Why is U.S. really punishing Nicaragua?

November 17, 2021 - 18:20

TEHRAN - U.S. President Joe President has announced new punitive measures against the Nicaraguan government following the country’s Presidential election that saw Daniel Ortega win a fourth consecutive term.

The new measures include a travel ban which has been applied to all of Nicaragua's elected officials, reports left including President Ortega, the Vice President, in addition to security force members, judges, mayors, and others. They are all barred from entering the United States. 

Biden had pledged a wide variety of sanctions in response to the election that Washington has denounced as rigged in favor of Ortega; as has become the norm now, the accusations lacked any evidence. 

Just a day after Biden’s fresh decree, in coordinated action, the United States, Britain and Canada imposed targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan officials in response to the November 7 election; in which the three countries and some of their allies echoed Washington’s labeling of the vote as a sham. The Biden administration slapped sanctioned ok nine Nicaraguans, while the UK targeted eight and Canada rolled out sanctions against 11 Nicaraguan officials. 

The U.S. sanctions included the energy minister, vice-minister of finance, and an entire government ministry. Biden had accused Ortega of organizing a "pantomime" election in the Central American nation, and U.S. officials have pledged to work with allies to ratchet up the pressure. Last week, a senior State Department official said that a sanctions announcement would be the first in a series of steps the U.S. administration will "ramp up over time." 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says, "I don't want to leave people the impression that it's going to be kind of one announcement and done... This will continue to go over time."

Ortega has ridiculed his U.S. critics as "Yankee imperialists" and has accused them of trying to undermine Nicaragua's electoral process. Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia among others have offered Ortega their support and backing. In any case, previous sanctions imposed by Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, failed to change Ortega’s government, and many observers are skeptical whether new measures will have much impact.

Behind the scenes, Washington has been working hard on trying to get the Organization of American States on board.

Last month, twenty-six OAS members voted on a resolution regarding Ortega but there was no unanimous agreement and seven countries abstained. Washington is working to build a more united stand at the bloc's general assembly. Asked if Nicaragua could be kicked out, a State Department official said it would be important for OAS members to make their next moves in unity. Nicaragua expulsion from the OAS is reportedly not on the Biden agenda because his aides are wary similar action against Cuba in the 1960s failed to change Havana’s policies. 

Why Washington is talking on behalf of and advising the Organization of American States on what action to take is something that ought to raise serious eyebrows and questions marks. 

The main question is does Nicaragua pose a threat to the United States or anyone else to even warrant being sanctioned? 

Ortega has ridiculed his U.S. critics as "Yankee imperialists," accusing them of trying to undermine Nicaragua's election. Another question observers would cite concerns Washington’s interference in Latin America or Central America. Wherever there is a country that opposes U.S. meddling in their internal affairs, nations that are sovereign and independent of the U.S., or opposes the U.S. intervening in the region, facts suggest Washington tends to interfere in those countries’ internal affairs. 

In the lead-up, to Nicaragua’s election, the country witnessed a surprise bout of violence and protests that turned deadly in some areas. Ortega has blamed the unrest on coup plotters backed by the United States. It’s not the first attempt by Washington to infiltrate Nicaragua and plot a coup. 

In the 1980s, the CIA secretly created a terrorist group, known as the contras, with the aim of overthrowing Ortega’s government. The Nicaraguan President says he has neutralized the current threat against the sovereignty of his country and security officials had regained control and stability overall cities.

The same can be said about other nations in the region such as Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and others. If they oppose Washington’s policies, the U.S. will try to take those governments down. If they welcome U.S. interference or Washington running their affairs... well, as they say, “you can’t invade the invaded.” 

Cuba has been under U.S. embargo for over six decades costing Havana $130 billion in the process (according to the UN) but it refuses to surrender. 

According to experts, America orchestrated the military coup against the government of former Bolivian President Evo Morales (the country’s first indigenous leader) and install a puppet regime. Only for the Bolivian people to take matters into their own hands at the ballot boxes and vote back Morales’s party into power.

In Venezuela, Washington tried multiple times to topple the elected government of Nicolas Mudoro but all to no avail. 

In Brazil, the socialists may have suspiciously lost popularity but top U.S. ally President Bolsonaro has lost popularity and experts say the much-loved President Lula would return to power if there was an election today. 

Ortega’s and his senior aides have repeatedly argued that they are victims of a campaign funded by Washington to topple their government. After all, in the 1970s a young Ortega helped topple the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, whose family had ruled Nicaragua since 1936.

After toppling Somoza, Ortega went on to become the first post-revolutionary president; and it was a popular revolution, the people’s revolution. A nation that had enough with decades being ruled by an American-backed military regime. He lost a reelection bid in 1990 but returned to the post in 2007. Analysts say he is very popular among voters. 

He won the November 2021 election with 75 percent of the ballot boxes and an impressive 68 percent voter turnout. 

Over the years, the ruling socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front party invested heavily in energy, oil distribution to the poor and working-class, food exports, media outlets, timber, cattle, and even tourism. One of the important investments has been on agriculture which the country relies heavily on. The investment increased Ortega’s popularity both politically and also economically. 

It has also helped the country’s President preserve the popular revolution. 

The other question that should be raised here is how much legitimacy does the U.S. have left to lecture others about elections following the last American presidential election where half the country believes the vote was rigged and an insurrection took place on January 6th.

According to four current and former law enforcement officials, the FBI has found evidence that the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the alleged presidential election result. 570 alleged participants have been arrested but the FBI is reported to believe the violence was not centrally coordinated by far-right groups or prominent supporters of then-President Donald Trump, according to the sources, who have been either directly involved in or have been briefed regularly on the wide-ranging investigations.

Plus, in a survey conducted as recently as June, 47 million American adults (that is nearly 1 in 5) agree with this following statement that “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” Of that number, 21 million also agree that “use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency.”

The research found that many of these 21 million people with insurrectionist sentiments have the capacity for violent mobilization. At least 7 million of them are already in possession of a firearm, while at least 3 million have served in the U.S. military and therefore have lethal experience. Of those 21 million, 6 million say they support right-wing militias and extremist groups, and 1 million acknowledged they are themselves or personally know a member of such a group, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers militia groups. 
Talk about the need to clean your own house first.