States government, beginning with Obama and continuing with Trump, has targeted Nicaragua for regime change. The NICA Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and now before the Senate, would establish economic sanctions, and USAID has announced additional funds “to support freedom and democracy in Nicaragua,” channeling the funds through NGOs. Violence has erupted in Nicaragua, and there is little reason for us to doubt the claim of the Nicaraguan government that elite and international resources support the violent gangs, given the evidence that the financing of fascist gangs is part of the general Latin American strategy for U.S. imperialism and their allies of the Right in Latin America.
Although Harris does not go so far, I would argue that, all things considered, the Left in the United States cannot be neutral in the unfolding conflict between the U.S. imperialism and the Sandinista Front for National Liberation. We have the duty to take sides, and to seek utilize the conflict to raise the consciousness of the people of the United States, as some of us did in the 1980s, when the Reagan administration funded the contra war against the Sandinista government, because of its having dethroned the U.S. supported dictator and having undertaken an autonomous and sovereign road.
However, a major obstacle to such an informed and politically important position by the U.S. Left is the confusion of the U.S. Left itself, which perhaps is victimized by the new ideological strategy of U.S. imperialism, which will be the subject of my next post.
For a review of the Sandinista Revolution from 1963 to 2016, see “The Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua” 9/20/2016, in the category Third World or in the category Nicaragua