Sunday, July 20, 2014

Socialist Nicaragua and the terrorism of USA-backed fascist death-squads

The following article is written by liberal anti-socialists who do not include the context of how the FSLN government is increasing the life quality of the people in Nicaragua, and how the USA sponsored terrorists want to impose a fascist regime which would take away all of the social programs and sell of national resources to private trans-national corporations like in neighboring Honduras since a fascist coup occured there during 2009, and where the terrorist groups escape after attacking civilians.

"The Return of the Contras? Massacre of Sandinistas Stirs Old Ghosts in Nicaragua"2014-07-20 by Tim Rogers []:
A deadly midnight ambush targeting government supporters in northern Nicaragua has stirred the sleeping dogs of war and raised new fears of a pending military campaign against rearmed guerrillas hiding in the mountains.
Five people were killed and 19 injured early Sunday morning in what appears to be a coordinated series of attacks against Sandinista party members traveling by bus through the mountainous coffee-growing region of Matagalpa, one of the main battlegrounds of Nicaragua’s civil war in the 1980s.
The buses, filled with pro-government supporters returning from Managua after a day of celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, were fired on indiscriminately from the darkened shoulder of the road by unidentified men armed with AK-47s. The first bus was ambushed near KM75 of the Pan-American highway, while the second bus was attacked at the same time in the nearby town of San Ramon. Four unidentified suspects have been detained for questioning, according to police.
The Sandinista government, which has long denied the existence of rearmed rebel groups in Nicaragua, called the incident a “cowardly massacre” perpetrated by “bandits” and common delinquents. “This was practically an act of terrorism,” local mayor Francisco Valenzuela told Sandinista media. “We demand justice.”
A mysterious group of self-proclaimed contras calling themselves the “Armed Forces of National Salvation (FASN-EP)” claimed responsibility for the act this afternoon, publishing photos on their Facebook page of a bullet-riddled bus and cadavers []. The group said “We have no reason to fear the oppressor,” and warned that Sunday’s attack is “just an example of the operations we have coordinated on a national level.”
(FASN-EP's cover photo on Facebook)

Nicaraguan authorities, however, have not directly fingered anyone for the attack, or commented on the group’s alleged confession. At the moment, there’s no way to know whether the FASN-EP, which was unknown before today, is real or responsible for the bloodshed. Their post on Facebook, however, has sparked an angry debate among Nicaraguans. Despite the early confusion about who’s to blame, many Nicaraguans have already formed strong opinions about what happened.
“There’s no doubt this was a political act,” says former contra leader Roberto Ferrey, who has spent the past seven years working on reconciliatory efforts as head of the Nicaraguan Resistance Party (PRN), a political organization of ex-contras who are now allied with the ruling Sandinista Front. Ferrey, like many others in Nicaragua, worries that Sunday’s attacks, the most brazen act political violence to rock Nicaragua in nearly two decades, could reignite a tinderbox in a dangerously polarized country.
“There is a real risk that many members of the ex-contra are going to feel motivated by this attack and decide to abandon the civil struggle that we’ve started,” Ferrey told Fusion in a phone interview from Nicaragua. The former contra leader says there is an “unfortunate but very real possibility” that the violent attacks could become a recruitment tool for rearmed contra groups.
“This could have a snowball effect,” Ferrey said, using the most unlikely of metaphors in sweltering Nicaragua.
However, a self-proclaimed rebel leader who allegedly speaks for the largest rearmed contra group in the country is distancing his organization from Sunday’s attacks.
“We had nothing to do with this,” exiled contra spokesman El Cazador told Fusion in a phone interview. “This was done by the Sandinistas. It’s an old communist tactic. They are waiting for the world to condemn the attacks so they can justify a massive military offensive into the mountains to exterminate the rearmed contras.”

