Nicaragua regains its balance

Source:  Cuba Network in Defense of Humanity

May 2018

by Tortilla con Sal

daniel ortega May 2018Recent disturbances in Nicaragua have served as a kind of who-is-who separating anti-imperialists from cynical phonies both inside and outside the country. The tsunami of disinformation has swamped both the usual suspect mainstream corporate media outlets and their alternative accomplices but also other news sites that are generally anti-imperialist on issues like Syria or Palestine, Russia or Iran.

Like Venezuela, Nicaragua is in the cross hairs of the Western elites and their governments because the country’s Sandinista President Daniel Ortega and his team have successfully implemented socialist inspired policies while also defending the principles of a multi-polar world based on international law.

What happened

The events in Nicaragua resulted from years of frustration and resentment among the country’s political opposition that they cannot win elections. Since 2011, in elections ratified by observers from US government dominated Organization of American States and from the European Union, Nicaragua’s political opposition parties have struggled to win more than around 30% electoral support. In 2016, President Daniel Ortega was re-elected with around 70% of the vote.

In recent months, national and international opinion polls have indicated levels of support for President Ortega at well over 60%, making claims of mass rejection of his government look ridiculous.

The apparent trigger for the sudden explosion of violence between April 18th and April 22nd across the country was the April 16th announcement of reforms to the country’s social security system. Two aspects of that announcement played into the hands of the country’s extremist minority opposition. Firstly, the government mistakenly thought they could announce the reforms due for implementation in July and explain them in detail later to the public. Secondly, the reforms were announced during a university election period with students actively debating and mobilizing around issues of concern to them. That opened the way for the political opposition to mount a vigorous disinformation campaign via social media cynically fooling large numbers of students into public protests by misrepresenting the government’s pro-worker, pro-pensioner proposals while omitting the private business sector’s plan to slash benefits, restrict coverage and privatize public sector clinics.

On Wednesday April 18th, rival groups of students clashed violently in Managua and then student protesters against the government fought with police trying to restore order. The government condemned the protests, which inflamed the demonstrating students, many of whom have supported the Sandinista government’s very successful social and economic programs. Then from April 19th onward, extremist opposition activists hijacked the student protests, attacking hospitals, government and municipal authority offices, public buildings of all kinds, university precincts and even the country’s brand new national baseball stadium. Among many similar incidents, in the small southern town of Diriamba, hundreds of opposition activists attacked and seriously damaged the municipal offices which were defended by just 12 police officers.

Similar attacks occurred in other cities, including Managua and the northern town of Estelí where municipal workers occupied their offices to defend them against possible attacks by extremist opposition activists. Estelí’s municipal offices were attacked on the night of Friday April 20th by over 500 people, most of whom were not from Estelí but including both local students and a number of opportunist delinquents. With police trying to keep order, the attackers fired over 1000 mortar rounds and threw around 17 molotov cocktails trying to destroy the municipal offices and other targets nearby. 18 police and 16 municipal workers were wounded. Among the protesters, two young students were shot dead and numerous people injured. The fighting lasted for five hours, covering an area of around 16 blocks with the attackers using firearms and knives. While the opposition media blame the police for the deaths, local reporters insist it is impossible assign blame in such confused events without a detailed investigation.

Sequels

Nationally, most estimates reckon around 20 people were killed in the violence. Among the dead were two police officers and a Sandinista journalist, while other fatalities include Sandinista and opposition activists as well as bystanders caught up in the violence. The pattern of the attacks suggests a well formulated plan with preparations already in place before the protests started. For example, outside Managua there was no violence reported in important towns like Matagalpa, Jinotega and Ocotal. By focusing on Masaya, León and Estelí, the opposition extremists tried to create false symmetry between their violent offensive and the centers of insurrection against the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

Obvious questions are who may have funded the very widespread attacks and how they were able to have ready for instant use a quantity of weapons produced on a semi-industrial scale. Overall the attackers fired many thousands of mortar rounds each one costing over US$3. The cost of transport to move hundreds of militants between Managua, Leon and Chinandega, Estelí, and towns around Granada also runs into many thousands of dollars. In Managua, impoverished young delinquents were being paid US$10 to US$15 per day to participate in the attacks. Clearly, the opposition extremists who hijacked the student protests for their own ends were very well organized, funded and prepared before the protests even began.

