All posts by Stansfield Smith

National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices

The US rulers use many tools to disrupt and disorganize the anti-war and anti-imperialist left. Three discussed here include: (1) corporate control of the news media gives them free reign to spread disinformation and fake news against foreign and domestic targets; (2) they use government and corporate foundation resources to fund and promote a compatible left to counter the anti-imperialist left; and (3) the rulers use their control of social media and internet to censor those voices.

Since 2016 their censorship of websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, and Paypal accounts has escalated alarmingly. They target those who counter the narratives the government and big business media feed us, whether it be US intervention and attempted overthrow of other governments, Covid, or stories of Russian interference.

With the Ukraine war, the US government and corporate media immense propaganda power has been directed against Russia and intensified on an overwhelming scale.

As the US empire began the Cold War soon after the end of World War II, with the rise of McCarthyism (which predated Joe McCarthy), news manipulation and suppression often fell under the control of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird. The corporate media followed CIA directions in representing the interests of the US rulers. The CIA secretly funded and managed a wide range of front groups and individuals to counter what the US rulers considered its enemies. It encouraged those on the left who opposed actually existing socialism, seeking to foster splits in the left to undermine the communist and build the non-communist left.

Significant liberal and left figures who worked with the CIA included Gloria Steinem, key feminist leader, Herbert Marcuse, considered a Marxist intellectual, Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers Union (1946-1970), David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (1932-1966). The CIA collaborated with Baynard Rustin, Socialist Party leader and close associate of Martin Luther King, with Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington, who became the fathers of the third campist (“neither Washington nor Moscow”) Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Likewise, Carl Gershman, a founder of Social Democrats, USA, and later founding director (1983-2021) of the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Through  the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA underwrote the publishing of leftist critics, such as Leszek Kolakowski and Milovan Djilas’ book The New Class. The CIA aided the “Western Marxism” of the Frankfurt School, which included Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, former director of New School of Social Research, also subsidized by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Corporate foundations, such as the Rockefeller, Ford, Open Society, and Tides foundations, among many others, funneled CIA money to progressive causes. The Cultural Cold War (pp. 134-5) noted that from 1963-66, nearly half the grants by 164 foundations in the field of international activities involved CIA money. The Ford Foundation continues as one of the main financers of progressive groups in the US; for instance, both Open Society and Ford foundations have heavily funded Black Lives Matter.

The CIA is regarded as a ruthless organization overthrowing democratic governments that US corporations considered a threat to their profits. While true, overlooked is “gentler” CIA work: underwriting and encouraging a compatible left, one which looks to forces in the Democratic Party for political leadership. This third camp left provides an alternative to an anti-imperialist or a communist left, and yet appears progressive enough to lure radicalizing youth, activists and intelligentsia. This cunning CIA strategy has fostered confusion, dissension, and divisions among these sections of the population.

These secret US government and CIA operations have been detailed in The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, The Cultural Cold War, and AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?

In 1977 Carl Bernstein revealed CIA interconnections with the big business media. More than 400 journalists collaborated with the CIA, with the consent of their media bosses. Working in a propaganda alliance with the CIA included: CBS, ABC, NBC, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, United Press International, Miami Herald, Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald Tribune. The New York Times still sends stories to US government for pre-publication approval, while CNN and others now employ national security state figures as “analysts.”

Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat operate similarly, participating in covert British government funded disinformation programs to “weaken” Russia. This involves collaboration with the Counter Disinformation & Media Development section of the British Foreign Office.

The CIA pays journalists in Germany, France, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to plant fake news. Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest German newspapers, showed how the CIA controls German media in Presstitutes: Embedded in the Pay of the CIA. Ulfkotte said the CIA had him plant fake stories in his paper, such as Libyan President Gaddafi building poison gas factories in 2011.

The CIA was closely involved with the long defunct National Students Association and with the trade union leadership. The AFL-CIO’s American Institute of Free Labor Development, received funding from USAID, the State Department, and NED to undermine militant union movements overseas and help foment murderous coups, as against President Allende of Chile (1973) and Brazil (1964), as well as defended the rule of their masters at home. This continues with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, which receives $30 million a year from NED.

The CIA created publishing houses, such as Praeger Press, and used other companies such as John Wiley Publishing Company, Scribner’s, Ballantine Books, and Putnam to publish its books. It set up several political and literary journals such as Partisan Review. This CIA publishing amounted to over one thousand books, mostly geared to a liberal-left audience, seeking to bolster a third camp left, and undermine solidarity with the once powerful world communist movement.

That mission largely accomplished years ago, today the national security state works to undermine the anti-imperialist left and build up a left inclined towards the “lesser evil” Democratic Party.

Recent US Government and Media Thought Control Measures

CIA use of corporate media to undermine perceived threats to the national security state escalated with Obama signing NDAA 2017, which lifted formalistic restrictions on security state agencies feeding fake news directly to the US population. The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act in the NDAA, which went into effect in the early stages of Russiagate, created a central government propaganda organ:

to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments (with the role of the Russian Federation hidden or not acknowledged publicly) through front groups, covert broadcasting, media manipulation, disinformation or forgeries, funding agents of influence, incitement, offensive counterintelligence, assassinations, or terrorist acts. The committee shall expose falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism, and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.

Glen Ford observed:

Every category listed [above], except assassinations and terror, is actually a code word for political speech that can, and will, be used to target those engaged in ‘undermining faith in American democracy’ — such as Black Agenda Report and other left publications defamed as ‘fake news’ outlets by the Washington Post [article on PropOrNot].

This Disinformation and Propaganda Act created the innocuously named Global Engagement Center, operated by the State Department, Pentagon, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors [renamed US Agency for Global Media], the Director of National Intelligence, and other spy agencies. This Center oversees production of fake news supporting US imperial interests, focused primarily against Russia and China (such as Uyghur genocide and Russiagate), but also against Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and others. Verifiable reports exposing US regime change operations and disinformation are often outright censored or labeled pro-Russian or pro-Chinese propaganda.

The Global Engagement Center finances journalists, NGOs, think tanks, and media outlets on board with campaigns to vilify non-corporate media reporting as spreaders of foreign government disinformation. This may shed light on the origins of smears that opponents of the US regime change against Syria or in Ukraine are Putinists, Assadists, tankies, Stalinists, part of a red-brown alliance.

National security state propaganda against Russia surged after it aided Syria in thwarting the US-Saudi war against the Assad government. It reached levels of hysteria with the fabricated Russiagate stories designed to sabotage the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. Seymour Hersh disclosed that the widely covered news of Russian hacking of DNC computers in 2016 was CIA disinformation. Hersh confirmed from FBI sources that Hillary Clinton’s emails were taken by Seth Rich and offered to Wikileaks for money, and that the fake news story of Russian hacking was initiated by CIA head John Brennan. However, exposures of the Clinton-neocon-national security state Russiagate fake news were themselves written off as disinformation concocted by pro-Russian operators.

An example of Global Engagement Center work may be a recent smear against anti-imperialists as agents of Russia appeared in The Daily Beast. It targets Lee Camp, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, and others: “propaganda peddlers rake in cash and followers at the expense of the truth and oppressed people in Ukraine, Xinjiang, and Syria” because of their accurate reporting that goes against the US propaganda line.

Other articles may indicate this government Disinformation Center use of the third camp left in the tradition of Operation Mongoose. George Monbiot’s article in The Guardian fit the billing:

We must confront Russian propaganda – even when it comes from those we respect – The grim truth is that for years, a small part of the ‘anti-imperialist’ left has been recycling Vladimir Putin’s falsehoods.

