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From the End of History to the End of Truth

TeleSUR

March 11, 2018

By Tortilla Con Sal

 

 

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. | Photo: Reuters

Non governmental organizations play a role in the Western elites’ offensive against resistance to them.

Making nonsense of Fukuyama’s premature triumphalist screed, it is commonplace now to note that the United States corporate elites and their European and Pacific country counterparts are increasingly losing power and influence around the world. Equally common is the observation that these Western elites and the politicians who front for them have acted over the last twenty years to reassert their control in their respective areas of neocolonial influence. The European Union powers have done so in Eastern Europe and Africa, most obviously but not only, in Ukraine, Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali and the Central African Republic. Likewise, the United States has acted to reassert its influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, effectively declaring war on Venezuela, maintaining its economic and psychological warfare against Cuba and intervening elsewhere with varying degrees of openness.

Before they died, among the main Western media bogeymen were Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Muammar al Gaddhafi. Now Vladimir Putin and Bashar al Assad have been joined by Xi Jinping and Nicolas Maduro. Along with these and other world leaders, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega has also constantly been the object of endlessly repetitive Western media hate campaigns. This longstanding, plain-as-day media strategy, regularly and blatantly prepares mass opinion to facilitate Western government aggression against the latest target government. No one following these processes with any attention will have failed to notice the leading role played by non governmental organizations in the Western elites’ offensive against resistance to them by political leaders and movements around the world.

In almost every case of recent Western provoked interventions, from Venezuela in 2002, through Haiti in 2004, Bolivia in 2008, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, Ukraine in 2014, Western media have used deliberately misleading and downright deceitful reports from Western NGOs to support their own false misreporting of events. In Nicaragua’s case, the usual untrustworthy NGO suspects like Amnesty International, Transparency International and Global Witness constantly publish misleading reports and statements attacking or undermining President Daniel Ortega and his government. In general, their reporting is grossly biased and disproportionate given the regional context of incomparably horrific events and deplorable conditions elsewhere in Latin America, but, as often as not, it is also downright untrue.

In a recent example, Global Witness stated that Nicaragua’s proposed interoceanic canal “wasn’t preceded by any environmental impact reports, nor any consultation with local people”. Both those assertions are completely untrue. But this Big Lie repetition is the modus operandi of the Western elites who fund outfits like Global Witness, Amnesty International, and other influential NGOs like International Crisis Group and Transparency Intenational. For example, Amnesty International claims “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion”. But it bears constant repetition that many of Amnesty International’s board and most of its senior staff responsible for the organization’s reports are deeply ideologically committed with links to corporate dominated NGO’s like PurposeOpen Society InstituteHuman Rights Watch, and many others.

Also worth repeating is that Global Witness in 2016 received millions of dollars from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, the Ford Foundation and NATO governments. The boards and advisory boards of these NGOs are all made up overwhelmingly of people from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector. Many have a strong corporate business background as well. All move easily from one highly paid Western NGO job to the next, serving NATO country foreign policy goals. Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based Avaaz and Purpose, noting “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

Back in 2017 it was already a truism to note that Western NGOS “operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.” What is now becoming even more clear in the current context is that these Western NGOs and their media accomplices are confident enough to publish downright lies because reporting the facts no longer matters. Western public discourse has become so debased, incoherent and fragmentary that the truth is almost completely irrelevant. All that matters is the power to impose a version of events no matter how false and untruthful it may be.

This sinister media reality is intimately related to the politicization of legal and administrative processes in the national life of countries across Latin America. The spurious legal processes against Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva in Brazil, against Milagro Sala and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, against Jorge Glas and, no doubt very soon, Rafael Correa in Ecuador are all based on the same faithless virtual association and complete disregard for factual evidence as Western media and NGO propaganda reports attacking Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua. It is imperative to overcome the ridiculous liberal presupposition that the region’s elites, with the advantage of designing and controlling their countries’ legal systems and communications media for over 200 years, are somehow going to respect high falutin’ avowals about “separation of powers”.

Note: this article borrows from previous articles here and here.

 

 

[Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.”]

What a Wonderful World – US Saviour Complex

21st Century Wire

September 16, 2017

by Bruno Guigue

Purveyor of platitudes, the West portrays itself as the epitome of universal values . A paragon of democracy, this champion of human rights always deploys its presumed virtues in support of its hegemonic ambitions. Like the Fairy Godmother, doing her best to match her morals with her interests, she veils her ambitions with the cloak of Law and Justice. 

Thus, the “Free World” goes about bombing foreign nations for the sake of “democracy”, preferably in oil or mineral-rich territories. By combining a simple creed with capitalist greed, it is acting as if it can convert its economic supremacy into moral privilege.

The rest of the world is not fooled by these tactics, but who cares? The “Free World” is always right because it represents the “good fight” and for as long as it is the most powerful, it will not be contradicted. The inherent barbarism that it projects onto others is the counter to its self-proclaimed monopoly on “civilization”. Sanctified by the holy order of “right to intervene”, a marriage of the GI sandbags with the Kouchner-style bag of rice, the West, vassalized by Washington, believes wholeheartedly that they can save the world by subjugating it to the pitiless ravages demanded by the financial vultures and military industrial complex.

This supremacist enterprise was not born yesterday. It was midwived in the historical period dear to Fernand Braudel, that of the emergence of the “world economy”. Driven by its superior technological advances, since the Renaissance, the western world has propelled itself towards the conquest of our planet earth. Patiently, the west has appropriated other cultures, other worlds, and twisted them into its own image, enforcing obeissance and imitation, eliminating all those who would not conform. Its certitude is untroubled by its own hypocrisy, the West perceives itself as a metaphor for this world. The West wanted to expand from being a part of the world into being the “whole” – in the same way, today, we see countries comprising 10% of the world’s population portraying themselves as the “International Community”.

Over the last three centuries, colonial conquest has demonstrated the West’s desire to expand its influence beyond its own boundaries, under the banner of bringing “civilization” to the under-developed. This global domination project was temporarily derailed by the uprising of the colonized peoples in the 20th Century, but it made a triumphant return with its North American branch of hegemony. America, the “Far West” ‘discovered’ by Christopher Columbus in search of the “Far East”, inherited the “Old Continent” penchant for imperialism and rapacious carpet baggery. The US converted its lack of history into the promise of a ” better future”, emerging suddenly from Anglo-Saxon puritanism, the US magnified the globalist “for profit” ethos. Paid for with the blood of the American-Indian genocide, America was born, the newly minted metaphor for the world.

It is not certain that this change was for the better. Colonial empires collapsed under the weight of their archaic structures, while US hegemony maintains itself through modern technology channels, from Google to drone warfare. Suddenly the US was the most supple and resilient. What imbues it with flexibility also ensures its longevity. From the white pith helmet of the european colonial overlords to the digital screens of US cyber warfare, a revolution took place. The US substituted a shock-colonization, dismantled after bloody decolonization conflict, with a multi-faceted hegemonic enterprise. Taking over from the classic colonial three “M”s, the “made in the US” NGOs replaced the Christian missionary complex, “merchants” became multi-nationals and the “soldiers” converted to cyber supremacy.

Emboldened by the die-hard spirit of “born again” Midwesterners, the American empire is projecting its devastating Manichaeism upon the rest of the world. Dreaming with its eyes wide open, the US envisages a definitive alliance between good and evil, the indestructible pillar upon which to build a straightforward ethnocentrism. The “law” is on their side as it ’embodies the core values of ‘democracy, human rights and market economy’.  Obviously, this is a crude ideology, a fraudulent mask for its own sordid interests, but it is effective. Its efficacy is proven by the popular consensus that the “US won the second world war, capitalism works, Cuba is a tropical gulag, Assad is worse than Hitler and that North Korea is a threat to the world.”

This process of self-beatification, bestows upon the North-American-Empire zealots, the right to track down all “Evil” in the world. No scruples will impede its saviour frenzy, it is the very incarnation of such an “exceptional civilization”, that it must cleanse the world of barbarism by all means at its disposal. That is why modern imperialism functions as a court of “universal” law, a judge, that rewards or punishes where it sees fit. Before this elevated “moral” jurisdiction, the CIA represents the prosecution, the Pentagon is the secular chamber, the US President is the high court judge, a “deus ex machina”, invoking divine justice, the lightning strike, upon the “Axis of Evil” and any other sinners circulating in the court of the “Empire of Good”.

This tendency for the US to see itself as the moral compass for the world is central to this structure and is unperturbed by the rapid turn-around of Presidents in the White House, a new tenant changes nothing. Washington’s “crusade” against the “barbarians” conceals the unbridled greed of the Military Industrial Complex and the iron claw of the deep state. From Harry Truman to Donald Trump with Barack Obama inbetween, from Korea to Vietnam to Syria, Indonesia, Angola, Mozambique, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, South Africa, Serbia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, death is the cure, by proxy or directly, for all those who oppose the saviour’s kingdom of universal justice.

“Philanthropic America” always harnesses the local labour force to carry out its dirty work.Franco, Hitler and Mussolini (until 1939), Chiang Kai Shek, Somoza, Syngman Rhee, Ngo Dinh Diem, Salazar, Batista, Mobutu, Marcos, Trujillo, Pik Botha, Duvalier, Suharto, Papadopoulos, Castelo Branco, Videla, Pinochet, Stroessner, Reza Shah Pahlevi, Zia Ul Haqq, Bin Laden, Uribe, King Salman, Nethanyahu, Ukrainian Nazis and the “moderate terrorists” in the Middle East have been of invaluable service to Empire.

Undisputed leader of the “Free World”, America claims to embody “civilization” while obliterating entire populations with nuclear weapons, napalm or a rain of cruise missiles. Sometimes it chooses a slow death for  its prey, with Agent Orange, depleted uranium or embargos on medicines and humanitarian aid. While America is never short of sychophants praising their “services to Humanity”, the evidence is irrefutable, that the collapse of this Empire would be a cause for celebration.

 

Translation by Vanessa Beeley for 21st Century Wire

***

[Bruno Guigue is a French author and political analyst born in Toulouse 1962. Professor of philosophy and lecturer in international relations for highter education. The author of 5 books including  Aux origines du conflit Israélo-Arabe, l’invisible remords de l’Occident (L’Harmattan, 2002).]

Amnesty International Is Weaponizing Human Rights For The U.S., NATO

TeleSUR

August 13, 2017

by Tortilla con Sal

 

Nicaragua’s current Sandinista government has been the most successful ever in reducing poverty and defending the right of all Nicaraguans to a dignified life.

Over the last year, in Latin America, Amnesty International has taken their collusion in support of NATO government foreign policy down to new depths of falsehood and bad faith, attacking Venezuela and, most recently, Nicaragua. The multi-million dollar Western NGO claims, “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion.”

That claim is extremely dishonest. Many of Amnesty International’s board and most of the senior staff in its secretariat, which produces the organization’s reports, are individuals with a deeply ideologically committed background in corporate dominated NGOs like PurposeOpen Society InstituteHuman Rights Watch, and many others.

Mexico has over 36,000 people disappeared and abuses by the security forces are constant. Colombia has over four million internally displaced people with over 53 community activists murdered just in 2017. Amnesty International generally puts that horrific reality in context by including criticism of forces challenging those countries’ authorities. By contrast, its reporting on Venezuela and Nicaragua, like those of other similar Western NGOs, reproduces the false claims of those countries’ minority political opposition forces, all supported one way or another by NATO country governments.

