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"You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month." - CIA operative discussing with Philip Graham, editor Washington Post, on the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories. (from "Katherine The Great," by Deborah Davis (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1991)
Thus Davis chronicles the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) official campaign to turn American newspapers, into conduits for its anti-communist ideology which began after World War II.  It was called "Operation Mockingbird".   Perhaps the operation would have been more accurately named "Operation Cuckoo" as the cuckoo will lay its egg in another bird's nest and steal the original. With this propaganda operation and spying operation, the CIA effectively threw objectivity out of the nest of American journalism and put CIA denominated news in its place.  

The CIA was successful in capturing the nests of the biggest newspapers in the U.S., including the the Washington Post, the N.Y. Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among many others.  They all still seem to be on team.  During the years of the Contra war against the lawful Sandinista government in the 1980's, the CIA employed similar methods here in Nicaragua.  Is it still going on here?

When I first investigated moving to Nicaragua in 2012, I asked a friend there about which newspapers I should read there.  I was told "œnone of them". She said that the two biggest national Spanish language dailies, La Prensa and œEl Nuevo Diario were both strongly opposed to the current  Sandinista government.  Of the two, œLa Prensa, was the most virulently anti-Sandinista, akin in tone to Fox News vicious attacks on Obama's bone fides.

Thus when I moved to Nicaragua, I began reading the lessor evil, El Nuevo Diario, on a daily basis.  About three months ago, that paper changed radically.  From being something akin to a neighborhood shopping newspaper, El Nuevo Diario suddenly expanded into four sections, in color, one section totally devoted to economic news, along with a large variety of reprints of stories from the New York Times.  

Many of El Diario's international stories now routinely take pot-shots at left wing governments such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina, although largely avoiding La Prensa'™s Fox-like screams against President Ortega.

La Prensa, likely the biggest national paper, is owned by Violeta Chamorro and her family.  In the 1980'˜s during the Contra war, her paper routinely attacked the Sandinistas and received U.S. funds for their efforts.  She was, in 1990,  the first of the three U.S. funded anti-socialist presidents.  She ended the 11 year reign of the revolutionary  socialist Sandinista party.  Chamorro and her two U.S. approved and funded successors spent the next 16 years, allowing the U.S. government to once again call the shots in Nicaragua.  Restored to power, the local capitalist's representatives virtually demolished all the social welfare programs that the Sandinistas had put in place when they ousted Somoza family dictatorship in 1979.  

In 1979, the Sandinista movement (officially the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, or FSLN).) had come to power after years of a revolutionary war that successfully ended the Somoza regime.  

The Sandinistas, begun as a small, clandestine, Marxist anti-Somoza guerrilla group in the early 1960's, was named after Augusto Cesar Sandino, a revered national hero for successfully evicting the U.S. Marines from Nicaragua in 1932.  Sandino's rebel forces had made the continuation of the U.S.'s 20 year military occupation untenable.  The FSLN was so-named by one of its main theoreticians and founders, Carlos Fonseca.  Dying in a firefight with Somoza'™s National Guards in 1976, he didn't live to see victory. The FSLN'™s heroism against the hated dictatorship, however, earned it massive popular support which culminated in Somoza'™s ouster and the FSLN attaining power, first under the auspices of a ruling unity junta and then with Daniel Ortega's election as president in 1984.

Upon defeating Somoza in 1979, the Sandinista movement introduced a vast socialist program of nationalizing land, creating worker cooperatives, both agrarian and industrial, and combating the then massive illiteracy by sending thousands of teams of students into the countryside and barrios to teach reading and writing, reportedly reducing the iliteracy rate from 50.36% to 12.94% in some five months  The Sandinistas also set up a huge network of free, community based health clinics, providing health care to millions who had never before had access to such services.