Louis Proyect crusaded for Syria regime change, and against those opposing the US war on the country as being part of a “red-brown alliance.” Proyect often relied on British Foreign Office funded Bellingcat for his articles, writing, “The Bellingcat website is perhaps the only place where you can find fact-based reporting on chemical attacks in Syria.” Proyect defended “Syrian revolution” “socialist” Anand Gopal, of the International Security Program at the New America Foundation, funded by the State Department and corporate foundations, and run by Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department official.

Democracy Now, which also repeatedly relied on Anand Gopal as a news source, has long received foundation money, and we see the self-censoring effect this has on its former excellent anti-war journalism degenerating into compatible leftism.

Another product of this government-corporate aid for this Democratic Party “lesser evil” left may be NACLA’s articles smearing the Nicaraguan government. NACLA Board Chair Program Director is Thomas Kruse of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In 2018, NACLA, New York DSA, and Haymarket Books hosted anti-Sandinista youth activists while on a tour paid for by right-wing Freedom House.

In These Times, which receives hundreds of thousands in foundation money, ran similar articles smearing socialist Cuba. It claimed Cuba was “the Western Hemisphere’s most undemocratic government” – not Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Chile with its police who blinded pro-democracy protesters, not Colombia’s death squad supporting government, nor Honduras’ former coup regime, or Haiti’s hated rulers.

Haymarket Books, which produces many third camp left books, receives Democratic Party aligned think tank and nonprofit money via the pass through Center for Economic Research and Social Change. The Grayzone reported that the DSA, Jacobin Magazine, and Haymarket sponsored Socialism conference featured NED and State Department funded regime-change activists.

Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara is former vice-chair of the Democratic Party’s reform oriented DSA. In 2017 the Jacobin Foundation received a $100,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation, set up by billionaire publisher and Nixon administration U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Annenberg.

This milieu includes New York’s Left Forum, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, underwritten by the German government.

Bob Feldman revealed corporate financing for the Institute of Policy Studies, The Nation, In These Times, NACLA, Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP), Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), Progressive, Mother Jones, AlterNet, Institute for Public Accuracy, among others.

The US Chamber of Commerce discovered that foundations gave $106 million to workers centers between 2013-2016, and concluded that the worker center movement was “a creature of the progressive foundations that encouraged and supported it.”

These are but a few examples of US ruling class financing of anti anti-imperialist leftists, an effective means to channel and organize the left milieu into an opposition that poses no real threat to their control.

An essential characteristic of this milieu is looking to the Democratic Party as a lesser evil ally.

Alexander Cockburn  pointed out the dangers of this financing back in 2010:

The financial clout of the “non-profit” foundations, tax-exempt bodies formed by rich people to dispense their wealth according to political taste… Much of the “progressive sector” in America owes its financial survival – salaries, office accommodation etc — to the annual disbursements of these foundations which cease abruptly at the first manifestation of radical heterodoxy. In the other words, most of the progressive sector is an extrusion of the dominant corporate world, just as are the academies, similarly dependent on corporate endowments.”

Right after Trump’s surprise 2016 election win, the Washington Post cranked up the anti-Russia McCarthyism by introducing PropOrNot. ProporNot’s catalog of supposed Putin-controlled outlets sought to resurrect the witchhunts of the Red Scare era,  when 6.6 million people were investigated just between 1947-1952. The PropOrNot blacklist includes some of the most alternative and anti-war news sites on the web, including Anti-war.com, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism, Consortium News, Truthout, Lew Rockwell.com, Global Research, Unz.com, Zero Hedge, and many others.

PropOrNot asserted 200 websites were “Russian propaganda outlets.” No evidence was offered. PropOrNot refused to reveal who they were or their funding. Alan Mcleod recently uncovered: “A scan of PropOrNot’s website showed that it was controlled by The Interpreter, a magazine of which [Michael] Weiss is editor-in-chief…[a] senior fellow of NATO think tank The Atlantic Council.” The Atlantic Council itself is financed by the US government and Middle Eastern dictatorships, weapons manufacturers Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs; and petrochemical giants like BP and Chevron. Mcleod concluded, “Thus, claims of a huge [foreign] state propaganda campaign were themselves state propaganda.”

Soon after PropOrNot, the German Marshall Fund, largely financed by the US government, concocted Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter. This identifies supposed “accounts that are involved in promoting Russian influence and disinformation goals.” Daniel McAdams of Ron Paul Liberty Report noted, “They are using US and other government money in an effort to eliminate any news organization or individual who deviates from the official neocon foreign policy line on Russia, Syria, Ukraine, etc.”

This year, the Department of Homeland Security presented a new censorship and disinformation organ, allegedly to combat pro-Russian fake news, the Disinformation Governance Board. As the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act and PropOrNot showed, what challenges US national security state narratives is often labeled Russian disinformation. Glenn Greenwald forewarned, “The purpose of empowering the Department of Homeland Security to decree what is and is not “disinformation” is to bestow all government assertions with a pretense of authoritative expertise and official sanction and, conversely, to officially decree dissent from government claims to be false and deceitful.”

The national security state, which lied about Russiagate, lied about National Security Agency’s 24/7 spying on the US population, lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, plans to decide what is true and false, and enforce that on big business and alternative media outlets.

Thus, the CIA’s secret Operation Mongoose, devoted to encouraging hostility to actually existing socialism among the left, has morphed into official, public US government McCarthyite agencies directed at shutting down or smearing outlets and activism opposing the US empire and its wars.

What Corporate Social Media instruments are targeting which anti-war outlets?

This joint US government corporate media censorship has become an increasingly open attack. Paypal has allied itself with the Zionist Anti-Defamation League to “fight extremism and hate through the financial industry and across at-risk communities… with policymakers and law enforcement.”

Twitter has shut down many political accounts, even possessed the power to suppress the President of the United States’ account. In 2020, Twitter deleted 170,000 accounts “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China,” and in 2021, it deleted hundreds of accounts for “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.” The company has hired a number of FBI officers for this censorship work. Twitter executive for Middle East is British Army ‘psyops’ soldier Gordon MacMillan of the 77th Brigade, which uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to conduct “information warfare.”

Google and Youtube executives team up with government spy agencies to censor anti-imperialist voices. Google’s “Project Owl,” designed to eradicate “fake news,” employed “algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative [compatible] content” and downgrade “offensive” [anti-imperialist] material. As a result, traffic dropped off to websites such as Mint Press News, Alternet, Global Research, Consortium News, liberal-left Common Dreams and Truthout.

Wikipedia censors articles on its website, as Ben Norton notes:

The CIA, FBI, New York Police Department, Vatican, and fossil fuel colossus BP, to name just a few, have all been caught directly editing Wikipedia articles.

A minor player,  NewsGuard, “partners” with the State Department and Pentagon to tag websites that deviate from the establishment line.

Facebook relies on PropOrNot’s Atlantic Council to combat reporting contrary to the US government line. Facebook later announced it would further fight “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations sponsored by the US government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The NDI was chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, while Senator John McCain was the longtime IRI chair.

Just as The Mighty Wurlitzer, The Cultural Cold War, and Bernstein’s The CIA and the Media showed with the big business print media, we are witnessing an integration of social media companies into the national security state.

Who have been censored by this corporate media and social media integration with the national security state? 