In Venezuela and Nicaragua, Western human rights organizations exaggerate alleged government violations while minimizing abuses and provocations by the opposition. This screenshot of Amnesty International’s three main news items on Venezuela from Aug. 9 gives a fair idea of the organization’s heavily politicized, bad faith coverage of recent events.

This is identical false coverage to that of Western mainstream corporate media and most Western alternative media outlets too. Amnesty International’s coverage minimizes opposition murders of ordinary Venezuelans, setting many people on fire, violent attacks on hospitals, universities and even preschools and innumerable acts of intimidation of the general population. That headline “Venezuela: Lethal violence, a state policy to strangle dissent” is a pernicious lie. President Nicolas Maduro explicitly banned the use of lethal force against opposition demonstrations from the start of the latest phase of the opposition’s long drawn out attempted coup back in early April this year.

Likewise, against Nicaragua, Amnesty’s latest report, kicking off their global campaign to stop Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, also begins with a demonstrable lie: “Nicaragua has pushed ahead with the approval and design of a mega-project that puts the human rights of hundreds of thousands of people at risk, without consultation and in a process shrouded in silence” That claim is completely false. Even prior to September 2015, the international consultants’ impact study found that the government and the HKND company in charge of building the canal had organized consultations with, among others, over 4,000 people from rural communities in addition to 475 people from Indigenous communities along the route of the canal and its subsidiary projects. There has been very extensive media discussion and coverage of the project ever since it was announced.

That extremely prestigious ERM consultants’ Environmental and Social Impact study, which together with associated studies cost well over US$100 million, is publicly available in Spanish and in English. Two years ago, it anticipated all the criticisms made by Amnesty International and was accepted by the Nicaraguan government, leading to a long period of analysis and revision that is still under way. Amnesty International excludes that information. Recently, government spokesperson Telemaco Talavera said the continuing process involves a total of 26 further studies. Until the studies are complete, the government is clearly right to avoid commenting on the proposed canal, because the new studies may radically change the overall project.

Amnesty International states, “According to independent studies of civil society organizations, along the announced route of the canal, approximately 24,100 households (some 119,200 people) in the area will be directly impacted.” But, the ERM study notes, “HKND conducted a census of the population living in the Project Affected Areas. The census determined that approximately 30,000 people (or 7,210 families) would need to be physically or economically displaced.” But Amnesty International’s report omits that contradictory detail, demonstrating how irrationally committed they are to the false propaganda of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Amnesty International claim their research team interviewed “at least 190 people” concerned about the effects of the canal. By contrast, the Nicaraguan government and the HKND company have discussed the project with around 6,000 people in the areas along the route of the canal. In that regard, even the local church hierarchy has criticized the way the Nicaraguan opposition have manipulated rural families on the issue of the Canal. But that fact too, Amnesty International omits. Their whole report is tailor made to supplement the political opposition’s campaign for U.S. intervention via the notorious NICA Act.

The Nicaraguan government has made an express commitment to a fair and just resolution of the issue of expropriations. Its 2015 report on the canal in the context of its National Development Plan, states: “The Nicaraguan government and HKND will guarantee that persons and families on the route of the canal’s construction will have living conditions superior to those they currently have (without the canal). To that end, the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity, via the Project’s Commission, will guarantee not just a fair and transparent indemnification of their properties, via negotiations and direct agreements with each family affected, but furthermore will promote actions to improve their economic conditions, health care, education, housing and employment.”

But the Amnesty International report systematically excludes that and any other sources giving the government’s point of view, claiming it was unable to access primary sources either from the government itself or from among the canal’s numerous advocates. However, secondary sources abound that categorically contradict Amnesty’s advocacy against the canal. The report specifically and extensively attacks the Law 840, facilitating the construction of the canal and its sub-projects, but cynically omits a fundamental, crucial detail, while also failing completely to give relevant social and economic context.

The crucial detail is that Law 840’s Article 18 specifically states the canal project “cannot require any Government Entity to take any action that violates the Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua or the terms of any international treaty of which the State of the Republic of Nicaragua is a party.” Amnesty International completely omits that absolutely crucial part of Law 840 from their report because it makes redundant their advocacy of opposition claims attacking the equity and legality of the Canal’s legal framework. The same is true of the relevant political, social and economic context.

Nicaragua’s political culture is based on dialogue, consensus, and respect for international law. All the main business organizations in Nicaragua and all the main international financial and humanitarian institutions acknowledge that. President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo enjoy levels of approval of over 70 percent. There is a good reason for that massive majority approval. Among many other factors, the precedents of how the Nicaraguan authorities have resolved the relocation of populations affected by large projects, for example, the Tumarin hydroelectric project, completely contradict the scaremongering of the Nicaraguan opposition propaganda, so glibly recycled by Amnesty International.

Nicaragua’s current Sandinista government has been the most successful ever in reducing poverty and defending the right of all Nicaraguans to a dignified life. To do so, among many other initiatives, it has mobilized record levels of direct foreign investment. In that context, Law 840 explicitly protects the huge potential investments in the proposed canal, while at the same time implicitly guaranteeing constitutional protections. Similarly, ever since the announcement of the canal, Ortega has repeatedly, publicly reassured people in Nicaragua that any families who may eventually be relocated should the canal go ahead will get every necessary help and assistance from the government.

Just as it has done in the case of Venezuela, on Nicaragua, Amnesty International misrepresents the facts, cynically promoting the positions of the country’s right wing political opposition. In Latin America, under cover of phony concern for peoples’ basic rights, in practice Amnesty International, like almost all the big multi-millionaire Western NGOs, gives spurious humanitarian cover to the political agenda of the US and allied country corporate elites and their governments. The destructive, catastrophic effects of Amnesty International’s recent role in the crises affecting Syria, Ukraine and now Venezuela, are living proof of that.

 

[Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.]

Global False Witness – Targeting Nicaragua

Tortilla con Sal

August 2, 2017

 

“Models attend Alexander Soros Foundation’s Global Witness ‘Unmasked’ Gala on July 7, 2012 in Bridgehampton, New York.” Source: Getty Images [Further reading].

Global Witness is a well-established environmental and human rights non-governmental organization based in Britain. As with many other similar organizations, its reports often figure in news media as authoritative sources on international issues. Ever since the 1980s and, increasingly so, after the turn of the century, the status of NGOs as trustworthy information sources on foreign affairs has become increasingly untenable as they have been more and more co-opted by corporate interests and governments to promote the Western elites’ neocolonial global policy agenda.

In the case of Nicaragua, in 2016 Global Witness produced a brief, flawed and unreliable account of land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region in a report called “On Dangerous Ground”. In June 2017, they produced a report called “Defenders of the Earth”, with a section on Nicaragua even more poorly researched and false than the previous one.Three main reasons stand out to dismiss the latest Global Witness report on Nicaragua as unreliable and in bad faith.

Firstly, the report itself is clearly biased and flawed, from even a cursory analysis of its references and their sources by anyone familiar with Nicaragua. Secondly, the organization’s human and material resources all come from a very narrow managerial class and corporate funding base, overwhelmingly advocating the foreign policy positions of the United States government and its allies. Thirdly, the history of Global Witness clearly indicates its categorical bias in favor of NATO country governments’ policy positions in the countries that figure in its reports and too its systemic defense of the very corporate capitalism whose destructive effects Global Witness superficially and selectively criticizes.

Global Witness sources on Nicaragua

Before looking at the text of the false Global Witness attack on Nicaragua, it is worth looking at the sources they identify in their footnotes, of which there are 23, composed of a total of 44 references. For anyone familiar with Nicaraguan politics and society since the war of the 1980s many of the sources are wearily familiar and readily identifiable as anti-Sandinista, for example, the virulently anti-Sandinista La Prensa newspaper. Some of the references are duplicates and some disguise the fact that while apparently distinct, ultimately the information they provide comes from one single source. (Here’s a link to the relevant spreadsheet for anyone interested in a more detailed analysis.)

Of the 44 references, some of which are duplicates, not one represents the view of the Nicaraguan authorities or others criticized in the report or any source sympathetic to them. 16 references are to sources inside Nicaragua politically opposed to the Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. 25 of the sources are external to Nicaragua but with a long record identifying them as ideologically opposed to the Sandinista government. Of those 25 sources, one might argue that the Washington-based Interamerican Commission for Human Rights or the EFE Spanish language news agency are impartial, but their record is indisputably biased against Nicaragua’s Sandinista authorities.

For all but imperialist ideologues, the Paris based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has been discredited in particular, most recently, by its flagrant partisan bias in favor of NATO country government policies attacking the populations of Libya and Syria. One source, a reference to the law authorizing Nicaragua’s Canal, is completely neutral. Only one media source, El Nuevo Diario, is generally independent. Two references are to sources within the Western environmental scientific lobby, which has its own set of highly questionable biases, prejudices and neocolonial hypocrisy.

Methodology”

As if by way of justifying this desperately unfair selection of sources, Global Witness also offer an account of what they call their “methodology”. They aver, “We have recorded data about the cases using the HURIDOCS Event Standard Formats and Micro-Thesauri, an approach which is widely used to manage and analyse material of this nature.”

That Global Witness claim is demonstrably untrue. Whatever their aspirations they certainly did not use the HURIDOCS approach.

HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International) is a European NGO established in 1982 to facilitate networking between human rights organizations around the world. HURIDOCS says its ?specific role in this capacity-building process lies in improving access to and the dissemination of human rights information through more effective, appropriate and compatible methods and techniques of information handling. HURIDOCS recognises that we live in an age of tremendous advances in information and communication technologies. There is the need to master these technologies to aid us in our human rights work. At the same time, we must be conscious of the fact that the technologies to be applied should be appropriate and responsive to the main focus of the mandates of human rights organisation”

HURIDOCS exposition of their approach includes the following definitions:

Fact-finding is the process of identifying the violations in one event, and establishing the facts relevant to these violations. Fact-finding and investigation are terms that are used interchangeably.

Documentation is the process of systematically recording the results of an investigation or fact-finding in relation to an event or number of events. Fact-finding and documentation are organically related and should not be viewed as separate processes.

Monitoring is closely observing a given situation in society over a long period of time to see whether human rights standards are met. To carry out monitoring, investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events are conducted.”

Global Witness are not in compliance with the HURIDOCS approach because their practice in their reporting on Nicaragua demonstrably violates all of these definitions.

Their fact-finding or investigation is so heavily biased as to make it impossible for them to establish the facts. Consequently, thanks to this gross fact finding bias, their documentation is partial, often inaccurate and categorically incomplete. Nor do they show any sign of having done due diligence in monitoring consistently over time via ” investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events” or the context of those events in Nicaragua.

Other theoretical considerations

Apart from these chronic procedural failures, other theoretical considerations cry out for clarification.

Global Witness say, “This report is based on research on killings and enforced disappearances of land and environmental defenders, who we define as people who take peaceful action to protect land or environmental rights”.

But in a bitter property dispute between competing communities, clarifying who is defending whose rights becomes a fundamentally important question. Certainly in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, unscrupulous Miskito community leaders are themselves involved in provoking these property disputes by illegally selling land to rural families migrating in search of a better life. Miskito gangs have attacked and murdered many such people, a factor not even mentioned by Global Witness. They completely evade the issue of identifying in a responsible, proportionate way whose rights are being violated.

Similarly, Global Witness state, “cases were identified by searching and reviewing reliable sources of publicly online information”. But  Global Witness obviously used heavily politicized criteria for deciding what is a reliable source, because not one single reference in their report on Nicaragua gives the Nicaraguan authorities’ side of the story and only one reference can fairly be described as ideologically independent. That renders completely incredible the phony Global Witness claim to systematic research.

