Nicaragua

Inside Nicaragua’s 2021 elections – and the latest US/OAS coup attempt

The US, EU, and OAS are launching a new coup attempt against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, refusing to recognize its 2021 elections. The Grayzone’s Ben Norton observed the vote on the ground, and filed this report.



Transcript

BEN NORTON: Millions of Nicaraguans went to the polls on November 7, 2021, re-electing the leftist Sandinista Front and President Daniel Ortega by a large margin.

The United States refused to recognize the results, however. Washington and its allies in the European Union and the Organization of American States (OAS) instead launched what essentially amounts to a new coup attempt against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

On November 10, US President Joe Biden signed the RENACER Act, to impose more crushing sanctions on Nicaragua. The White House’s escalating campaign of economic war was supplemented by the OAS’ claim that the election was “illegitimate.”

Following the line of Washington and Brussels, international corporate media outlets have spread an array of demonstrably false accusations to try to discredit Nicaragua’s 2021 elections, claiming the vote was not free or fair.

But unlike the foreign reporters spreading these falsehoods from Florida, Costa Rica, or Spain, The Grayzone was actually on the ground in Nicaragua to observe the electoral process.


This is Ben Norton with The Grayzone. I’m in Nicaragua, and today is election day, November 7th. Millions of Nicaraguans across the country are coming to the polls to vote for the president and the National Assembly, their version of the parliament.

I am in the major city of Chinandega, one of the largest cities in the country. And I’m here to speak to voters, to average voters.

There has been a lot of corporate media propaganda and Western government propaganda demonizing the electoral process here, claiming that supposedly the vote is fraudulent, or that there isn’t a real voting process.

Well I’m here on the ground in Nicaragua, to talk to average voters, to see what they think about the electoral process today.


Interviews with Nicaraguan voters

What do you think about the electoral process?

VOTER 1: Well, it is a completely clean process, and we are grateful for having been given the opportunity to vote. As citizens, as Nicaraguans, we have a right to exercise our vote in our country.

BEN NORTON: How was the electoral process?

VOTER 2: It went well for me. Calm, everything was fine.

BEN NORTON: And do you think that this election and your vote is important?

VOTER 2: Yes, I do think so.

BEN NORTON: How was the electoral process?

VOTER 3: Honestly, quite good and tranquil. I can choose the president that I wanted. There is a lot of safety and calmness.

BEN NORTON: And do you think that this election and your vote is important?

VOTER 3: Yes, truthfully, I think each person is a little grain of sand for what they want to choose in these presidential elections. The truth is yes, I do think so, my vote is important.

BEN NORTON: You are here to vote?

VOTER 4: That’s right.

BEN NORTON: And what do you think about the electoral process?

VOTER 4: Everything is going well, thank God, everyone exercising their right to vote. Here, practically everything is going along great.

VOTER 5: It is going well, thanks, going well. We are calmly going to the polls, without anything new.

BEN NORTON: And why did you vote today?

VOTER 5: I like to vote, voting civically, calmly.

BEN NORTON: And do you think that this election and your vote is important?

VOTER 5: Of course I do. I vote for what is better.

BEN NORTON: And you, the same, why did you vote today?

VOTER 6: Well, my vote is because we are citizens. And I think all Nicaraguans have a right to vote in their elections.

And everything is calm, with a healthy peace. The most important thing is the activity going on, without any problem based on party. We are all using our right to vote, nothing more.

BEN NORTON: And how was your experience today?

VOTER 6: Very good. Although we are in bad health and poor, we are here, exercising our right to vote, like all citizens have.

BEN NORTON: How was the electoral process?

VOTER 7: It was excellent, because everything was calm, and there are no problems. Everything was voluntary.

BEN NORTON: And this election and your vote, do you think they are important?

VOTER 7: Yes I do. Without my vote, I can’t help decide who our president should be, and for the well-being of our people.

BEN NORTON: And how was it? Why did you vote today? Why are you here at the polls?

VOTER 7: For more benefits for our country, for peace, well-being, and work.


BEN NORTON: One of the most absurd myths about Nicaragua’s 2021 elections was that the anti-Sandinista opposition was not allowed to participate. This is blatantly false.

Across Nicaragua, there were 6 options on the ballot, 5 of which were anti-Sandinista opposition parties, all right-wing.

On Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast, which has political autonomy and thus a slightly different system, there were 7 options on the ballot, only 1 of which was the Sandinista Front-led leftist alliance.