Like with any censored book list, national security state targets provide a Who’s Who of what we should be reading and watching: The Grayzone, TeleSur,  Venezuelanalysis, Lee Camp, By Any Means Necessary, Caleb Maupin, Syria Solidarity Movement, Consortium News, Mint Press News, Abby Martin, Chris Hedges, CGTN and other Chinese media, George Galloway, Pepe Escobar, Scott Ritter, ASB Military News, RT America, Strategic Culture Foundation, One World Press, SouthFront, Gonzalo Lira, Oriental Review, Revolutionary Black Network, Sputnik News, Ron Paul’s Liberty Report.  Youtube warns us of watching Oliver Stone’s Ukraine on Fire. Journalists who have collaborated with a Russian media outlet are now dubbed “affiliated with the Russian government.”

The FBI directly shut down American Herald Tribune and Iran’s Press TV. RT and Sputnik are already shut down in Europe. PropOrNot listing of 200 media sites catalogs for us what the national security state doesn’t want us to read, listen to, know, or think.

Since the beginning of the first Cold War, there has been a continuous CIA-national security state operation to neutralize, marginalize, and create disunity among its opponents, often with the collaboration of the left that consider the Democratic Party a lesser evil. This strategy includes extensive foundation financing of leftist outlets and NGOs in order to tame them.

Therefore, it is mistaken to fault the US left for its weakness. The CIA and the foundations have been key players in covertly manipulating opposition to US imperial rule, in part by strengthening the left soft on the Democrats to undermine any working class or anti-US empire challenge. To date, this national security state mission has also shown considerable success.

The problems of building a working class left-wing partly results from the US rulers’ decades long campaign to disrupt the movement. This involves not just imprisoning and killing activists, such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or the Black Panthers, but also big business media marketing disinformation as news, their funding of a compatible left, and the present social media and internet censorship of anti-imperialist voices. Rebuilding an anti-war and working class left wing requires us to directly address and navigate through this maze ruling class sabotage has created.

The post National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why is the Nicaraguan Government Demonized by both Liberals and Conservatives …

[Source: telesurenglish.net]

Women Have Made Particularly Significant Gains Under the Second Sandinista Government Since 2006

Women, particularly those in the Third World, often find themselves with limited ability to participate in community organizations and political life because of the poverty and their traditional sex role imposes on them.

On them falls sole responsibility to care for their children and other family members, especially when sick; they maintain the home, cook the meals, wash the dishes, the clothes, bathe the children, clean the house, mend the clothes. This labor becomes unending manual labor when households have no electricity (consequently, no lights, no refrigerator, no labor-saving electrical devices), and no running water.

The burden of this work impedes the social participation, self-expectations, and education of the female population.

Women in the Third World (and increasingly in the imperial First World) face problems of violence at home and in public, problems of food and water for the family, of proper shelter, and lack of health care for the family, and their own lack of access to education and, thus, work opportunities.

In Nicaragua, before the 1979 Sandinista revolution, men typically fulfilled few obligations for their children; men often abandoned the family, leaving the care to women. It was not uncommon to hear the abuse that men inflicted on women, to see women running to a neighbor for refuge.

It was not uncommon to encounter orphaned children whose mothers died in childbirth, since maternal mortality was high. Common illnesses were aggravated because there were few hospitals and, if there were, cash payment was demanded.

After the 1979 Sandinista victory, living conditions for women dramatically improved, achievements the period of neoliberal rule (1990-2006) did not completely overturn. Throughout the second Sandinista period (2007- today), the material and social position of women again made giant steps forward.

The greatest advances have been made by poor women in the rural areas and barrios, historically without safety, electricity, water and sanitation services, health care, or paved roads.

The liberation women have attained during the Sandinista era cannot be measured only by what we apply in North America: equal pay for equal work, the right to abortion, the right to affordable childcare, freedom from sexual discrimination.

Women’s liberation in Third World countries involves matters that may not appear on the surface as women’s rights issues. These include the paving of roads, improving housing, legalized land tenure, school meal programs, new clinics and hospitals, electrification, plumbing, literacy campaigns, potable water, aid programs to campesinos and crime reduction programs.

Because half of Nicaraguan families are headed by single mothers, this infrastructure development promotes the liberation and well-being of women.

Government programs that directly or indirectly shorten the hours of household drudgery free women to participate more in community life and increase their self-confidence and leadership. A country can have no greater democratic achievement than bringing about full and equal participation of women.

Women participating in 1979 Sandinista revolution. [Source: wikipedia.org]

Women’s Liberation Boosted with the FSLN’s Zero Hunger and Zero Usury Programs

These programs, launched in 2007, raise the socio-economic position of women. Zero Hunger furnishes pigs, a pregnant cow, chickens, plants, seeds, fertilizers, and building materials to women in rural areas to diversify their production, upgrade the family diet, and strengthen women-run household economies.

The agricultural assets provided are put in the woman’s name, equipping women to become more self-sufficient producers; it gives them more direct control and security over food for their children.

This breaks women’s historic dependency on male breadwinners and encourages their self-confidence. The program has aided 275,000 poor families, more than one million people (of a total of 6.6 million Nicaraguans) and has increased both their own food security and the nation’s food sovereignty.

Nicaragua now produces close to 90% of its own food, with most coming from small and medium farmers, many of them women. As Fausto Torrez of the Nicaraguan Rural Workers Association (ATC) correctly noted, “A nation that cannot feed itself is not free.”

Market in Managua selling locally produced food. [Source: tortillaconsal.com]

The Zero Usury program is a microcredit mechanism that now charges 0.5% annual interest, not the world microcredit average of 35%. More than 445,000 women have received these low-interest loans, typically three loans each.

The program not only empowers women but is a key factor reducing poverty, unlocking pools of talent, and driving diversified and sustainable growth. Many women receiving loans have turned their businesses into cooperatives, providing jobs to other women. Since 2007, about 5,900 cooperatives have formed, with 300 being women’s cooperatives.

Poverty has been reduced from 48% in 2007 to 25% and extreme poverty from 17.5% to 7%. This benefited women in particular, since single mother households suffered more from poverty. The Zero Hunger and Zero Usury programs have lessened the traditional domestic violence, given that women in poverty suffer greater risk of violence and abuse than others.

Giving Women Titles to Property Is a Step Toward Women’s Liberation

Since most Nicaraguans live by small-scale farming or by small business, possessing the title of legal ownership is a major concern. Between 2007 and 2021, the FSLN government has given out 451,250 land titles in the countryside and the city, with women making up 55% of the property-owners who benefited. Providing women with the legal title to their own land was a great step toward their economic independence.

Infrastructure Programs Expand Women’s Freedom

The Sandinista government has funded the building or renovation of 290,000 homes since 2007, free of charge for those in extreme poverty, or with interest-free long-term loans. This aided more than one million Nicaraguans, particularly single mothers, who head half of all Nicaraguan families.

In 2006 only 65% of the urban population had potable drinking water; now 92% do. Access to potable water in rural areas has doubled, from 28% to 55%. This frees women from the toilsome daily walk to the village well to carry buckets of water home to cook every meal, wash the dishes and clothes, and bathe the children. Homes connected to sewage disposal systems have grown from 30% in 2007 to 57% in 2021.

Now 99% of the population has electricity compared to 54% in 2006. As we know from experiencing electrical blackouts, electricity significantly frees our lives from time-consuming tasks. Street lighting has more than doubled, increasing security for all. Reliable home electricity enables the use of electrical labor-saving devices, such as a refrigerator.