They claim their investigation is systematic because “We set up search engine alerts using keywords and conducted other searches online to identify relevant cases across the world.” However, in the case of a small country like Nicaragua, a genuinely systematic search can readily be done covering a much wider range of sources than those accessed by Global Witness without recourse to modish, geeky “search engine alerts”. The poverty of sources evident in the report’s footnotes make Global Witness’s procedure look ridiculous.

Global Witness claim they “verify” the results of their investigation because “Where possible, we checked with in-country or regional partners to gather further information”. But they only cross-checked with ideologically and politically biased organizations, apparently using the same highly questionable, politically compromised sources they cite in their report.

Karl Popper, philosophical darling of the Open Society ideology embraced by Global Witness, explained over 50 years ago in “Conjectures and Refutations”  that verification is essentially authoritarian. He argued that a truly scientific investigation requires conjecture and falsification, a search for errors rather than for  justification.

If one goes along with Popper, it should surprise no one that Global Witness uses an essentially authoritarian methodology. Self-evidently, their job is not to discover the facts or to impartially establish the truth via a hypothetic-deductive Popper-style process , but to project a manipulative version of events justifying ideologically loaded interpretations favored by their corporate funders, an inherent bias understandably unacknowledged by Global Witness.

Nor is it surprising to learn from their account of their methodology, “While we have made every effort to identify and investigate cases in line with the methodology and criteria, it is important to add that our research mostly relies on public information and that we have not been able to conduct detailed national-level searches in all countries.”

That is not true either. Global Witness did not make “every effort” to investigate cases in line with their alleged methodology and criteria because they are flagrantly out of compliance with the definitions advanced by HURIDOCS.

A broader range of sources

Nor is is true that they were unable to conduct a detailed national-level search in the case of Nicaragua, because they could easily have included references from sources that contradict much of the information in the Global Witness report. The following is a brief sample of many other relevant sources, gleaned in a few hours searching on the Internet :

 

Even this very limited sample of sources, put together from just a few hours searching on the Internet, gives a very different picture to the one presented by Global Witness. So it is false of Global Witness to suggest they lack the resources to be able to stress test and falsify the version of events they have published in their report. Given the tremendous resources and the numerous skilled, experienced, talented people working at Global Witness, only abject intellectual dishonesty explains their failure to report faithfully on Nicaragua

Incoherent claims

Be that as it may, based on their cynically biased sources and their absurdly deficient methodology, Global Witness proceed in their report to make the following claims:

* 11 defenders killed in 2016 – making Nicaragua the most dangerous country in the world per capita

But, as independent journalist John Perry and others have pointed out, none of those people killed can fairly be described as having being killed for defending the environment. They were in property disputes and all of them were killed either directly or indirectly  in the course of those property conflicts. This is true in particular of the case cited by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) , that of Bernicia Dixon Peralta, her husband Feliciano Benlis Flores and their 11 year old son Feliciano Benlis Dixon. Perry mentions some of the context. More context of the property disputes in the RAAN can be found herehere and here. Not a single person mentioned by Global Witness died in Nicaragua for defending the environment in the way that someone like Berta Cáceres did. Even so Global Witness have tended disingenuously to implicitly compare the situation in Nicaragua with that in Honduras, in particular with Berta’s murder.

The bad faith with which they do so is clear from the second claim in their report on Nicaragua:

* 10 of those murdered were indigenous people, with most killed in conflicts with settler communities over land. Meanwhile rural ‘campesino’ defenders faced threats, harassment and attacks, including for opposing the construction of an inter-oceanic canal.

Global Witness fails to make clear that groups from the indigenous Miskito people, whom Global Witness inaccurately portray as defenseless environmental defenders, are themselves guilty of murderous attacks against migrants settling land which in many cases the migrants apparently believed they had bought legitimately. Furthermore, the Global Witness report deliberately and falsely confuses the very specific situation of these property conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with protests over the possible displacement of communities along the still to be exactly defined route of the proposed Inter-oceanic Canal 300 kilometers to the south. Global Witness unscrupulously frame their distorted version of events in the two regions to give the impression that in both cases the Nicaraguan authorities may in some way be directly or indirectly responsible for the violence.

In fact, even the New York Times has acknowledged in their otherwise generally hostile anti-Sandinista reporting that the Nicaraguan authorities do what they can with limited resources to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the Northern Carribean Autonomous Region.

The situation along the route of the Canal is very different from that in the RAAN. Protests against the Canal are exploited by Nicaragua’s political opposition and groups participating in the protest demonstrations have damaged property and attacked police officers. In relation to this situation, completely separate from the property disputes more than 300km to the north, Global Witness claims:

* Activists were increasingly criminalized: foreign environmentalists were expelled, community leaders arrested and legislation passed restricting freedoms of speech and association.

However in the very next paragraph, the report quotes anti-Canal activist Francisca Ramirez saying, ““We have carried out 87 marches, demanding that they respect our rights and we have had no response. The only response we have had is the bullet.”

Thus, the Global Witness allegation that rights to freedom of association are restricted is immediately contradicted by Francisca Ramirez declaring her group has organized over 80 public demonstrations to express their views.

Similarly, Ramirez claims “The only response we have had is the bullet.” But, in the next paragraph, we learn “a member of her community lost an eye and another was shot in the stomach”.

Thus, after 87 demonstrations, some of which supposedly involved many thousands of participants and in which “The only response we have had is the bullet”, Ramirez cites precisely two people suffering serious injury and only one of them with a gunshot wound. Ramirez omits that the protesters on the marches she organizes go armed with machetes and home-made mortars. They block highways, intimidate ordinary people going about their business, damage property and attack police officers.

In no Western country would that be tolerated without, to put it mildly, a robust response from the police and security forces. Even so, Global Witness promote Francisca Ramirez’s account as if she and her movement were non-political and non-violent, which they are not. But Global Witness excludes those facts.

Likewise, as John Perry has pointed out, the foreign environmentalists expelled from Nicaragua were involved in a suspicious incident involving a small explosion. Again, a reasonable question to Global Witness is why they excluded this highly relevant information given that in Britain or the United States any foreigner, especially any non-white foreigner, involved in such a suspicious incident would face prosecution and a potential jail term under those countries wide-ranging anti-terrorist laws.

Inaccuracies and falsehoods

Mixed in with these disingenuous, incoherent claims, Global Witness also allege, presumably as supporting context, that the proposed Canal “would force up to 120,000 indigenous people from their land”. This outrageous falsehood is sourced from the pro-NATO, right-wing dominated European Parliament, but is categorically contradicted by the relevant multi-million dollar Environmental and Social Impact report by the extremely prestigious ERM company based in the UK. The falsity of that claim is further confirmed by the Canal concessionary HKND company’s representative Bill Wild who argues that the route of the Canal has been altered to take local concerns into account in such a way that fewer than thirty indigenous families will be directly affected.

Overall, ERM reckons that up to 7210 families or around 30,000 people are likely to be displaced along the whole route of the Canal, over 270 kilometres. The scandalously untrue figure quoted by Global Witness is propaganda from Nicaragua’s political opposition who are exploiting Ramirez’s quasi-celebrity status among Western environmentalists to amplify overseas the marginal support for their unpopular position against the Canal in Nicaragua. That fact is reflected in the incoherence of the arguments set out by Ramirez and her backers in Nicaragua’s political opposition.

If 120,000 people were really going to be displaced by the proposed Canal then the figure of 30,000 protestors from around the country the same political opposition regularly quote to describe national opposition to the Canal just does not add up. Quoting that same opposition figure, Global Witness state, “Francisca has rallied campesino groups from around the country who will be adversely affected by the canal to call for a meaningful say in its development. In June 2015, 30,000 people gathered for an anti-canal protest – Francisca organized 40 trucks so her community could attend.”

In Nicaragua, the cost of hiring a truck or a bus to carry 60 people or a similar amount of material goods on a round trip of 100km is around US$120, while a round trip of 300km costs about US$175. So hiring 40 diesel-guzzling trucks and buses with their drivers will have cost a minimum of US$4000. But Ramirez is an impoverished mother of five from a similarly impoverished community. Even if only one quarter of the more than 80 protests Ramirez says she has helped organized involved similar costs, the total amount involved runs into tens of thousands of dollars just for Ramirez’s community. Whatever the exact financial accounting, Ramirez is clearly supported by a great deal more than her own resources and those of her community.

Even so, Global Witness completely evade the obvious conclusion to be drawn from that incoherence implicit in their report. Namely, that Francisca Ramirez, far from being a simple altruistic community organizer defending her home is in fact a savvy political opposition activist promoting an inaccurate image of herself as well as concealing her real political agenda. Ramirez alleges that she and her family have been attacked and harassed. Supposing those accusations are true, no convincing evidence points to involvement of the government or the security forces and certainly not the HKND company in charge of planning and building the Canal. That contrasts with the situation of activists in Honduras or Guatemala who can in most cases offer reliable details with corroboration from witnesses to identify their assailants.

The press report cited by Global Witness contains no credible evidence from Ramirez except her say so, no corroborating evidence, no witnesses. Likewise the report’s reference to Frontline Defenders’ advocacy for Ramirez links to a summary profile including the false opposition propaganda, repeated by Global Witness, that the proposed inter-oceanic Canal has been imposed without consultation. But in fact preliminary consultations took place in July 2014 and subsequently a continuing consultative process has developed both before and after the publication of ERM’s Environmental and Social Impact Study, which recommended improvements to the consultation process which both HKND and the government accepted.

The Study did also criticize the handling of the expropriation issue and recommended that international standards be applied to any expropriation of land (reckoned to total 1359km2 of dry land out of Nicaragua’s total  area of 139,375km2) that may eventually be decided. Those ERM recommendations were accepted by the  government and HKND, and the subsequent consultative process has led to several important changes in the precise route of the Canal and to more detailed environmental studies which have been one reason for the delay in the Canal’s construction.

Frontline Defenders’ advocacy of Ramirez, cited by Global Witness, is based on her own account of events with no apparent attempt at corroboration despite the role of Ramirez as a front person for an anti-government campaign openly supported and facilitated by Nicaragua’s political opposition. In the course of framing their benign, heroic account of Francisca Ramirez, Global Witness present an account of the Canal’s origins and procedural progress which repeats virtually word for word the extremely hostile and systematically disingenuous interpretation of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Garbage in – Garbage out

Winding up their version of the falsehoods, disinformation and propaganda copied from Nicaragua’s political opposition, Global Witness assert, “Resistance to the canal takes place against a terrifying backdrop of multiple murders in indigenous communities elsewhere in the country which have stood up against the arrival of agricultural settlers and demanded the government guarantee their land rights. Even requests by the Inter-American human rights system haven’t spurred the government into protecting community activists from being disappeared, mutilated and murdered.”

But, as is clear from reviewing a wider selection of sources of information in relation to the complicated land situation in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, indigenous people themselves are responsible for murderous violence and their own leaders are implicated in corrupt land dealings. It is simply untrue to label the murders as being generically the result of attacks on community activists in the sense in which that term is commonly understood. The general consensus is that the Nicaraguan government has done more than any government in the region, with the possible exception of Venezuela, to protect indigenous people’s land rights with almost a third of the national territory designated as indigenous peoples’ communal land. Global Witness’s allegations on that score are demonstrably inaccurate and grossly unfair.

Similarly, the suggestion that the Canal protest movement is vulnerable to the kind of murderous violence prevalent in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region is egregiously false. The protesters themselves have used violence and intimidation against the general population to carry out their protest actions, so far, thankfully, with no fatalities.