The U.S., in the person of then President, Jimmy Carter, was politely civil to the new Nicaraguan government.  But, with his loss to Ronald Reagan in 1981, the U.S. attitude turned openly and actively belligerent.  (For an excellent and detailed account of Reagan'™s anti-Sandinista efforts, see Stephen Kinzer'™s Blood of Brothers -- Life and War in Nicaragua (G.P. Putnam & Sons, N.Y., 1991)

Thereafter, the Sandinista efforts to bring economic and social equality to the nation, were viciously obstructed by Reagan, who set about using the U.S.'s vast resources, both legal and illegal, to create and maintain theœ Contra's war against the Sandinista government, forcing the fledgling government to divert needed resources to its defense against the armed might of the U.S. which had created a proxy army, based in Honduras, to destabilize and destroy the new government.

Funding the Contra army against the Sandinista government was only one arm of the Reagan government'™s attack.  According to the "Inventory of Conflict and Environment" case study by Ellie Klerlein on "Environmental Effects of Nicaraguan Armed Conflicts",  the U.S. blocked World Bank and other foreign development loans, imposed restrictions on U.S. trade, including reducing Nicaragua's sugar quota by 90%, and canceled its Overseas Private Investment Corporation insurance, needed to attract international loans and investment.

Reagan'™s attempts to destabilize the Sandinista government were ultimately successful.  By the time of the 1990 Nicaraguan election, after nine years of fighting to survive as an independent nation, the economy was in ruins.  Klerlein, in her case study cited above, puts the number of war-related deaths at 43,000. Thousands more were crippled by injuries.  Food supplies were insufficient due to the Contra's disruption of normal farming.  As a result, the social fabric was in tatters.  

Although the U.S.'s Contra army never succeeded in defeating the Sandinista movement militarily, the war so wrecked the economy that the U.S., by pouring a million of U.S. taxpayers' dollars into the anti-Sandinista opposition's electoral efforts, were able to elect the U.S.'s approved unity candidate, Violeta Chamorro.

Virtually the first act of the Chamorro-led government was to grab back the land from the small farmers cooperatives that the Sandinista government had allocated to them from the nationalization of the Somoza family and friends' holdings.  The majority of the previously nationalized companies suffered the same fate.

Before their fall in 1979, two generations of the Somaza family dictatorship and its friends had acquired the majority of the assets of the whole country, including most of its arable land and virtually all its industries.  

The first Somoza dictator,  General Anastasio Somoza Garcia, had taken presidential power in 1936. Formerly, he was head of the U.S. trained and equipped National Guards, which he employed to assassinate Augusto Cesar Sandino in 1934. (See Kinzer, above, for details on General Somoza'™s nasty history.)

General Anastasio Somoza ruled, officially and occasionally by proxy, until assassination 1956 by a young rebel poet.  Thereafter Somoza's eldest son took over until his own death, of natural causes, in 1956.  Then the next eldest son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, took over the presidency.  The Somoza family ruled with an iron and greedy fist through the force of its personally controlled National Guard.  After Somoza Debayle fled the country in 1979, remnants of his National Guard formed the nucleus of the U.S. created Contra force.  (Kinzer, in Blood of Brothers gives a detailed account of Reagan'™s military creation and maintenance of the Contras.)

Under the Somoza regime, the majority of the Nicaraguan population had owned nothing and lived in brutally poor conditions, without access to health care, education or land. Electoral votes were bought wholesale.  It was a sham democracy controlled by the Somoza's and their brutal and thoroughly corrupt National Guards. These were the conditions which gave rise to the Sandinista guerrilla group in the early 1960'˜s and to the wide-spread hatred for the dictator.
During the 60'™s and 70'™s, even the upper class Chamorro family were vocal anti-Somoza opponents, even losing one activist publisher son, Pedro Chamorro, to assassination by the dictator in 1978. Perhaps that was one of Somoza's most critical missteps.  Thereafter even the U.S. withdrew their support.

By early 1979, virtually the whole country was supporting the Sandinista revolutionaries, who had taken control of most of the cities and towns.  By July,  even the National Guard had disintegrated. Somoza and his followers hurriedly left the country, taking millions from the national assets with them.  The Sandinistas had won and would remain in government for next 11 years.

