By Ed Dalton
Violent protests have been raging in Nicaragua for the past four months, with more than 400 dead. In spite of new anti-terrorist laws which criminalize protest movements, the masses of Nicaraguan students, pensioners, and peasants persist in a just rebellion against the corrupt Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) government.
Protests erupted in response to the highly denounced pension reforms Ortega aimed to enact. While the state led by FSLN used utmost brutality to suppress the protest movement, they were still forced to scrap the pension reforms. Ortega was demanding an increase in contributions from workers to the Nicaraguan Institute for Social Security while at the same time imposing a dramatic reduction in the payout for pensioners.
The protests push on and increase the demands for the resignation of Ortega who has lorded over the sham-electoral government for almost 12 years. Lack of a real revolutionary Party which can lead the Nicaraguan people in their just struggles has only complicated things. Like in many parts of the world, when the people rise in rebellion without revolutionary leadership the US will seek to step in and distort the mass movements to its own imperialist interests. Of course, the corrupt and reprehensible FSLN will claim a false anti-imperialism to excuse their bloody crimes against the poor.
In some sections of Managua and other cities, the people have constructed barricades and begun making weapons from sticks, stones and bottle rockets, which are necessary to defend themselves against the brutal police forces. Students have overtaken several universities, which prompted the state to send in the militarized police resulting in more clashes and casualties that only increased the number of people who took to rebellion in the streets.
On July 13th Medardo Mairena and Pedro Mena, members of the Nicaraguan Peasant Movement were arrested and accused of killing police officers in a clash days earlier. The two peasant leaders faced a closed hearing on July 17th, where they were denied lawyers and charged with seven crimes including “terrorism”, a charge only made possible by the passing of new Anti-terrorism laws passed by parliament a day before, proving that the backward and undemocratic government is pushing through new laws just to criminalize the popular movement.
On the same day as the hearing the state announced its “final offensive” against the protest movement, at least three more people were killed.
In 1977 the FSLN began to splinter due to their lack of consolidated political line and the rampantly unchecked maneuvers of opportunists and right-wingers that began to populate their ranks more and more. The Ortega faction, the Terceristas, headed by Daniel and his brother Humberto eventually usurped power and reunited FSLN under their right-wing faction. They collaborated closely with the Catholic Church to impose some of the harshest anti-abortion laws on the planet. And while they “condemn” American Imperialism, they have no problem selling their people into the pockets of Venezuela, Russia, and China. At the behest of the Chinese social-imperialism Ortega has struck a deal, mainly to the benefit of China, to cut a canal across the country rivaling the US-controlled Panama Canal. In an effort to appease the big feudal landlords, Ortega brokered a deal establishing them as suppliers of meat to Venezuela and Russia, at the expense of the peasants.
US imperialism can make good use of all these contradictions, for an even more horrible agenda. Some students have been found to have had contact with government officials in Washington. The US government is always thirsty for Latin American blood and now foams at the mouth to use this crisis to gain control over Nicaragua.
While the mass rebellions and protests are clearly just—such social movements by themselves are unable to accomplish lasting change. The Arab Spring is a clear example of this as well as the protest movements in Iran. All revolutionary and democratic people must form a revolutionary party, which can prevent co-option by US imperialism as well as consolidate the popular movement into the most powerful force for liberation.