In summary, the Global Witness report in its section on Nicaragua uses politically and ideologically prejudiced sources which could readily have been supplemented with sources offering a contradictory account. The sources used themselves do not always corroborate the claims made in the report. Apart from the ideological bias, various substantive inaccuracies render the report extremely unreliable. The report’s conclusions are flawed because its initial premises are false – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

It remains true that there are serious property conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region which the government is attempting to address despite a lack of administrative, judicial and security resources, against an intricate social, economic and political context and also the constantly changing opportunistic interaction of corrupt business interests with local indigenous peoples’ leaders, and unscrupulous local officials.

In the case of Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, it is true various issues, including the issue of expropriation, have to be clarified. Protestors claim they want dialog, but Francisca Ramirez sets the precondition that the Canal be scrapped.

The Canal’s critics never acknowledge that Nicaragua is already suffering chronic environmental degradation. The government and many environmentalists argue that the Canal will provide Nicaragua with the resources it needs to reforest deforested areas, better manage its water resources and reverse the current deterioration in Lake Nicaragua, while at the same time helping to reduce poverty.

Foreign and national environmentalists offer no viable proposals to enable Nicaragua to reverse the socio-economic and climate processes already driving accelerating environmental degradation in the country.

Protestors against the Canal exaggerate the number of people likely to be displaced by its construction and often dishonestly claim people affected by displacement will not be compensated. Meanwhile, they themselves are among those responsible for the environmental degradation that will definitely get progressively worse without the resources the Canal is projected to provide.

Corporate funders and the elite NGO revolving door

Featured photo in the Washington Life Magazine (“The insider’s guide to power. philanthropy and society since 1991”) by Tony Powell. Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell (far right) sits beside Manana Freyre. Freyre is the 20th General Counsel and Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. [Source] Berim Fellows Program. Hendi Residence. November 21, 2014.

Manana Freyre, Gillian Caldwell. Photo by Tony Powell. Berim Fellows Program. Hendi Residence. November 21, 2014. “WASHINGTON LIFE is the premier luxury-lifestyle magazine in the National Capital Region, published since 1991 by well-connected life-long Washingtonians who have exceptional insight into the community. Through our established social networks, loyal readership base and long standing relationships, WASHINGTON LIFE offers its advertisers a unique way to target discerning consumers.”
 

Few plausible explanations except intellectual dishonesty offer themselves for the desperate failure of Global Witness, firstly to adequately research the issues involved or, secondly, supposing they in fact did so, to acknowledge the complexity of the issues they examine. Global Witness frankly explain in their financial statement for 2016, they had income of over US$13 million. So they do not lack resources. Similarly, their Board, their Advisory Board and their CEO are all very experienced, smart, talented people. So even if they depend on younger inexperienced staff to do the research, their senior staff presumably review the product before publication. Lack of experience is not a reasonable explanation for the report’s glib dishonesty and inaccuracy.

A review of Global Witness funders reveals that for 2016 the two biggest funders were the Open Society Foundation of George Soros associated with the numerous so called color revolutions in support of NATO country government foreign policy objectives and the Omidyar Network of Pierre Omidyar whose links with US intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton are well known. Less well known is Omidyar’s support for NGOs that fomented the successful right wing coup in Ukraine. The complete list of Global Witness funders is available in the financial statement for 2016 on their web site. That document reports that in 2016 Global Witness received US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from various European NATO governments plus Sweden.

All of these funding sources are unrelenting ideological opponents of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. A broad pro-NATO bias is very clear in the composition of the Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO. Their profiles make clear they are almost all luminaries from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector, while many have a strong corporate business background as well. Just as there is a revolving door between government and corporate business and finance in North America and Europe, so too there is also a revolving door within that region’s elite NGO sector, a sector very clearly serving NATO country foreign policy goals.

Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based organizations like Avaaz and Purpose. In the case of Global Witness, their Board member Jessie Tolka is also a board member of Purpose and too of 350.org: Current Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell was also a very successful Campaigns Director of Sky1, now merged into 350.0rg. Cory Morningstar argues, “the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

Confirmation of Cory Morningstar’s argument can be found in the history of Global Witness itself. For example on Libya, despite their superficial anti-corporate gloss, Global Witness relentlessly apply NATO country government criteria here and here. Also on Ukraine, Global Witness project the same anti-corporate message while simultaneously reinforcing NATO country government propaganda. Global Witness has also received US National Endowment for Democracy grants in Cambodia and in Liberia.

Also, a decade ago, writers Keith Harmon Snow and Rick Hines questioned Global Witness’ corporate links in relation to the “Blood Diamonds” controversy and the organization’s role in relation to De Beers and also Maurice Templesman’s diamond companies. No doubt more thorough research would reveal information casting similar doubt on Global Witness’s integrity and independence.

Conclusion

This latest Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is  important because it is so readily falsifiable. It thus presents a clear litmus test : no news and information media can use the Global Witness report’s material in relation to Nicaragua without compromising their credibility.

The bias and inaccuracies in the section on Nicaragua in the Global Witness 2017 report call into doubt the integrity of the whole report. No news or information media interested in accuracy or honest reporting can conscientiously rely on Global Witness as a source without thorough cross checking and systematically comparing, contrasting and evaluating information from sources giving a different account of the events and issues in question.

Global Witness is neither independent nor trustworthy. It clearly has a strong but unacknowledged neocolonial political agenda promoting the regional policy goals of NATO country governments, while, conversely, attacking governments and other regional actors opposed to those goals.

NGOs like Global Witness, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and so many others, self-evidently fabricate psychological warfare inputs serving NATO country government policy, itself shaped by the same corporate elites that fund the class of NGOS of which Global Witness is a part.

They operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.

Their psychological warfare role supporting the NATO government’s aggressive destabilization of Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, of Ukraine in 2014,  and the NATO country government’s low intensity war against Venezuela ever since 2013, as well as the campaign against Cuba over five decades, has been unmistakable.

More broadly their systemic ideological role is very obviously to protect and defend global corporate capitalism while superficially and selectively questioning and criticizing some of its worst abuses. Cory Morningstar’s insight bears repeating “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

The coverage of Nicaragua in the latest 2017 Global Witness report is a text book example of that sinister fact.

Legitimacy and False Witness in a Multipolar World

by Tortilla con Sal

July 31, 2017

 

“The crumbling legitimacy of the US government and its allies in the European Union is reflected in the blatant false witness of Western news media and their NGOs.”

 

July 19, 2016: Cuba VP Leads Delegation To Nicaragua For Anniversary Of Sandinista Revolution. Source/Prensa Latina – Del Sur News

The United States government is currently applying sanctions to Cuba, Iran, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Last week, on July 27th the US Congress moved to include Nicaragua too. Apart from these sanctions, the US is also enforcing a variety of sanctions in relation to Belarus, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, former Ukraine and Yemen. Some of those sanctions are supported by the UN but, in any case, US allies cooperate applying sanctions in a selective way to suit their own interests.

At the highest level, Western strategic thinking in general and US policy making in particular is intellectually and morally corrupt, narcissistic and irrational. Corrupt, because it is so deliberately intellectually ingrown and materially self-serving; narcissistic because it cannot engage other legitimate rationalities; irrational because it operates on the basis of “with us or against us” paranoia. The recent US Department of Defense report At Our Own Peril is the clearest expression of that reality.

US planners really believe that following World War Two the US and its allies shaped and controlled a benign world order and that currently the US and its allies abide by and defend international law. They also assert they project a legitimate, truthful account of world events. Given these insane false beliefs underpinning Western strategic planning, actual and potential targets of Western aggression are bound to work out active measures and alliances based on realistic self-defense.

For the foreseeable future, demented Western foreign policy is in a stage of aggravated desperation as US policymakers adapt to what the DoD report says “can only be described as the early post-U.S. primacy epoch…..This new reality has far-reaching implications for American defense policy, strategy, planning, and risk calculation.” Among the factors contributing to the new risk environment, the report highlights “the weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection.” US military leaders now believe they are already losing their long taken for granted global ideological dominance.

Bringing together progressive and revolutionary movements from across Latin America and the Caribbean, the recent Sao Paulo Forum in Nicaragua also recognized the fundamental importance of the West’s global psychological warfare campaign against the majority world. The Forum’s final declaration notes,

“We should create an anti-hegemonic cultural and communications front incorporating the initiatives of progressive governments as well as the efforts of progressive political forces and social movements, a true revolution is impossible if not accompanied by a deep cultural and communications revolution.”

In this context, reality has definitely caught up and overtaken the wishful rhetoric of the Western corporate elites, their carefully groomed governments, their inept, dysfunctional financial system and, perhaps most clearly of all, their dishonest, counterfeit media. In all of these arenas, strategic analysis, economic policy, news reporting, financial dealings, across the West Gresham’s Law has operated relentlessly, with bad practice forcing out good, progressively exposing the falsity and corruption of Western society under corporate capitalism. That falsity is most immediately obvious in Western information culture including not just mainstream and alternative media, but also reporting by governments and non-governmental organizations.

The crumbling legitimacy of the US government and its allies in the European Union is reflected in the blatant false witness of Western news media and the non-governmental organizations which have now largely displaced legitimate foreign news reporting. Few dispute that Western monopoly corporate interests, control and shape government policy as well as mainstream and alternative news media. Less self-evident is the way those elites and their proxies in government promote “the weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection” via humanitarian and human rights NGOs.

A few writers have exposed the role of NGOs in promoting the psychological warfare agenda of the United States and allied governments. Cory Morningstar, for example, has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like Avaaz and Presence. She argues,

“the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

The campaigns led by NATO powers in 2011 against Ivory Coast, Libya, Syria share the same psy-warfare characteristics used against all the countries targeted by US sanctions. Right now, Venezuela is the target at the most vulnerable stage where a shift could happen very abruptly from current low-intensity NATO country covert, diplomatic, economic and media warfare to outright military aggression either direct or by proxy. Ever since the 2002 coup, opposition non governmental organizations have been key players in destabilizing Venezuela falsely exploiting the motifs of human rights, corruption. They have done so with consistent support from Western NGOs like Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Transparency International and many others.

“Alexander Soros and Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor attend The Alexander Soros Foundation’s Global Witness ‘Unmasked’ Gala on July 7, 2012 in Bridgehampton, New York.” Source: Getty Images [Further reading].

In Nicaragua’s case the decision to introduce the so called NICA Act applying economic sanctions against the country was preceded a month earlier by publication of a report from the Global Witness organization falsely alleging that Nicaragua is the most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists. In 2016, Global Witness had a budget of over US$13 million, receiving US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from European NATO governments plus Sweden. The Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO are all luminaries from the Western elite non governmental sector.

Despite these tremendous material and human resources, the Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is inept, poorly researched and downright inaccurate, as occasional Guardian columnist John Perry, among others, has explained. In 2016, Global Witness brought out a similarly false account of problems in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. But traditional reporting methods, like cross-checking sources or comparing competing accounts of events, are irrelevant for weaponized NATO country news media and the disinformation NGOs they increasingly rely on for foreign news. Now a decision has been taken by the US elites to attack Nicaragua, the campaign may well unfold with sanctions steadily being ratcheted up, damaging the same Nicaraguan people these phony Western advocates of human rights claim they want to protect.

