he so-called marea rosa, or ‘pink tide’, of allied leftist governments which held sway across Latin America in previous years is being rolled back. Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff was removed from power in a right-wing coup, co-conspirators of which have now managed to imprison the current presidential frontrunner, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno has stabbed his former leader Rafael Correa in the back by barring him from seeking re-election, while seemingly purging his cabinet of remaining Correa loyalists and beginning the process of allowing the US military back into the country. Alongside other democratic and not-so-democratic removals of leftist governments from power, NATO has nabbed itself a foothold in the region, now that Colombia has joined the obsolete yet aggressively expanding Cold War alliance, in a thinly veiled threat to neighboring Venezuela.
With his approval ratings recently reaching as high as 80 percent during the 2017 presidential campaign, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega is far from a dictator. As a Guerrilla leader, Ortega’s leftist Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) overthrew Anastasio Somoza Debayle’s brutal regime in 1979, thereby ending the Somoza family dynasty which had ruled Nicaragua since the mid-1930s. The US responded by arming, funding and training right-wing death squads, in an insurgency that would ultimately cost the lives of more than 60,000 people over the course of a decade. While all this was going on, Ortega called a free and open presidential election in 1984 and won with 67 percent of the vote. Under Ortega’s Sandinistas, Nicaragua went through a hugely successful literacy campaign and land reform process.
Ortega was then defeated in the 1990 presidential elections and remained an opposition figure until 2007, when he was reelected. He has been back at the helm of the country now for over 10 years. Despite his Marxist past, Ortega’s embracing of populist politics has seen him pander to conservative religious attitudes. In a country whose national identity has been so shaped in recent history by iconic revolutionary movements, Ortega’s moves to appease the right have alienated some on the left, most noticeably among the nation’s younger cadres.
It is unsurprising then that the US is apparently capitalizing on growing discontent, stoking dissent among the youth in a deliberate attempt to destabilize the Sandinista government. Infamously nefarious US soft power organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, also known as the CIA’s ‘legal window’, have set up extensive networks in Nicaragua.
With all of this violence and illegal drug demand from the US causing extreme violence in countries like this, Americans wonder why there are so many desperate refugees and children seeking asylum in the US, despite a very hostile, racist Trump response.