From Sunday April 22nd onward, numerous sectors, including religious and business sectors, reacted against the violence increasingly calling for it to stop. In Managua, thousands of ordinary people mobilized extensively to defend their neighborhoods from marauding looters. That day, President Ortega announced the withdrawal of the proposed Social Security reforms and the start of an inclusive national dialogue. In towns outside Managua, life abruptly returned to something like normal as if someone had thrown a switch. On Monday, funerals for the dead, as well as protest marches in Managua and elsewhere, went off peacefully. Despite inflated opposition claims, independent media like El Nuevo Diario reported numbers similar to other big opposition demonstrations of recent years.

National Dialogue

Scheduled to start over the weekend of April 28th-29th, the national dialogue is planned to include all sectors of Nicaraguan society and will be mediated by the Catholic Church led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes. The government and the country’s other authorities are supporting the dialogue by means of a public investigation into the deaths, injuries and damage to property by the country’s Public Prosecution service. The official Legal Office for the Defense of Human Rights is establishing a nationwide Committee of Victims for Punishment and Reparations to support people affected by the disturbances. The country’s legislature, the National Assembly, has established a Truth Commission to give a hearing to conflicting accounts of the disturbances.

Together with the national dialogue process, these initiatives will help inform people inside and outside Nicaragua of what really happened during the violent incidents that began last April 18th. many people in Nicaragua think what will emerge will radically contradict the sinister fictions and false beliefs massively propagated by opposition social media and Western corporate media and NGOs. As the facts emerge, the extremist opposition minority and their agenda promoting US intervention will probably find even more widespread abhorrence and rejection than exists already of what they have done to damage Nicaragua’s hard won social peace and economic well-being.

Saint Vincent PM Rejects US Interference in Venezuela

Source:  TeleSUR
February 10 2018

st vincent pm rejects us.jpgSaint Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaks to teleSUR during an
interview in Haiti Friday. | Photo: teleSUR

Ralph Gonsalves said that his government supports the sovereignty and independence of all nations against U.S. interference in internal affairs.

In an interview with teleSUR Friday Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, stressed the importance of sovereignty and independence of Latin American and Caribbean states against U.S. interference, highlighting his country’s role in stopping the attempt by the Organization of American States to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs last year.

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“Imperialism, historically in Latin America and in the non-english speaking Caribbean, has tended to want to have governments which are very compliant with their wishes and interests,” Prime Minister Gonsalves told teleSUR alongside Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza as they attended meetings in Haiti.

“There is a long history and goes back to the 19th century. This is a phenomena in the U.S. foreign policy that they see Latin America and the Caribbean as their backyard or front yard but certainly as part of their yard which they should control. We do not share that perspective,” he added.

He spoke of the U.S. actions over the decades ousting progressive governments and installing right-wing dictators in countries such as Guatemala and Chile, while trying to do the same in Venezuela under former President Hugo Chavez and now under his successor Nicolas Maduro.

“We played a very important leadership role in making the OAS see sense and not wanting it to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” Gonsalves said and highlighted how “last June at the OAS foreign ministers meeting we played an important leadership role in making sure there was not a majority for intervention.”

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Venezuela and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have “very strong relations” which were specially strengthened in early 2000s when President Chavez came to power and with the elections of Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party.

“Because of the similarity of the many of the profound ideas of Latin American and Caribbean integration and strengthening our independence and sovereignty that we have gotten closer and we have been very good partners,” he stressed.

He concluded by saying that while his government has “excellent relations with the U.S.” such ties are based on “mutual respect” while also rejecting Washington’s attempts of “interference in the internal affairs of another country.”

“All of us are nation-states with our own populations and our own special history and circumstances and must be respected,” the prime minister warned.

