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Category Archives: Politics

Read about current development in Central American politics.

Strange and sad news: Alexis Arguello, who was elected mayor of Managua last year was found dead in his Managua home. The “flaco explosivo”, as the boxer was known, died at age 57. Apparently he was shot through the heart with a pistol. While authorities are talking of suicide it seems yet unclear why exactly the shot is supposed to be self-inflicted. Naturally, the boxer was known to suffer from depressions and publicly admitted drug and alcohol abuse. Nevertheless, a shot in the heart is not the most common way of suicide so it makes sense to await a final authopsy and report about the boxer’s death.
Arguello was a legend in the super flyweight boxing world and a prototype for many (as for instance, Nonito Donaire the Philippine boxer: http://www.boxingscene.com/index.php?m=show&id=20791).
Politically, it is interesting how Arguello ran as mayor for the Sandinistas, while he fled Nicaragua in the 1980s because Sandinistas froze his bank accounts. During that time he moved to the USA and was supporting the US-backed contras. At the time of his death he was the elected mayor of the capital Managua. Let us see what this story brings and wheter the rumours of foul play are true.

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I am wondering for a while now.  There is this book by Naomi Klein where she describes how various places in the world have been screwed over by neoliberal businessmen and banks, allied to various western governments (mainly the US of course…).  The book is called “The Shock Doctrine“. It is well researched and well written and it gives an interesting insight in how the capitalist system managed to perpetuate itself, despite some problems innate to the system (that problem being, mainly, that it does not work for everybody, but only for a small caste of rich and richer). Starting with Pinochet’s counter-revolution against Allende in Chile, she describes how Friedmanite doctrines of economics have been imposed by an unholy alliance of Pinochet’s henchmen and Friedman and his fascist followers. (Let me just add, at this point, that Milton Friedman stinks, may that greedy bastard rot in hell for all national economies he and his disciples managed to fuck up.) However, using the state of “shock” Friedmanite economists managed to enforce privatizations, prohibition or at least hindrance of labor unions in exchange for credits (from the World Bank and the IMF (which are both also surprisingly fascist organizations). This is just to say the least. Anyone that has ever been to Latin America can still feel the aftertaste of decades of American and Western imperialism. Of course, not to mention the centuries of slavery and imperialism before. But that was before Latin Americans even began to get organised on a larger scale (in the old times, pretty much until the days of Simon Bolivar, the only ones to get organised were large land owners of European descent who did just about fine). When self-preserving initiatives finally began and Latin America tried to trade among their own nations and build a foundation that would be more independent of the Western World, the Western World did not dig that. Least of all the US and the CIA. Which is why they began installing random dictators in countries from Guatemala down to Argentina.

This is just to give you a brief outline. There’s no point in reciting the entire book. I suggest you go and buy it. The only problem is: it is not available in Latin America.

Okay, okay I over-dramatized it. It is available, but only after long struggles and at the crazy-ass price of almost 100$.  It seems that the only version of the book is being edited in Spain as a hardback edition. I have found no bookstore in Nicaragua or Costa Rica that could even order it for me (I’m sure I would find one in Costa Rica if I tried harder but what the…). So it seems that after centuries of exploitation, after being screwed over plenty again in the 20th century by restricting free education and information, all is still not well in Latin America. For example there seems to be no publisher in all of Latin America willing or able to publish one book that has a particularly interesting perspective to offer for the continent’s history. I hope this will change soon. Maybe I’m just too stupid to find the book. But even if… it worked out fine for all my stupid friends in Europe to get the book, why should it be any more difficult here in Central America?

I’m glad for all hints pointing me the way to an affordable Spanish edition of the “Shock Doctrine”! Thanks

Oh yeah, this is old news now. But no surprise, the Sandinista candidate Alexis Argüello did win the election as mayor of Managua, mentioned in last week’s entry.

The opposition leader Montealegre stated that the vote count has not been done properly and he has won 51 percent of the votes. While the whole election has been shady (no independent election monitors, hardly a chance for the opposition to appear in public), these numbers should be questioned. Daniel Ortega’s propaganda has worked so well that the masses of Managua did seem infiltrated and planning to vote for Argüello.

Hoewever, it was far from being a fair race. And the lack of international observers is a further indicator that the election was, in fact, worthless for the people of Managua.

The opposing party CSE relies on an internet poll, where Argüello has only won 46 percent of the votes. Still, it will take a while until the winner of the election of November 9 will be clear: scheduled for December 5, the municipality will announce the official winner.

What a surprise it would be if his name is not Alexis Argüello…

Read this article on “how to steal an election” (okay, it’s by The Economist, definitively known for bias towards leftist groups… But read with this in mind, it gives interesting insights)

Looking to the state of affairs in Nicaragua these days, one might wonder what has driven into presidente/comandante Daniel Ortega. Day by day he seems to become more of an authoritarian ruler than the democratically elected president he once was. Opposing parties (such as the split-off Sandinista Renovation Movement MRS) are banned from elections, their offices are searches, and allegations are made against various non-governmental organizations to have accepted bribes. (The MRS split off the traditional Sandinista movement FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional) in 1995).

This is particularly striking of a man who was once the leader of one of the world’s most admired socialist movements who has made a pact in 1998 with Arnoldo Aleman of the liberal PLC to share power: Ever since all important institutions of the state of Nicaragua are controlled either by the notoriously corrupt PLC (former president Arnoldo Aleman was sentenced to 20 years of jail for money laundering…) or by the FSLN – which by now seems to be controlled by one person only: Daniel Ortega.

Visit Nicaragua and you will see countless massive billboards with Daniel Ortega, fist raised, promising to abolish poverty and suppress hunger. The revolutionary colours red and black meanwhile have changed to a strange pink background. At the same time, Ortega is allying with the church and actually managed to introduce the world’s most strict anti-abortion law in Nicaragua. Note that Nicaragua used to be a progressive country in Latin America when it comes to women’s rights. Meanwhile, the Autonomous Women’s Movement (MAM) have strongly criticized this law – which lead to the said allegations of corruption and a razzia of their office.

But MAM are not the only ones to feel the Comandate’s iron fist. In fact, pretty much all political parties and NGO’s daring to criticize Ortega’s egomaniac authoritarian style see themselves confronted with legal consequences and banning from institutions and political activities. The Institute for Development and Democracy (IPADE), for instance is accused of being supported by the CIA because it obains money from USaid (a critical accusation in a country that has been torn by a war mainly financed by the CIA – the famous Iran-Contra affair).

So one would think that Ortegas base of support should be disappearing. But no, the president prohibits virtually all street protests in Managua (by blocking important intersections or putting up his own – probably bought – bogus demonstrators). Political opposition finds it increasingly hard to organize. Furthermore, the poor of Nicaragua (unfortunately, still the vast majority of the population), are bought with “support” from the president. Everyone receiving food aid, agricultural support such as a pig or chickens will be very aware who it came from: the FSLN government. There is just one problem: with its dissolving political base the FSLN as they knew it might still cease to exist (on a national level, mind you; local support is still strong in regions like Matagalpa and Jinotega.

November 9 Managua will elect a new mayor. Due to Ortega’s restrictions it will be a quite vote, with a even more quiet opposition. Odds are that ex-boxing world champion Alexis Argüello, comandante Ortega’s comrade will be elected. If he wins, Ortega might probably interpret this as a carte blanche. Hence, the time after November 9 will be an important day for the future development of democracy in Nicaragua: There will be a vote about a constitutional reform, allowing the president to be reelected after serving his term. This was not allowed up to date in Nicaragua and is clearly a step away from democracy.