by toni solo, May 10th 2011
North American and European media coverage of Nicaragua in recent years has followed the same template applied to other countries targeted by the US government and their NATO allies. The modus operandi is always the same : military encirclement, diplomatic isolation, media demonization, funding of local proxies and violent provocation. If that mixture fails to bring about regime change, the US government and its NATO and regional allies then apply economic sanctions and, where necessary, armed aggression.
Over the years, Nicaragua has been subject to coverage by media from across the whole gamut of NATO country psy-warfare assets. The latest adjunct to NATO's darkness-visible psy-warfare offensive against Nicaragua is Tom Hennigan's article “After the revolution” in the Irish Times. Hennigan's article is almost 100% fact-free NATO psy-warfare. It reaffirms the main NATO psy-warfare lie on Nicaragua – that President Daniel Ortega is a corrupt, repressive tyrant.
Nicaragua's general elections will be held on November 6th this year. Hennigan's version of NATO's regime change media template for Nicaragua confirms the main themes that will be used with increasing vehemence as the election campaign proceeds – bogus claims of electoral fraud and unconstitutional illegality. Those fake themes apart, omission too is a vital component of the regime-change psy-warfare NATO country media machine.
Omission is NATO's gagged phantom hostage, held forever in a kind of media Guantanamo Bay Block Alpha for especially troublesome prisoners. On Nicaragua, a media-water-boarded Omission emits muffled lacunae signalling two information vacuums diligently maintained by NATO's psy-warfare propagandists. The first excludes facts exposing the Nicaraguan opposition's dishonesty and deceit. The second negates the incredible success of President Ortega's Sandinista led government just four and a half years after taking office.
That second vacuum hermetically seals out extremely positive appraisals by numerous UN and other multilateral institutions. Along with many other organizations, UNICEF, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Panamerican Health Organization, the InterAmerican Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund have all publicly praised the Nicaraguan government. Key motifs in their appraisals have been competence and probity.
Likewise, NATO's psy-warfare media assets never offer rational analysis of why opinion polls show President Ortega currently has around 50% popular support nationally, more than twice that of his nearest rival. They avoid reporting that the economy grew by almost 6% from 2009 to 2010, a fact confirmed by the IMF. Foreign investment and exports are at record levels. Despite the setbacks of the international economic crisis, health and education indicators show steady improvements. Extreme poverty has been cut by more than 7%.
At the same time the NATO psy-warfare crew suppress the unquestionable success of President Ortega's government, they also suppress the deceit and dishonesty of the NATO country supported opposition. NATO's psy-warfare propaganda template projects ex-Sandinistas like Dora Maria Tellez and Carlos Fernando Chamorro as heroic independent-minded democrats full of integrity. But the record shows otherwise.
Tellez fooled international progressive supporters in 2008 by portraying a phoney protest she staged against the electoral authority as a principled stand for freedom. In fact, her protest was a smokescreen to cover up a grubby political agreement with the country's corrupt right wing. Soon after her theatrical protest, Tellez and her cronies urged their supporters to vote for Eduardo Montealegre who had cut a deal with Arnoldo Aleman to be the PLC's candidate for mayor of Managua.
Eduardo Montealegre has hidden behind his parliamentary immunity for years so as to avoid a standing indictment on charges of multi-million dollar corruption while a government minister. The charges are based on an investigation by Nicaragua's independent State audit body. Since the municipal election campaign in 2008, Tellez and Montealegre have rejected Aleman's PLC and are working together with extreme right wing presidential candidate Fabio Gadea.
Despite this clear record of hypocritical opportunism, NATO psy-warfare disinformation assets invariably present Tellez as the perfect paradigm of political integrity. For his part, Carlos Fernando Chamorro has shown himself to be a cynical self-promoting opportunist. He was caught in 2008 prior to the municipal elections using his CINCO non-governmental organization to channel development cooperation funds under the table to fund activists in Tellez's Sandinista Renewal Movement (MRS) political alliance.
Far from being an independent journalist Chamorro and his family have accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from USAID and European Union sources. The money is channelled through initiatives like Camtransparencia run by international corporate mercenary multinational Dyncorp and Programa Vida en Democracia, run by another of the oligarchic Chamorro family's own non-profits. Anxious to support the psy-warfare offensive against President Daniel Ortega, foreign donor institutions turn a blind eye to the Chamorro's family's incestuous use of their money.
The irredeemable cynicism of the NATO country psy-warfare media is self-evident from their downright falsehoods. In April this year, Tim Rogers filed a report entitled “Eyeing Middle East Nicaragua's Ortega quashes weekend protests” in which he falsely claimed that a tiny opposition march on April 2nd was “blocked” from marching. The opposition supporters were not impeded in any way from marching along the route assigned to them by the authorities. They simply refused to follow that route.
Having refused to comply with their assigned route, the opposition then viciously attacked a cordon of defenceless policewomen that separated them from a much larger demonstration by peaceful Sandinista demonstrators. In the end 18 police officers had to be taken to hospital and kept in overnight for treatment, several with very serious injuries. Aware of the deliberate nature of that violent provocation, the police showed extraordinary restraint. No opposition demonstrators were arrested or injured.
