[Marxism] Nicaraguan Contradictions

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 4 09:47:37 MDT 2018

On 9/4/18 11:20 AM, Richard Fidler wrote:
> Earlier today, Lou posted a reply to an article in the Scientific American by a
> critic of Nicaragua's environmental abuses. It is worth reading the article that
> is the target of the author, Paul Oquist: Nicaragua's Acions Cast a Shadow over
> Its Leadership of Major Climate Group,

It is also noteworthy that the Scientific American article states:

Nicaragua maintains a “policy of permanent destruction of natural 
resources,” according to an e-mailed statement from environmental 
scientist Jaime Incer Barquero, who directed the country’s Ministry of 
Environment and Natural Resources during the presidency of Violeta 
Chamorro in the 1990s.


Maybe most people reading the article have no clue what was happening 
under Violeta Chamorro but citing the head of the Ministry of 
Environment and Natural Resources is rather disingenuous. Everybody is 
ready to see Daniel Ortega overthrown but until the student movement 
puts forward a program that makes clear its opposition to him being 
replaced by the gang that ran Nicaragua before Ortega's reelection, 
count me out of the Dan La Botz brigades.

 From Environmental Justice: International Discourses in Political 
Economy, edited by Paul Thompson, 2002:

Although having adopted the rhetoric of environmentalism, successive 
former Presidents Violeta Chamorro and Arnoldo Aleman showed a 
willingness to sacrifice environmental quality, worker health and 
safety, and decent wages and social services in favor of "structural 
adjustment" and neo-liberal economic policy. Private investment in 
resource extraction is being encouraged. In 1996, the Ministry of 
Environmental and Natural Resources (MARENA) and President Aleman 
granted Solcarsa, a subsidiary of the giant Korean-based multinational 
corporation Kumkyung, a 30-year timber concession covering 62,000 
hectares in the Autonomous North Atlantic Coast Region (RAAN)—the 
largest and longest ever granted in Nicaragua's history. The logging 
inflicted enormous damage on indigenous communities and the second 
largest rainforest in the Americas, and was a clear violation of 
Nicaragua's laws against mahogany exports and the right of the region's 
indigenous peoples to determine the use of local resources under the 
1987 Autonomy Law (the logging concession was later declared 
unconstitutional in February of 1997 by the Supreme Count of Nicaragua 
on the grounds that it violated Article 181 of the Constitution). 
Although the concession was revoked in late February 1998 because of 
local and international protests, another concession was granted to a 
"new company" PRADA two months later.

Government-owned industry and natural resources have been privatized, 
and new laws allow foreign interests 100 percent owner-ship of 
Nicaraguan companies. As a result, Canadian companies practicing 
open-pit gold and copper mining (which uses cyanide leaching to remove 
the precious metals from ore), are now creating severe environmental and 
human health problems throughout the country. Although some 
environmental programs will be maintained, it appears likely that the 
more comprehensive environmental programs initiated under the Sandinista 
government (and which do not receive external funding) will continue to 
be dismantled until there is a change in power. And in the wake of the 
devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch, there will undoubtedly be 
increased exploitation of natural resources to generate foreign exchange 
and rebuild the collapsed economy. This is very likely to further deepen 
the vicious downward spiral of poverty and environmental deterioration 
which contributed to the disaster in the first place.

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