Today, high-speed internet connects and unites most of the country, reducing people’s isolation and lack of access to information. Virtually everyone has a cell phone, and free internet is now available in many public parks.

Nicaragua’s road system is now among the best in Latin America and the Caribbean, given it has built more roads in the last 15 years than were built in the previous 200 years. Outlying towns are now connected to the national network. Now women in rural areas can travel elsewhere to work, sell their products in nearby markets, attend events in other towns, and take themselves or their children to the hospital. This contributes to the fight against poverty and the fight for women’s liberation.

New roads on the outskirts of Ésteli, Nicaragua’s third-largest city. [Source: bcie.org]

Better roads and housing, almost universal electrical and internet access, as well as indoor plumbing, greatly lessens the burdens placed on women homemakers and provide them with greater freedom to participate in the world they live in.

The Sandinista Educational System Emancipates Women

The humanitarian nature of the FSLN governments, as opposed to the disregard by previous neoliberal regimes, is revealed by statistics on illiteracy. When the FSLN revolution triumphed in 1979, illiteracy topped 56%.

Within ten years they reduced it to 12%. Yet by the end of the 16-year neoliberal period in 2006, which dismantled the free education system, illiteracy had again risen to 23%. Today the FSLN government has cut illiteracy to under 4%.

[Source: globalgiving.org]

The FSLN made education completely free, eliminating school fees. This, combined with the aid programs for poor women, has allowed 100,000 children to return to school. The government began a school lunch program, a meal of beans and rice, to 1.5 million school and pre-school children every day.

Pre-school, primary and secondary students are supplied with backpacks, glasses when needed, and low-income students receive uniforms at no cost. Now a much higher proportion of children are able to attend school, which provides more opportunities for mothers to work outside the home.

[Source: creativesocietiesinternational.com]

Nicaragua has established a nationwide free day-care system, now numbering 265 centers. Mothers can take their young children to day care, freeing them from another of the major hurdles to entering the workforce.

Due to the vastly expanded and free medical system, the  Zero Hunger, Zero Usury and other programs, chronic malnutrition in children under five has been cut in half, with chronic malnutrition in children six to twelve cut by two-thirds. Now it is rare to see kids with visible malnutrition, removing another preoccupation from mothers.

Schools and businesses never closed during the Covid pandemic, and Nicaragua’s health system has been among the most successful in the world addressing Covid. The country has the lowest number of Covid deaths per million inhabitants among all the countries of the Americas.

Nicaragua has also built a system of parks, playgrounds, and other free recreation where mothers can take their children.

Throughout the school system, the Ministry of Education promotes a culture of equal rights and non-discrimination. It has implemented the new subject “Women’s Rights and Dignities,” which teaches students about women’s right to a life without harassment and abuse and the injustices of the patriarchal system. Campaigns were launched to promote the participation of both mom and dad in a child’s education, such as emphasizing that attending school meetings or performances are shared responsibilities of both parents.

Women receive their diplomas from the National Technology Institute INATEC, where 62% of those enrolled are women.  [Source:radiolaprimerisima.com]

Sandinistas’ Free Health Care System Liberates Women 

In stark contrast to Nicaragua’s neoliberal years, with its destruction of the medical system, and in contrast to other Central American countries and the United States with their privatized health care for profit, the Sandinistas have established community-based, free, preventive public health care. Accordingly, life expectancy has risen from 72 years in 2006 to 77 years today, now equal to the U.S. level.

Health care units number more than 1,700, including 1,259 health posts and 192 health centers, with one-third built since 2007. The country has 77 hospitals, with 21 new hospitals built, and 46 existing hospitals remodeled and modernized. Nicaragua provides 178 maternity homes near medical centers for expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies or from rural areas to stay during the last weeks of pregnancy.

The United States is the richest country in the Americas, while Nicaragua is the third-poorest. Yet in the U.S. since 2010, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed, and fewer than 50% of rural women have access to pre-natal services within a 30-mile drive from their homes. This has disproportionately affected low-income women, particularly Black and Latino women.

Nicaragua has equipped 66 mobile clinics, which gave nearly 1.9 million consultations in 2020. These include cervical and breast cancer screenings, helping to cut the cervical cancer mortality rate by 34% since 2007. The number of women receiving Pap tests has increased almost five-fold, from 181,491 in 2007 to 880,907 in 2020.

In the pre-Sandinista era, one-fourth of pregnant women gave birth at home, with no doctor. There were few hospitals and pregnant women often had to travel rough dirt roads to reach a clinic or hospital. Now women need not worry about reaching a distant hospital while in labor because they can reside in a local maternity home for the last two weeks of their pregnancies and be monitored by doctors.

In 2020, 67,222 pregnant women roomed in one of these homes, and could be accompanied by their mothers or sisters. As a result, 99% of births today are in medical centers, and maternal mortality fell from 115 deaths per 100,000 births in 2006 to 36 in 2020. These are giant steps forward in the liberation of women.

Contrary to the indifference to women in the U.S., Nicaraguan mothers receive one month off work before their baby is born, and two months off after; even men get five days off work when their baby is born. Mothers also receive free milk for six months. Men and women get five paid days off work when they marry.

The Question of Abortion Rights

The law making abortion illegal, removing the “life and health of the mother” exception, was passed in the National Assembly under President Enrique Bolaños in 2006. There had been a well-organized and funded campaign by Catholics all over Latin America as well as large marches over the previous two years in Nicaragua in favor of this law.

Enrique Bolaños in 2002. [Source: nytimes.com]

The law, supported by 80% of the people, was proposed immediately before the presidential election as a vote-getting ploy by Bolaños. The Sandinistas were a minority in the National Assembly at the time, and the FSLN legislators were released from party discipline for the vote. The majority abstained, while several voted in favor. The law has never been implemented or rescinded.

Since the Sandinistas’ return to power in 2007 no woman or governmental or private health professional has been prosecuted for any action related to abortion. Any woman whose life is in danger receives an abortion in government health centers or hospitals. Many places exist for women to get abortions; none has been closed or attacked, and none is clandestine. The morning-after pill and contraceptive services are widely available.

Sandinista Measures to Free Women from Violence 

Nicaragua has created 102 women’s police stations, special units that include protecting women and children from sexual and domestic violence and abuse. Now women can talk to female police officers about crimes committed against them, whether it be abuse or rape, making it easier and more comfortable for women to file complaints, receive counseling for trauma, and ensure that violent crimes against women are prosecuted in a thorough and timely manner.

Nicaragua’s women in blue. [Source: breal.tv]

Women make up 34.3% of the 16,399 National Police officers, a high number for a police department. For instance, New York City and Los Angeles police are 18% women and Chicago is 23%.

The United Nations finds Nicaragua the safest country in Central America, with the lowest homicide rate, 7.2 per 100,000 (down from 13.4 in 2006), less than half the regional average of 19.

It also has the lowest rate of femicides in Central America (0.7 per 100,000), another testament to the Sandinista commitment to ending mistreatment of women.  The government organizes citizen-security assemblies to raise consciousness concerning violence against women and to handle the vulnerabilities women face in the family and community. Mifamilia, the Ministry of the Family, carries out house-to-house visits to stress prevention of violence against women and sexual abuse of children.

Nicaragua is the most successful regional country in combating drug trafficking and organized crime, freeing women from the insecurity that plagues women in places such as Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Women’s Leadership in the Nicaragua Government

The progress women have made during the second FSLN era is reflected in their participation in government. The 1980s’ Sandinista directorate contained no women. In 2007, the second Sandinista government mandated equal representation for women, ensuring that at least 50% of public offices would be filled by women, from the national level to the municipal.

