blog

WATCH | New Power: How the West is Orchestrating Social Media to Capture Latin America

 

In this excerpt from an exclusive interview with Max Blumenthal (the Gray Zone), Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega describes the impact of the social media campaigns unleashed against the Sandinista Government in an attempted coup. [July 30, 2018]

 

Transcript:

Max Blumenthal: “You’re speaking about a war in the streets but there was also an information war. Many of your supporters have complained about manipulation, there’s even a popular song Mentira about the wave of what they consider fake news. I want to play you a message that was sent by whatsapp  to millions of young Nicaraguans on April 19th which claimed to be a recording from Apali. [plays recording] I also spoke to students who were in Apali at the time and they described a scenario totally different than what was described in that message with explosions going off, police coming in to burn everyone alive. I want to ask you about your communication strategy in the early days. Were you too quiet?”

President Daniel Ortega: “What we lived through in the war against Somoza, the war the U.S. imposed upon us in the 80s was… the communications at time with the media I mean as in television, newspapers, radio, and that gave Nicaragua of course a negative image and it was part of the war against Nicaragua. When we came back to government in 2000, a short time thereafter, a movement of retirees began that didn’t have at the time, coverage from the National Social Security Institute because they hadn’t paid the 15 years, they hadn’t paid their full quota, over the 15 year period. And when we came into government the Social Security system was already in great difficulty. But because we’re sensitive to social issues we needed to come up with a just answer [and] began to think now what could we do, how can we help these retirees…  but these retirees were barely out on the street when suddenly a hashtag came out called OCUPA INSS* which is the social security Institute building and that went viral internationally and suddenly we found ourselves confronted by this sort of embryo of a force through the social networks that was really quite powerful actually. And when the situation… because then the people came, you know people, young people who had been hearing this on the, through social media came down to the Social Security Institute building and they went into the building and many of these were really the supporters of the very same parties and governments that had been in power in the 17 years when the retirees were not getting any money if they hadn’t filled their entire quotas, and that was also the first time that the leaders of the Catholic Church, it got involved in a conflict of this nature, because they too, went there then to the Social Security Institute and you know talking with the young people who were there and discussing also with the Sandinista young people who were there who were in favor of the old people who needed to get some money but were of course against the attacks the government was suffering, as though we had been against the these people getting their quota. So what we did was, we did incorporate them, but of course that weakened the Social Security system even more. But that was our first experience than with all kind of media you’re talking about. The second serious one we had was the fire at Indio Maíz just this past March and there it was a lot stronger even because they had of course had been using the social networks throughout, attacking the government on any number of issues, and so we started realizing we had better get with it and become interested in this whole social network thing, and get involved, so as to defend just positions. So they were very, very strong and internationalized the issue of this forest fire. That you know the Sandinistas are destroying, in fact, put the fire [there] themselves, put the fire there themselves. And one could see that this was being articulated with other movements here in the cities. They were obviously already thinking in broader terms that was pointing in the direction, and finally did, but no, it did occur to us that this was going to end up being an attempted coup d’etat. We just thought it was one more battle in which they were trying to drag the government down and they were trying to degrade the government. But I mean we had firefighter experts here and they, they told us it would take months to put it out. So that it was going to be very, very, difficult to put out. And we thought this is going to be, and of course the international repercussions on sensitive issues such as the environment. And then rained. It’s a very, very, rainy area. It rained intensely. And that was it. They couldn’t continue with that banner.”

Max Blumenthal:But the social media continued. Do you think you responded effectively enough?

President Daniel Ortega: “Well I think we have to strengthen our networks, locally. And of course with the people. With workers, young people, women, teachers, to defend ourselves. And the good things. And I’ll point out the good things that this process has done. And it is also absolutely critical to internationalize this because they have been able to internationalize their [destabilization campaign].”

+++

Excerpt from Purpose Goes to Latin America Part II, Higher Learning : The Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Otpor):

*The @OccupaInss twitter account contains what could be said, the key architects of the destabilization movement (396 following, 15k followers, with 52, 274 “likes”on Facebook. Accessed August 24, 2018). The account follows three international NGOs. Two being Avaaz and Amnesty International (as well as Amnesty International Press – @Amnestypress ). Also followed is the US Treasury Department, the Organization of American States (OAS) (a colonial thorn in the side of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua), the U.S. Department of State Spanish twitter account. The third international NGO followed is Bianca Jagger, President and Chief Executive of the Bianca Jagger of the Human Rights Foundation under the twitter account Bianca Jagger Nicaraguense por gracia de Dios with 69.5k followers.

Purpose Goes to Latin America [Part II]