Venezuela: Maduro invites opposition to meet with government

Source:  Granma
December 4 2017

nicolas maduro nov 2017 2

“On 372 occasions I have called for a national dialogue,” said the president. | Photo: @PresidencialVen

Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, invited opposition members to meet with government representatives at Miraflores Palace, in order to strengthen formal talks and review the six point agenda agreed upon by both parties in talks held December 1-2 in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

“I want to invite Deputy Julio Borges, Deputy Luis Florido, Deputy Timoteo Zambrano and Deputy Luis Aquiles Moreno, representing opposition parties, Justice First, People’s Will, Democratic Action, and A New Time, to Miraflores Palace this week,” Maduro stated during the 98th episode of the weekly television program he hosts on VTV, Los Domingos con Maduro.

The head of state recalled that the Venezuelan government maintains a constant dialogue with all the country’s productive and social sectors, and highlighted the importance of consolidating formal talks with all political sectors for the well-being of the country.

“Now we need a political dialogue with all the country’s political actors, with all political forces and factions, I have insisted a great deal on there being dialogue and a permanent system of transparent dialogue regarding the country with the opposition,” he stated, according to AVN.

Maduro also highlighted the repeated calls he has made to oppositions sectors to participate in talks in order to achieve peace. “I have called for national dialogue on 372 occasions,” he stressed.

Venezuela declared a zone of peace

Source:  Granma
September 25 2017

by Redacción Digital | internet@granma.cu

venezuela declared a zone of peace.jpgPhoto: AVN

On September 22, Venezuelan’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) unanimously approved a decree proclaiming the South American country as a zone of peace, where human rights are promoted and protected.

delcy rodriguez 8.jpgBefore all 545 members and in honor of International Day of Peace, ANC President Delcy Rodríguez, reaffirmed peace as the only possible road for Venezuela.

The country’s former Foreign Minister noted that the ANC emerged in an intense period of violence promoted by far-right groups in the country, seeking to take power by disrupting the peace and stability of the Bolivarian Republic.

Given such a situation, Rodríguez noted:

“We’ve come here to make peace, to defend peace and to consolidate peace, which is why we must pay tribute today,” because the Venezuelan flag “is an eternal flag of peace,”

she stated

The proclamation, read by ANC Vice President, Elvis Amoroso, declares Venezuela to be a “territory of peace where life, freedom, justice, and equality are promoted, respected, and protected; and human rights, ethics, and political diversity prevail.”

Dialogue

The ANC also called on all Venezuelans to support dialogue as a tool toward peacefully resolving disputes, and condemned violence in all its forms, as well as threats and unilateral sanctions against countries around the world.

“We are currently fighting for freedom and are doing so peacefully,” stated second ANC Vice President, Isaías Rodríguez, in reference to recent measures taken by the U.S. against Venezuela.  (teleSUR)

Venezuelan Govt to Hold More Talks with Opposition on September 27

Source:  TeleSUR
September 14 2017

venezuelan gov and opposition talk 1Dominican President Danilo Medina (c), Chancellor Miguel Vargas (l) and the
former president of the Spanish Government Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (d),
one of the mediators of the dialogue in Santo Domingo | Photo: EFE

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Dominican President Danilo Medina invited both sides to restart dialogue.

The Venezuelan government says talks with the opposition will resume on September 27 following two days of discussions in the Dominican Republic.

A commission of friendly countries, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico and Nicaragua, will support the process.

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“We are in the process of transforming an agenda that will lead to a definitive negotiation to the crisis, ” said the president of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina.

We insist on a dialogue of peace

Jorge Rodriguez, mayor of Caracas’ Libertador municipality and lead negotiator, said “On behalf of the President Nicolas Maduro’s delegation we can say that we are moving forward in important points and that despite the aggression against our economy we insist on a dialogue of peace.”

Rodriguez also thanked everyone for taking part.

He went on to tell reporters that while yesterday’s talks were very good, today’s were even better.

The meetings between both delegations have been held at the Dominican Republic’s Foreign Ministry headquarters.

The opposition was represented by Timoteo Zambrano, Luis Florido, Manuel Rosales, Vicente Diaz, Eudoro Gonzalez, and president of the National Assembly, Julio Borges.

The Venezuelan government was represented by Mayor Jorge Rodriguez, the president of the National Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, and Roy Chaderton Matos.

