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Nicaragua and the Corruption, Cooptation of Human Rights

Tortilla Con Sal

January 5, 2019

By Stephen Sefton

 

Carrie Reichardt & The Treatment Rooms Collective “Power to the People” Quote by Berthldt Brecht  –  Disobedient Objects exhibit, 2014

 

Since the demise of the Soviet Union, almost 30 years ago, abuse and debasement of human rights concerns have served increasingly to create pretexts promoting Western dominance around the world. From former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to Iraq and Sudan, to Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria, to Myanmar and Ukraine, Western governments have used non governmental human rights organizations and abuse of the United Nations system to attack countries resisting the demands of US and allied elites and the governments they control. In Latin America, that dynamic has long targeted Cuba, more recently Venezuela, now Nicaragua and will soon attack Bolivia and probably Mexico too, if the new progressive government there shows too much independence. The US and European elites have stepped up their efforts at regime change in Latin America and the Caribbean so as to guarantee access to and control of the region’s abundant natural resources, because Chinese and Russian influence is blocking their accustomed control of the majority world in Eurasia and Africa.

Like Venezuela previously, Nicaragua has been targeted by the US dominated Organization of American States using local US and European funded non-profit proxies inside Nicaragua and Western corporate dominated non-governmental organizations. They have manipulated international and regional human rights institutions so as to violate fundamental precepts of international law like self-determination and non-intervention. Just as in the 1980s in Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique and elsewhere, and now both Venezuela and Nicaragua again, violent armed non-governmental actors have been used to destabilize the country and create a context allowing false reporting of human rights concerns so as to discredit revolutionary governments.

As independent US writer Max Blumenthal pointed out in an interview in July last year, “…how I know that there was a regime change operation afoot – and when I say “regime change operation,” I mean an attack not just on a government but on the nation-state, a plan to reduce a country to a failed state like Libya – is that Ken Roth surfaced after the Nicaraguan government had essentially won and removed the roadblocks, allowing the economy which had bled $500 million to start functioning again, allowing citizens to start moving around. Ken Roth, the dictator of Human Rights Watch, who has been in the same position for 25 years, catering to a small cadre of billionaires and elite foundations with almost no constituency base, blamed the government for every single death.  Meaning that zero Sandinistas died according to Ken Roth.”

Blumenthal’s insight into the inextricable relationship between human rights NGOs and Western corporate elites suggests a series of points which categorically undermine glib acceptance of false human rights accusations against Nicaragua. The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are all guilty of extreme bad faith, non-compliance with basic norms and adherence to long discredited theoretical nostrums. In effect, they are themselves all accomplices to very serious human rights violations by Nicaragua’s US supported armed opposition. Four main considerations apply.

Firstly, on technical grounds none of these organizations have adhered even to the Huridocs guidelines, a tool created by and for Western government and corporate funded human rights organizations. The guidelines propose concepts and good practice in relation to fact-finding, documentation and monitoring of human rights violations. The IACHR, the UNOHCHR. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have categorically failed to comply with  the HURIDOCS guidelines. In terms of fact finding, they systematically omit sources and facts that contradict or exclude their preferred finding. In terms of documentation, they systematically exclude abundant documentation from Nicaraguan government ministries, from the public prosecutor’s office, from the legislature’s Truth and Justice Commission, from the Institute of Legal Medicine and from the Office of the Procurator for Human Rights.

All that information to a greater or lesser extent contradicts the bogus fact finding of the OAS, the UN and foreign NGOs. In terms of monitoring the situation in Nicaragua, all those institutions and organizations depend exclusively on virulently politically biased local media, NGOs and opposition activists. So even on their own terms, their methodology does not comply with basic concepts and standards and, thus, the kinds of cases they have built to justify their findings would never stand up to impartial legal scrutiny. One farcical aspect of their approach has been to accuse the Nicaraguan government of repressing local media when their main sources by far are abundant citations of false reports from those same local media, relayed via dishonest local human rights NGOs.

Secondly, in theoretical terms, the approach of the IACHR, the UNOHCHR and foreign NGOs like Amnesty International has been to exclude violations by non-State actors, exactly the same faithless alibi they all used during the Cold War. But that theoretical framework has been outdated since 1993 when the UN Human Rights Convention in Vienna explicitly recognized the role of non-State actors in human rights abuses (thus recognizing how the US government and its allies used irregular forces, like the Contra in Nicaragua, RENAMO in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola, to apply systematic terrorism against civilian populations). As Carlos Emilio Lopez a leading Nicaraguan human rights activist and legislator has pointed out:

“In 1993, with the approval of the Vienna Declaration of Human Rights, the subject of respect for human rights was re-conceptualized. For many years it was considered that only States should respect human, rights but that understanding is already out of date. The reconceptualization of human rights is that States must respect human rights but companies, churches, organizations must also do so, social organizations, oligopolies, the media, people as individuals. In other words, we are all obliged to respect human rights, not only State institutions.” Thus, every time Amnesty International or the IACHR claim their remit excludes non-State actors, they are appealing to a theoretical framework 30 years out of date deliberately so as to wash their hands of abuses by political actors with whom they sympathize.