That is what has happened to Cuba for well over 50 years. More recently, those same Western elites and their advocates have supported the corrupt oligarchs and Nazi shock forces who destroyed Ukraine. They supported equipping, supplying and training the organized crime gangs and pseudo-Islamist terrorists that destroyed Libya and Syria. They give support covering up the crimes of fascist Venezuelan paramilitaries setting people on fire and attacking hospitals and preschools, just as they did the massacre in the labor union building in Odessa in May 2014. Morally, intellectually, ethically the Western elites are worthy successors to their genocidal colonialist forebears using the same bogus claims of moral and cultural superiority to justify their crimes. The false witness of their media and their NGOs is a clear signal they know they have no legitimacy.

 

Further reading:

Nicaragua:

https://libya360.wordpress.com/category/world/latin-america/nicaragua/

Global Witness:

BLOOD DIAMOND DOUBLETHINK & DECEPTION OVER THOSE WORTHLESS LITTLE ROCKS OF DESIRE | Rick Hines & Keith Harmon Snow, Part One (June 1, 2007).

DOWNLOAD:

Keith Harmon Snow Global Witness pdf-203BD Combd Final July 21, 2007

 

 

Nicaragua: Corporate Media Continues its Psychological Warfare Campaign Against the Sandinista Government

Libya 360 | Tortilla Con Sal | TeleSUR

August 9, 2016

The reposting in various progressive outlets of biased report confirms the convergence in reporting international affairs between alternative and corporate media.

A couple sits in front of a mural depicting Venezuela’s revolutionary Hugo Chavez (C), Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro (R) and Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega (L) in Managua January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Most economists agree the rate of profit for corporations in the United States has been falling significantly for decades, roughly to one third of what it was in the early 1960s. For corporations to maintain or increase profits they seek higher productivity and sales and lower taxes. In the current depressed global economic environment, generally higher sales seem out of the question.

In most countries in North America and Europe, corporate taxation is already low while corporate tax avoidance is a very successful industry barely under control from regulation which, when it exists at all, lags far behind. The long term tendency to lower profits means corporations focus more sharply on productivity and correspondingly on more intense cuts in labor costs.

In economic terms, the result of this process has been long-term stagnant or even falling incomes for people in North America and Europe, compounded by debt but relieved to some extent by government benefits. Politically, the result is even greater and more obvious coherence between corporate economic power and government, which is the classic profile of fascism. That stark reality is clearer than ever before in the presidential candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But most Western news and information media persist in reporting as if the United States were a democracy, while domestic levels of poverty and inequality increase precisely because almost all the vestiges of democracy U.S. society may once have had are gone.

That domestic reality seems to have increased the desperation of Western media misrepresentation of international affairs. In Latin America and the Caribbean, governments successful in reducing poverty and inequality suffer enduringly fierce disinformation campaigns in almost all North American and European media. The levels of aggression vary over time but the underlying venal, gratuitous hostility is permanent. Right now, the media offensive against Venezuela is in relentless high gear because the NATO country corporate elites believe that with another big push they will finally inflict a lasting setback on the Bolivarian Revolution. In other countries, levels of media aggression vary depending on the political timetable of events.

Referendums or national elections almost invariably trigger redoubled, vicious campaigns in the general psychological warfare offensive. In Bolivia last year, the media disinformation campaign peaked ahead of the referendum on the possibility of Evo Morales being a candidate for the country’s next presidential election. All through 2015, national and international media piled one attack after another on the government of Cristina Fernandez in Argentina to discredit her party and its candidates in the country’s national elections that year. A similar prolonged media blitz facilitated the start of impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. The attacks on Rafael Correa’s government in Ecuador are constant. On Cuba, Western media coverage remains extremely tendentious and hostile and the U.S. economic blockade continues as before. Here in Nicaragua, prior to this year’s national elections, the international disinformation attacks are once again as intense and false as they were in the previous election year 2011.

Back then, the main controversy was over a ruling by Nicaragua’s Supreme Court rendering inapplicable a spurious constitutional amendment passed by legislators without popular consultation prohibiting re-election. That ruling enabled Daniel Ortega to put forward his candidacy in the 2011 presidential elections which he won with 62 percent of the vote. This year the controversy is over another ruling by Nicaragua’s Supreme Court, but in relation to an internal conflict within one of Nicaragua’s opposition parties, the Independent Liberal Party, PLI. The most recent poll by the centrist M&R Consultants put total committed voter support for the five opposition parties contesting this year’s election at just over 10 percent. Respected, politically centrist Nicaraguan journalist Adolfo Pastran reports that leading opposition figures explicitly say their objective is “to totally discredit the electoral process and reject the election results.” Working towards that end, as Pastran notes, the opposition “have certainly achieved the objective of creating an international echo that in Nicaragua there’s been a coup against the legislature.”

Sure enough, in one news report after another, shameless misrepresentation in international media based on propaganda from Nicaragua’s otherwise dysfunctional political opposition have proliferated. One particularly egregious example appeared in the Fusion media web site by the anti-Sandinista ideologue Tim Rogers. In his latest disinformation report, Rogers misrepresents his decade-long record of anti-Sandinista propaganda at the Tico Times and Nicaragua Dispatch media outlets, suggesting falsely that he took an anti-Sandinista stance only after the 2011 election. Rogers faithfully copies Nicaragua’s opposition propaganda line, writing “Ortega put the final nail in the coffin of Nicaragua’s democratic pluralism on Friday, when his sycophants in the Supreme Electoral Council ordered the ouster of 28 opposition lawmakers and substitute lawmakers from the National Assembly.”

That claim is completely false on two counts. Firstly, the Supreme Electoral Council was bound by law to implement an earlier Supreme Court judgment resolving a fierce, five-year-old, internal conflict within the political opposition PLI party. Secondly, the sitting lawmakers forced the electoral and legislative authorities to act when they violated their own party’s internal rules. Of the 28 rebels, 21 were were replaced from within their own party while the other seven remained after finally agreeing to submit to their party’s internal statutes. So it is completely untrue to suggest, as Rogers does, that the opposition lost 28 lawmakers or that Daniel Ortega played a decisive role in what was yet another example of the chaos among Nicaragua’s hopelessly fragmented right-wing opposition.

The Fusion media web site states it is owned by Disney/ABC and Univision, now part of Media Broadcasting Partners, which is itself mainly owned by immensely wealthy investment companies Madison Dearborn PartnersProvidence Equity PartnersTPGThomas H. Lee Partners, and Saban Capital Group. These are major investors with a very clear, implacable corporate capitalist agenda focused relentlessly on maximizing profits. No surprise then that a lifestyle, pop culture, entertainment site like Fusion media should also serve up as bona fide news and comment what are in fact downright falsehoods attacking a progressive government very successfully focused on reducing poverty and inequality. While that example is typical of corporate media disinformation output, progressive Western alternative news and information outlets also engage in this kind of dishonest psychological warfare campaign.

Various progressive media recently published a disingenuous attack by the academic Courtney Parker on Sandinista government policy in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region. Parker’s article recycles disinformation spread by the anti-Sandinista faction of the Yatama Miskito people’s political organization, which split in 2013 following disagreements between one faction led by Osorno Coleman and another led by Brooklyn Rivera. Osorno Coleman formed a party called Myatamaran, currently allied with the Sandinista FSLN party. In contrast to Parker, even the fiercely anti-Sandinista La Prensa newspaper had enough integrity in February this year to report on the schism in the Miskito people’s political representation quoting Coleman’s opinion that “Yatama used to be an indigenous organization, now it’s a political party kidnapped by Rivera.”

For his part, Brooklyn Rivera dismisses Osorno Coleman as being an ally of the FSLN, although Coleman is quite critical of government policy on the longstanding land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Autonomous Caribbean Region. Courtney Parker omits all this vital information, giving the impression that the Yatama political party and its longstanding leader Brooklyn Rivera faithfully represent Miskito opinion. In fact, Osorno Coleman and his Miskito supporters reject Rivera’s leadership and accuse other Yatama leaders of having illegally sold large tracts of Indigenous people’s lands (that constitute in total around 30 percent of Nicaragua’s national territory) to non-Miskito farming families, who themselves have been killed or wounded in attacks by Miskitos. Omitting all that context, Parker reports selectively and inaccurately on incidents like the death last year of Mario Leman Muller a Miskito leader who, she alleges “was shot on September 15, 2015—a day otherwise marked in celebration of Miskitu independence. Sandinista youth raided YATAMA headquarters and shot Lehman in cold blood.”

In fact, the events leading to Muller’s shooting were confused and extremely heated. Muller died in a confrontation following violent attacks by Yatama militants on school children, parents and teachers attending celebrations for the anniversaries of the 1856 Battle of San Jacinto and of Nicaragua’s Independence in 1821. Following the violent reaction to the extremely violent provocations of Yatama activists, Muller died of a heart attack while being urgently transported for treatment in Managua on a plane sent specifically by the Nicaraguan government to evacuate people wounded in the disturbances. Parker and her editors completely misrepresent those events and other related incidents and their context. Instead, they recycle Yatama propaganda effectively covering up that political movement’s role in the disturbing events Parker fails to report fairly and honestly. The reposting in various progressive outlets of Courtney Parker’s report confirms the convergence in reporting international affairs between alternative and corporate media. Frequently—for example on Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Nicaragua, or Venezuela too—they are practically indistinguishable.

This convergence operates largely because alternative media in the West tend to adopt similar abysmal standards of credibility as those set by corporate media, targeting the political tastes of different segments of the same economic classes. Shocking murders like that of Berta Cáceres in Honduras get exploited to burnish progressive credentials while the broad, underlying reactionary psychological warfare offensive against the achievements of progressive governments continues unchanged. Clearly systemic human rights abuses in countries like Mexico, Guatemala or Honduras, now too in Argentina and Brazil, tend to get limited coverage or else go completely unreported. On the other hand, complex and intractable conflicts in countries with progressive governments like Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela get sensationalist coverage in caricature, with practically zero context. In this way, powerful corporate investors shape and define the international news and information agenda across the Western political spectrum as part of their endless war on the impoverished majority world.

Propaganda: How Neocolonial Progressives Support Western Imperialism

Libya 360 | Tortilla con Sal

January 7, 2017

20 July 1979: Nicaraguan leftist Sandinista rebels exult in Managua after entering the city and overthrowing Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. General Somoza whose family ruled Nicaragua since 1933, finally surrendered 20 June to the Sandinista rebels. Somoza left a country devastated by civil war, with thousands of people killed in June and July 1979 and half a million, one-fifth of the country’s population, displaced from their homes. Somoza was assassinated in exile in Asuncion, Paraguay in 1980 by a left-wing Argentinian Trotskyst rebel group. Picture: AFP/Getty

 

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America.

 

Almost all Western reporting of foreign news constitutes a permanent drip-feed of poisonous disinformation accumulating into a deep, broad, toxic propaganda wave drowning out rational critical analysis. That process has been very clear in reporting of international affairs from Libya to Ukraine, to Venezuela and Syria – anywhere the interests of Western elites encounter resistance. The collaboration of alternative media in that process has been evident in Libya, Syria and Ukraine and is certainly very evident in the case of Nicaragua.

Here, the constant underlying false message is that President Ortega is a dictatorial leader crushing dissent in Nicaragua to impose an anti-democratic regime run by his family. This false message creates a context justifying arbitrary measures by the US authorities and their allies, like the recent NICA legislation, attacking Nicaragua’s economy and intervening heavily in the country’s internal affairs in favor of Nicaragua’s right wing opposition. To flesh out that keynote psychological warfare message, Western media attacks focus on whatever current events they can manipulate to align with the overall falsehood.