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National Constituent Assembly President Delcy Rodriguez said of her attendance at the talks in the Dominican Republic, “We have come here with a flag of peace.”

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Dominican President Medina invited both sides to restart dialogue in the Caribbean nation, while the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has also welcomed the move.

“(We) encourage the Venezuelan political actors to seize this opportunity,” his office said in a statement.

The statement added that Guterres is convinced that “the situation in Venezuela requires a political solution based on dialogue and compromise between the government and the opposition to ensure coexistence among all Venezuelans.”

In 2016, the government of President Nicolas Maduro called for a dialogue with the opposition, which was abandoned on several occasions by their leaders.

Cuba Expresses Solidarity with Nicolas Maduro and Lula da Silva.

raul 20.jpeg

The Cuban president has condemned the attempts to destabilize Venezuela.

Source:   Cuba Inside the World
July 15 2017

President Raul Castro has repeated Cuba’s support for the Venezuelan government as it faces “an unconventional war” led by “imperialism” and the country’s “oligarchy” in a bid to topple President Nicolas Maduro with a coup.

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During a speech marking the end of the Cuban Congress’s extraordinary session, Castro condemned the opposition violence initiated in April on the streets of Caracas and other cities as “fascists actions.”

He mentioned the videos showing several young Venezuelans being burnt alive during anti-Maduro protests.

He urged the opposition to stop the “terrorist violence” designed “to oust” the president, and called for Maduro’s opponents to accept the Bolivarian government’s offer of dialogue.

Stop attacking Venezuela

Castro also asked the Organization of American States and its Secretary General Luis Almagro to “stop attacking Venezuela” and “manipulating reality.”

“Venezuela’s legitimate right to find a peaceful solution to its domestic affairs should be respected with no foreign interference,” he said, adding that only the sovereign Venezuelan people are entitled to use the right to self-determination.

Cuba’s President also condemned the “political persecution” of Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, recently condemned to a 9-year prison sentence over bribeery and money-laundering charges.

Lula denies any wrongdoing.

Venezuela’s Dialogue: A Win for Maduro and the Revolution

Source:  TeleSUR
November 13 2016

Recently there have been a handful of moments where Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution looked like it was on the brink of being defeated. Vilified in the media and under attack from right-wing forces and their imperialist allies, even the staunchest supporters of the process initiated by Hugo Chavez over a decade-and-half ago wondered aloud if there would be a coup or a foreign military intervention.

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maduro viviendo.jpgPresident Nicolas Maduro was dealt a very difficult hand after the sudden and tragic death of Chavez and the collapse of the price of oil which hit Venezuela hard — despite efforts to diversify the economy — the country was highly dependent on the income and cash that came from the sale of oil on the international market.

But the Bolivarian Revolution has endured and with the recent talks between the government and the opposition, it looks like things have taken a turn for the better, giving the government some breathing room.

Right wing  obsession

Of course, the right wing — with its history of sabotage and its obsession to overthrow the progressive government — cannot be trusted and can renege on any and all agreements at any moment or come up with new efforts at sabotage, aided and abetted by U.S. imperialism, which has also been relentless in its battle to destroy Venezuela’s 21st century socialism.

This, however, does not negate the fact that the talks have far exceeded expectations and should be seen as a victory for the Maduro government and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Dialogue –  a victory

While the government has certainly offered its share of concessions to the opposition, the fact that the talks are even happening at all should be seen as a victory for the revolution. For months the opposition refused to heed Maduro’s call to participate in dialogue.

Though the opposition insisted that talks be limited to political questions, with polls showing Venezuelans wanted politicians of all stripes to get on with fixing the country’s economic problems and leave the political games aside, they accepted that economic issues would form part of the talks.

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This too was a big win for the revolution, as the number one element undermining support for the government are the shortages of food, medicine, and basic products.

Sabotage against the Venezuelan economy

In the last round of talks, the government and the opposition coalition agreed to work together to “combat sabotage, boycott and aggression against the Venezuelan economy,” or what President Maduro has called an “economic war.”