Thirdly, specifically with regard to Amnesty International, their organization has been corrupted and co-opted over many years now by corporate influence via links through their senior personnel with corporate globalization advocates whose explicit aim is to undermine and diminish the role of sovereign nation states. Amnesty International’s Secretary General and senior directors, their International Board and its Secretary General’s Global Council freely advertise their background working either directly with multinational corporations, or with corporate funders  or with other heavily corporate funded non profits. In this, Amnesty International, like Human Rights Watch, is very similar to the Purpose/AVAAZ corporate human rights conglomerate. Their human rights activities are guided by emphatic neoliberal hostility to nation-State governments, such that their reporting deliberately sets out to exclude or discredit information from government or other official sources. More broadly in Latin American and the Caribbean, accompanying the encroaching cooptation of NGOs by corporate predators like Purpose, the overtly political Atlas network supports NGOs promoting extreme right wing policies across the region, thus facilitating the ascent to power of fascists like Jair Bolsonaro.

Above: Par for the course marketing. No expense is spared by in the multitude of Amnesty International demonization campaigns targeting leaders that defy US foreign policy. This 2011 ad was created by the advertising firm Euro RSGC (Havas Creative), co-founder of TckTckTck (GCCA).

Fourthly, that corporate corruption and cooptation of Sean MacBride‘s original vision of the role and work of Amnesty International and similar organizations, is clearly manifest in their demonstrable bias in favor of US and allied countries’ foreign policy priorities. In that regard, Professor Francis Boyle, among many others, has been an authoritative and trenchant critic of Amnesty International’s role in Palestine and elsewhere, whereby it downplays or minimizes violations by States allied to NATO countries. On the other hand, institutions like the IACHR and the UNOHCHR and organizations like Amnesty International, systematically exaggerate and even invent violations in countries targeted by NATO member country governments. Thus in Latin America, the current horrific record of human rights violations in Colombia and, until AMLO, in Mexico, has been played down and minimized, while events in Cuba, Venezuela and now Nicaragua have been systematically misrepresented.

All these concerns about the practical bad faith, theoretical dishonesty, corporate co-optation and outright political bias of human rights institutions and organizations should give any intellectually honest person of progressive views pause. People genuinely concerned about human rights should reassess what they think they know about Nicaragua and about Venezuela too. The US and allied country corporate elites are determined to use the governments, institutions and NGOs they have bought, to destroy resistance to their domination in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the 60th anniversary this year of Cuba’s revolution, together with the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and the 20th anniversary of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution suggest they will not have things all their own way.

 

[Stephen Sefton lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal.] 

The U.S. Deploys its Third Major Attempt to Destabilize the Government of Evo Morales

Resumen

August 1, 2018

By Hugo Moldiz Mercado

 

Using the 2019 elections as the pretext, The United States, through different means and actors, is activating its third major plan to destabilize Evo Morales’ government, block the indigenous leader’s project of political-electoral continuity and interrupt the process of change.

However, far from coming from a position of strength, these external actions against the process of change in Bolivia reveal the deep weakness of the internal opposition, which seeks to gain from outside the country what it has not yet been able to gain from within.

The interventionist plan of the United States is obvious. There is no reason why U.S. imperialism would not activate plans and measures to meddle in Bolivia’s internal affairs, just as it has done against all the progressive and leftist governments of Latin America.

It started with the weakest, such as Honduras and Paraguay, then it carried out a new type of coups, that they applied against the strongest; Brazil, where there was a coup in two stages. The first was a parliamentary coup against Dilma Rousseff, and the second, a judicial coup against Lula.  Against others, whose common trait is that they have carried out more profound changes through their Constituent Assemblies, as in the cases of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. It failed in its attempt to overthrow them through violence, although in the case of Ecuador, without Rafael Correa, it has so far successfully activated a passive regression with Lenin Moreno as president.

In fact, as the Consensus of Our America, approved by the XXIII Meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum that took place in Managua in 2017 and ratified at the XXIV Meeting of the same forum in Havana in July of this year,  the left has only been defeated by the electoral means in Argentina. In the rest, as noted above, it did so by non-democratic means, as it continues to try against Venezuela.

The counter-revolutionary and restorative offensive began during the Obama administration and continues, in a more perverse way, with the government of Donald Trump, who is trying to prevent the United States from ceasing to be the world hegemony and obviously to not lose control of Latin America. In fact, to be more precise, it seeks to re-establish its domination and hegemony in that part of the planet that, according to the Monroe doctrine, is considered its “backyard”. The fact that countries such as Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela and others have been the main forgers of innovative criteria for Latin American integration and unity through ALBA, UNASUR and CELAC is something that the United States is not willing to tolerate.

This conservative restoration project is encountering active resistance, to a greater or lesser degree, from the revolutionary processes of Cuba -which Evo Morales described in Havana as the mother of all revolutions-, Venezuela and Bolivia, but also from El Salvador. To this list Mexico must be added, which starting in December will be governed by Manuel López Obrador, who won a historic electoral victory at the beginning of July.