Today, 9 out of 16 national government cabinet ministers are women. Women head the Supreme Electoral Council, the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s office, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and account for 60% of judges. Women make up half of the National Assembly, of mayors, of vice-mayors and of municipal council members. Women, so represented in high positions, provide a model and inspires all women and girls to participate in building a new society with more humane human relations.

[Source: ipu.org]

No Greater Democratic Victory Than the Liberation of Women

The progress made in women’s liberation is seen in the Global Gender Gap Index: In 2007, Nicaragua ranked 90th on the index; by 2020, it had jumped to 5th place, exceeded only by Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Nicaragua is a country that has accomplished the most in liberating women from household drudgery and domestic slavery because of its policies favoring the social and political participation and economic advancement of poor women.

Women have gained a women’s police commissariat, legal recognition of their property, new homes for abused women and for poor single mothers, economic programs that empower poorer women, abortion is not criminalized in practice, half of all political candidates and public office holders are women, extreme poverty has been cut by half, mostly benefiting women and children, domestic toil has been greatly reduced because of modernized national infrastructure, women have convenient and free health care.

In their liberation struggle, Nicaraguan women are becoming ever more self-sufficient and confident in enforcing their long-neglected human rights. They are revolutionizing their collective self-image and ensuring their central role in building a new society. This betters the working class and campesinos as a whole by improving the quality of life for all and is a vital weapon in combating U.S. economic warfare.

As Lenin observed, “The experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it.” Nicaragua is one more living example that a new world is possible.

• First published in CovertAction Magazine

The post Why is the Nicaraguan Government Demonized by both Liberals and Conservatives … first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why is the Nicaraguan Government Demonized by both Liberals and Conservatives …

[Source: telesurenglish.net]

Women Have Made Particularly Significant Gains Under the Second Sandinista Government Since 2006

Women, particularly those in the Third World, often find themselves with limited ability to participate in community organizations and political life because of the poverty and their traditional sex role imposes on them.

On them falls sole responsibility to care for their children and other family members, especially when sick; they maintain the home, cook the meals, wash the dishes, the clothes, bathe the children, clean the house, mend the clothes. This labor becomes unending manual labor when households have no electricity (consequently, no lights, no refrigerator, no labor-saving electrical devices), and no running water.

The burden of this work impedes the social participation, self-expectations, and education of the female population.

Women in the Third World (and increasingly in the imperial First World) face problems of violence at home and in public, problems of food and water for the family, of proper shelter, and lack of health care for the family, and their own lack of access to education and, thus, work opportunities.

In Nicaragua, before the 1979 Sandinista revolution, men typically fulfilled few obligations for their children; men often abandoned the family, leaving the care to women. It was not uncommon to hear the abuse that men inflicted on women, to see women running to a neighbor for refuge.

It was not uncommon to encounter orphaned children whose mothers died in childbirth, since maternal mortality was high. Common illnesses were aggravated because there were few hospitals and, if there were, cash payment was demanded.

After the 1979 Sandinista victory, living conditions for women dramatically improved, achievements the period of neoliberal rule (1990-2006) did not completely overturn. Throughout the second Sandinista period (2007- today), the material and social position of women again made giant steps forward.

The greatest advances have been made by poor women in the rural areas and barrios, historically without safety, electricity, water and sanitation services, health care, or paved roads.

The liberation women have attained during the Sandinista era cannot be measured only by what we apply in North America: equal pay for equal work, the right to abortion, the right to affordable childcare, freedom from sexual discrimination.

Women’s liberation in Third World countries involves matters that may not appear on the surface as women’s rights issues. These include the paving of roads, improving housing, legalized land tenure, school meal programs, new clinics and hospitals, electrification, plumbing, literacy campaigns, potable water, aid programs to campesinos and crime reduction programs.

Because half of Nicaraguan families are headed by single mothers, this infrastructure development promotes the liberation and well-being of women.

Government programs that directly or indirectly shorten the hours of household drudgery free women to participate more in community life and increase their self-confidence and leadership. A country can have no greater democratic achievement than bringing about full and equal participation of women.

Women participating in 1979 Sandinista revolution. [Source: wikipedia.org]

Women’s Liberation Boosted with the FSLN’s Zero Hunger and Zero Usury Programs

These programs, launched in 2007, raise the socio-economic position of women. Zero Hunger furnishes pigs, a pregnant cow, chickens, plants, seeds, fertilizers, and building materials to women in rural areas to diversify their production, upgrade the family diet, and strengthen women-run household economies.

The agricultural assets provided are put in the woman’s name, equipping women to become more self-sufficient producers; it gives them more direct control and security over food for their children.

This breaks women’s historic dependency on male breadwinners and encourages their self-confidence. The program has aided 275,000 poor families, more than one million people (of a total of 6.6 million Nicaraguans) and has increased both their own food security and the nation’s food sovereignty.

Nicaragua now produces close to 90% of its own food, with most coming from small and medium farmers, many of them women. As Fausto Torrez of the Nicaraguan Rural Workers Association (ATC) correctly noted, “A nation that cannot feed itself is not free.”

Market in Managua selling locally produced food. [Source: tortillaconsal.com]

The Zero Usury program is a microcredit mechanism that now charges 0.5% annual interest, not the world microcredit average of 35%. More than 445,000 women have received these low-interest loans, typically three loans each.

The program not only empowers women but is a key factor reducing poverty, unlocking pools of talent, and driving diversified and sustainable growth. Many women receiving loans have turned their businesses into cooperatives, providing jobs to other women. Since 2007, about 5,900 cooperatives have formed, with 300 being women’s cooperatives.

Poverty has been reduced from 48% in 2007 to 25% and extreme poverty from 17.5% to 7%. This benefited women in particular, since single mother households suffered more from poverty. The Zero Hunger and Zero Usury programs have lessened the traditional domestic violence, given that women in poverty suffer greater risk of violence and abuse than others.

Giving Women Titles to Property Is a Step Toward Women’s Liberation

Since most Nicaraguans live by small-scale farming or by small business, possessing the title of legal ownership is a major concern. Between 2007 and 2021, the FSLN government has given out 451,250 land titles in the countryside and the city, with women making up 55% of the property-owners who benefited. Providing women with the legal title to their own land was a great step toward their economic independence.

Infrastructure Programs Expand Women’s Freedom

The Sandinista government has funded the building or renovation of 290,000 homes since 2007, free of charge for those in extreme poverty, or with interest-free long-term loans. This aided more than one million Nicaraguans, particularly single mothers, who head half of all Nicaraguan families.

In 2006 only 65% of the urban population had potable drinking water; now 92% do. Access to potable water in rural areas has doubled, from 28% to 55%. This frees women from the toilsome daily walk to the village well to carry buckets of water home to cook every meal, wash the dishes and clothes, and bathe the children. Homes connected to sewage disposal systems have grown from 30% in 2007 to 57% in 2021.

Now 99% of the population has electricity compared to 54% in 2006. As we know from experiencing electrical blackouts, electricity significantly frees our lives from time-consuming tasks. Street lighting has more than doubled, increasing security for all. Reliable home electricity enables the use of electrical labor-saving devices, such as a refrigerator.

Today, high-speed internet connects and unites most of the country, reducing people’s isolation and lack of access to information. Virtually everyone has a cell phone, and free internet is now available in many public parks.