Tim Rogers deliberately failed to report these facts which render his article's tendentious, dishonest headline completely ridiculous. NATO country psy-warfare writers like Rogers and Hennigan effortlessly spew out such articles based entirely on falsehood and omission. For anyone interested, a few random examples from Hennigan's “After the Revolution” piece are analyzed at the end of this article. Far more interesting than Rogers and Hennigan's dishonesty is the overall developing message of NATO's psy-warfare media assets prior to Nicaragua's general elections in November this year.
A primary theme of the NATO country psy-warfare phoney-reporters is the alleged electoral fraud in the municipal elections of 2008 in which the FSLN increased the number of municipalities they governed from 93 to 104. Opinion polls had predicted that kind of result. The glib NATO psy-warfare claims of alleged fraud have never been supported by credible factual documentation.
Nor is the monitoring presence in those elections ever acknowledged of international election specialists from organizations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The NATO country psy-warfare correspondents invariably cite USAID funded election-disinformation body Etica y Transparencia as a source. Etica y Transparencia has a link to their report on the 2008 municipal elections on their web site.
But the link is empty and has been for months. So it has been impossible to check the incessant claims of fraud against freely available supporting evidence. That has not stopped NATO country psy-warfare troupers unscrupulously citing Etica y Transparencia as if it were independent or authoritative, which it is not. The repeated insistence on electoral fraud in 2008 lacks credible supporting evidence, apart from self-interested claims by the Nicaraguan opposition.
NATO psy-warfare accounts of the aftermath of those municipal elections always suppress the fact that Eduardo Montealegre incited the street violence in which, in one incident, a Sandinista journalist was attacked by opposition supporters, stabbed repeatedly and thrown into his vehicle after it had been set on fire. The NATO country media always talk about Sandinista “mobs” while persistently under-reporting repeated opposition violence. Nor do they ever acknowledge the determined efforts of the Nicaraguan police to maintain order with a minimum use of force.
Likewise Nicaraguan opposition claims of constitutional illegality blithely ignore the categorical authority of the country's Supreme Court. They also omit clear precedents set very recently in Costa Rica and Colombia, where international NATO psy-warfare media assets quietly accepted the re-election of Oscar Arias and Alvaro Uribe. These themes of electoral fraud and constitutional illegality have a simple propaganda objective. Regime change requires the target government to be smeared as illegitimate.
One way of doing that is for minority opposition groups to stage violent provocations – like the one falsely reported by Tim Rogers – so as to elicit a repressive response from the authorities, as has happened in Libya and Syria. The NATO psy-warfare media then grossly exaggerate and distort the consequent repression so as to justify NATO country or UN intervention. Another way to fabricate illegitimacy is to provoke a constitutional crisis by causing electoral chaos, as Alassane Outtara's bloodthirsty, UN-supported opposition did in the Ivory Coast prior to being installed in power via military intervention by France and the UN.
The Nicaraguan opposition almost achieved that second option in early 2010. They have a nominal majority in the National Assembly and deliberately forced a constitutional crisis by refusing to elect new authorities for the Supreme Electoral Council and the Supreme Court. That proto-coup by opposition legislators was thwarted by a decisive Presidential decree confirming existing officials in their posts until such time as the National Assembly should meet its constitutional obligation to approve and elect new candidates. The decree was based on a never-revoked constitutional clause applied during the handover of power in 1990.
Tell-tale signs of regime change prepping
It is in this context that NATO country-funded Nicaraguan NGO representatives are now lobbying in Washington for US congressional support in their efforts to de-legitimize decisions by Nicaragua's legitimately elected government and its Supreme Court. NATO-country psy-warfare propaganda bears out the hypothesis of heightened preparation for attempts at regime-change. The psy-warfare offensive relies on false accusations and provocations by minority political forces and unrepresentative cliques to keep the international media cloak over their own political failure and endless deceit.
That has been the pattern used to destabilize Libya and Syria and is the pattern used by NATO country psy-warfare media in Latin America too. In Nicaragua, the MRS - whose vociferous representatives are constantly quoted in the NATO country psy-warfare propaganda offensive - consistently registered levels of national support at around just 1% all through 2010 and to date. Now that same unrepresentative group of individuals are piggybacking their way to lucrative positions in the National Assembly via an alliance with a group of right wing movements that enjoy far more electoral support.
These unrepresentative individuals are the counterparts of the anti-democratic cliques and minorities supported by NATO countries around the world in their efforts to destabilize target governments. If one pays attention to NATO country psy-warfare reports on Nicaragua, a constant feature is a quote by some opposition figure or other advocating violence. Both Hennigan and Rogers use this trope as part of their psy-warfare armoury. It is a regular feature of reports by all the other NATO country psy-warfare media outlets and of the infinite disinformation feedback loop linking those international media to local Nicaraguan media.
