Nicaragua: Is the Ortega Era Almost Over?

Nicaragua: Is the Ortega Era Almost Over?
The escalating regime change violence in the Central American country of Nicaragua has thrown the future of Daniel Ortega's presidency into doubt.

The former Sandinista rebel leader is facing his greatest challenge yet since returning to office in 2007 after having previously presided over Nicaragua following the 1979 Revolution up until the end of the Cold War. Armed groups originally took to the streets in April to supposedly "protest" a political issue involving social security reform, though they quickly resorted to killing police officers and calling for the toppling of the government after initiating a few provocations against the authorities in order to craft the pretext for "legitimizing" their demands.

The fast-moving events saw the government walk back on its reform plans as a de-escalation measure, but this inadvertently emboldened the regime change militants to press ahead with their cause after sensing what they interpreted to be state weakness. Complicating matters even further is that various international NGOs have been reportedly involved in organizing the unrest, which might end up being used to "justify" future US sanctions under the so-called "Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act" (NICA) of 2017. From the looks of it, the US might be planning to transplant the Venezuelan Hybrid War template onto Nicaragua in order to overthrow yet another multipolar leftist-populist government, with all of its disastrous humanitarian consequences.

Disturbingly, the Cold War-era shadow of the infamous "contra" campaign of death squad terrorism is looming heavy over the region as the hybrid war on Nicaragua intensifies and threatens to lead to a refugee crisis that could destabilize the fragile "Northern Triangle" states of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras if it continues to worsen. This chain reaction of chaos could also imperil the US's own security by leading to a flood of migrants into the country, including gang members and militants who had tried to infiltrate it during the El Salvadorian Civil War a few decades ago. 

Unlike during the Cold War when Nicaragua could depend on Cuban and Soviet assistance in defending itself against US-backed fighters, this time it's comparatively on its own in this developing conflict, though that doesn't mean that victory is unattainable.   

To discuss the topic in more detail, Andrew Korybko is joined by Nino Pagliccia, Venezuelan author of "Cuba Solidarity in Canada — Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations" and retired researcher from the University of British Columbia, and Eldan Cruz, a communication strategist currently based in Honduras where he does regional political analyses.

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