Nicaragua’s road system is now among the best in Latin America and the Caribbean, given it has built more roads in the last 15 years than were built in the previous 200 years. Outlying towns are now connected to the national network. Now women in rural areas can travel elsewhere to work, sell their products in nearby markets, attend events in other towns, and take themselves or their children to the hospital. This contributes to the fight against poverty and the fight for women’s liberation.

New roads on the outskirts of Ésteli, Nicaragua’s third-largest city. [Source: bcie.org]

Better roads and housing, almost universal electrical and internet access, as well as indoor plumbing, greatly lessens the burdens placed on women homemakers and provide them with greater freedom to participate in the world they live in.

The Sandinista Educational System Emancipates Women

The humanitarian nature of the FSLN governments, as opposed to the disregard by previous neoliberal regimes, is revealed by statistics on illiteracy. When the FSLN revolution triumphed in 1979, illiteracy topped 56%.

Within ten years they reduced it to 12%. Yet by the end of the 16-year neoliberal period in 2006, which dismantled the free education system, illiteracy had again risen to 23%. Today the FSLN government has cut illiteracy to under 4%.

[Source: globalgiving.org]

The FSLN made education completely free, eliminating school fees. This, combined with the aid programs for poor women, has allowed 100,000 children to return to school. The government began a school lunch program, a meal of beans and rice, to 1.5 million school and pre-school children every day.

Pre-school, primary and secondary students are supplied with backpacks, glasses when needed, and low-income students receive uniforms at no cost. Now a much higher proportion of children are able to attend school, which provides more opportunities for mothers to work outside the home.

[Source: creativesocietiesinternational.com]

Nicaragua has established a nationwide free day-care system, now numbering 265 centers. Mothers can take their young children to day care, freeing them from another of the major hurdles to entering the workforce.

Due to the vastly expanded and free medical system, the  Zero Hunger, Zero Usury and other programs, chronic malnutrition in children under five has been cut in half, with chronic malnutrition in children six to twelve cut by two-thirds. Now it is rare to see kids with visible malnutrition, removing another preoccupation from mothers.

Schools and businesses never closed during the Covid pandemic, and Nicaragua’s health system has been among the most successful in the world addressing Covid. The country has the lowest number of Covid deaths per million inhabitants among all the countries of the Americas.

Nicaragua has also built a system of parks, playgrounds, and other free recreation where mothers can take their children.

Throughout the school system, the Ministry of Education promotes a culture of equal rights and non-discrimination. It has implemented the new subject “Women’s Rights and Dignities,” which teaches students about women’s right to a life without harassment and abuse and the injustices of the patriarchal system. Campaigns were launched to promote the participation of both mom and dad in a child’s education, such as emphasizing that attending school meetings or performances are shared responsibilities of both parents.

Women receive their diplomas from the National Technology Institute INATEC, where 62% of those enrolled are women.  [Source:radiolaprimerisima.com]

Sandinistas’ Free Health Care System Liberates Women 

In stark contrast to Nicaragua’s neoliberal years, with its destruction of the medical system, and in contrast to other Central American countries and the United States with their privatized health care for profit, the Sandinistas have established community-based, free, preventive public health care. Accordingly, life expectancy has risen from 72 years in 2006 to 77 years today, now equal to the U.S. level.

Health care units number more than 1,700, including 1,259 health posts and 192 health centers, with one-third built since 2007. The country has 77 hospitals, with 21 new hospitals built, and 46 existing hospitals remodeled and modernized. Nicaragua provides 178 maternity homes near medical centers for expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies or from rural areas to stay during the last weeks of pregnancy.

The United States is the richest country in the Americas, while Nicaragua is the third-poorest. Yet in the U.S. since 2010, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed, and fewer than 50% of rural women have access to pre-natal services within a 30-mile drive from their homes. This has disproportionately affected low-income women, particularly Black and Latino women.

Nicaragua has equipped 66 mobile clinics, which gave nearly 1.9 million consultations in 2020. These include cervical and breast cancer screenings, helping to cut the cervical cancer mortality rate by 34% since 2007. The number of women receiving Pap tests has increased almost five-fold, from 181,491 in 2007 to 880,907 in 2020.

In the pre-Sandinista era, one-fourth of pregnant women gave birth at home, with no doctor. There were few hospitals and pregnant women often had to travel rough dirt roads to reach a clinic or hospital. Now women need not worry about reaching a distant hospital while in labor because they can reside in a local maternity home for the last two weeks of their pregnancies and be monitored by doctors.

In 2020, 67,222 pregnant women roomed in one of these homes, and could be accompanied by their mothers or sisters. As a result, 99% of births today are in medical centers, and maternal mortality fell from 115 deaths per 100,000 births in 2006 to 36 in 2020. These are giant steps forward in the liberation of women.

Contrary to the indifference to women in the U.S., Nicaraguan mothers receive one month off work before their baby is born, and two months off after; even men get five days off work when their baby is born. Mothers also receive free milk for six months. Men and women get five paid days off work when they marry.

The Question of Abortion Rights

The law making abortion illegal, removing the “life and health of the mother” exception, was passed in the National Assembly under President Enrique Bolaños in 2006. There had been a well-organized and funded campaign by Catholics all over Latin America as well as large marches over the previous two years in Nicaragua in favor of this law.

Enrique Bolaños in 2002. [Source: nytimes.com]

The law, supported by 80% of the people, was proposed immediately before the presidential election as a vote-getting ploy by Bolaños. The Sandinistas were a minority in the National Assembly at the time, and the FSLN legislators were released from party discipline for the vote. The majority abstained, while several voted in favor. The law has never been implemented or rescinded.

Since the Sandinistas’ return to power in 2007 no woman or governmental or private health professional has been prosecuted for any action related to abortion. Any woman whose life is in danger receives an abortion in government health centers or hospitals. Many places exist for women to get abortions; none has been closed or attacked, and none is clandestine. The morning-after pill and contraceptive services are widely available.

Sandinista Measures to Free Women from Violence 

Nicaragua has created 102 women’s police stations, special units that include protecting women and children from sexual and domestic violence and abuse. Now women can talk to female police officers about crimes committed against them, whether it be abuse or rape, making it easier and more comfortable for women to file complaints, receive counseling for trauma, and ensure that violent crimes against women are prosecuted in a thorough and timely manner.

Nicaragua’s women in blue. [Source: breal.tv]

Women make up 34.3% of the 16,399 National Police officers, a high number for a police department. For instance, New York City and Los Angeles police are 18% women and Chicago is 23%.

The United Nations finds Nicaragua the safest country in Central America, with the lowest homicide rate, 7.2 per 100,000 (down from 13.4 in 2006), less than half the regional average of 19.

It also has the lowest rate of femicides in Central America (0.7 per 100,000), another testament to the Sandinista commitment to ending mistreatment of women.  The government organizes citizen-security assemblies to raise consciousness concerning violence against women and to handle the vulnerabilities women face in the family and community. Mifamilia, the Ministry of the Family, carries out house-to-house visits to stress prevention of violence against women and sexual abuse of children.

Nicaragua is the most successful regional country in combating drug trafficking and organized crime, freeing women from the insecurity that plagues women in places such as Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Women’s Leadership in the Nicaragua Government

The progress women have made during the second FSLN era is reflected in their participation in government. The 1980s’ Sandinista directorate contained no women. In 2007, the second Sandinista government mandated equal representation for women, ensuring that at least 50% of public offices would be filled by women, from the national level to the municipal.