After the 1990 election, however, Pedro Chamorro widow, Violeta, was elected to  office and she and her neo-liberal opposition supporters, set upon dismantling the vast community health care and free public education system that the Sandinistas had put into place.  They simply diverted its funding.  

In 2006, after 16 years of going backwards economically and socially, the FSLN's Daniel Ortega, was again voted into the presidential office.  

President Ortega immediately began re-building the shattered Sandinista social welfare programs, but he softened many of their previous socialist economic policies, successfully walking a fine line between cooperation with many of the U.S. controlled International Monetary fund and World Bank policies and those of Chavez'™s Bolivarian socialist inspired programs of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) a progressive Latin American cooperation and development organization which has funded many large projects in Nicaragua.

Much to the distaste of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Ortega has been a strong ally of Venezuela's Chavez government and now that of Nicholas Maduro, but he has also managed to juggle the World Bank and IMF investment demands with those of ALBA's Bolivarian idealism to win re-election in 2011.  He dances very well on thin ice.

During President Obama'™s recent visit to Costa Rica, President Ortega joined other Central American leaders for a polite dinner meeting with Obama, but immediately left the group to fly to Venezuela to attend a Petrocaribe meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, where he participated in its memorial for his former close ally and friend, President Hugo Chavez. There he was outspoken in his support for the socialist Maduro and critical of U.S. meddling in Venezuela's post-election politics.  Unlike the most Latin American countries, the U.S. has refused to recognize Maduro's victory.  

The Sandinista government of today definitely pursues a œmixed economy program, actively expanding social programs, such as health care, education, housing for the poor, micro-credits to small businesses, and job training, while encouraging foreign capitalist investment and  providing sizable tax benefits to privately owned local and foreign industries.  

President Ortega has seen, in the dead flesh of his own people, the dire effects of too openly flaunting  U.S. capitalism economic hegemony.  One suspects that Ortega will continue to quietly improve social conditions while courting more U.S. and foreign capitalist investment, thus hoping to avoid reawakening the active wrath of the North American colossus.  If one is to judge by Nicaraguan national dailies, however, the U.S. is still maintaining its CIA funded propaganda war on the Sandinistas.

Perhaps Ortega is only waiting for his fellow Latin American countries in the Chavez-inspired CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) group (the U.S. and Canada were expressly excluded) to carry out their plans for a Latin American defensive military alliance.  The U.S. and Canada were excluded from CELAC membership. Hopefully one day such an alliance might give socialist-minded countries like Nicaragua a better chance to thrive without U.S. interference.  In the meantime, I expect President Ortega will keep on ice dancing, despite the fact that the the U.S.'s Operation Mockingbird may keep on singing its anti-socialist tunes in the Nicaraguan media.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (28+ / 0-)

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Sun May 12, 2013 at 03:28:08 PM PDT

  •  Sorry for the delay, there was a tech problem (6+ / 0-)

    due to an unapproved source for a photo. We have reposted the anti-capitalist meetup on:

    Wild wild left:

    http://www.wildwildleft.com/...

    Stars Hollow Gazette:

    http://www.thestarshollowgazette.com/...

    Firedoglake:

    http://my.firedoglake.com/...

    DocuDharma:

    http://www.docudharma.com/...

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun May 12, 2013 at 03:39:09 PM PDT

  •  Just curious- does anyone know (8+ / 0-)

    why the neocons aren't calling for war with Venezuela?

    -7.50, -6.46 I ♥ paleogeography

    by Nattiq on Sun May 12, 2013 at 03:40:27 PM PDT

  •  ACM Schedule (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, Justina, northsylvania, marina

    May

    19th: Northsylvania
    26th:

    June

    2nd:
    9th:
    16th:
    23rd:
    30th: Annieli

    Next week we are lucky to have Northsylvania's post, but as you can see there is no one scheduled for the 26th of May until the 30th of June. We need people to volunteer to write for the series or there is no series; please, this is a great series which covers a large number of perspectives on the broad left, without people's willingness to write there is clearly no series. Can you volunteer? Pick a date and volunteer ... this is a cooperative venture! Please respond to this post or write to the anti-capitalist meetup on kosmail or write to NY brit expat on kosmail or write to our email group: dkanticapitalistgroup@gmail.com

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun May 12, 2013 at 03:47:51 PM PDT

  •  This is a great piece, Justina! (12+ / 0-)

    Yes, evil socialism. Health care and education.
    We sure can't have that!

