nicaragua socialism marxism ruins everything

To understand socialism in Nicaragua, we need to discuss American Manifest Destiny. The United States has been meddling in the affairs of Nicaragua since the 1800s. In the “Age of Expansion”, many Americans decided to go out on their own to wage war on “Indian Savages”. One of these men was William Walker, a US Mercenary and White Supremacist.

Manifest Destiny Reaches Nicaragua

Under the guise of “Manifest Destiny”, Walker invaded Mexico and Central America. Walker legalized Slavery and made English the official language of Nicaragua. He declared himself President of Sonora, Baja California, and Nicaragua. In 1856, President Franklin Pierce recognized William Walker as the President of Nicaragua.

The USA is no stranger to “playing both sides”. Only a few years after Walker entered Nicaragua, the USA would go on to back his opposition. Thus, Walker’s dream of the American States in Central America would go unfulfilled. The opposing “Liberal” and “Conservative” parties on Nicaragua’s borders united against Walker. The government within Nicaragua and back home in the USA, abandoned him. Walker surrendered to the US Navy and returned to New York. Like most American War Criminals, he was still regarded as a Hero.

Walker wrote a book of racist tirades in 1860 called War in Nicaragua. In his book, Walker describes his fascination with Racial Pseudoscience. He fetishizes the African Slave Trade and cements his beliefs, even after his rule failed. By this time, he made many enemies across the world. The USA abandoned Walker and his dreams of Statehood style expansion. The British saw his existence as a threat to their own colonialism in Latin America. Still, William traveled to Central America one last time in 1860.

Landing in Trujillo, Honduras, the British occupiers caught Walker immediately. The British were not as kind as the US Navy and upon receiving Walker, handed him to the Honduran Government. The Hondurans executed William Walker by firing squad. Ending the first of many US-backed dictatorships in Nicaragua. Yet, only the beginning of the US in Latin America.

After Walker, the US would leave the idea of annexing Nicaragua behind. Realizing they could effectively manipulate a “democratic” state through American money, the US chose a different path. The US supported the back-and-forth of the recently installed two-party “Democratic” system. Conservatives and Liberals–Sound familiar? This back-and-forth would continue until an even further right dictatorship took power. Even more hellbent on economic subjugation, the Somoza family took power in 1936. Ruling for forty-three years with the support of the world’s most famous fascists. Yes, including the “democratic” USA.

Somoza Mussolini Tank gift nicaraguan fsln sandinista revolution
A tank given to Anastasio Somoza Garcia by his close personal friend, Benito Mussolini.

The Sandinista Revolution

In 1979, the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua toppled the US-Backed Dictator, Anastasio Somoza. The Sandinista Front for National Liberation, or FSLN, immediately implemented Agrarian Reform. Seizing and redistributing land to the people of Nicaragua. Taking land back from wealthy US-backed oligarchs across the country. They dismantled the police, military, and constitution, creating new, FSLN-loyal, versions of both. According to the FSLN, the goals were clear: the right to self-determination. The right to universal suffrage and equality for the disabled. Even more, a democratic economy that could end exploitation.

Throughout the next decade, the USA would support, arm, and train Contras to fight against the FSLN. The Contras received funding from the USA as soon as the Sandinistas took power. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan would both support the opposition to the Sandinistas. Despite a difference in rhetoric, they both acted in an Imperialist fashion. Public opinion actually did end up swaying Congress against aiding the Contras. Still, Reagan continued to aid them with the help of the CIA. This undermining of the FSLN never stopped. From 1979-Present, the USA has not changed its position on the Sandinistas.

Unlike other Socialisms, the FSLN did not execute their opposition after the Revolution. Instead attempting to choose peace while trying to establish a new government. This didn’t stop the US from calling the Sandinistas terrorists. The propaganda against the FSLN has continued to this day. The truth is one that is very clear to the majority of Nicaraguan people. The US didn’t like them in the 80s, they didn’t like them in the 90s–and they will never like them. “Desde afuera, dicen lo que quieran” or “From the outside, they say what they want” Is a common phrase in Nicaragua.