Another falsehood repeated by the foreign media was that the Sandinista government had arrested candidates. This is extremely misleading too.

There were some right-wing opposition leaders who were detained, but they were not candidates. And they were apprehended for violating numerous laws, after they took millions of dollars from the US government to lead a brutally violent coup attempt in 2018, in which hundreds of Nicaraguans were killed and the country was destabilized, and in which extremists hunted down, tortured, and murdered Sandinista activists and state security forces, even setting some on fire.

The coup leaders who were detained were never officially registered candidates. This is why the press has consistently referred to them as so-called “precandidates” or “presidential hopefuls,” which doesn’t mean anything.

Anyone can say they’re a presidential hopeful. If you laundered money in order to get millions of dollars from a foreign government to carry out a failed violent coup attempt in the United States and were arrested, you couldn’t just say you’re a US “presidential hopeful” to try to get out of the legal consequences. That’s what Nicaragua’s wealthy oligarchs are trying to do.

The United States was particularly furious about Nicaragua arresting the coup leaders it had cultivated because Washington had seemingly made plans to repeat the strategy it used in Venezuela when it appointed opposition politician Juan Guaidó as the so-called “interim president.”

In an event at an influential US government-funded think tank in February, the Biden administration’s special envoy for Central America not-so-subtly hinted that the US and right-wing allies in the region were preparing to recognize wealthy Nicaraguan oligarch Cristiana Chamorro as the unelected “interim president” of a parallel coup regime.


Video of February 2021 panel discussion organized by the Inter-American Dialogue

RICARDO ZÚÑIGA (principal deputy assistant secretary and special envoy for the Northern Triangle in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs): Thank you President Chamorro, thank you – uh, excuse me.

MICHAEL SHIFTER (president of the Inter-American Dialogue): Not yet, not yet.

RICARDO ZÚÑIGA: Not yet, that’s right.

MICHAEL SHIFTER: Just hold on.

RICARDO ZÚÑIGA: That’s right, that’s right, I’m sorry. This is what happens when you see a screen like this.

LAURA CHINCHILLA (former president of Costa Rica): Ricardo, it was perhaps premonition that made you say President Chamorro, but we certainly welcome any democratic leader in that country.

CRISTIANA CHAMORRO: [Our goal is] to restore democracy.

MICHAEL SHIFTER: Great, thank you, thank you very much Cristiana. Eduardo Stein –

EDUARDO STEIN (former vice president of Guatemala): As President Cristiana said…


BEN NORTON: Washington’s attempt to create a Nicaraguan version of Juan Guaidó failed, but US intervention in the country very much still continues.

The reality is that Washington has meddled in Nicaragua’s internal affairs for well over 100 years, invading and militarily occupying the Central American nation multiple times.

In the 1980s, the CIA armed and trained far-right death squads called Contras to wage a terrorist war against Nicaragua’s revolutionary Sandinista government.

A former Contra leader admitted in the New York Times that the CIA’s Contras were US puppets that systematically used terrorism against civilians as a weapon and “burned down schools, homes and health centers as fast as the Sandinistas built them.”

The failed US-backed coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018 was a blueprint for the military putsch that succeeded the next year in Bolivia, overthrowing the democratically elected socialist President Evo Morales.

Washington and the Organization of American States played a key role in sponsoring the 2019 coup in Bolivia. And now by refusing to recognize Nicaragua’s 2021 election results, they are launching a whole new coup attempt against the country’s leftist Sandinista government.

But for his part, President Daniel Ortega has vowed to continue the Sandinista Revolution, and says the Nicaraguan people will resist all attempts at foreign meddling.


President Daniel Ortega speaking on November 8, 2021

DANIEL ORTEGA: It is impossible for Nicaraguans – and I would say for Latin Americans and Caribbeans – it is impossible to stop talking about the interventionist policies, the expansionist, colonialist policies of the United States of America and the European countries.

They believe that we are their colony, and they want to tell us how to behave, and they want to decide what type of democracy we should practice. They continue with their colonialist practices, to dominate these lands. But not for good, but rather to subjugate them and exploit them, and involve them in their expansionist and warmongering policies.

In the end, they could not defeat Sandino. Whichever [US] president came to power, whether Democrat or Republican, he came to try to oppress Nicaragua. But he always was met with resistance, with heroism, with the fighting spirit of the Nicaraguan people.

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