[Marxism] Nicaragua and the Ortega regime

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Sat May 5 15:17:29 MDT 2018

>From a facebook friend who refuses to see the similarity between opposition
to Ortega's brutal neoliberal regime and the opposition to Assad

A few days ago, Chuck Kaufman, a FB friend who works for an NGO called
Alliance for Global Justice (which grew out of Nicaragua Network) posted a
note from a North American who was visiting Nicaragua during the recent
protests. Since AfGJ consistently aligns with the Ortega government, I
posted a response pointing out that Ortega and his wife (who is now Vice
President of Nicaragua) have an ugly history of misogyny and
authoritarianism – qualities that could go a long way in explaining some of
the popular anger against the Ortega government and the government’s
heavy-handed response to the protests (state security forces have killed
somewhere between 30 and 60 people, with other victims possibly
disappeared). Chuck Kaufman demanded documentation, claiming that my
accusations are “extraordinary.” In fact, however, they’re not
extraordinary at all, and they have been well covered in the international
press for more than a decade.

Those of us old enough to have supported the Sandinista Revolution in the
late 1970s and through the 1980s will recall that the institutional
Catholic Church, personified by then-archbishop Obando Y Bravo, was
Ortega’s nemesis throughout the initial period of Sandinista rule (1979 to
1990). Having lost the presidency to Violeta Chamorro in 1990, Ortega was
kept out of power for the next 16 years, a period during which he
established alliances with enemies of the Sandinista Revolution as a
strategy for winning the presidency once again. First, in 2001 Ortega
allied with Somoza official Arnoldo Alemán, who had won the presidency in
1997 and who in 2002 was charged with embezzling $100 million from the
Nicaraguan state. Then, in the run-up to the 2006 elections, Ortega and his
long-time partner Rosario Murillo were married by none other than former
archbishop Obando y Bravo, and Ortega announced that he was a practicing
Catholic. In 1998, Ortega’s stepdaughter, Zoilamérica Narváes, accused him
of having raped her when she was a child. Rosario Murillo, Narváes’
biological mother, took her husband’s side against her. Narváes eventually
dropped the charges against Ortega and went into exile.

Ortega selected Jaime Morales, a former Contra leader, as his vice
presidential running mate. But the coup de grace of Ortega’s conversion
came when he supported a total ban on abortion, including in cases of rape
and incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger, and the law passed
thanks to the support of Sandinista legislators. As reported in Spanish
newspaper El País, more than a thousand minors who have been raped have
been forced to bring their pregnancies to term, with Rosario Murillo
hailing these births as “miracles,” in the process exposing the identities
of these child rape victims in the press.

Feminism was a strong part of the Sandinista Revolution during the late
1970s and 1980s, but the modern Sandinista party has made misogyny one of
its official planks. Moreover, despite his continued deployment of Left
rhetoric, Ortega has signed accords with the International Monetary Fund
and instituted core neoliberal economic policies, including freezing public
workers’ salaries. What sparked the recent protests was a decree by Ortega
reducing social security payments and increasing employer and employee
contributions; after nearly a week of protests, during which state security
forces and paramilitary groups aligned with the Sandinista Party killed
dozens of protesters, Ortega announced that he was withdrawing the social
security reform.

I posted several references to back up the accusations, but Chuck Kaufman
dismissed them as “New York Times talking points.” James Patrick Jordan,
who also works for AfGJ, then tagged me in a long rebuttal; unfortunately,
I can only paraphrase because Kaufman subsequently erased the thread and
unfriended me. But most striking in Jordan’s rebuttal was his assertion
that the 2006 abortion ban had nothing to do with the presidential
elections that Ortega won shortly thereafter, and that the Sandinista
legislators who voted for the ban voted with their consciences. We might
not like the resulting law, Jordan added, but it’s what Nicaraguans chose.
To which I would respond: “Nicaraguans” did not choose the abortion ban; it
was chosen by a corrupt party in cahoots with right-wing Catholics. And
although Jordan would insinuate that not forcing 11-year-old rape victims
to bear the children of their rapists is a utopian idea cooked up by white
bourgeois feminists that shouldn’t be imposed on Nicaragua, I think most
people would agree that it’s a basic human right that shouldn’t be violated
for the sake of political expediency for a decrepit misogynist politician
who sees himself as president-for-life.

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