    WE NEVER FORGET Aminul Islam, Bangladeshi Labor Martyr

    by JayRaye on Sun May 12, 2013 at 03:52:18 PM PDT

  •  An excellent piece Justina (15+ / 0-)

    which is deeply appreciated as I am certain that many have forgotten Contragate and the US mining Nicaragua's harbours (which was ruled illegal under international law), arming of death squads in their attempt to overthrow a democratically elected regime and supplant it with a comprador ruling class that continued to impoverish the country (by maintaining the oligarchic rule of dominant families using neoliberal economic policies). We need to remind people exactly why the US is viewed the way it is throughout Latin America ... and how helpful it was for the majority that the US took its eye off of "its backyard" for a small while which enabled the majority to demand alternatives for everyone!

    I have some problems with Ortega due to his great betrayal of women's reproductive rights when he went into alliance with the right-wing Catholic church (the heyday of liberation theology is long past due to being crushed by the right-wing hierarchy of the Church); women face prison if they induce an abortion ... while access to healthcare will provide routine healthcare and access to birth control (I hope that the church is not blocking that as well) and will reduce the need for abortion, it will never eliminate it and if women face imprisonment for trying to access their reproductive rights then we need to ask are we being sacrificed once again. Access to education and health care are essential, but the Sandanistas have shifted rightwards on several issues which will limit the gains that can be won. But it is a hell of a lot better than Chamorro and her cronies and a full-scale neoliberal free-market economy.

    This is a great piece and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this!

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun May 12, 2013 at 04:07:58 PM PDT

    •  You Are Absolutely Right! (10+ / 0-)

      Wall graffiti abounds here in Matagalpa, much of it feminist and anti-violence against women. On I really like is:  "Without feminist women, there is no revolution."

      This government has done a good job on the violence issue -- adding a new law specifically for violence against women.  They have put a female police officer in many of the police station specifically to handle violence and rape complaints.  (Nice to have an efficient woman heading the police!  The whole force has lots of women.)

      But the change in the abortion law to completely prohibit it is really is awful. Rich women can easily go to Costa Rica, but the poor.....  

      Ortega's wife, Rosario Murillo, is deeply attached to the Catholic Church -- they have 8 children --even though she has long been a real activist in the Sandinista movement. (She is head of the government's public information and communication ministry.  She does widely publicize the law against female violence, but imposes her Catholic faith on the issue of abortion.

      Some here attribute the abortion law to her dedication to the Church's teachings, rather than to Ortega's political expediency.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

      by Justina on Sun May 12, 2013 at 04:39:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  She is entitled to whatever beliefs that she (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justina, JayRaye, MrJayTee

        has. However, the adoption of this policy has undermined the legitimacy of women's rights in the movement and has led to correctly left-wing and feminist opposition. If she is responsible she is also going to be responsible for women dying and being imprisoned and quite honestly is serving a destructive role for the movement. In either case, political expediency or her religious belief, this is extremely destructive and I do not care how long she has been in the movement she is harming women who have the right to control their own reproduction independently from the positions of religion. Hopefully, a strong left alternative and feminist movement will arise in response. But this is a betrayal of serious proportions and is unforgivable!

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:02:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  When I was there many women's catholic beliefs (4+ / 0-)

        also made abortion a hard issue to deal with, even among Sandinista women supporters..

    •  Glad you raised the women's isue Ex Pat, though I (4+ / 0-)

      do understand Justina's comment of "skating on thin ice."

      •  There is opposition and other countries (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justina, AoT, JayRaye, Geminijen

        have legalised; this is reactionary and is a religious imposition which should never be advocated from a so-called socialist grouping. Women have been self-organising, it is not as though there is no movement or no calls for this right.