A history of political conflict -
Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, which started as a rag-tag rebel group that came to power in 1979 by toppling the U.S.-backed Somoza dynasty, spent its first decade battling U.S.-backed counterrevolutionaries, or “contras” for short. By 1990, the war had ended and Daniel Ortega, whose government was tightly allied with Cuba and the Soviet Union, was voted out of office. After losing three consecutive bids at reelection, Ortega was finally voted back into office in 2006, thanks to a divided opposition. Though Nicaragua’s economy has grown steadily and unexpectedly since the Sandinistas’ return to power, Ortega has used the presidency to consolidate control over all branches of government and steer the country off the rails of liberal democracy and back into the weeds of tropical authoritarianism.
In the northern countryside, where many rural campesinos have long mistrusted the Sandinista authorities, a small group of former contras decided to return to arms in 2010, after Ortega’s party was accused of rigging the municipal elections.
The rebellion was started by a former CIA-trained special-ops commander known as “Comandante Yahob,” who launched a Rambo-style insurrection by vowing to “remove Ortega from office by bullets.” He was killed a year later by an unidentified sniper in northern Nicaragua. His predecessor, a rearmed contra known as “Pablo Negro,” was murdered the following year and tossed in a ditch along the Honduran border. Neither crime was fully investigated .
Yahob Yahob in the 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Enrique Quinonez)

The contra’s military leadership has since fallen to Walter López Zeledón, codename “Sherif,” and a field commander known as “Flaco.”
Not much is known about the size or capacity of the fractious rebel groups. They claim to be organized under the banner of the Nacional Resistance Union (URN), a shadowy group that allegedly operates as the umbrella organization for three equally shadowy guerrilla units: the Democratic Force Commander 380 (FDC-380), the Nicaraguan Patriotic Commandos (COPAN), and the Army of National Salvation (ESN). There are other self-proclaimed rebel units and leadership structures, all of which accuse one another of being phonies or Sandinista infiltrators.
As a result of conflicting claims and allegations, much of what is known about the contra groups is anecdotal — spotty information fueled by rumors, speculations and fear. But once in a while the monster sticks its head above the water in the form of a violent shootout, a roadblock, or an ambush, and people get a glimpse of the creature that lurks beneath the surface.
Those who have back-stage access to the secretive world of Nicaraguan politics say there’s a lot going on behind the curtain of officialdom.
For example, the PRN’s Ferrey tells Fusion that he has helped broker recent negotiations between the Nicaraguan Army and the rebel groups that the government publicly denies exist.
Ferrey says he recently helped convince Comandante Mano Negra (“Commander Black Hand”), an obscure rearmed rebel leader who reportedly led a unit of 25 guerrillas near the Honduran border, to turn in his weapons in exchange for a political post within the ruling Sandinista Front.
“We were able to reintegrate him without reprisal,” Ferrey says.

Universal condemnation of violence -
Nicaragua’s feckless political opposition has no love for the Sandinistas, but no one wants the country to return to war. In the confusing aftermath of this morning’s attacks, opposition politicos on both the left and right of President Ortega vehemently denounced Sunday morning’s violent ambush.
But that doesn’t mean the attack can’t be used as a teachable moment for the president.
“These violent actions, which we all mourn, are the consequence of an accelerated closing of democratic spaces and the repeated violations of our constitutional laws by Daniel Ortega, including his repeated electoral frauds and the continued aggressions against people who are protesting peacefully,” the leading opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI) said in a written statement today. “We call on Daniel Ortega to renounce his dictatorial ambitions and return his government to a rule of law and respect for the will of its citizens.”
Ortega, meanwhile, is letting his wife, the eccentric poet and self-styled hippie Rosario Murillo, do the the talking for him.
“Love will overcome cowardice,” she said.

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Nicaragua Vive! 35 Years Since the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution"