All through 2016, the attacks consisted mainly of distorted or downright false reports covering the 2016 national elections. But two other associated media offensive fronts have been established, namely, developments relating to the proposed Interoceanic Canal and also continuing land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. A good example of the complete collapse of conventional reporting standards in Western progressive media is this headline news summary from Democracy Now of a recent protest demonstration against Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal:

“In Nicaragua, activists say federal police attacked a campesino caravan heading to the capital Managua Wednesday, opening fire with both live and rubber bullets and throwing tear gas. The caravan was heading to the capital to protest the construction of a $50 billion canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Campesinos say the project could displace up to 120,000 people.”

Democracy Now’s editors ran this classic psychological warfare propaganda beneath a photograph supposedly of a rural worker wounded in an allegedly peaceful protest. Democracy Now omits that six police officers were reported to be wounded after being attacked by violent protesters. The summary report also omits that the “activists” are militant anti-Sandinistas of the misnamed MRS Sandinista Renewal Movement, funded by the US and allied governments and associated NGOs. Likewise, the suggestion that 120,000 people may be displaced by the proposed Canal is completely false, the real figure is under 10,000 people, all of whom are entitled to complete indemnification.

A flurry of reports in corporate and alternative media alleged that the government of Daniel Ortega tried to repress national protests against the Canal timed to coincide with a visit to Nicaragua’s capital Managua by Luis Almagro, right wing Secretary General of the Organization of American States. In fact, it seems that only the incident in Rio San Juan involved violent exchanges between protesters and the police. The national demonstration itself passed off peacefully, with a modest total of several thousand people demonstrating in Managua’s center against the proposed Canal.

The incident in Nicaragua’s south-western Rio San Juan department provoked angry condemnation from the local bishop Socrates René Sándigo, certainly no friend of the Sandinista government. Bishop Sándigo remarked, “The MRS has always been out there manipulating our rural families and non governmental organizations who involve our rural workers in demands that may well be legitimate but they take these rural workers and put them at the head of their attacks...” Given that context, Democracy Now’s headline summary can be seen as all of a piece with its similarly false reporting, for example, of the conflict in Syria, favoring anti-Russian US government propaganda.

Much less prestigious than Democracy Now, the Intercontinental Cry web site purports to represent the views and interests of indigenous peoples around the world. But in the case of Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast its reports are written in the worst neocolonial tradition by North American academics and writers with a very clear anti-Sandinista agenda . One of these writers is the PhD anthropologist Courtney Parker whose widely published inaccurate report in July 2016 carefully omitted relevant information inconvenient to her account. International Cry later supplemented Parker’s July report with a disingenous, misleading attack on us at Tortilla con Sal, evading our criticism that they recycle propaganda of the local Yatama political party, effectively covering up Yatama’s own role in the violent events Parker and others fail to report fairly and honestly.

To make their phony case against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, Intercontinental Cry’s reports consistently omit two essential facts. Firstly, Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega is the first administration since the revolutionary Sandinista government of the 1980s to guarantee indigenous people’s land rights. As a result, indigenous peoples in Nicaragua now have statutory land rights to a third of Nicaragua’s national territory. So it is completely counterfactual and deceitful of Intercontinental Cry to publish reports implicitly claiming that the Sandinista government deliberately seeks to deprive indigenous peoples of their land. Intercontinental Cry’s reports are based on allegations of Yatama political party supporters whose leadership themselves have faced serious allegations of complicity in the illegal sale of their own peoples’ land.

The second fact obscured by Intercontinental Cry’s reports is that Yatama is not the only representative of the region’s Miskito and other indigenous peoples. In 2013, a large group of the region’s Miskito population rejected the Yatama leadership and now support the Myatamaran political movement allied with the Sandinista government. That omission indicates just how skewed and neocolonial Intercontinental Cry’s reporting on Nicaragua really is by creating an inaccurate, image of a united Miskito people, hapless victims of relentless alien oppression. The history of the Miskito people itself shows up that kind of account as a ridiculous neocolonial construct. Reports in Intercontinental Cry seem to deliberately omit the fact that extremist Miskito groups have attacked and murdered rural workers’ families in the area in conflict.

Historically, some components of the Miskito people allied with British colonial forces and were themselves cruel oppressors preying on weaker ethnic groups to sell them as slaves to British plantation owners in Jamaica and other British Caribbean colonies. Furthermore, Miskito groups in Jinotega along the Rio Wangki, have a somewhat different history to that of Miskito groups along Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. So even in historical terms it is false to suggest that the Miskito indigenous people share a uniformly homogenous history and cultural identity. None of that is reflected in the neocolonial accounts rendered by the writers for Intercontinental Cry.

To the contrary, despite the complicated political reality in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, Courtney Parker’s July report and Brett Spencer’s November 11th report both falsely suggest that Yatama is the only organization representative of Miskitos in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast and the only opposition movement to the Frente Sandinista Front for National Liberation. In fact, the right wing Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) has always had significant support in the interior of the northern Caribbean region area and won a seat in the legislative elections along with Yatama’s caudillo Brooklyn Rivera. The third seat was won by the FSLN.

Both Courtney Parker and Brett Spencer write essentially as propaganda shills for Yatama, portraying Yatama’s violent supporters as victims. Spencer manages that difficult task even in his report on how Yatama destroyed and looted the offices of the regional authority in Bilwi and violently intimidated local people and businesses. Spencer in particular implicitly tries to justify those attacks by alleging that Yatama caudillo Brooklyn Rivera “was ousted from office in September of 2015, following a rise in violence over an endemic land conflict between the Miskito and Sandinista settlers known to the Miskito as colonos.”

Spencer neglects to mention that Rivera was stripped of his status as a legislator following very serious allegations that he and his Yatama colleagues were illegally selling Miskito land. Spencer turns that reality on its head by alleging that the rural farming families trying to settle Miskito land sold to them illegally are “Sandinista”. Intercontinental Cry have no factual basis at all for publishing that kind of malicious smear which is pure Yatama propaganda diverting attention away from the questionable dealings of their leadership. For her part Courtney Parker published another pro-Yatama propaganda piece exploiting the terrible murder of three members of a family on their isolated farmstead. Parker suggests on the basis of hearsay that the murder was committed by marauding settlers, arbitrarily excluding the possibility of inter-ethnic violence by Yatama extremists or some other sinister interests.

Despite Intercontinental Cry’s very clearly biased coverage of the complex conflict in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, their team of writers has still managed to co-opt other alternative media so as to broaden the reach of their attacks on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Influential progressive Western alternative outlets like Truth Out and the Ecologist published Parker’s flawed reports which break just about every rule of academic rigor and basic reporting. Intercontinental Cry’s editors have finally explicitly acknowledged their anti-Sandinista agenda, overtly attacking Telesur, and openly avowing their sympathy with US and allied government funded Nicaraguan anti-Sandinista NGOs and media like Confidencial and CENIDH.

Given that clear ideological alignment it was perfectly natural for the neocolonial progressives at the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) to publish yet another propaganda attack on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government this time authored by International Cry writer Brett Spencer and US anthropologist Laura Hobson Herlihy. Their NACLA article repeats every main talking point of the US sponsored centre right Nicaraguan opposition as follows:

 

NACLA, Brett Spencer and Laura Hobson Herlihy offer precisely zero evidence for their claims of electoral fraud apart from the claims of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. The apparently authoritiative link by the foreign funded CENIDH human rights outfit leads to a fact-free opinion piece by veteran anti-Sandinista Carlos Tunnerman Bernheim. NACLA’s article alleges inconsistencies in results published in Nicaragua’s official La Gaceta and the Electoral Council’s web site apparently in ignorance of the Electoral Council’s reporting procedures which consists of presenting first preliminary results, then provisional results and, only when all challenges have been processed, the final results.

Here are the final results from the Electoral Council’s web site which enables visitors to scrutinize results right down to those of the local voting centres. The Yatama party for which Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer propagandize is a regional party which only participates in Nicaragua’s departmental elections for the National Assembly. The results completely contradict Yatama’s claims of electoral fraud. In the three municipalities where indigenous people predominate, Yatama prevailed easily against a strong minority vote in favor of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation.

But only in Prinzapolka did Yatama get a really overwhelming vote of over 60%. In the region’s interior so-called mining municipalities, Siuna, Rosita and Bonanza, Yatama was wiped out. The main opposition there came from Nicaragua’s national right wing parties led by Maximino Rodriguez’s Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) which maintained its traditional support, including winning overall in the municipality of Mulukuku. Here are the departmental legislative election results for Nicaragua’s North Caribbean region in which Yatama participated:

Bilwi Waspan Prinzapolka Rosita Siuna Bonanza Mulukuku Average

Yatama

51 57 63 6 0.6 4 1.4 30.26

FSLN

42 38 27 72 68 85 43 55.33

PLC

2.9 2 1 17 29 7 51 9.81

 

In the other elections where the Yatama party was not involved, the Yatama vote went mainly to the traditional right wing parties, especially the PLC, which may or may not indicate Yatama’s broader ideological position:

Presidential elections: FSLN 73%; PLC 19%; Other right wing parties 8%.

National legislative elections: FSLN 65.86%; PLC 15.3%; Other right wing parties 18.89%.

Central American Parliament elections: FSLN 74.3%; PLC 18.86%; Other right wing parties 6.84%.

Yatama claim to have an important presence in the Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean region but in the municipalities Yatama contested there, they were wiped out by support for the right wing PLC as the departmental legislative election results for the region where Yatama participated clearly indicate:

La Cruz
Grande
Laguna de Perlas Bocana de Paiwas El Tortuguero Bluefields Kukra Hill Average

PLC

65 25.06 62.93 81.77 16.56 20.81 45.35

FSLN

30 52.85 32.61 16.75 59.9 73.54 44.27

YATAMA

0.65 18.89 0.2 0.19 15.46 3.05 6.4

 

That was the reality of the elections beyond NACLA’s vague, hazy propaganda message and the predictable complaints of Nicaragua’s inept, dishonest political opposition parties, duly parroted by Western media.

A look at NACLA’s other anti-Sandinista allegations reveals how disingenuous is the case they are trying to make. The allegation that the National Assembly abolished term limits in 2014 is categorically false. The link in the NACLA article leads to an ill-informed, factually incorrect report from the pro-US government Qatari news outlet Al-Jazeera which writes “The latest reform would allow President Daniel Ortega to follow in the footsteps of his ideological ally, late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and a string of other Latin American nations to give presidents power extending beyond their traditional limits.”

In fact, the term limits for almost all Nicaragua’s institutions, the Presidency, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Electoral Council and the Auditor General’s office all remain unchanged at five years. Rather than checking their facts, NACLA and Al Jazeera have lazily recycled the false accusations of Nicaragua’s miniscule centre right social democrat movements who have proved incapable of developing a credible political opposition to Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega. By linking to this inaccurate Al Jazeera report, NACLA, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer show up the categorical falsity of their argument.

Equally false is their accusation that no foreign observers took part in Nicaragua’s electoral process. In fact, a group of extremely prestigious foreign electoral specialists accompanied the whole process starting in May 2016. Their reportthoroughly vindicated the professionalism and impartiality of Nicaragua’s electoral authorities throughout the electoral process as well as the efficiency and transparency of the elections on November 6th. The neocolonial demand by Western progressives for foreign electoral observers is one not raised in the case of the United States or other Latin American governments like  Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay whose example Nicaragua has now followed by excluding a role for interventionist electoral observation missions.

Similarly, the accusation that Daniel Ortega effectively ran unopposed is belied by the NACLA report itself and the election results too. Nationally the total opposition vote would have been well over 30% if the right wing parties had overcome their petty internecine divisions, thus enabling a much more effective opposition in the legislature. As has been the case for years now, the weakness of political opposition to the FSLN government in Nicaragua resides in the right wing’s own divisions and their inability to mount a credible political program capable of matching the success of President Ortega’s Sandinista government’s National Development Plan.