Well, Bolivia is no exception. From ideological reasons to geopolitical factors, the United States is working to end governments of countries where revolutions are taking place in the context and conditions of the 21st century. It has already taken care of almost all of the progressive governments, with only Uruguay and El Salvador left. And Bolivia, we reiterate, is no exception.

Against the process of change, led by indigenous leader Evo Morales, all actions of oligarchic and imperial destabilization have been deployed from the beginning. Without mistake we can observe three huge attempts to interrupt the deepest political process in the entire history of this country located in the heart of South America.

The first attempt to overthrow Morales came early in the 2006-2009 period.  Concerned about a government that from the outset nationalized oil, recovered natural resources and companies for the State, convened a Constituent Assembly, began to exercise State sovereignty in all fields, committed to the multilateral nature of international relations and promoted, together with other countries in the region, innovative mechanisms of political integration and coordination (Alba and Unasur), the United States maintained its conspiracy machinery. To do this, it used the DEA – which was dedicated to political espionage with the CIA – and installed the capacity within its embassy in La Paz to organize and promote the plans for territorial divisions, which was the concrete way in which the leftist government was to be overthrown.

The coup attempt was defeated by the capacity of the government and social movements to mobilize its base rather than by the institutional actions of their police and the armed forces. The effect of that defeat turned out to be hard on the United States; Ambassador Philip Golberg was expelled and so was the DEA. Months later, already weakened, the Bolivian far-right would suffer another defeat when a terrorist cell was dismantled, with foreign members whose plans included the assassination of President Evo Morales.

The second attempt was carried out between December 2015 and February 2016. Faced with the government project to modify article 168 of the Political Constitution of the State by referendum that would enable Evo Morales-Álvaro García Linera to run in the 2019 elections, a political-media conspiracy activated by the United States through Carlos Valverde – former national intelligence director of the Paz Zamora government (1989-1993) and a permanent link with the United States, as confirmed by the WikiLeaks – succeeded in breaking the emotional bond of a percentage of the population that had always voted for Morales (2005, 2009 and 2014).  The Bolivian president denounced the day and hour when Chargé d’Affaires Peter Brennan and Valverde had met in Santa Cruz to fine-tune the plan that called into question the moral authority of the top leader of the Bolivian revolution. Several mistakes made in an effort to clarify the denunciation – which ultimately turned out to be false – contributed to the confusion and facilitated the electoral setback for the ruling party.

But the U.S. and the right did not fully achieve what they wanted. The narrow margin by which the YES lost, preventing stopping the calls for Morales to resign. However, this was the first time that the opposition parties had penetrated into the so-called “citizen platforms” and destabilizing actions of a media group, as well as the active social networking movement.

Failing to refute the success of the Bolivian economic model, which for the fourth consecutive time reached the highest growth rate in the region in 2017 and is expected to do the same thing this year through good management. This comes despite facing problems including the drop in the prices of raw materials.

Currently the United States and the Bolivian right are deploying their third major attempt to reverse the Bolivian revolution. The reason used this time is the defense of the result of the referendum of February 21, 2016 that would disallow Evo from running in the 2019 elections. The underlying reason is to interrupt the continuity of the process of change. The tools being used are “citizens’ platforms”, being financially supported by opposition parties and US agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and others. There is also evidence that right wing European organizations are involved.

This third major destabilizing attempt is also on its way to structuring an international front of interference, through the OAS and the IACHR, the U.S. government and Congress.  That is why it is no coincidence that at the end of November last year, the Trump administration and Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen voted against the constitutional amendment that, on the basis of the Constitution and the American Convention, authorizes all elected authorities, national and sub-national, to run for indefinite reelection.  OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, an active militant against the Venezuelan revolution and all leftist governments, has also spoken out against the Bolivian Constitutional and Plurinational Tribunal

The drafting of a report by the Vienna Commission at the request of the OAS, which states that re-election is not a human right, is one of the conditions the Bolivian right is pushing.

What is striking is that since 2006, this is the first time the State Department has issued a statement urging Morales to withdraw his candidacy in 2019. “The people of Bolivia have spoken out. The United States supports them and urges the current Bolivian government to respect the outcome of these referendums,” the Trump administration went on to say there has been a “step backwards in Bolivian democracy.”

Twice the arch right Republican Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has stated that the United States should not remain silent and should “send a clear message of support to the Bolivian people“.

It is clear that the pronouncement of the U.S. State Department, the positions of the OAS Secretary General and the movement in the U.S. Congress undoubtedly represents an interventionist action plan against the process of change. This is just beginning.

Original Source: Cuba Debate.

http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2018/08/01/eeuu-despliega-su-tercer-gran-intento-desestabilizador-contra-evo/#.W2eRkFVKiUl

FURTHER READING:

Evo Morales Rejects Militarization of Bolivia-Argentina Border: “On August 17, the Argentine Government set up a military base in the border city of La Quiaca, near Bolivia, framed in the plan for a reform of the Armed Forces.” [Source: TeleSUR]

 

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