2014-07-18 by Chuck Kaufman []:
Chuck Kaufman is National Co-Coordinator of the Nicaragua Network/Alliance for Global Justice.
July 19, 2014 marks the 35th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. On that day, the Sandinista troops led by the nine commanders of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) entered the capital city of Managua where they were greeted by hundreds of thousands of jubilant Nicaraguans. The triumphant guerrillas found a country in ruins. The previous ruler of the country, dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, had bombed the cities during the final offensive. When he fled the country two days earlier, he took not only the caskets containing his parents’ remains, but all the money in the national treasury as well. The Sandinistas were left with no money and a $1.9 billion international debt.
Despite these handicaps, the Sandinistas set up a nine member National Directorate and five member Junta de Reconstrucción as the executive branch, and a Council of State which included political parties and popular organizations as the legislature. They launched an ambitious and revolutionary political program. Their Literacy Crusade reduced illiteracy by 37 percent and was given an award by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its triumphant success. The Sandinistas also provided citizens with free health care, started farm cooperatives, and used land confiscated from Somoza and his close government and military supporters for state-owned farms. The successful “Revolution of Poets,” many of the country’s poets were revolutionaries and politicians, made Nicaraguans proud and the social advances made them hopeful for the future.
In 1981 Ronald Reagan took office as president of the United States. The CIA, under his direction, immediately began training former members of Somoza’s brutal National Guard who had escaped across the border to Honduras. The famous CIA manual taught at the School of the Americas and captured after a battle in Nicaragua, showed how they were trained. They were taught to assassinate teachers, health care workers, and peasant cooperative leaders. There was also a “Freedom Fighter Manual” authored by the CIA and airdropped into the country which encouraged Nicaraguans sympathetic to the dictatorship to sabotage the Sandinista government and cause social disorder by employing methods such as bombing police stations.
For nine years, until the 1990 electoral defeat of the Sandinistas, Nicaragua’s dreams of equality and prosperity were stymied by the need to defend their country from the Contras, the US-trained and funded proxy-army. Forty thousand casualties later (added to the 40,000 lost in the war for national liberation), tired of the killing and the effects of the brutal US economic blockade, Nicaraguan voters succumbed to Washington’s relentless and violent meddling and US-backed candidate, Violeta Chamorro. President Daniel Ortega turned over the presidential sash in the first peaceful transfer of power between parties in Nicaragua’s history.
What followed was 17 years of neoliberal hell mandated by the IMF, World Bank, and USAID. Free education and health were eliminated. Public employee jobs were cut to the bone. The backbone of Nicaragua’s economy, peasant farming, was starved for lack of government credit. The result was displaced farmers and desperate families who served to provide cheap labor for foreign sweatshop—whose ideal employees were 15-year-old girls, often the only family member with a job. The US and international financial institutions’ sole priority was punctual payments on international debt, regardless of the punishing effect it would have on the population because of the requisite cuts in social spending needed in order to make them.
By 2006 the Nicaraguan people grew tired of the economic suffering and watching their children die of preventable diseases. They elected Sandinista Daniel Ortega as president with a plurality of 38 percent, even amid threats and fears of a new war with the United States.
Fortunately, that’s not what happened. The world had changed. Latin America had begun to unify and free itself of US hegemony after the election of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, while the US was mired in two disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This allowed Ortega to begin to rebuild the Sandinista promise of free education and health care, to rebuild the peasant agriculture sector, and to accomplish justice and equality in peace. Now Ortega could continue the work of the revolution without the counter-insurgency campaign and low intensity conflict Washington employed previously to stymie democracy in the Central American nation.
Five years later, when Ortega ran for re-election in 2011 presidential election, he routed the neoliberal opposition winning 63 percent of the vote and a super-majority in the National Assembly. Nicaragua continued to advance socially and economically. It has already achieved many of the UN Millennium Goals for cutting poverty in half. It also has the fastest growing economy in Central America and has moved past Honduras to no longer be the second poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Today, while child refugees flood the US border from Central America, Nicaragua’s children are not among them because they are in school, their parents have jobs, and the whole family has enough to eat. Drug cartels have been unable to gain a foothold because the army and police are those same muchachos and muchachas who defeated a US-backed dictator and aspired to be New Men and New Women. Nicaraguans are astounded at the corruption and brutality of the security forces of their neighbors.
Vietnam and Nicaragua (and the liberation struggles in El Salvador and Guatemala) were the formative political events of my generation. Thirty-five years later, when I talk about Nicaragua, I see young people’s eyes glaze over the same way mine did when people talked about the Spanish Civil War. But Nicaragua remains important today and we have to teach the truths that they taught us in the 1980s.
When I made my first trip to Nicaragua in 1987 with a Nicaragua Network coffee picking brigade, I learned a number of things. I learned that it was possible not just to oppose my country’s wars, but to support an alternative to war and capitalist exploitation. I learned that patriotism is not a dirty word because Nicaraguans were rightfully proud of the New Nicaragua that they were struggling to build. I learned that Nicaraguan peasants living in the countryside knew more about what was happening in the world than did my friends and neighbors in the United States.
These, and other truths I have learned since made me an organizer for transformational change, a task I am still learning 27 years after I began. For me Nicaragua was a life-changing experience, as it was for many of the estimated 100,000 US citizens who visited Nicaragua in solidarity in the 1980s. We used to say “All Nicaragua is a school.” The composition of refugees crossing our border today demonstrates that that is as true today as it was in the 1980s.

