Nicaragua: prelude to a Central American Gaza?

Published: Mon 24 Nov 2008 09:40 AM
Elections in Nicaragua: prelude to a Central American Gaza?
by Toni Solo
The final results of Nicaragua's local elections have now been declared after much confusion caused by an unprecedented campaign of disruption by the biggest losing opposition party, the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista. Five political parties contested the elections. The results for 146 municipalities give the Unida Nicaragua Triunfa coalition led by the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional a total of 105 municipalities. The PLC won 37 and the smaller Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense won 4.
The elections were held on Sunday November 9th and passed off quietly, as is habitual in Nicaragua. But even before the first results began to be announced, the PLC candidate in the capital Managua was claiming massive fraud had denied him victory. International election observers from groups representing countries from all over Latin America contradicted that claim stating that the elections were well-organized, free and fair.
Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council is composed of the same magistrates who oversaw the PLC presidential election victory in 2001, the municipal elections won overwhelmingly by the FSLN in 2004 and the FSLN presidential election victory in 2006. The Nicaraguan right-wing parties accepted those elections without demurral. The Supreme Electoral Council, an independent power of the State, is composed of three magistrates nominated by the PLC, three by the FSLN and its president, who is not identified with either party.
Following the election the PLC opposition staged marches and protests, deliberately provoking FSLN supporters and attacking Sandinista journalists. In response, FSLN supporters took to the streets en masse and forced the cancellation of various opposition marches in León and Managua. Dozens of demonstrators from both sides, as well as police, were injured. The announcement of the final results was made, apparently, in part to end uncertainty after the PLC party representatives had tried delaying tactics to extend the post electoral count process and thus throw doubt on the elections' legitimacy.
These municipal elections are the second time over the last two years that Nicaraguans have served up what the imperialist powers of North America and Europe regard as the wrong result. The national and international propaganda response has been overwhelming. Local media, dominated by the right wing and its social democrat allies, relentlessly attacked the electoral authority. Their message, as usual, was taken up and magnified many times by the international press. Spain's, El País, for example called for foreign intervention.
Much of the media parroted basic falsehoods. The BBC news web site and the Radio Netherlands Worldwide web site (1), for example, both falsely reported that the government had refused to allow election observers. A double falsehood since the Supreme Electoral Council is independent of the government and did in fact invite election observers from all over Latin America via organizations of professional electoral specialists representing the electoral authorities of around a dozen Latin American countries - the Protocolo de Tikal group, the Protocolo de Quito group and the Council of Latin American Electoral Experts.(2)
An excellent example of hateful anti-Sandinista propaganda turned up on the pages of the Independent written by John Carlin, notorious for his fact-free coverage of Venezuela. At the centre of Carlin's piece one finds exactly the same blatant falsehoods that figure in the rest of the Western Bloc media's anti Sandinista propaganda campaign. Carlin writes ""Mr Ortega prevented international observers from overseeing the elections and ensured that the Supreme Electoral Council was entirely in Sandinista hands." (3)
The rest of his article is an opinion piece regurgitating the poisonous propaganda of social democrat soul mates who have openly allied themselves with the right wing opposition party run by Arnoldo Aleman, the corrupt PLC strongman convicted of multi-million dollar corruption. Almost all the individuals cited or mentioned by Carlin, for example Sergio Ramirez, Gioconda Belli or Carlos Fernando Chamorro, are politically, morally and intellectually discredited inside Nicaragua among the great majority of the population. All formerly leading Sandinistas, they are reduced to a tiny, unrepresentative but privileged clique, serving the propaganda needs of the local oligarchy and supportive foreign powers.
It seems absurd that elections in a small country like Nicaragua should be of any concern to the great imperialist powers. The contrast could hardly be greater between the huge imperialist country propaganda campaign on behalf of the losing Nicaraguan opposition and the studied indifference to the vast fraud committed in Mexico in 2006. That fraud denied Mexico's PRD opposition candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador victory in that year' presidential election. But Lopez Obrador's mobilization of millions of supporters for months in protest at that blatant electoral fraud was treated with studied indifference by the North American and European corporate media.
In fact, one has to look beyond Nicaragua to understand the significance of the current extraordinary international propaganda assault. Political projects sponsored by the US government and its allies have this year been defeated in Ecuador and Bolivia. In Venezuela next week, the government and its allies are likely to win another overwhelming victory similar to that of the FSLN in Nicaragua on November 9th. In El Salvador, the left wing FMLN party is well ahead in opinion polls prior to the presidential elections there in March 2009. If the FMLN win, they will immediately incorporate El Salvador into the ALBA solidarity-based trade and cooperation treaty, led by Venezuela and Cuba.
It is an open question how far the US government and its European allies will go to obstruct that development. One obvious way is to send a very clear message to the El Salvadoran electorate by cutting aid to Nicaragua on the pretext of lack of democracy. The UK Guardian's Latin America correspondent, Rory Carroll, reported in an article in October "Several European governments are preparing to axe tens of millions of dollars in aid" (4) in response to government attempts to control aid donations being channelled to an opposition political party. To date, no such cuts have been made.
The clearest recent precedent for such measures is Gaza. When Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian Authority elections, the US government and its European allies refused to accept the result and worked ceaselessly to destroy the Hamas government. Eventually, funding was cut and Gaza was subjected to a grotesque re-enactment of medieval siege tactics by Israel, actively supported by the governments of the United States and the European Union. The message was clear. A democratic vote for candidates rejected by the US and European governments will lead to destructive measures aimed at the broader population - in other words collective punishment, illegal under international humanitarian law.
Now, it remains to be seen whether the US government and its European allies will use the bogus pretext of electoral fraud in Nicaragua to punish the Nicaraguan people by withdrawing hundreds of millions of dollars of development aid. If they do, the self evident intent will be to deepen their efforts to destabilise the Nicaraguan government and to send a very strong message to voters in El Salvador about how they should vote next March, if they know what's good for them. It is hard to know who are more pathetic and contemptible - the rich-country politicians and diplomats who promote this interventionist gangsterism or the innumerable media shills like John Carlin, Rory Carroll and their editors who cover it up under a fact-free propaganda gloss.
1. - and -
- these reports may have been corrected now since I complained about the falsehoods to the site editors
3. "Nicaragua: Betrayal of the revolution", John Carlin, Independent 21/11/2008
toni writes for Tortilla con Sal

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