By signing on to this agreement, the opposition has acknowledged that there is indeed an economic war afoot. Key leaders of the opposition consistently denied there was sabotage taking place, alleging instead that the shortages were entirely the fault of the government and their economic policy.

There should be no illusions that the right wing will suddenly end their economic sabotage, but the dialogue process has made it much more difficult for them to continue and justify their destructive course.

The two sides also agreed on a roadmap to “normalize the constitutional relations between the different powers of the state.”

National Electoral Council

The parties agreed to jointly name two new representatives to the National Electoral Council when the terms of two sitting members expire in December. With this, the right-wing coalition and their friends in the private media will no longer be able to claim that elections are rigged.

The deal also says that both parties will work to bring the National Assembly into compliance with a ruling by the Supreme Court.

The opposition-controlled parliament has been operating without legitimacy for months after they defied the Supreme Court, but the leadership steadfastly refused to acknowledge the ruling.

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The opposition overplayed its hand, believing itself to be the new dominant political force, they failed to act on their campaign commitments to address the economic crisis in the country, though now they deny they ever promised anything of the sort.

Playing political games

In the year that they’ve been in control of the legislative branch, they’ve done little actual legislating. Instead of proposing solutions, they set out to play political games, like the recall referendum to oust Maduro and the attempt at an amnesty to free what they call “political prisoners,” but in reality are people who were jailed for fomenting violence that led to real-life murders of Chavistas.

As a result of the talks, the opposition has now been forced to retreat from its game of brinkmanship.

Together these steps completely undermine accusations that the Maduro government is a “dictatorship.”

Right-wing division

Perhaps most importantly, however, the talks have once again served to expose the deep divisions that exist in the right-wing opposition coalition.

They released a statement that the talks were going in “the right direction,” but parties within the coalition, such as the party of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, have come out against the talks.

Lopez’s party, Popular Will, slammed the dialogue process as “futile” and called for the National Assembly to restart an impeachment bid against Maduro.

Fragile opposition

It was the launch of the talks that led the parliament to abandon its bid to try to impeach the president and it is unlikely the parties that make up the coalition will be able to agree to relaunch this effort as long as the talks are ongoing.

The truth is the opposition, known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable, is united in name only. The coalition is made up of a dozen or so parties, many of which fiercely dislike and disagree with each other, limiting their ability to actually operate in concert and dramatically weakening their power.

Private media outlets have gone to great lengths to portray an image of a besieged but resilient opposition. But the situation the opposition finds itself in is a monster of their own creation.

If the opposition could have, they would have already ousted Maduro. But their ineptitude led them to pursue a number of failed strategies, including demanding the president’s resignation and later trying to reduce Maduro’s term in a flagrant violation of the constitution.

President Maduro

Even the constitutional mechanism to remove a sitting president appears to be off the table now with Henry Ramos Allup, head of the National Assembly, recently admitting that the effort to oust President Maduro via a recall referendum was effectively dead.

There are voices within the opposition, such as Maria Cornia Machado, that still want to try to hold the recall. Her frustration was palpable in a recent series of tweets, where she appeared to lament the fact that the moment to oust Maduro had escaped them.

Machado has threatened to call for more street protests if a date for the referendum isn’t set, as has opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

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However, the talks have also served to marginalize these elements of the opposition. There is widespread support for the ongoing dialogue, including from the United States government, which puts people like Lopez, Machado and Capriles out of step with their masters in Washington.

No widespread appetite for violent protests

More importantly, Venezuelans simply do not have the stomach for another round of violent protests like those seen in early 2014 that saw 43 people killed. Though some elements of the opposition’s base will heed the call for violence, there is no widespread appetite for the kinds of social clashes some elements of the opposition would like to see, including their failed attempts at the “taking of” Caracas and Venezuela in the past months.

Despite the ongoing economic challenges, a large segment of the Venezuelan population recalls life under right-wing governments and have no desire to go back to those days. They are hoping these talks will produce results so that the revolution can continue to move forward.

Within less than a month, the Maduro government has gone from being under attack to having the strategic advantage, that too should be understood as a clear victory for the Bolivarian Revolution.

In essence, the right wing and imperialist efforts to defeat the revolution in 2016 have failed.