"35th anniversary celebration of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua"2014-07-20 []:
The Plaza de la Fe in Managua is full of Sandinista supporters who participate in the celebration of the Sandinista Revolution Anniversary. (Photo: @ sanchezceren)

Acts for the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and began during the evening on Saturday and are being led by the country’s president, Daniel Ortega, who is accompanied by major international delegations.
The main event takes place in the Plaza de la Fe, but gathers proud Nicaraguans in the “From Bolivar to Chavez ‘Avenue, which connects north and south of the old downtown Managua.
The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, joins the events planned by the Government of Nicaragua, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution.
The Venezuelan head of state arrived in the capital of the Central American nation on Friday night, accompanied by the first fighter, Cilia Flores; Education Minister and Vice President of the Social Area, Héctor Rodríguez; Minister for Women and Equality, Andreína Tarazón; and the mayor of the Libertador municipality, Jorge Rodriguez.
The Executive convened Nicaraguan Sandinistas Saturday from 16H00 local time (22H00 GMT) in the Plaza de la Fe Juan Pablo II Managua (capital), to celebrate a new anniversary of the overthrow of the dictatorship of the Somoza (1937-1979).The meeting was also attended by the President of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, as well as of Honduras Manuel Zelaya exmandatarios; Martín Torrijos of Panama; and Guatemala Vinicio Cerezo, as stated the first lady and the Sandinista government spokesman Rosario Murillo to official media.
In addition, the vice president of Cuba flock, Ramiro Valdés; President of the National Assembly of Ecuador, Gabriela Rivadeneira Burbano and Guatemalan indigenous leader Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize 1992.
On 19 July is a national holiday celebrated in Nicaragua since 1980, when it was decreed by the first Sandinista government to remember the armed overthrow of the Somoza.
The July 17, 1979 Somoza stepped down and left the presidential sash on Urcuyos Francisco, who lasted only 43 hours in the office. Two days after the departure of the dictator, on July 19, the FSLN won total victory over the Somoza forces and the Governing Board took office.

ALBA member Ecuador to invest over $1 billion in a research city specializing in developing 'progressive technology'