Hennigan quotes Dora Maria Tellez saying, “In Nicaragua, every time you close the door on a civic resolution to political conflict, the door that opens leads to war. This is a reality.” For his part, Rogers has a quote from another ex-Sandinista Moises Hassan, “Hassan says if the opposition’s initial effort to prevent 'Ortega’s illegal candidacy' fails to keep the president from remaining in power beyond 2011, there will come a 'second struggle to remove him from a false presidency.' ”
The psychopathic NATO modus operandi is the same in Latin America as it is in North Africa and the Middle East. The patterns are blatantly obvious and the techniques monotonously repetitive in Big Brother totalitarian style. All the signs are that despite the NATO country backed hate campaign, President Daniel Ortega will be re-elected in November 2011 with a much increased majority and quite possibly a working majority in the National Assembly. At that point, the countdown to regime change may well begin in earnest. That will be clear if and when the NATO psy-warfare media slip into frenetic overdrive as they did in their coverage of Libya.
A few random falsehoods from Tom Hennigan's article “After the Revolution” :
Hennigan: “Nicaragua is no nearer to escaping its ranking as the western hemisphere’s poorest nation after Haiti.”
Fact : Nicaragua enjoys record exports and foreign investment levels. It is likely to be completely self-sufficient in food production by 2013 and 80% energy self-sufficient by 2017. The country is likely to be classified as a medium-income country within five years. Even opposition parties have had to accept an independent report confirming that extreme poverty in Nicaragua has been cut since 2005 from over 17% to just over 9%.
Hennigan : “Overseeing the November ballot will be the same Supreme Electoral Council that rubberstamped the fraud of 2008. At its head is Ortega ally Roberto Rivas. He is threatening to exclude foreign observers from the poll, saying they are unneeded in a democracy such as Nicaragua.”
Fact : The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) has been virtually unchanged since before 2001. This CSE oversaw numerous national, regional and local elections in Nicaragua with no claims of fraud prior to the municipal elections of 2008 and has always rejected the unsupported claims of fraud in those elections made by the losers in the hopelessly divided Nicaraguan opposition. Rivas has made clear that foreign delegations can be invited to the elections in 2011 once the CSE publishes in August the regulations that will apply to such visiting delegations. Foreign delegations are invited not by the CSE but by the government. See, http://tortillaconsal.com/tortilla/node/8241
Hennigan : “But in 2009, a Supreme Court stacked with loyalists, as a result of Ortega’s pact with the Liberal leader Alemán, simply invalidated these constitutional breaks. It ruled they infringed Ortega’s human rights in a decision local jurists said went against all legal precedent and logic.”
Fact: In 2010, Nicaragua's Supreme Court in plenary session with both Sandinista and opposition magistrates ratified a ruling to allow both the President and mayors in Nicaragua to be re-elected. The ruling follows various precedents in recent years in Latin America including very similar rulings by the Supreme Courts of Costa Rica and Colombia in favour of Oscar Arias and Alvaro Uribe respectively.
Hennigan: “To cement his entente with the Catholic hierarchy ahead of the 2006 election, Ortega ordered Sandinistas in the National Assembly to abandon long-standing policy and vote in support of a law banning abortion in all circumstances.”
Fact : That vote in the National Assembly followed shortly after a huge demonstration of an estimated 200,000 people organized by the Roman Catholic Church in Nicaragua in favour of changing the law on abortion - a measure put before the legislature by the government of President Enrique Bolaños. The vote was a free vote. Of the 37 FSLN deputies, 26 voted to change the law, the others abstained or did not participate in the vote. The measure was passed by a large majority including politicians with whom those protesting that vote – like Sofia Montenegro of the Autonomous Women's Movement - are now effectively allied for the 2011 elections. Subsequently, the Nicaraguan Health Ministry has implemented administrative measures to protect the lives of mothers in danger from high risk pregnancy and to remove any fear of prosecution on the part of doctors.
Hennigan remarks in passing on so many issues in Nicaragua – for example Venezuelan development cooperation via ALBA, the role of Rosario Murillo, or the Narvaez-Ortega controversy – that only a very extensive rebuttal would serve to expose all the sly inaccuracies he deploys.
In mentioning the accusations of sexual abuse against Ortega, Hennigan himself abuses the request made by Zoilamerica Narvaez in a press conference in 2010 for media not to exploit the controversy for political purposes. After many years of anguish for all concerned, the family seem to have reconciled. Hennigan compounds his caricature of that controversy with a crude misogynist attack on Rosario Murillo, whose strategic acumen has played a leading role in the Nicaraguan government's extraordinarily successful implementation of its programme.
On the false claims made by NATO country psy-warfare media assets like Hennigan about Nicaragua and ALBA see,
The fundamental hypocrisy about ALBA is that the NATO psy-warfare media never question the handover of hundreds of millions of dollars every year with no oversight worth the name to their allies in Nicaragua's non-governmental sector which for years now has been the main political opposition in Nicaragua, funded by foreign taxpayers money for over 20 years with little obvious benefit to Nicaragua's impoverished majority.
On the other hand Venezuelan development cooperation through private sector companies has been demonized despite the extensive self-evident benefits enjoyed by the most impoverished sectors of Nicaraguan society including a sharp drop in levels of extreme poverty directly attributable to ALBA investments in agricultural production and low-interest micro-credit.