Nicaragua withdraws from OAS
Sandinistas reject false charge of undemocratic elections
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, Denis Moncada, announced on November 19, 2021 that Nicaragua is withdrawing from the Organizations of American States (OAS). He declared that the OAS has been designed by the United States as an instrument of interference and intervention; its mission is to facilitate the hegemony of the United States over Latin America and the Caribbean.
Nicaragua becomes the third Latin American nation to deny membership in the regional association. Cuba was expelled in 1962, following the triumph of its socialist revolution and its nationalization (with compensation) of U.S. properties in accordance with its agrarian reform program. The expulsion was revoked in 2009, but Cuba reiterated its previous assertions that it had no intention of returning to the organization. Venezuela left OAS in 2017, due to OAS participation in the U.S. unconventional war against Venezuela, which had been unfolding since 2015.
As I discussed in my July 30, 2021 Substack column, the Organization of American States was established in 1948, as the culmination of the six-decade effort of the United States to establish a Pan-American system, which would “convert the Latin American governments and peoples into co-participants in the domination exercised over them,” as expressed by Cuban scholar Roberto Regalado. From the beginning, the mission of the Organization of American States has been to promote U.S. imperialist interests in Latin American and the Caribbean. For this reason, Raúl Roa, Cuban foreign minister from 1959 to 1976, referred to the OAS as the “colonial office of the USA.” However, the OAS has not been an effective colonial office, because of Latin American and Caribbean resistance. U.S. imperialist interests in the region have been attained through unilateral action, which means that their imperialist character is exposed for all to see.
What provoked Nicaragua’s withdrawal from OAS?
In the elections of November 7, in which six political parties/alliances participated, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was reelected with 75% of the vote. Some 97% of eligible voters were registered to vote, and 66% of the registered voters took part in the elections, a percentage similar to the last elections in the USA, UK, and other countries. There were observers from 27 countries.
However, OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, did not recognize the results of the elections. He was supported by U.S. President Joe Biden, who called it a pantomime of democracy, and announced that new sanctions would be applied. And Almagro was supported by the Spanish Press Agency (EFE), which released a dispatch entitled, “The international community does not recognize Ortega’s victory.” EFE further declared that the European Union considers that the reelection of Ortega lacks legitimacy. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain called the elections a joke.
The pretext for such dismissal of the democratic voice of the people of Nicaragua, disseminated by the complicit international media, is that Ortega supposedly detained major opposition leaders in order to eliminate electoral competition. The New York Times wrote, “After methodically choking off competition and dissent, Mr. Ortega has all but ensured his victory in presidential elections on Sunday. He detained the credible challengers who planned to run against him, shut down opposition parties, banned large campaign events and closed voting stations en masse.”
Similarly, Reuters reported that “Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was set to win re-election on Sunday after jailing top rivals and criminalizing most dissent, following a vote that the United States said was a sham whose outcome had been long predetermined.” And CNN reported that “three opposition parties were banned and at least 39 opposition leaders have been detained between May and October of this year. Seven of those arrested were presidential candidates.”
And let’s not leave out the statement issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK: “The presidential election that took place in Nicaragua on 7 November was an election in name only. It was neither free, nor fair. President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, continue in power only after having all credible opposition candidates arrested and disqualified from standing for election.”
But who were these individuals who were detained, and what were the crimes of which they were accused?” In a September 23 article in the Alliance for Global Justice, “United States Once Again Attacking Government of Nicaragua,” Yader Lanuza directly addresses the question. Lanuza, a Nicaraguan scholar who teaches sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, concludes that “the Nicaraguan government is investigating and has indicted individuals who, with US support, directives, and funding, were planning to carry out destabilization efforts in Nicaragua – including a coup d’état, should Ortega win in November. These US agents are accused of serious crimes that would be serious crimes in the US and any country in the world.”
Lanuza places the indictments against these individuals in the historic context of destabilizing efforts of the U.S. government directed against Nicaragua. We can further develop this point, taking into account the unconventional war against Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia that the U.S. has waged since 2015, which has included the financing of opposition agents and destabilizing activities, with the objective of regime change. The role of such U.S. government entities as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in financing non-governmental organizations and political operatives in these targeted countries has been well documented by Latin American journalists and alternative news outlets. The unconventional war is a real threat to these targeted countries; it has adversely affected their economies and their political stability. In the context of this ongoing unconventional war against four vanguard nations in the region, the serious character of the crimes of which these individuals are accused is intensified.
