7th August 2019
For the attention of Ireland's Latin American Solidarity Centre:-
I am writing in response to the open letter to the Nicaraguan Ambassador which you have published on your website.
As an organisation which has worked in and with Nicaragua for over 40 years, we would take issue with many of the points raised in the letter.
In the first instance, the letter fails to recognise that what happened in Nicaragua last year was an attempted coup, inspired and funded by the United States. The extreme violence perpetrated by opposition groups caused widespread economic damage to the country, not to mention the loss of some 120,000 jobs. Those who took part in the protests last year were not all unarmed peaceful protesters – there is substantial evidence, much of it filmed by the protesters themselves, to show this to be the case. The vast majority of the population reject such violence and want only to live in peace.
I have recently returned from a visit to Nicaragua, and do not recognise the picture being painted in the letter. Everywhere I went there was an atmosphere of peace and calm, with families out enjoying themselves in parks, markets and restaurants. The overwhelming feeling was one of wanting nothing more than to return to the situation prior to April 2018 and to continue along the road of social progress started by the Government in 2007.
The letter states at the end that
“We will continue to support the popular movements which uphold the spirit of the Sandinista Revolution and we will continue to oppose any threat by the US to the Nicaraguan people’s right to self-determination”
We are unclear as to what the authors of the letter mean by ‘popular movements’. Do they not regard the trade unions and cooperatives, and other organisations that form the social economy as popular movements? The actions carried out by so-called peaceful protesters caused untold hardship to workers, campesinos/as and their families across the country; these actions have been roundly condemned by the trade unions and the organisations that make up the Council for the Social Economy: these are the popular movements that uphold the spirit of the Sandinista Revolution.
An opinion poll published by the independent M&R Consultores published on 26 February indicated that over 90% of respondents want dialogue, peace and stability to guarantee the wellbeing of their families and communities. To this end, the Government has established peace commissions in numerous communities throughout the country in an effort to bring about peace and reconciliation.
We also do not see how the authors of the letter can “continue to oppose any threat by the US to the Nicaraguan people’s right to self-determination” while at the same time giving succour to the narrative of an opposition which continues to work with right wing US senators and the Trump administration to advocate for sanctions against their own people, sanctions which harm only the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
Since 2007, Nicaragua has undergone a remarkable transformation under the FSLN Government. People now have the right to free health care and education; in 2007, only 54% of the population had mains electricity, with an even lower figure in rural areas – after an extensive electrification programme, this has reached 96% of the population. Prior to 2007, illiteracy had increased to 36%, it has now been virtually eliminated. Poverty and extreme poverty have been halved, as has malnutrition. Children receive free school meals, and women have access to low cost loans to help them to establish small businesses. These are impressive achievements by any standard.
We welcome the solidarity which the authors of the letter have shown in the past and would like to express the hope that they will direct their efforts towards upholding the right of the Nicaraguan people to defend their sovereignty and self-determination against what is a vicious and sustained onslaught by the United States and its allies.
Trade Union and Communications Co-ordinator
Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group