You are here


NicaNotes: Hands off Nicaragua!

Article is from Alliance for Global Justice 

By Arnold Matlin

[This essay appeared in The Livingston County News on July 29, 2021.]

(Dr. Arnold Matlin traveled to Nicaragua for the first time in 1988, and has been in solidarity with the Nicaraguan Revolution since then, receiving the Medal of the 25th Anniversary of the Revolution in 2004.  He is a member of the board of the Alliance for Global Justice.)

As high schoolers, most of us learned about the Monroe Doctrine. Many people assume that the Monroe Doctrine is U.S. law, and possibly even international law.  It isn’t either of these. President Monroe proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, in his State of the Union Address. Now, almost 200 years later, we still use the Monroe Doctrine to justify our interference in the internal affairs of other countries in the Western Hemisphere.

The Monroe Doctrine has symbolized the United States’ self-proclaimed right to run roughshod — whenever and wherever we please — over sovereign nations to our south. The U.S. has invaded and occupied many countries. For some of them, like Nicaragua, we’ve done this more than once.

Since President Monroe stated his doctrine, there have been more than 50 U.S. interventions in Latin America, including our support of the 2009 coup in Honduras. This coup has resulted in chaos, gangs, high-level drug dealing, and a flood of the country’s poor clamoring at our border.

We have supported the killing of progressive leaders such as Augusto Sandino of Nicaragua in 1934. We have organized and supported the overthrow of numerous democratically elected presidents.  Among them were Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954 and President Salvador Allende of Chile in 1973. Allende died defending the Chilean National Palace during a military coup supported by the US.

After the Nicaraguan Sandinistas’ successful war of liberation against the Somoza dictatorship (1979), the U.S. began its own proxy war against the new government (1981-90). This was known as the Contra War. To fight that war, we armed, directed, and supplied the Contra mercenaries.  We put an economic embargo in place.  We actually sold weapons to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in exchange for money that would enable the continuation of our patently illegal war, after Congress had outlawed sending money to the Contras.

In 1986 the International Court of Justice ruled that the United States had violated international law by supporting the Contras.  The U.S. ignored that ruling.

It’s sad to say that we’re at it again. And once again the reason is simply that the Nicaraguan government (democratically re-elected in 2016) doesn’t meet the approval of the U.S. State Department.

Nicaragua’s economy is mixed—capitalist and socialist. Nicaragua provides free health care to its citizens and universal free education, preschool through college.  Half of all candidates for office, by law, must be women. The highways are excellent.  Literacy is up and maternal mortality is down.

Most revealing is the fact that the Nicaraguan poor do not flee in droves to the U.S. border. Why should they? They know that their government is doing its best to protect and serve the people of Nicaragua.

In 2018, the Trump administration supported a violent coup attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government. That coup failed.  Sadly, the Biden folks are following the same agenda.

A recently-leaked document (RAIN) from USAID, a U.S. government agency, stated that the program Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua is intended to re-install a right-wing government that would privatize all services, cut programs to the poor, and bring Nicaragua into the circle of U.S. client governments.

The U.S. Congress is considering the RENACER Act, which would impose further sanctions on Nicaragua. Why does our government insist on punishing Nicaragua? As we said in the 1980’s, Nicaragua poses “the threat of a good example.” Nicaragua wants to be a free and sovereign nation, and the U.S. Government can’t tolerate that.

The Nicaraguan presidential election will take place on November 7th, 2021. The Sandinistas will win, and the U.S. will use the Big Lie to claim that the elections were stolen or rigged.

When you hear that, consider that the Monroe Doctrine is just a way of looking at the rest of the hemisphere through a U.S.-dominated lens.

Try to convince our government to keep its hands off Nicaragua! [For more information use this link:

[Jim Lukens contributed to this essay.]