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.

Music: Carlos Mejía Godoy's Nicaragua Nicaraguita, performed by Bill Weinberg

Production by Chris Rywalt

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Image: Wikipedia

  1. Podcast errata & annotation

    Anastasio Somoza did not flee to Miami along with his henchmen upon his ouster in 1979, because he was denied entry by President Carter. He instead took refuge in Paraguay, where he was assassinated the following year.

    During the 1980s, Luis Posada Carriles was living in El Salvador. He did not arrive in Miami until 2005, when he sought asylum in the United States. The charges against him in Venezuela were brought that same year, over the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner. He was also wanted by Cuba for a string of hotel bombings in Havana in 1997. 

    Oliver North was convicted of lying to Congress and other charges in 1989, but the convictions were thrown out on appeal on the grounds that testimony in the trial might have been influenced by North's testimony before Congress under immunity. 

    The Esquipulas peace process led by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias was named for the town in Guatemala where the talks took place.