Lanuza emphasizes that these individuals have not been detained for political opposition to the government, but for participating in the regime change project directed at the legitimate and constitutional government of Nicaragua. “Those jailed are targeted for what they do, not their opposition to Sandinismo. Many media outlets, organizations, and individuals loudly state and organize around their opposition to Sandinismo in Nicaragua. Only those who violate the laws are targeted.” Especially targeted for arrest have been those Nicaraguan NGOs and individuals who received money from the U.S. government, and thus, they are in effect U.S. agents. Lanuza notes that Nicaraguan journalists have reported on U.S. government funding of opposition groups through NED and USAID as well as U.S. foundations such as the Soros Foundation. For example, the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (VBCF) has received millions of dollars from USAID to create and fund opposition media, and it has financed individuals and organizations dedicated to the political destabilization of the country. In addition, VBCF is being investigated by the prosecutor’s office for money laundering. Felix Miradiaga and the National Democratic Institute also have received U.S. financing for anti-government activities, which have included the advocacy of foreign economic sanctions against Nicaragua, which are designed to produce hardship, popular dissatisfaction, and regime change. Nearly all of those arrested have been charged with conspiracy to undermine national integrity, defined as a crime in the Nicaraguan penal code, among other charges. Luis Rivas has been charged with illegal manufacturing and trafficking of weapons and explosive devices.
In an address on June 23, President Ortega declared, “Here we are not accusing politicians; we are not accusing candidates. Here, we are accusing criminals who have launched an assault against the country, against the security of the country, against the lives of its citizens by organizing another coup d’état, to carry out what they call ‘regime change.’ This is what we are pursuing; this is what we are investigating, and this is what will be punished, in due time, as the laws require.”
With respect to the five candidates who appeared on the ballot as opponents of Ortega, The New York Times writes that they “are little-known members of parties aligned with his Sandinista government.” This is untrue, according to John Perry, in “If there was ‘fraud’ in Nicaragua’s elections, where is the proof?”, published in the Council on Hemispheric Affairs on November 16. These five parties are historic parties, and two of them governed Nicaragua in the period 1990-2006, between the two periods of Sandinista government. In the 2021 elections, the Sandinista Front itself was part of an alliance of nine parties, and perhaps The New York Times was mistakenly referring to this Sandinista-led alliance, if it was not deliberately deceiving the people.
In “Here’s what the corporate-owned media won’t tell you about the arrests in Nicaragua,” The Canary writes that, since the Sandinista National Liberation Front returned to power in 2006, the U.S. government has channeled tens of millions of dollars through USAID to help opposition groups to destabilize the country and overthrow the government. It reports that Juan Sebastián Chamorro, founder of the Chomorro Foundation, and José Adan Aguerri, former president of the Superior Council for Private Enterprise, have received money from USAID. The Civil Society Leadership Institute, an NGO founded by Felix Maradiaga, has received money from the National Endowment for Democracy. Arturo Cruz is believed to have received money from the U.S. government as part of an effort to impose sanctions on Nicaragua.
The Canary describes coverage of Nicaragua by CNN, the Washington Post, and the Guardian as one-sided, distorted, and wildly inaccurate. These news outlets repeat statements by U.S.-based supporters of regime change as though their extreme views were representative of the opinions of international leaders. They quote Human Rights Watch, which is notorious for taking a pro-State Department line on Latin America, and which has State Department personnel on its Board of Directors. They cite the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, which “is led by an anti-government partisan who supports imperialist sanctions on her own country.”
The foreign ministers of Cuba and Venezuela have issued statements in support of the decision of Nicaragua to withdraw from the Organization of American States, an organization that has demonstrated itself to be an inflexible ally of U.S. imperialism, incapable of playing a role of promoting the social and economic development of the region, as the Latin American and Caribbean nations have been demanding for the last two decades. In showing that it has not the least concern for objective standards of truth, OAS demonstrates its decadence.
The U.S. unconventional war against Latin American nations constructing socialism counts on the partial support of the governments of Europe and the shameful and dishonorable complicity of the international media, and it utilizes the regional association that it created to foster imperialist objectives. This imperialist war of a new form gives shape to the necessary Latin America and Caribbean anti-imperialist defense: the formation of trading relations and alliances with nations outside the U.S.-European colonialist partnership; the development of alternative media of communication; and the development of alternative regional associations.
The necessary anti-imperialist response has been emerging in practice for the last two decades, and longer. Latin America has been forming and deepening economic and political relations with China, Russia, Vietnam, and Iran. Alternative international media have been created: Prensa Latina (Cuba), Telesur (Venezuela), and Russia Today. And regional associations have been developed, such as the Non-Aligned Movement, ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America), and CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), based on the principles of respect for the sovereignty of nations and mutually beneficial trade among nations.
We intellectuals of the Left in the North often do not pay sufficient attention to the alternative structures being developed by the nations and peoples of the Third World. We need to listen to the leaders and intellectuals who pertain to these alternative structures formed by the neocolonized peoples, and to disseminate their insights, because they have much to teach the world in the context of the sustained structural crisis of the capitalist world-economy and a neocolonial world-system in decadence.
A free subscription option is available, with capacity to read, send, and share all posts. A paid subscription ($5 per month or $40 per year) enables you to make comments and to support the costs of the column; full subscribers ($40 per year) also receive a free PDF copy of my book on Cuba and the world-system.
Follow me on Twitter: Charles McKelvey@CharlesMcKelv14
I am not clear what the larger ramifications of this would be for Nicaragua, in the short run it is a good thing they have left OAS. Of course the US will still interfere but the relationship changes with the US if Nicaragua is not part of OAS.