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:04:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agre with you completely, but I understand the (4+ / 0-)

          complexities of this issue in countries that have been so thoroughly dominated by the Catholic church. Even in Venezuela they took up rape first because of this problem.

          •  Get Rabid Against Catholic Hierarchy When I Think (5+ / 0-)

            Of the millions upon millions of women they have exploited -- over centuries.

            When I was 14 or so, I visited a distant cousin who was married to a modest milkman.  She was such a good Catholic that she had 14 children and washed and ironed all the local priests clothes, cleaned the church and even baked the communion wafers.  All free labor for the church, including the 14 kids.

            I got in friendly argument with a friendly neighbor in Venezuela who spent much of her day accompanying a visiting Catholic mission lady on her rounds from house to house to ask for money for the church.  More free labor for the church.

            Multiply the women I know by perhaps a billion or more women, all exploited by the church, all subject to decisions made by male priests (or popes), most subject to their husbands as well.  

            When will women wake up and realize how thoroughly they are being exploited?  And its not only by the Catholic men, but by the Jewish and Muslim, and virtually all the religious sects.  The efficacy of the church's indoctrination of women is uncanny.  It is infuriating!

            Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

            by Justina on Sun May 12, 2013 at 09:18:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I could be misremembering, but (11+ / 0-)

    seems I remember that the Sandinista were managing to get at least one cup of milk to every child in Nicaragua.

    Well we sure can't have that!!
    and that program was ended once Reagan had his way.

    Milk for children is just to communistic. Cannot be tolerated.

    Americans need to wake up and pay attention to what our government is doing in our name.

    What kind of nation takes milk away from little children?

    WE NEVER FORGET Aminul Islam, Bangladeshi Labor Martyr

    by JayRaye on Sun May 12, 2013 at 04:21:23 PM PDT

    •  you literally made me laugh! (7+ / 0-)

      Do you know that Margaret Thatcher was called "Milk Snatcher" as she ended the programme that provided free milk for school-children aged 7-11 when she was education secretary in 1970. She argued that it was subsidising the dairy industry and we couldn't have that; yes, it was and it was supplying free milk to children ...

      so what kind of nation does this? one more concerned with profits over people, one more concerned with capitalism than people's needs ... this is the right wing ... do you remember Reagan saying that ketchup could be considered a vegetable as part of school lunches for poor children? So, yes, what kind of nation is this, what kind of government is this and why, oh why, are these people being elected and allowed to do what they are doing not only in their own countries, but add the atrocities that they have forced on those in the capitalist periphery, the overthrow of democratically elected gov'ts that had the nerve to dare try to provide for the majority and we have an answer to GW Bush's assertion that they are "jealous" of us and that is why they hate the US

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun May 12, 2013 at 04:31:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do want to say a litle on how the Sandinistas (7+ / 0-)

        lost support of the people the first time. I was there in 84 and again in 85 when Ortega got elected. Castro came for Ortega's election and spoke about how Cuba could not really provide the assistance they would like and how Nicaragua would have to do it on its own (this was around the time the Soviet Union was imploding and unable to give Cuba much support so there was a ripple effect). I think this made the Sandinistas, even back then, take a little more assimilationist "mixed economy" approach than they would have liked meaning they, as the governing group ion a still capitalist economy had to abide by "rule of law" principles. For example, when it came to land distribution, they could redistribute the Somosa's personal land (which I believe only came to  With the biased media, the destruction of only 20%) but when the absentee landlords in Miami started filing court cases when they peasants took over the  land, they frequently felt they legally had to side with the landlords. This was fine as long as the Sandinistas could supply the rice & beans and milk, but with destruction of crops and healthcare centers and cooperatives by the contras the people became disolusioned, especially when they could still see the rich running around in their cars as if there had been no revolution, while they were starving again. This was emphasized when the government couldn't pay the revolutionary army for 5 months, but still felt they had to keep a anti-Sandinista technocratic class employed.