Turning to the falsehood that President Ortega’s family occupy high governmental positions, the reality is again completely different from NACLA’s mendacious assertion. Four children from Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s family work in posts associated one way or another with the government. None of them occupy ministerial positions. Rafael Ortega works as a personal assistant to Daniel Ortega. Daniel Edmundo Ortega heads the Sandinista media outlet El 19 Digital. Camila Ortega is a personal assistant to her mother Rosario Murillo. Laureano Ortega is an executive of Nicaragua’s investment promotion authority ProNicaragua. None of them has an executive position at the head of any central government Ministry. NACLA’s accusation is completely false.

Laura Herlihy-Hobson and Brett Spencer follow up the falsity of their broad accusations against President Ortega’s Sandinista government by repeating the claims made by Courtney Parker and Spencer in Intercontinental Cry’s series of articles through 2016. They even allege that “settlers have invaded and now illegally occupy half of the Muskitia rainforest region”. The link there is to a New York Times article that offers nothing to support the claim in Herlihy Hobson’s and Spencer’s NACLA article.

To the contrary, the New York Times article shows the Nicaraguan government is trying to combat the violent land conflicts in the northern Caribbean Coast but with limited success. Nor does NACLA offer any other support for their article’s false allegation. More clearly than in the Intercontinental Cry series of psy-warfare articles, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer cursorily acknowledge the controversial role of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. But they play down the political opportunism that has marked Rivera’s career ever since his days as a collaborator with the US government funded Contra terrorist campaign in the 1980s.

An interesting point from the NACLA article which will certainly figure in similar future psy-warfare attacks is the effort to link the land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with opposition to the proposed Interoceanic Canal, even though the Canal lies many hundreds of kilometres to the south of Yatama’s strongholds. The NACLA article and its writers studiously avoid noting that the Nicaraguan authorities have already reached agreement with indigenous people’s organizations in the areas likely to be affected by the route of the Canal. But the efforts to connect Yatama to the Canal protests tie in with Democracy Now’s dishonest coverage of the most recent Canal protest, representing a coordinated alternative media agenda similar to that of Western corporate media. That agenda is very clearly one of neocolonial divide and rule, fomenting violence in any countries with a progressive government, not just Nicaragua but in the other Bolivarian Alliance countries like Bolivia, Ecuador and, most notoriously perhaps, Venezuela.

NACLA’s and Intercontinental Cry’s blatant propaganda in defense of Yatama’s repeated aggressive violence promotes Yatama’s sectarian political agenda in a self-serving, sensationalist way evidently calculated to maximize the potential for conflict. This is very much in line with the experience of the Ecuadoran government, faced with vicious attacks from the CONAIE indigenous people’s organization or the experience of the Bolivian government faced with murderous attacks by indigenous mining cooperative organizations.

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America. That is why it is entirely correct to characterize as neocolonial the psychological warfare role of supposedly progressive alternative media that recycle propaganda material like that of Intercontinental Cry.

Bolivia VP Alvaro Garcia Linera on the ebbing Latin American tide

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

September 9, 2016

 

defending-the-revolution

Defending the Revolution, Venezuela, 2002 [Source]

 

Extracts of vive-president Garcia Linera’s address at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires (May, 27, 2016).

 

We are facing a historical turning point in Latin America. Some are talking about a throwback, about restorers moving forward. The truth is that in the last twelve months, after ten years of intense progress, of territorial diffusion of the progressive and revolutionary governments in the continent, this progress has stalled, in some cases it has given ground, and in some other cases its continuity is in doubt. Wherever conservative forces have succeeded, an accelerated process of reconstitution of the old elites of the 80s and 90s, which seek to take control of the management of the state, is under way.

In cultural terms, there is a determined effort by the media, by NGOs, by organic right-wing intellectuals, to devalue, to call in question, and discredit the idea and the project of change and revolution.

They are targeting what can be considered the golden, virtuous Latin American decade.

It has been more than ten years. Since the decade of 2000, in a pluralistic and diverse way, some being more radical than others, some more urban, some more rural, with very different languages but in a very convergent way, Latin America has experienced the period of greatest autonomy and greatest construction of sovereignty that anyone can remember since the founding of the states in the nineteenth century.

The four characteristics of the Latin American virtuous decade

First, the political aspect: social promotion and popular forces taking over state power, overcoming the old turn-of-the-century debate on whether it is possible to change the world without taking power – the popular sectors, workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, women, the under-classes, have outstripped that theoretical and contemplative discussion in a practical way. They have assumed the tasks of controlling the state. They have become representatives, congresspersons, senators, they have taken office, mobilized themselves, pushed back neoliberal policies, they have taken charge of the management of the state, changed public policies, made amendments to budgets. In these ten years we have witnessed popular, plebeian presence in state management.

Second, the strengthening of civil society: trade unions, guilds, settlers, neighbours, students, associations, started to diversify and to multiply in different areas during this decade. The neoliberal night of apathy and democratic simulation was broken, giving way to the recreation of a strong civil society that assumed a set of tasks in conjunction with the new Latin American states.

As far as the social aspect is concerned, in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, we witnessed a substantial redistribution of social wealth. In opposition to the policies favouring the ultra-concentration of wealth which turned Latin America into one of the most unequal regions in the world, from the decade of 2000 onwards, driven by the progressive and revolutionary governments, a powerful wealth redistribution process got underway. This redistribution of wealth led to a widening of the middle classes, not in the sociological sense of the term, but in the sense of their consumption capacity. The consumption capacity of workers, peasants, indigenous peoples and subordinate social sectors expanded.

The differences between the richest 10% and the poorest 10%, which was 100, 150, 200 times in the 90s, had been reduced at the end of the first decade of the century to 80, 60, 40, in a way that broadened the contribution – and equality – of the different social sectors.

We have experienced post-neoliberal proposals, which have allowed the state to resume a strong role. Some countries carried out processes of nationalization of private companies or create new public enterprises, expanded state involvement in the economy in order to generate post-neoliberal ways of managing the economy, recovered the importance of the domestic market, recovered the importance of the state as a distributor of wealth, and recovered state participation in strategic areas of the economy.

In foreign affairs, we set up an informal, progressive and revolutionary international at continental level. This allowed for great strides in the constitution of our independence. In this decade, the Organisation of American States (OAS) has been offset by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). This represents the evolution of Latin American integration without the United States – without tutelage.

Overall, then, the continent, in this virtuous decade, has carried out political changes: the people’s participation in the construction of a new type of state. Social changes: the redistribution of wealth and the reduction of inequalities. Economy: active state involvement in the economy, the expansion of the domestic market, the creation of new middle classes. Internationally: the political integration of the continent. It is no small feat in only ten years, perhaps the most important years for integration, sovereignty, and independence in our continent since the nineteenth century.

However, we must acknowledge the fact that in recent months the process of diffusion and territorial expansion of the progressive and revolutionary governments has stalled. We are witnessing a comeback of right-wing sectors in some very important and decisive countries in the continent. Obviously, the Right will always try and seek to sabotage the progressive processes. For them, it is an issue of political survival, a question of control and dispute. It is important that we assess what we have done wrong, where we have encountered limits, where we have stumbled – what, in short, has allowed the Right to resume the initiative.

The five limits and the five contradictions of the Latin American virtuous decade

Contradictions within the economy: it is as though we had given little importance to the economic issues within the revolutionary processes. When you are in the opposition, the important things are politics, organization, ideas, and mobilization, along with more or less attractive, credible, structuring proposals. But when you are in government, when you become the state, the economy is crucial. And progressive governments and revolutionary leaders have not always assumed this crucial importance of the economy. Taking care of the economy, expanding redistribution processes, and boosting growth are the pillars of any revolution.

All of Lenin’s writings after War Communism are about the search for ways of restoring the popular sectors’ confidence through economic management, the development of production, distribution and wealth, the deployment of autonomous initiatives by peasants, workers, small and even big businesses, so as to ensure a sound economic foundation for the stability and welfare of the population, given that you cannot build Socialism or Communism in one country; given that economic relations are regulated by the world market, that markets and currencies do not disappear by decree, nor through the nationalisation of the means of production; given that the social and community economy may only arise in a context of global and continental progress. Meanwhile, it is up to each country to resist and create the basic conditions for survival, for the welfare for its people, keeping political power in the hands of the workers. You can make any concessions you want, you can talk to whomever if this helps with economic growth, but you must always guarantee that political power is in the hands of the workers and the revolutionaries.

The discourse must be effective, and create positive collective expectations on the basis of minimum material satisfaction of necessary conditions. If these conditions are not met, any speech, however seductive, however promising, gets diluted.

A second weakness in the economic area: some of the progressive and revolutionary governments have adopted measures that have affected the revolutionary bloc, thus strengthening the conservative one.

Obviously, a government must govern for all – this is the linchpin of the state. But how does one operate in that duality: governing for all, taking all into account, but, first of all, the citizens? No economic policy can obviate the people. When one does this, believing that it will win the support of the Right, or that it will neutralize it, one makes a big mistake, because the Right is never loyal. We can neutralize the business sectors, but they will never be on our side. Whenever they see that the popular side of things is faltering, or when they see weakness, business sectors will not hesitate for a minute to turn against the progressive and revolutionary governments.

You can issue a decree saying that there is no market, but the market will still be there. We can issue a decree putting an end to foreign companies, but the tools for cell phones and machinery will still require universal, planetary knowhow. A country cannot become autarchic. No revolution has endured or will survive in autarky and isolation. Revolution is to be global and continental or it will be a parody.

Obviously, the progressive and revolutionary governments prompted an empowerment of workers, peasants, workers, women, youth, which was more or less radical depending on the country. But political power will not last if it does not go together with the economic power of the popular sectors.

The state is no substitute for workers. It can collaborate, it can improve conditions, but sooner or later it will have to start devolving economic power to the subordinate sectors. Creating economic capacity, building associative productive capacity of the subordinate sectors, this is the key that will decide the possibility of moving from post-neoliberalism to post-capitalism in the future.

The second problem the progressive governments are facing is redistribution of wealth without social politicization. If the expansion of consumption capacity, if the expansion of social justice is not accompanied by social politicization, we are not making common sense. We will have created a new middle class, with consumption capacity, with capacity to satisfy their needs, but they will be carrying the old conservative common sense.

What do I mean by common sense? I mean the intimate, moral and logical precepts by which people organize their lives. It has to do with our intimate basics, with how we stand in the world.

In this regard, the cultural, ideological, spiritual aspects become crucial. There is no real revolution, nor is there consolidation of any revolutionary process, if there is not a profound cultural revolution.

When one is in government it is as important to be a good minister, or member of parliament, as to be a good union, student or local revolutionary leader, because this is where the battle for the common sense is fought.

A third weakness of the progressive and revolutionary governments is moral reform. Clearly, corruption is a cancer that corrodes society – not now, but 15, 20, 100 years ago. Neoliberals are an example of institutionalized corruption for the reason that they turned public affairs into private ones, and they amassed private fortunes by robbing the collective fortunes of the Latin American peoples. Privatizations have been the most outrageous, immoral, indecent, obscene example of widespread corruption. And this we have certainly fought against – but not enough. While restoring as common goods the res publica, public resources, and public goods, it is important that personally, individually, each comrade, President, Vice-President, ministers, directors, members of parliament, managers, in our daily behavior, in our way of being, we never relinquish humility, simplicity, austerity and transparency.