Today, 9 out of 16 national government cabinet ministers are women. Women head the Supreme Electoral Council, the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s office, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and account for 60% of judges. Women make up half of the National Assembly, of mayors, of vice-mayors and of municipal council members. Women, so represented in high positions, provide a model and inspires all women and girls to participate in building a new society with more humane human relations.

[Source: ipu.org]

No Greater Democratic Victory Than the Liberation of Women

The progress made in women’s liberation is seen in the Global Gender Gap Index: In 2007, Nicaragua ranked 90th on the index; by 2020, it had jumped to 5th place, exceeded only by Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Nicaragua is a country that has accomplished the most in liberating women from household drudgery and domestic slavery because of its policies favoring the social and political participation and economic advancement of poor women.

Women have gained a women’s police commissariat, legal recognition of their property, new homes for abused women and for poor single mothers, economic programs that empower poorer women, abortion is not criminalized in practice, half of all political candidates and public office holders are women, extreme poverty has been cut by half, mostly benefiting women and children, domestic toil has been greatly reduced because of modernized national infrastructure, women have convenient and free health care.

In their liberation struggle, Nicaraguan women are becoming ever more self-sufficient and confident in enforcing their long-neglected human rights. They are revolutionizing their collective self-image and ensuring their central role in building a new society. This betters the working class and campesinos as a whole by improving the quality of life for all and is a vital weapon in combating U.S. economic warfare.

As Lenin observed, “The experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it.” Nicaragua is one more living example that a new world is possible.

• First published in CovertAction Magazine

The post Why is the Nicaraguan Government Demonized by both Liberals and Conservatives … first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Many Progressives Misrepresented and Condemned the Ottawa Trucker Protest

Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” began with protesting rules implemented in January by the Canadian and later the US governments requiring truck drivers to be fully vaccinated to enter their country. It snowballed into a demonstration against dysfunctional coronavirus restrictions. The Ottawa trucker protesters demanded: No Lockdowns, No Mandates, No Vaccine Passports, and if not, that Trudeau resign.

Working people are increasingly angry at the failures of the neoliberal regimes in Canada and the US to meet our needs. Unfortunately, we on the left are not positioned to effectively utilize this sentiment and grow our forces, leaving an open field for leaders with rightwing solutions to fill the vacuum. They played on public resentment to advocate getting the state off our backs rather than our demand that the state prioritize our well-being.

Working class activists should participate and build these protests, bring working class solutions to the problems we confront and lead the people in fighting back. Instead, many on the left condemned the trucker convoy, or sat on the sidelines, seeing themselves as mere critics, not leaders in this class struggle.

Liberal Party Prime Minister Trudeau called the truckers “a few people shouting and waving swastikas,” a “fringe minority” conspiracy theorists “with the tinfoil hats.” They “don’t believe in science.” He threatened, “Do we tolerate these people?”  These elitist anti-working class statements echo Hillary Clinton’s dubbing Trump supporters “deplorables.” The hysteria led by Trudeau and the corporate media even reached the point where a Member of Parliament absurdly declared trucker honking of horns meant Heil Hitler. Trudeau’s Big Business dictated covid policies even denied visas to vaccinated Cubans because they had Cuban, not Big Pharma vaccines.

Anti-trucker “Leftists” Repeat Trudeau’s Smears

Many left criticisms of the truckers follow the rulers’ talking points. For instance, they spread a corporate media cartoon smear, Bryan Palmer’s condemnation of the truckers as a “lumpen” alt-right petty bourgeois protest, as well as anti-war activist Stephen Gowans‘ early attack on the Ottawa occupation as “a far-right movement of racists, evangelicals, union-haters, and conspiracy-minded lunatics, inspired and supported by the likes of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Elon Musk.” Gowans complained the Ottawa police had “done nothing to liberate the city” from what were peaceful protesters.

Rather than refuting the rulers’ smears, many either repeated them or remained silent in face of the onslaught. They, in effect, allied with the imperial state’s attacks on the truckers and their working- class allies. They compounded their error by making only mild objections to the central rightwing feature of the Ottawa occupation: Trudeau using martial law measures to crush peaceful protests – measures which could be used against leftists in the future if we become a social force.

What were some of the distortions so many disseminated in their unwitting role as transmission belts for ruling class propaganda against the truckers?

  1. That the protesters were racists and fascists was repeated over and over. Enough evidence shows this was not a racist protest (and here), It was claimed, with scant evidence, that the protest contained numerous Nazi and Confederate flags. A photo showed a man with a Nazi flag and another one or two with a Confederate flag. One man had the Nazi flag on a long pole underneath a sign on top saying “F*ck Trudeau,” which could mean he was equating Trudeau with Nazis. The person holding a Confederate flag was considered to be a provocateur made to leave the protest. Government agent provocateurs have played a role in other Canadian protests.

Benjamin Dichter, who is Jewish, and key spokesperson for the protest, said “Let’s assume there were guys there who did have a Confederate flag. They believe in the Confederacy of states’ rights in a foreign nation? I don’t care. I’m not here to police people’s ideas.” In a swipe at Trudeau, Dichter added, “I want to hear unacceptable opinions because I want to challenge them.”

Another Freedom Convoy leader was Metis, Tamara Lich. Pat King, a fanatic racist in the Nazi mold, was portrayed as convoy leader, but this was denied by the actual leaders (and here).

  1. That the Right funded the trucker protest became a key charge. Republicans do fund popular protests to further their aims. So do the Democrats, as the women’s marches testify. A protest bringing out masses of people likely involves corporate political party funding. It is a political mistake to condemn or boycott movements, MeToo, Black Lives Matter, anti-vaccine mandate, or climate change protests because they had corporate donors. To condemn a protest funded by Republican corporate donors, but not those funded by Democratic ones, given these donors serve the same ruling class owners of the US, is a double standard. To do so suggests aligning ourselves with the Democratic (or Liberal) Party faction of the ruling class.

Reports on big right-wing funders of the trucker convoy failed to establish significant dollar contributions. PressProgress gave “a round up of some of the big money donors.” The corporate donors listed contributed merely $67,300 of the $10 million raised. That amounts to less than 1% of the total, showing corporate donors gave very minor support.

GiveSendGo raised another $8.6 million for the protesters. The largest, $215,000 came from an anonymous donor, $90,000 from billionaire Thomas M. Siebel, and $75,000 from another anonymous donor. Even if we assume these three are by big rightwing donors, that amounts to $380,000, 4.4% of the total.

Washington Post article on donors noted, “Only a handful of contributors gave more than $10,000 apiece,” which does not substantiate corporate and billionaire funding of the protests.

It seems these donations do not include seed money for the Freedom Convoy, but they do show it was not “fringe,” but had gained broad support.

The GoFundMe platform raised $10 million dollars for the convoy before being shut down. The reason given was for “violating the platform’s Terms of Service prohibiting the ‘promotion of violence and harassment.’” Yet no protester had been charged with violence. Defenders of civil liberties should have condemned that repression, not approve of it.

  1. That the trucker convoy represented a social fringe is belied simply by some news reports, such as this or this.
  2. Many falsely claimed the Freedom Convoy protesters were anti-vaxxers, pointing out that 90% of Canadian truckers are vaccinated. However, the protesters were united against vaccine mandates, not against vaccines. Benjamin Dichter and Chris Barber, two convoy leaders, said they were not anti-vaxxers but fully vaccinated.
  3. Some asserted the truckers were petty bourgeois owner-operators, therefore not working class, because they owned their instruments of production. Even assuming some of the truckers are in the petty bourgeoisie, that in itself is no reason to condemn a petty bourgeois movement in struggle with the big bourgeoisie.