        Also, the CIA stuff was in full swing (I didn't know the name for it, but we al laughed about the American (and other journalists who sat at the bar in the International Hotel and got their stories from the CIA without ever leaving the hotel (although I was under the impression that Kinzer of the NYT was one of those criticized-haven't read his book, though. Will try to do so).

        Lastly, and totally irrelevant, my son 's middle name is Carlos for Carlos Fonseca.    

        •  Thanks so Much, Geminijen! (7+ / 0-)

          Your report of life on the ground in Nicaragua in the mid 1980's is very useful to a wider understanding of why they lost the election in 1990, which they were expected to win.

          But, as you describe, after nine years of the hardships of war, with few jobs, little money and less food, it must have been hard not to hope that new faces in offices would magically change the stark reality.  Add to that seeing the rich driving around in fancy cars and you have a recipe for rebellion.

          I have to disagree with you about author Steven Kinzer sitting around the Hotel Continental caging stories.  Even though he was NY country chief by then, his book indicates that he was rather intrepidly traveling to the hinterlands of Nicaragua to interview the real actors in important events.  

          Despite Kinzer's slightly right of center (for that epoch) views and obvious disaffection for the Sandinistas, he is an excellent chronicler of events.  His book has been a valuable aid to me in learning about this country.  I only wish he had written about life here after the 1990 Chamorro election.

          Just read an interview with him concerning his new book on U.S. imperialism.  Seems like the recent political reality has turned him into a quasi leftist who now has a much clearer perception of the really nasty events in our history. (His new book is "Overthrow: a Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq".  Available from Kindle, he remains an exciting writer to read.

          Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

          by Justina on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:43:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  People better wake up, ya. (8+ / 0-)

      It's amazing with histories like this one, there are countless others, and yet people still can't recognize or refuse to believe what is happening today and has happened recently, such as in Libya and Benghazi and in Syria and Venezuela.  Even when they're told by some of us, they just won't believe it, instead believing the same old government stories.

      "I'm an antiwar propagandist as accused by democrats. Not even republicans have called me that."

      by BigAlinWashSt on Sun May 12, 2013 at 04:38:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is why Reagan was our most evil of Presidents (9+ / 0-)

    The mining of the harbors resulted in thousands of deaths especially children because medicines like antibiotics and vaccines were not allowed import. There are villages in Nicaragua where so many children died, mentioning the name "Ronald Reagan" would get your ass kicked today.

    The Nicas have never had a shot. Between the abuses of American corporations, the Somozas, and the relentlessy stupid war on feeding, educating, and medically caring for poor people, the Nicas remain some of the friendliest, honest and hopeful people I've met in my travels in Central America.

    Ortega has his just detractors. He has been abusive of power as well. But in the long run, it's up the people must find a way to get their plight before the world audience and explain why it should matter to the world.

    Every Nicaraguan I've ever talked to has said the same thing: All they want is "fairness." For everybody. Some perceive that as "communism." There is lot of cynicism, though, that any real change will occur. Nicaragua should be the jewel of Central America. But as long as this push-pull between these extremes of governance stop, it will remain exploited and disheveled.

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Sun May 12, 2013 at 04:39:06 PM PDT

  •  Soon after the Sandinistas took power... (9+ / 0-)

    ...in 1979, there were three newspapers: La Prensa, whose editor and publisher had been Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, who was murdered (most believe) by the dictatorial Somoza regime in 1978, and whose widow, Violeta, took over; El Nuevo Diario, which was at the time, some said, "more Sandinista than the Sandinistas," run by Xavier Chamorro Cardenal (brother of Pedro Joaquin), who had left La Prensa with most of the staff to set up the new paper; and Barricada, the Sandinista newspaper, run by Carlos Fernando Chamorro, the son of Pedro and Violeta.

    So, for decades, the three largest newspapers in Nicaragua were all run by Chamorros.

