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Hypocrisy, The New York Times Version

Trashing Nicaragua's success

In the 1980s Nicaragua was a very different animal than Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Nicaraguans had thrown out the bloody, repressive forces that kept the poor and the disenfranchised living in fear. When we’re talking about the Sandinista Revolution and the government that came out of it we’re not talking about perfection. We’re talking about improvements that benefited the poor at the bottom of the pile. We're talking about aspirations for a mixed economy. The Sandinista government that had been duly recognized internationally as a sovereign government faced a very difficult struggle. Not only did it have to govern, it had to defend itself from an attack by the greatest military and financial power in the world. This attack was meant to either overthrow the Sandinista government outright or cause such destruction and agony that it would establish “the power of a bad example.” In other words, all you other little scruffy nations down there, look to Nicaragua: This could happen to you. So keep your nose clean.

The point is, today, for one reason or another, murder and violence is rampant in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala -- but it is not so bad in Nicaragua. Could it have something to do with the fact post-Sandinista revolution Nicaragua actually considers its poor as citizens deserving of rights -- not as a burden to be exploited or put down?

President Reagan, his beloved Contras and the Times building in New YorkPresident Reagan, his beloved Contras and the Times building in New York

In its editorial, the Times makes some egregious distortions of the facts. The most egregious one has to do with elections. The Times points out correctly that the 1984 election of Ortega as president, undertaken during the Contra War, was “the nation’s first credible vote.” While Reagan called it “a Soviet-style sham,” it was declared “free and fair” by all international observers. Then the Times plays with the facts and says, “[Ortega’s] bid for re-election in 1990 failed, in large part because of allegations of corruption.”

That was certainly the line of his winning opponent Violeta Chamorro. She was the widow of a famous newspaper publisher assassinated by dictator Somoza in 1978, an act that helped set off the imminent revolution. By 1990, Senora Chamorro was also the mother of adult children on both sides of the Contra War; she reportedly had a rule at family dinners: No politics! She ran as a unifying figurehead in a tiny nation whose population was exhausted by the destruction and killing in the Contra War. It wasn’t “allegations of corruption” at all. It was war weariness that did in Ortega and the Sandinistas. In other words, Ronald Reagan’s Contra War did exactly what it was supposed to do: It made life so difficult for Nicaraguans they cried, “Uncle!”

To fill out the history, Chamorro ruled until 1996. Arnoldo Aleman won the next election and ruled until 2001; he was succeeded by his vice president, Enrique Bolaños. Ex-President Aleman was convicted in 2003 of embezzlement, money laundering and corruption and sentenced to 20 years in prison. In 2006, Ortega was again elected president.



story | by Dr. Radut