"Ecuador: The Silicon Valley of the tropics"
2014-07-18 by Jim Wyss from the "Miami Herald" newspaper []:
UCURQUI, Ecuador -- It's the year 2043 and this burgeoning city of 100,000 is a high-tech mecca. Using rare plants from the Amazon, university researchers have cured many diseases; factories churn out nano-sponges that soak up oil spills around the world; local software designers are the envy of Palo Alto. Ecuador -- once known for its crude and bananas -- is now the Silicon Valley of the tropics, the Singapore of the Andes.
That's the vision authorities see in the swirling dust kicked up by dozens of bulldozers and more than 2,000 construction workers at a remote site almost two hours from the capital.
It's called Yachay, the City of Knowledge, and President Rafael Correa refers to it as the country's moon shot -- a $1.04 billion initiative to build a research university surrounded by labs, industrial parks and, ultimately, a city.
The project aims to attract the world's brightest minds and most innovative companies, propelling this small and impoverished South American nation into the 21st century as a leader in engineering, clean energy, biotechnology and environmental sciences.
Correa calls it "the most important project for the country in the last 100 years," even as some worry that the country is plowing money into a mirage.
Sarah Moser, a geography professor at McGill University in Montreal, is studying the new spate of master-planned cities sprouting around the globe. Some seem to hold promise, such as the $82 billion King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia, which includes much-needed ports and infrastructure. But many have been gutted by corruption and mismanagement or have collapsed under the weight of their own ambition.
Dompak, an "eco-city" in Indonesia, for example, was supposed to be a new administrative capital and a model for sustainable growth. Although the project has burned through 75 percent of its budget, it's only one-third complete. The environmentally friendly city is now plagued by illegal bauxite mining.
"I would argue, 'Why don't you spend the money on education and public transportation?' " Moser said of the schemes. "I see these plans as sort of real estate development to make the rich richer, and they always have a veneer of 'eco-city' or 'smart-city' to make it more palatable ... but I also know that sometimes they can work."
Hector Rodriguez is the general manger of Yachay, but his job description is somewhere between mayor and foreman of the 10,550-acre construction site. Sitting in his white button-down shirt and sunglasses on the steps of a refurbished sugar plantation that serves as an administration building, Rodriguez says Yachay is already showing signs of life.
More than 170 students have been recruited from across the country and are taking intensive math and English courses on campus as they prepare for formal studies next year.
Although Yachay is a 30-year project, Rodriguez says the country will start seeing results by 2017. By then the campus will be finished and teeming with 2,000 students, and there will be 200 companies on site, thriving off the academic research, he said. There will also be day-care centers, elementary schools and other signs of a city in the making.
"We'll see a social fabric that speaks to the idea that Yachay is irreversible," he said. "That this is Ecuador's principal motor for creating an economy based on knowledge."
In architectural renderings, Yachay looks gleaming and inevitable. But some question the wisdom of pumping more than a billion dollars into such an isolated area.
Planners say the site is strategically located in northern Ecuador -- almost equidistant from the capital, the Colombian border and the nearest port. But to the layman, the site seems to be in the middle of nowhere. It's almost two hours from Quito and a half-hour from a town of any size.
And that could be a problem. A 2012 study by the Inter-American Development Bank found that there were almost 150 technology and science parks in Latin America hoping to jump-start innovation and attract investment, but almost all of them were failing.
"The rare exceptions are those associated with research centers that are close to large urban areas and a critical mass of innovative companies," the study found. Yachay has none of those attributes.
Rodriguez argues that Yachay needs virgin land to fulfill its mission. The city will have redundant Internet connections, electricity and water supplies -- all prerequisites for high-tech companies -- that would be difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in a city.
It will also be a free-trade zone, which requires a level of security that would be challenging to provide in an urban area.
"If we tried to implement this in Quito, we would have to build a wall around it," he said. "And what we want here are open collaborative spaces where these knowledge communities can exchange ideas with businesses and entrepreneurs."
Planned cities have been around for centuries, but Yachay is part of a new wave in development.
In the 1990s, cities tried to one-up each other by building the tallest tower, said Moser, the McGill professor. "Now, it seems you have to have a showpiece master-plan city as part of your government propaganda to attract investment," she said.
While the trend started in oil-rich nations in the Middle East and Asia, less likely places such as Senegal, Morocco and Ecuador are getting into the game.
These are countries "that really don't have the money but think this is a requirement for development," she said. "This is the beginning of a massive phenomenon."
Since taking office in 2007, Correa, a charismatic socialist, has embraced ambitious plans and grand gestures. He's defaulted on the country's foreign debt, calling it illegitimate; offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange safe haven in London when many nations were treating him like a pariah; and embarked on one of the most innovative -- but ultimately failed -- cash-for-conservation programs.
But he has also made education a priority. The administration says it has put 4.3 times more money into education than previous governments and plans to spend almost $10 billion to build 900 schools and overhaul 4,600. The government has also shut down for-profit "garage" universities, increased teaching standards and introduced scholarships that have about 8,000 Ecuadoreans studying abroad.
Nelson Rodriguez Aguirre is the acting dean of Ecuador's Central University, which has one of the nation's largest engineering departments. He said that his and other national universities would welcome the money being plowed into Yachay but didn't view the new institution as a threat.
"We see it as an important project and part of the government's plans to strengthen public universities," he said. "Yachay is highly symbolic -- it's a landmark that the government has created that all schools of higher education need to aspire to."
For the students currently at Yachay, however, being at a landmark has some drawbacks.
Jonathan Salinas, 18, is one of those selected from thousands of applicants to be in Yachay's first cohort. He's taking English classes with professors from Kansas State University and math with professors brought in from around the world. He's supposed to begin studying renewable energy next year, but right now there are no labs or research facilities.
"We're the pioneers here so we knew that not everything would be ready," he said. "But we have faith that everything is going to fall into place and we'll be part of this national change."
There are also more mundane issues. The only food available on campus comes from two fast food restaurants. Getting to the nearest grocery takes almost an hour round-trip.
Vivek Wadhwa, a professor and researcher at Stanford and Duke and an influential lecturer on entrepreneurship, calls such centrally planned science parks and cities "snake oil."
He said there have been hundreds of such efforts but none have succeeded. But these ideas don't die because they're lucrative.
"Consultants will make a lot of money, politicians will make a lot of money and real estate developers will make a lot of money, but it's the taxpayers who will be left holding the bag," he said.