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Sandinista supporters keep Nicaragua free of ‘soft coup’

By Jim Byrne

Tucson, AZ – This past weekend, July 7 and 8, hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans marched and rallied to celebrate the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution that liberated the country from the 43-year reign of the brutal, U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship.

Typically, the gathering commemorates important events like the historic struggle that began back in the late 1920s with national hero Augusto Sandino’s army’s successful expulsion of U.S. Marines; the toppling of the vicious Somoza family dictatorship, and the inspiring accomplishments of the Sandinista era in the 1980s. Oftentimes, there are international guests, like in 2007, when the Sandinistas returned to power, attendees were then-Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. Ironically, at that gathering of an anti-imperialist political party like the FSLN, on stage with Daniel Ortega were a survivor a U.S.-coordinated coup d’etat in 2002, Hugo Chavez, and a future victim of a U.S.-supported coup, Mel Zelaya, in 2009. Since Zelaya’s forced removal, Honduras has had some of the highest levels of violence in the Americas that has driven many Hondurans to migrate to the U.S., only to face repression from ICE. And now, in 2018, it is Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega who is under threat from a U.S.-supported ‘soft coup.’

Like the rescue of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez from the hands of the golpistas in April 2002, it is the masses who are the primary actor in the maintenance of Nicaraguan sovereignty amid a U.S. -backed ‘regime change’ push. Since mid-April, the country has been embroiled in violence created and maintained by opposition forces seeking the removal of democratically-elected President Ortega. One of their tactics has been the use of tranques (roadblocks) in order to create chaos and disorder through economic and social destabilization and provoking the National Police into shootouts.

Amid this disorder is the opposition media that manipulates imagery and stories in order to make it appear that the National Police are responsible for heavy-handed, bloody repression. Then, they make the call for President Ortega to step down and for the U.S. to intervene if necessary. This resembles the U.S. intervention playbook from Venezuela 2002 and 2014, when the corporate-controlled media manipulated imagery and messaging to make it appear the leftist government is ‘authoritarian’ and ‘unpopular.’

Despite the claims that Ortega is ‘unpopular,’ although he was re-elected with 72% of the vote in 2016, it is clear the opposition and, specifically their violence, is unpopular. For example, the opposition has used gang members from not only Nicaragua, but also from El Salvador as foot soldiers to carry out their violent political mission, because they cannot find ordinary Nicaraguans willing to destroy their own country. Second, since the character of the violence by the opposition has had a very clear, very vicious political character, attacking regular, rank-and-file Sandinistas, there has been a massive demonstration of support for the FSLN and President Ortega in the last few weeks, culminating in the weekend’s festivities.

The FSLN, its many organizations, and rank-and-file members have started to combat the opposition’s two fronts of struggle: the tranques and social media. In town after town, city after city, Nicaraguans have demonstrated their resolve and commitment to a peaceful, sovereign country by running off the delincuentes, disassembling the tranques, and rebuilding the roads. The heightened political level of this ‘soft coup’ is not lost on proud, patriotic Sandinistas who call their reclaimed city or town ‘liberated territory.’ All of these stories are promoted through a counter-offensive on social media by popular, revolutionary forces because the corporate-controlled, pro-opposition media does not report them on the whole. That media instead manipulates images of two different people and yet shares the story that the person was abducted and tortured by the National Police and paramilitaries. False narratives like this dominate the landscape and its impact is disastrous.

It is clear that despite the level of coordination from the comprador bourgeoisie in Nicaragua and the U.S. government, the opposition and their wave of violence is unwanted and unpopular. Whatever political opportunism they attempted after students protested a Social Security proposal by Ortega, has been lost in their bid to undemocratically decide who rules Nicaragua. The tide has turned back in favor of La RojiNegra (FSLN colors red and black) because the call for “Nicaragua Libre!” wasn’t just an 80s thing, it’s here to stay.

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