There is an insufflated moral campaign in the media lately. We can make a list of right-wing congressmen, senators, candidates, ministers, who had their companies registered in Panama to evade taxes. They are the corrupt ones, the scoundrels who have the nerve to accuse us of being corrupt, of being scoundrels, of having no morals. But we must insist on showing where we are and what we stand for through our behavior and daily life. We cannot separate what we think from what we do, what we are from what we say.

A fourth element that I would not say has anything to do with weakness, is the issue of the continuity of leadership in democratic regimes. In democratic revolutions, you have to live and put up with your opponents. You have defeated them, you have won in discursive, electoral, political, moral terms, but your opponents are still there. This is a fact that comes with democracy. And constitutions establish limits – 5, 10, 15 years – for the election of authorities. How can you give continuity to the revolutionary process when you have to abide by these limits?

They will say: “the populists, the socialists, believe in caudillos”. But what real revolution does not embody the spirit of the time? If everything depended on institutions, that is not revolution. There is no true revolution without leaders or caudillos. When the subjectivity of the people defines the destiny of a country, we are witnessing a true revolutionary process. The issue, however, is how we get on with the process given that there are constitutional limits for the continuity of the leader.

Perhaps collective leadership, building collective leaderships that allow the continuity of the processes, has greater possibilities in a democratic context. This is one of the concerns that must be resolved through political debate. How do we give subjective continuity to the revolutionary leaderships so that the processes are not truncated, nor limited, and can be sustained in historical perspective?

Finally, a fifth weakness that I would like to mention, in a self-critical but propositive way, has to do with economic and continental integration. We have made very good progress in political integration. But every government sees its geographic space, its economy, its market, and when we look at the other markets, limitations arise. Economic integration is no easy matter. You can talk a lot about it, but when you have to check the balance of payments, investment ratios, technological matters, things tend to slow down. This is the big issue. I am convinced that Latin America will only be able to become the master of its destiny in the twenty-first century if it can become a sort of continental, plurinational state that respects the local and national structures of the current states, with a second floor of continental institutions dealing with finance, economy, culture, politics and trade. Can you imagine if we were 450 million people? We would have the largest reserves of minerals, lithium, water, gas, oil, agriculture. We could drive the globalization processes of the continental economy. Alone, we are prey to the greed and abuse of companies and countries from the North. United, we in Latin America would be able to tread firmly in the twenty-first century and mark our destiny.

The tide is on the ebb

We should not be scared. Nor should we be pessimistic about the future, about the coming battles. When Marx, in 1848, analyzed the revolutionary processes, he always spoke of revolution as a process by waves. He never imagined revolution as an upward, continuous process. He said revolution moves in waves: a wave, another wave, and then the second wave advances beyond the first, and the third beyond the second.

Now the tide is ebbing. It will take weeks, months, years, but this being a process, it is clear that there will be a second wave, and what we have to do is prepare for it, debate what have we done wrong in the first wave, where we have failed, where errors have been made, what have we lacked, so that when the second wave happens, sooner rather than later, the continental revolutionary processes can go well beyond the first wave.

We are in for hard times, but hard times are oxygen for revolutionaries. Are we not coming from down below, are we not the ones who have been persecuted, tortured, marginalized in neoliberal times? The golden decade of the continent has not come free. It has been your struggle, from below, from the unions, the universities, the neighbourhoods, that has led to a revolutionary cycle. The first wave did not fall from the sky. We bear in our bodies the marks and wounds of the struggles of the 80s and 90s. And if today, provisionally, temporarily, we must go back to the struggles of the 80s, 90s, 2000s, let us welcome them. That is what a revolutionary is for.

Fighting, winning, falling down, getting up, fighting, winning, falling down, getting up – right up to the end of our life. That is our destiny.

But we have something important in our favour: historical time. Historical time is on our side. As Professor Emir Sader says, our opponents have no alternative, they do not carry a project that can overcome ours. They simply make their nest on the mistakes and envies of the past. They are restorers. We know what they did with the continent, in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador. We know what they did, because they ruled in the 80s and 90s. And they turned us into miserable, dependent countries, they drove us to extreme poverty situations and to collective shame. We already know what they want to do.

We are the future. We are the hope. We have done in ten years what dictators and governments over the last hundred years did not dare to do: we have recovered the homeland, dignity, hope, mobilization, and civil society. So, this is what they run up against. They are the past. They are the regression. We are the ones who move with the historical time.

But we must be very careful here. We must re-learn what we learned in the 80s and 90s, when everything was against us. We must gather strength. We must know that when we go into battle and lose, our strength goes to the enemy, boosting his own, while we are weakened. When it comes to it, we must know how to plan well, to gain legitimacy, to explain, to conquer again the people’s hopes, support, sensitivity and emotional spirit in each new fight. We must know that we have to go into battle again, the tiny and gigantic battle of ideas, in the mainstream media, in the newspapers, in the small pamphlets, at the universities, schools, and the unions. We must know that we have to rebuild a new common sense of hope, of mysticism. Ideas, organization, mobilization.

We do not know how long this battle will be. But let us get ready for it if it lasts one, two, three, four years. The continent is on the move and sooner rather than later it will no longer be a matter of just 8 or 10 countries: we will be 15, we will be 20, 30 countries celebrating this great International of revolutionary, progressive peoples.

 

Behind the Bolivia Miner Cooperatives’ Protests and the killing of the Bolivian Vice-Minister

 

The Bolivian cooperatives’ protests and their August 25 killing of the Bolivian Vice Minister of the Interior Rodolfo Illanes requires us to question our assumptions about cooperatives.  What are the Bolivian mining cooperatives? Most began during the Great Depression as miners banded together to work a mine in common.  However, like many cooperatives in the US that arose out of the 1960s, they have turned into small businesses. Regardless of their initial intentions, cooperatives existing in a surrounding capitalist environment must compete in business practices or go under.

The Bolivian mining cooperatives themselves underwent this process, and have become businesses whose owners hire labor.  Roughly 95% of the cooperative miners are workers, and 5% are owners.  It is common for the employed workers to be temps, or contracted out employees as we refer to them here. They have no social security, no job security, no health or retirement benefits.

The mining cooperatives made ten demands on the government, and during the second week of August, they announced an indefinite strike if the government did not meet their demands, later adding another 14 to the first 10.

The three most significant demands included rejection of the General Law of Cooperative Mines, which guaranteed cooperative employees the right to unionize, since they are not cooperative co-owners. The cooperatives owners did not want their workers represented by unions.

Reuters, and the corporate press, true to form, falsely claimed the opposite, that the cooperative miners were protesting against the government and demanded their right to form unions.

A second demand was loosening of environmental regulations for the mining cooperatives.

The third key demand was to revoke the law disallowing national or transnational businesses from partnering in cooperatives. At present cooperatives have 31 contracts with private businesses, most signed before the Evo Morales era.

The cooperatives want the right to form partnerships with multi-nationals and exploit the natural resources without the laws protecting the environment.  Opening the cooperatives to such privatization ran counter to what was voted on in the Constitution: “The natural resources are the property of the Bolivian people and will be administered by the State.”

The Evo Morales government nationalized Bolivia’s natural resources in 2006.  Because of this the government share of the profits with corporations from the sale of gas and other natural resources has risen from around 15% to 85%. Previously under neoliberal governments, about 85% of the profits went to corporations. As a result, the Bolivian state has gained an extra $31.5 billion through 2015, which it has used to develop industry, infrastructure, schools, health care and hospitals to the mostly Original Peoples population.  It has also provided many subsidies for the poor, benefiting 4.8 million Bolivians out of a population of just over 10 million. This has cut in half the number of Bolivians living in extreme poverty.

During the August cooperatives’ protests, the Evo Morales government had repeatedly stated it was open to dialogue, but pointed out it cannot violate the Constitution when faced with the demands of the cooperatives, which are thinking only of their personal profits.

Vice Minister Illanes went to meet with the miner cooperatives’ leaders of the FENCOMIN, Federacion de Cooperativas Mineras.  He was tortured and killed and so far 9 have been charged, including the President of FENCOMIN, who was a leader in the violent protests.

Before this, Bolivian TV broadcast news of rioting miners charging at police, hurling stones and even sticks of dynamite. The police responded with tear gas to disperse the protesters.  A number of police were injured during the protests. On August 24, two miners were shot at close range during the road blockades. If the police were responsible, it contravened the order of President Morales not only not to shoot, but to not bring firearms in the area of the road blockades.

Vice Minister of Coordination with Social Movements, Alfredo Rada, said after the murder that the issue of the mine cooperatives should be part of a national debate. He pointed out the cooperative workers are exploited by the owners, who have created a hierarchy inside the organizations for their private benefit. Rada added, “We respect true cooperativism, where all are equal, but these companies have been converted into semi-formal capitalist businesses.”

After the murder of Vice-Minister Illanes, Evo declared, “Once again, the national government has squashed an attempted coup.”  He added that the miners had planned to entrench themselves at the roadblocks they had established and that documents confiscated from the offices of the cooperative miners mention “overthrowing the government.”  He stated that some of the private business and cooperatives’ owners had deceived their workers.

The US has sought to undermine Evo Morales, going back to his first presidential election campaign.  Bolivia’s Cabinet Chief Juan Ramon Quintana stated over the past eight years the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has funded around 40 institutions in Bolivia including economic and social centers, foundations and non-governmental organizations, at a total amount of over $10 million.  US soft coup efforts reached their heights during the separatist movement by the rich white elite in the Media Luna, and during in the TIPNIS protests in 2011.

In the fall of 2015 the US developed the Strategic Plan for Bolivia to reverse the progressive popular changes in Bolivia and restore neoliberal-neocolonial rule. This was written by Carlos Alberto Montaner, a counter-revolutionary Cuban exile, US Congresspeople such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in charge of USAID for Latin America, and chief leaders of the Bolivian opposition.  One early result was the defeat of the Bolivian referendum to allow Evo Morales to run for president for a third term.

Venezuelan President Maduro has pointed out that the Dilma coup, the killing of the Bolivian minister, are part of an imperialist attack on the progressive governments of Latin America.  “It is a continent-wide attack by the oligarchies and the pro-imperialist right wing against all the leaders, governments and popular movements, progressive and revolutionary left” said Maduro. “With Dilma in Brazil, with Evo in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, with Daniel in Nicaragua and with all the peoples and social movements of Latin America, Venezuela is going to struggle for a sovereign, independent, humane, and popular future.”

So far the US anti-war, anti-interventionist movements have not strongly responded to the escalating US coup attempts against progressive elected Latin American governments.

[Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity, is a long time Latin America solidarity activist, and presently puts out the AFGJ Venezuela Weekly.]

WATCH: The CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy

Video (1995) published March 1, 2012

Excerpt from the book Rouge State by William Blum:

“How many Americans could identify the National Endowment for Democracy? The NED was set up in the early 1980s under President Reagan in the wake of all the negative revelations about the CIA. Seemingly every other day there was a new headline about the discovery of some awful thing the CIA had been mixed up in for years. The Agency was getting an exceedingly bad name.

Something had to be done. What was done was not to stop doing these awful things. Of course not. What was done was to shift many of these awful things to a new organization, with a nice-sounding name – The National Endowment for Democracy. The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades – and thus eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities.

Thus it was in 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy was set up to “support democratic institutions throughout the world through private, non-governmental efforts.” In actuality, virtually every penny of its funding comes from the federal government, as is clearly indicated in the financial statement in each issue of its annual report.

Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: ‘A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.'”

 

 

Gloria Steinem Discussing Her Time in the CIA: