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Post Turmoil in Nicaragua
Created by John Eipper on 07/03/18 7:27 AM

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Turmoil in Nicaragua (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 07/03/18 7:27 am)

Little has been said on WAIS regarding the current political and social turmoil in Nicaragua. As a result of the mass protests, more than 200 casualties have been caused by the Ortega regime's violent repression over the last few months.

Since 2007, Ortega, his wife, Rosario Murillo, and their eight sons have ruled this small country in the most dictatorial fashion. This family and their accomplices in the ruling mob have impoverished and enslaved the country, in the style of Somoza, against whom they fought in the 1970s. Somoza used to say Nicaragua was his ranch, as well Castro in Cuba or Ceausescu in Romania. Ortega might as well say the same thing.

This regime supported by the Castros, Chávez and many leftist, socialist and communist intellectuals, some even from the Catholic church (La Teología de la Liberación/Liberation Theology in the figure of Ernesto Cardinal Martínez), has revealed itself as a corrupt, despotic and criminal regime, pretty much the same as in its ideological counterparts in Cuba and Venezuela. There is no surprise in this, I am afraid. As with most dictatorial regimes, these problems will be overcome only when the country is in both social ruins and economically devastated.

In another context, I hope the electoral victory of radical leftist López Obrador, last Sunday in Mexico, will not place the country on the same path. I certainly expect that Mexico's remaining democratic institutions will protect this country from such a fate.

JE comments: Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has promised the pie-in-the-sky ideal of a massive increase in social programs, to be paid for by eliminating corruption. We've addressed this topic before on WAIS: how do you eliminate corruption? The corrupt among Mexico's elite will not be happy.

AMLO so far is conciliatory and statesmanlike. He is seeking to create a legacy in the spirit of Mexico's FDR, Lázaro Cárdenas. For the good of our continent, I hope he succeeds.

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  • My Research on Nicaragua; AMLO and Trump (Timothy Brown, USA 07/04/18 4:48 AM)
    Given his interest in Nicaragua, José Ignacio Soler (3 July) might be interested in my The Real Contra War (my PhD dissertation) and When the AK-47s Fall Silent.

    The Real Contra War is based on my eight years of field research for my PhDs, several collections of central archives (FSLN; ERN; CR), reams of declassified US government documents (mostly CIA/INR or DIA) and more than 100 Oral History interviews, cross-checked by individuals I befriended during my Marine tour in Managua while Luis Somoza was President, three in El Salvador, three in Mexico--and four in Honduras trying to manage the Contra War and its demise, plus my post-retirement eight years doing field research for my PhDs and subsequent years working as an advisor to the post-Contra War OAS Peacekeeping Office in Managua.

    AK-47s is a selection of autobiographical sketches of former participants in Central America's late Cold War armed conflicts, each based on a videotaped Oral History. My first section consists of five sketches of Marxist revolutionaries (One Mexican, two Nicaraguans, a Costa Rican and the dual national Salvadoran/Costa Rican military commander of El Salvador's FMLN), plus one that in his youth was Augusto César Sandino's personal bodyguard and then, decades later, was the head of one of the Contra's main clandestine support systems. Its second section features four former Contra combat commanders(three Northern Front and one YATAMA--Yapti Tasba Masraka/Miskito Indians). Section three is by the late Myles Frechette, the former US Ambassador to Colombia, a United Nations peacekeeper/Canadian General, an OAS Peacemaker, and myself. Its foreword is by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, former Mayor of Mexico City, son of Lázaro Cardenas and competitor of president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).

    My current project is on the participation of women in Central America's late-Cold War conflicts, including the roles played by the estimated 15% of the Salvadoran FMLN and 3,000 female combatants that served (and 600 killed) as members of mixed-gender FDN/ERN and YATAMA front-line infantry units.

    PS: A quick note on AMLO. I've heard that he spoke with Trump for about half an hour after his victory was officially announced. Keep your fingers crossed.

    JE comments:  Tim, I have never gotten around to reading your AK-47s.  Sorry about that, but I will atone.  Turning to Mexico, can you tell us more about AMLO?  Have you met him?  AMLO achieved something Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas never could:  mount a successful electoral insurgency for the presidency.  AMLO achieved a true mandate, which has not happened since 2000, with the first post-PRI victory (Vicente Fox of PAN).

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    • AMLO and Trump (Istvan Simon, USA 07/05/18 11:15 AM)
      I did not of course listen in on their phone call, but if I were AMLO I would have told Trump in my post-election conversation:

      1. We are not paying for your wall.

      2. A wall all along the US Mexico border is impossible to erect and even if it were erected it will never work, though the US is welcome to try.

      3. We are interested in stopping the flow of drugs into the USA. But it is your nation's infinite appetite for these drugs that is the cause of the problem. If you do nothing about the demand, it is impossible to stop the supply.

      4. We are not re-negotiating NAFTA. We will retaliate for every tariff you impose on Mexico with a tariff on US goods. In our view NAFTA has been a great benefit for both Mexico and the United States. In a trade war both sides lose.

      5. If you want to do something about illegal immigration stop increasing the economic pain of Mexico and other Central American countries. It is counter-productive to your interest in stopping illegal immigration from Mexico. We are willing to help you try to decrease illegal migration, provided you stop all your other attempts to harm Mexico's economy.

      6. In our view it is not true that illegal migration from Mexico takes jobs away from Americans. On the contrary, they work back breaking jobs to provide Americans with food. Your agriculture will collapse without Mexican workers. Your construction industry will too.

      JE comments:  Can anyone give us insight on AMLO as a negotiator?  Or how about Trump's ability to listen to the well-reasoned argument?

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      • AMLO the Enigma; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 07/06/18 3:59 AM)

        Gary Moore writes:

        JE asked what we know about the negotiating style of AMLO (the acronym for
        the explosively different new president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador)--which in essence is to ask the key question:
        What's really in AMLO's mind?

        Good luck with that. It's like asking: "Isn't that really just somebody's old oil painting, that image
        supposedly imprinted by miracle onto a 16th-century peon's cloak, to form Mexico's most loved
        icon, the Virgin of Guadalupe?"

        In an eerie irony, two explosively different presidents converge--so outside the norm that,
        despite all the morbid predictions, no one can really guess their effect in advance, but only
        as the passage of time shows their real record. With the passage of time, Trump has still presided
        over a more stable America, with fewer foreign interventions, and more effective, smaller ones,
        than the previous administration of promised ideals (though admittedly, Obama was handicapped
        by an Augean stable of Bush mistakes to try and clean up). This in no way implies that the outcomes
        of AMLO and Trump will be similar--except in the impotence of punditry to predict where they will lead.

        It had come to be the turn of the left, AMLO's turn, to try and sort out Mexico's Labyrinth of Solitude,
        though the attempted reformers on the right, thrust into power from 2000 to 2018, may have been the
        more honest contenders, repeatedly undone by the Labyrinth's sheer size.

        And hence the inevitability of Something Different, a man who already before office was an acronym.

        So: What's really inscribed on that peasant's cloak enfolded in the Temple of Tepeyac?  Squint hard, ye pundits, and earn your bread.

        JE comments:  Back at WAIS '13 in Adrian, we attempted to answer the question of how to define our age:  What is Now?  We were premature, as "our age" only emerged in 2016, with Brexit and the rise of Trump.  It's Something Different.  The big question for Mexico: will AMLO continue more or less in the tradition of Latin American Populism (think Perón or for Mexico, Lázaro Cárdenas), or is he a different kind of Something Different?

        WWAMLOD (what will AMLO do)?

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        • Thoughts on AMLO, Mexico's President-Elect (Tor Guimaraes, USA 07/08/18 5:16 AM)
          Once upon a time in Brazil, there was a man capable of organizing labor, so many left-wing thinkers and agitators believed he could lead them to greener pastures. That was very important, given that the Brazilian people were going backwards as far as the important things go: their standard of living, quality of education, health care, government corruption, etc. Very similar to what has been going on in our beloved USA.

          I lost touch with that man when I got very busy trying to get ahead in America, my adopted country. Decades later the man was elected President of Brazil, much to my surprise. He became a new man, just like the leaders he used to fight when he was a labor leader. For him to be allowed to become President he had to follow some rules set up by the real power brokers and political establishment.

          I know nothing about new president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but my intuition tells me that we probably have a similar case. Thus, we should expect similar results, and just hope that my intuition is wrong for a change.

          JE comments:  Tor, do you mean Lula?  One of the recurring themes of Latin American politics is the "reformer" who pledges to eliminate corruption.  Once in power, s/he (and cronies) cannot keep their hands out of the deep cookie jar of graft.  This gives rise to a new reformer, rinse, and repeat.

          Why should AMLO be any different?  In a year or two we'll be able to see if Tor Guimaraes's intuition is correct.

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        • What Will AMLO's Mexico Look Like? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 07/08/18 10:50 AM)
          To have a better political profile of AMLO, Mexico's new president, we should keep in mind that this is the third time he has run for the presidency, the first two in 2006 and 2012. He lost to Felipe Calderón the first time and Peña Nieto after that. This fact must show either is most perseverant he is, or that he has a powerful thirst for power and ambition. Likely both.

          He is a perfect example of a socialist-populist politician, opportunistic and ideologically biased towards radical ideas, a dangerous blend. His political program is based on the following pillars, which by the way look extremely similar to Chávez's 1999 program for Venezuela:

          1. Fight against poverty and inequality.

          2. Fight against corruption and impunity.

          3. Fight against insecurity, drug trafficking, and delinquency.

          4. Oil industry reform. Essentially, to reverse the privatization of the sector.

          5. Education.

          They all seem to be very legitimate aspirations, not different from most of other programs previously announced by other failed political leaders in the past and presently all over our continent. It remains to be seen if he is able to, at least, achieve partial success, without turning the country into chaos and ruins.

          JE comments: AMLO has promised to "respect" the previous administration's oil reform (privatization), but it is still early to tell.  There has been no market panic with AMLO's victory.  Hope springs eternal:  Might Latin America finally have found a populist who doesn't also drag his nation to economic ruin?

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