    In my time in Nicaragua, I often heard that on Sundays, all these Chamorros met with others of the family for a meal at Violeta's house, with the only conversational rule being: No politics. I could never confirm this.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun May 12, 2013 at 05:19:54 PM PDT

    •  So Where Have All the Left Wing Newspapers Gone? (4+ / 0-)

      La Prensa continues with its right wing politics, El Nuevo Diario started out as extreme left wing, but now is quite the opposite and Barracada has disappeared all together.

      Interesting that the Chamorro family once ran all of them, yet kept political peace in the family on Sundays.  Great comment!

      I'm an inveterate newspaper reader who rarely turns on a radio or a TV, but I might just start listening/watching.  My suspicion is that the majority of Nicaraguans listen to the radio or TV and don't have ready access to newspapers. Would be interesting to learn what political winds are blowing on the Nica airwaves.

      Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

      by Justina on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:55:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •   Carlos Fernando Chamorro, after Barricada... (4+ / 0-)

        ...folded in 1998, ran "Esta Noche" and "Esta Semana" (on Sunday nights) on Channel 8. If he is still on — I haven't been to Nicaragua in a long time — that would be worth your time, I think.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:35:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks, I'll Look for Him on TV. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayRaye, marina, NY brit expat

          I just read, possibly in the magazine "Envio",  that he is writing for a web site called "Confidencial"  which is looking to join with a few sites in other Central American countries to join together to create a regional vehicle.

          Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

          by Justina on Sun May 12, 2013 at 08:01:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think a more modern model (4+ / 0-)

        looks more like Fox news, and the cabal of private broadcasters in, e.g. Venezuela. They no longer need to smuggle propaganda in through a few corrupted reporters, when they can just buy the network. The whole notion of 'planting stories' seems quaint in an era of echo chambers and 24-7 'News'.

  •  story resonates on U.S. power structure's (4+ / 0-)

    unarticulated background motives on slow track improvements or punting delays for immigration policies and treatment of poor people who might otherwise be open arm welcomed as visiting neighbors. Maybe that's the unspoken purpose of papers please and abuse and prejudice, unjust handling of land matters since people with guns decided they were entitled to others' property. Yeah, business, religion, ideology, civilization. Sure. Doesn't play as well as it used to. But 'terrorism' and 'drugs' (except pharmaceuticals) and 'deviant sexuality' justify eveything, don't they? Mm hmm..

    Monsanto is poison,gotta be stopped. Can't afford rich people anymore;must cut back. People like Dick Cheney are evil, don't belong in government. We need @ 9 different revolutions in this country, and may they all crossoverlap soon..

    by renzo capetti on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:06:56 PM PDT

  •  A historical backgrounder on Nicaragua (5+ / 0-)

    John Pilger - Nicaragua - A Nation's Right to Survive [1983]

  •  thank you for all these reminders. (6+ / 0-)

    I was in my 20s during the 80s. And only mildly politically astute. My first presidential election was the Reagan/Carter one and I just couldn't believe we were electing an actor. I was so disillusioned by that that I kind of stuck my head in the sand, for a while.

    It's good to have all the stories brought back out and looked at again.

    The US; we're nothing but world class asshats, selfishly destroying humanity a little bit more with each passing decade. We really need someone to stop us. I don't see us stopping ourselves.

  •  We are so lucky (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, marina, NY brit expat, UnaSpenser

    to have not one but two people who are conversant with Latin American issues and history in this group. I have enjoyed Justina's diaries on Venezuela no end and am looking forward to her diaries about Nicaragua. Geminijen supplements this information with her experiences and, since the Mockingbirds are singing once again, it is one of the few sources around for learning more about LA.
    In my checkered past, I knew a man who had supplied arms for the Contras, and knew GHWB to speak to. He wasn't a big player, but he did enough that when he realised just what the Contras had done, he upped stakes and used his money working to alleviate the poverty of the Miskito Indians, I guess in a form of penance.
    The Contras were horrible, brutal people. It is to our government's eternal discredit that they support regimes such as theirs in a bid for "stability" and profit.

    You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

    by northsylvania on Mon May 13, 2013 at 01:03:32 AM PDT

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