Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. (Grayzone Project / YouTube)
Since the sudden outbreak of protests and violence last April, an uneasy calm had fallen over Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista government have claimed victory over what they call a coup attempt, but they now face condemnation from the US and its allies, who accuse them of unleashing lethal violence against peaceful protesters.
I spent much of July inside Nicaragua, speaking with supporters of the government and their opponents. I learned that Washington’s narrative of a despised dictator mowing down unarmed demonstrators wasn’t exactly accurate. Across the country, I observed widespread support for Ortega and the Sandinista movement. It also became apparent from the moment I arrived that Western media had covered up the brutality of the opposition, as well as its anti-democratic agenda.
In the midst of what seemed to be a misinformation campaign reinforced by right-wing members of Congress and the Organization of American States, I approached the Nicaraguan government for a chance to hear Ortega’s side of the story. He agreed, granting me one of his first interviews in eleven years.
Here are 13 takeaways from our wide-ranging discussion on July 25 in Managua:
In other words, the uprising by the opposition is not a revolution, but a US-backed counter-revolution, just as the Contra movement was in the 1980’s. And, the mainstream media has painted over the true nature of this opposition and their brutal tactics, just as it whitewashed the brutality of the Contras. That so many on the US left do not see this is truly disappointing.
The good news is that the Nicaraguan people are not fooled. After some initial confusion, they have now rallied around the Sandinista government. This was evidenced, as we witnessed, by the throngs who came out on July 19 with their red and black Sandinista flags to celebrate the victory over Somoza in 1979, and to celebrate the current victory over the right-wing.
This was also evidenced by the ubiquitous playing of the new hit song, “Daniel Se Queda” (Daniel Stays), a song written by Nicaraguan campesinosand demanding that Daniel Ortega remain as President even if it may hurt the opposition’s feelings. As the song’s chorus goes, “Even if it hurts! Even if it hurts! The Commander stays here. Daniel, Daniel, the town is with him.”