By Carmen Esquivel* July 20, Havana (PL) Masaya, Managua, Esteli and other Nicaraguan cities have faced since the middle of April an escalation of violence that resembles destabilizing models directed from abroad and applied already in other countries, such as Venezuela.
‘Soft coup’ is the name of this strategy aimed at overthrowing democratic governments, not with conventional weapons, but through media war, causing social unrest and promoting chaos and ungovernability.
What started with protests against government reforms to social security, later repealed, became riots, attacks and fires against public buildings, markets, schools and health centers, road blocks and other vandalism with a balance of more than 250 dead.
For Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, it is a reissue of the script already used by the right and the United States in Venezuela.
‘The two countries are victims of an onslaught of the empire that sponsors and manages a fourth-generation war in complicity with local oligarchies,’ Evo tweeted.
Between April and July 2017, armed gangs, financed by radical sectors of the Venezuelan right, destroyed businesses, public facilities and murdered dozens of people, some of whom were burned alive.
Known as the ‘guarimbas,’ these violent protests left more than 100 dead, around 1,400 injured and millionaire damage to public and private property.
According to Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, what happened in his country resembles the situation that Nicaragua is currently facing.
‘I have been in contact with President Daniel Ortega all the time. They have walked into an ambush similar to that one laid to Venezuela. They will win,’ said Maduro.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza warned about resemblances between the tendentious editorial line of Western media and news agencies on violence in Nicaragua and the distorted narrative applied in Venezuela in 2017.
They call ‘citizen protest’ the participation of violent groups in burning state institutions, looting and attacking law enforcement, he said.
Until June, the damage caused in Nicaragua only to public goods by vandalism amounted to 182 million dollars, according to figures from the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit.
In the tourism sector, between 40,000 and 50,000 jobs were lost, which will have a tremendous impact on the economy, said the head of the sector, Ivan Acosta.
If until the last five years the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by around five percent, now the Central Bank of Nicaragua (BCN) has reduced the projection of the GDP increase to one percent.
The BCN estimates losses of 238 million dollars in foreign investment, 440 million in exports and 465 million in imports.
‘The destruction they have caused is not easily replenished and the loss of human lives is irreparable,’ said the Secretary of International Relations of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), Jacinto Suarez.
In the opinion of the also President of the Commission of International Relations and Integration of the National Assembly of Nicaragua, the destabilizing actions of the last three months respond to a ‘soft coup’ orchestrated from abroad, similar to that one applied in Venezuela, which seeks resignation of President Daniel Ortega and foreign intervention.
This strategy is not new. It was already used in Bolivia in 2008 during the civic prefectural coup in the so-called Media Luna, that is, in Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando. There were violent riots in these departments, with occupation and looting of public offices, seizure of an airport and an attempted attack on a pipeline destined for exports to Brazil.
The aim of this ‘atypical’ coup was to divide the country and make an attempt on President Evo Morales’ life, who two years before had nationalized the hydrocarbons and other important companies.
According to documents leaked by Wikileaks, the United States financed the separatists, and through the Agency for International Development (USAID), gave at least four million dollars to these groups.
The situation faced by progressive governments in the region came to light at the 24th Annual Meeting of the Forum of Sao Paulo, held from July 15 to 17 in Havana.
One day is Venezuela, another Brazil and then Nicaragua, warned the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, when he made a call to support these sister nations.
Several speakers at the Forum also supported the former presidents of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; from Argentina, Cristina Fernandez, and from Ecuador, Rafael Correa, victims of political persecution and counter-offensive against progressive leaders and governments.
* Head of Prensa Latina News Agency’s South America Editorial Department.