Socialism and Democracy

So what is Nicaragua’s “socialism” like? Nicaragua is still, ostensibly, a liberal democracy. The FSLN’s decade of progress was dismantled in the neoliberal period of the 1990s. Immense funding and propaganda against the FSLN led to 17 years of regression. Increasing crime, poverty, declining standards of living, and no hope besides Western loans. Since 2007, the FSLN’s biggest challenge has been the inherent flaws of Capitalism. Despite this, there are many impressive elements of Nicaragua’s current democracy. Basic services that are not available in the US like universal and free ID cards. These IDs register all citizens to vote in Nicaragua at the age of 16.

picture of ticuantepe nicaragua land back redistributed land
Land that was seized and redistributed in an are of Nicaragua after the Revolution in 1979

There are 152 Municipalities in Nicaragua. 134 of which are led by democratically elected Sandinistas. That’s 88% of municipalities led by FSLN candidates through local elections. The FSLN dominates local elections in modern-day Nicaragua. That doesn’t mean every single person supports them. In reality, a huge part of the population could oppose the government and still lose an election.

Consider mail-in-voting during the 2020 US Election. President Donald Trump repeatedly attacked mail-in-voting. He called mail-in-voting “fraudulent”, saying it “doesn’t work out well for Republicans”. So what happens when you tell your voters not to vote? They don’t. Republicans learned this the hard way. The far-right has accused the Sandinistas of corruption since before their 2007 victory. What happens when you encourage those who oppose the government not to vote? Well… Only those who support the government vote. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

In the 2021 Nicaragua Elections, Daniel Ortega won re-election with 75% of the popular vote. The fractured opposition is led by the Neoliberals of the 90s as well as ex-Somozists. Nowadays, not supported by the US Congress, but instead by USAID. The FSLN has created an environment where voters know that their vote matters. The Party is a vessel for the will of the people. Not the virtue of the party itself.

In the US,  two “opposition” parties regularly fail to pass any of their respective policy goals. Often succeeding only in disappointing the majority of citizens. In Nicaragua, most voters are not fooled by media sensationalism. The ingrained memories of neoliberalism make claims of “dictatorship” laughable.

The most recent 2021 election had five national opposition parties. Another regional opposition party on the Caribbean coast. Along with the FSLN alliance: 9 different progressive parties combined. This large alliance is also why the FSLN has so much widespread support. Voters may not call themselves Sandinistas but recognize the FSLN as the best path. Disagreements with FSLN policy are well-known. Still, the answer is to push forward not move backward towards Neoliberal opposition. Working people know their interests are closer to the FSLN than any US-backed Liberal.

Contradictions and Lessons

Nicaragua has not reached “Socialism” or “Communism”. It’s a country that is attempting to break the chains of neoliberal policy. Moving beyond centuries of exploitation, and an escalating economic war. The strides it has made within the past decade should be acknowledged. If not for socialism, but for the poor deciding their own futures. For the sake of working-class people having a louder voice. Many on the left would like to dismiss the gains of the FSLN. Joining in the parade of Anti-Socialist rhetoric, for what purpose? A purity test meant not to benefit the working class, but to inflate the ego of the so-called “leftists”.

These self-interested “leftists” throw accusations using the same sources used in the 1980s. Assuming that the course of time, alone, leads to social and political progress. Despite what American “political analysts” may believe, actions have consequences. Additionally, when there are no consequences, there’s no reason to change. Jimmy Carter likely didn’t support the cause of the slave-owning Oligarchs of Nicaragua. Ronald Reagan didn’t invent Counter-Revolutionaries. The United States acts in the interest of Capital at every step, regardless of the face in charge. Expanding Capitalism is a far stronger motive for the USA than even “Defeating Communism”.

Deadly sanctions from the USA threaten the day-to-day lives of working people in Nicaragua. One of the poorest countries on earth is the target of a wide-scale economic war from the US. A country that has been pillaged by colonizers for hundreds of years continues to exist under the boot of imperialist powers. This time, supported by many people that claim to support “Democracy”, “Freedom”, and “Liberty”.

To those who see nothing but failure in the socialist project of the Sandinistas, I encourage you to go and see for yourself. The material benefits to the poorest of society may not qualify as “Full Communism” but they are enough to threaten the largest Imperialist on earth. That, in and of itself, is something to admire.

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