Central America

Podcast: Nicaragua and political deja vu

In Episode 10 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the re-emergence in the news of three figures associated with the drama that played out over revolutionary Nicaragua in the 1980s. Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua then, is again today, and just faced massive protests calling for his ouster. Oliver North, who headed the Reagan White House covert operation to destabilize Nicaragua's Sandinista regime back then, was just named as head of the National Rifle Association. And Luis Posada Carriles the right-wing Cuban terrorist who was part of North's private spy network back then, just died. Historical ironies abound. North, who supported a counter-revolutionary terrorist network in Nicaragua (the "contras"), now baits nonviolent gun-control activists as "terrorists." Ortega, whose government distributed land to the campesinos in the '80s, is now seizing land from campesinos for his monstrous inter-oceanic canal plan. And the conspiracy theory popular among the NRA's white heartland base about the government preparing to disarm the populace and detain resisters in military camps has its roots in the actual FEMA martial law plan drawn up by Oliver North, to be implemented in the event of a US invasion of Nicaragua—with Central American refugees to be detained in military camps. A final irony is the NRA-Russia connection, which comes as Nicaragua is cooperating with a resurgent Russian military presence in the Caribbean. Vladimir Putin recently became the first Russian (or Soviet) leader to visit Nicaragua. So is it possible that we are today so far through the proverbial looking glass that Oliver North and Daniel Ortega are now on the same side? Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Image: Wikipedia)

Central America

Guatemala: ex-officers convicted in disappearance

Four retired senior members of the Guatemalan military—including two high-ranking officers previously thought to be untouchable, former Army Chief of Staff Benedicto Lucas García and former chief of military intelligence Manuel Callejas y Callejas—were convicted of involvement in crimes against humanity. Three  received a sentence of 58 years in prison, while one was sentenced to 33 years. The former officials faced charges arising from the detention, torture and sexual violation of Emma Molina Theissen, and the enforced disappearance of Emma’s 14-year-old brother Marco Antonio, in 1981. (Photo: Waging Nonviolence)

Central America

Nicaragua: ‘peace pilgrimage’ after protests

Tens of thousands from across Nicaragua marched on the capital Managua, including large delegations of campesinos from the countryside, in a "pilgrimage for peace" called by Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes following days of angry protests and repression that left some 50 dead. The Catholic Church agreed to mediate a dialogue between the government and opposition over the planned reform of the social security system that set off the protests. But the "pilgrimage" struck a political tone, with marchers calling for the resignation of President Daniel Ortega. (Photo: Nuevo Diario)

Central America

UN documents post-election violations in Honduras

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report detailing human rights violations in the aftermath of the 2017 Honduran presidential election. The report documents violence committed by security forces against protestors and civilians in the period between election night on Nov. 26 and inauguration day on Jan. 27. According to the report, at least 1,351 people were detained under a curfew put in place early December. Civilians were detained in illegal house raids. In addition, 23 were killed and 60 injured in post-election protests, including 16 victims shot to death by security forces. There were no charges pressed for the killings. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Central America

Nicaragua: women march against army ‘massacre’

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women march in Nicaragua's capital was shut down by the riot police, who blocked the streets off shortly after demonstrators gathered. The Managua march was emotionally charged, as it was led by Elea Valle—a campesina woman whose husband, son and daughter were killed two weeks earlier in a raid by army troops on their home in the country's eastern rainforest.

Central America

Perverse ironies of Honduran political crisis

The US "certifies" Honduras for continued military aid exactly as the government declares a state of emergency and unleashes the armed forces on protesters. The crisis was sparked by President Juan Orlando Hernández's apparently fraudulent election to a second term. Yet Hernández and his conservative National Party supported the 2009 coup d'etat that ousted Manuel Zelaya from the presidency for merely broaching a second term in supposed violation of the constitution.

Central America

Guatemala: general strike to demand prez resign

Independence Day celebrations in Guatemala were disrupted by protests across the country, as thousands took to the streets to demand the resignation of President Jimmy Morales. The protests were sparked after the country's Congress voted down a measure to remove Morales' immunity from prosecution and instead approved legislation that decreases the penalties for campaign finance crimes.

Central America

Guatemala: halt expulsion of anti-corruption chief

With protesters paralyzing the capital, the Guatemalan Supreme Court suspended President Jimmy Morales' order to deport the head of a UN anti-corruption commission from the country. The order came two days after Ivan Velásquez, the Colombian prosecutor who leads Guatemala's International Commission against Impunity, announced he was seeking to lift Morales' immunity from prosecution.

Central America

Nicaragua: Amnesty International assails canal plan

A new report from Amnesty International accuses the Nicaraguan government of "placing business before the future of the country and its people," with its inter-oceanic canal mega-scheme "that will affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and might leave many homeless." The report also accuses authorities of harassing and persecuting opponents of the project.

Central America

Taiwan sacrificed to Central America geopolitics

Panama is the latest Central American nation to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Bejing—under pressure of China's fast-growing economic presence on the isthmus.