Aren’t owner-operators among the millions of workers who companies “contract out” to cut labor expenses and increase their profits? Are Uber drivers also middle-class owner operators? Or any worker hired by a business as an “independent contractor”? This new category of atomized workers is a product of the long neoliberal offensive to weaken solidarity among workers.

  1. Many used Trump’s support for the truckers as another reason to condemn it. That makes no more sense than saying if Biden or Trudeau opposes the protest, we should too. This liberal-left fear and loathing of Trump ignores a number of commendable statements he made on issues anti-imperialists advocate for.
  2. Some bolstered their attacks on the truckers by referring to the Teamsters and Canadian Labour Congress. The Canadian Teamsters condemned the trucker convoy as a “despicable display of hate lead by the political Right,” but provided no evidence to back that up. The statement said nothing against the central demands of the protest. The Teamsters represent only 15,000 long haul truck drivers of the 300,000 long haul drivers in Canada.

The Canadian Labour Congress condemned the protest but was also silent on vaccine mandates. “This is not a protest, it is an occupation by an angry mob trying to disguise itself as a peaceful protest.” Of course protesters are angry, otherwise they do not protest. Being angry does not mean you are not peaceful. The CLC adds “This occupation of Ottawa streets…is having a devastating effect on the livelihood of already struggling workers and businesses.” Such statements could be used against the Occupy Movement in 2011, or against Black Lives Matter protests, as Trump did. “Frontline workers, from retail to health workers, have been bullied and harassed.” Yet so was at least one pro-trucker Ottawa store owner bullied and harassed for simply donating to the protest.

True, the Freedom Convoy had no working class demands for government action to ease the hardships workers face. Neither did the CLC or Teamsters, actual workers class organizations with the social and economic weight to have their demands met.

  1. Many followed Trudeau and claimed the convoy organizers were violent and extremists. However, the police reported no physical violence, and none of the protest leaders were arrested for violent acts.

Tamara Lich was charged with ‘counselling for the offense of committing Mischief,” convoy leader Chris Barber for the same charge, plus “counselling to commit the offense of Disobey a Police Order” and “counselling to commit the offense of Obstruct Police.” Pat King was charged with mischief, counselling to commit the offence of mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobey court order, and counselling to commit the offence of obstruct police.

Many had claimed they were guilty of violence, sedition, and attempting to overthrow a “democratic” government. Here they are, charged with “counseling” mischief (interfering with or destroying someone’s property), telling people to defy a court order or police order. What activists have ever been innocent of these charges?

  1. It was claimed the police had treated the protesters with kid gloves. Maybe. Yet, once the police cracked down, they used horses to trample some protesters. When the 2011 union protesters in Madison Wisconsin seized the Capitol building — not for a day but for weeks — the police were not only letting us enter and exit, but periodically joined the protest (and here). That was no sign that the Madison protests were right-wing, nor did leftists object to their solidarity.

As Caleb Maupin pointed out, liberals and leftists took the Fox News playbook to denounce the Black Lives Matter movement and used the same methods to attack the trucker protest. Those who support Black Lives Matter suddenly were ok with police repression of the Ottawa protests. By favoring government crackdown on peaceful protests, we gave the ruling class rope to hang ourselves with.

Working Class and Right-Wing Programs towards Covid and Health care

Being vaccinated protects you from getting very sick if you have underlying conditions but does not protect you from being infected or infecting others. People know that, so resent government vaccine requirements.

Mandates work when applied by governments that put the protection of citizens over the protection of corporate profits — not the case in the United States or Canada. Targeted lockdowns once covid makes its appearance, constant testing of the population, combined with a wide array of public health measures neither Canada nor the US ever instituted, has enabled China to almost eliminate deaths from Covid.

China contained Covid long before their vaccine was even developed. China provided house to house care for those locked down, constant and widespread testing, as well as relatively free health care for all. As a result, China has had three Covid related deaths since January 2021, while the US has had one million.

Nicaragua, which has a free, universal preventive health care system, has by far the lowest Covid death rate per million inhabitants of all the Americas, yet never instituted any sort of mandate or lockdown, beyond wearing a mask inside public buildings.

Participate in the Ottawa Protests with Working Class Demands

While the demands of the trucker protest had some merit, the Freedom Convoy leaders were ideologically rightwing. Their view of health care as an individual responsibility does not conflict with the neoliberal model. This benefits those with the privileges and financial resources to handle it.

Our working class view sees the state as the protector of public health, since health is a public issue, not simply a “free” individual’s responsibility.

We missed an opportunity to participate in the Ottawa occupation and organize working class solidarity with our message: government should meet the health and economic needs of the people affected by the pandemic; the government protects big business and big pharma super profits during the pandemic while our standard of living suffers; health care is a community issue and should be a human right. It should focus on prevention, with continuous education of the public, and establish clinics in every neighborhood, cultivating regular interaction between the health workers and the community.

If we fail to help lead workers and popular struggles, we leave the field open for middle class or right-wing leaders. Even the sometimes liberal Nation recognized, “the far-right origins of the protest shouldn’t be an excuse for ignoring the fact it is attracting the support of a segment of the population that doesn’t identify with the far right but does feel economically marginalized and hurt by a pandemic now entering its third year… Those who have sympathy for the convoy tend to be poorer, younger, and less educated.”

Some activists did stand for the working class approach to the Ottawa occupation. Dust James, a trucker, encouraged the left to join the protesters and explain to them that all truckers share a common problem with others: small businesses and workers are being crushed by the larger monopolies, big banks are ripping off all of us.

Richard Wolff said leftists made a serious error by not actively participating in and solidarizing with the trucker protest, showing workers how to use their power to achieve their demands. A struggle to push back against mandates that don’t work can ignite actions against other policies that don’t serve people’s interests. Struggles often begin as a fight against a specific injustice, eventually opening the door to struggles on more fundamental issues.

Leila Mechoui and Max Blumenthal applauded actions by working class people to improve their situation and resist impositions by private and public authorities. The truckers protest scared the rulers because they fear losing their control over who determines how society is run. They don’t want workers thinking they should have some say in societal decision-making. They don’t want workers to start thinking “why should we do what the bosses tell us to do if it doesn’t make sense.”

Richard Wolff and Jimmy Dore emphasized we should be and can be everywhere workers are struggling. “The left should not put itself in a situation where the protesters can lump them together with the authorities as enemies of their struggle, which is the case now.” Here, the left isolated themselves from the working class by attacking the movement as a whole.

Why Many Repeated Ruling Class Liberal Smears of the Truckers

Being an anti-war writer like Stephen Gowans does not mean you have close connections with working class struggles at home. Likewise, many working class fighters do not possess an anti-imperialist outlook.  Unfortunately, working class and anti-war fighters often operate in distinct social and political milieus.

Many have made critiques of the convoy and Ottawa occupation, such as a recent webinar by left intellectuals. Yet the problem we face is that the function of a working class leftwing goes beyond evaluating a movement. Our function should be to create a plan of action to participate in and help lead social struggles in a working class direction through demands that benefit the working classes as a whole. We are not there, nor are we making headway in building the army of working class activists needed to carry it out.

At present, far too many critics of the truckers feel in their heart of hearts that our white working class is full of “deplorables.” That illustrates the current disconnect of leftists from the white working class. Too many feel the working class may be the force that will overthrow capitalism and build a just society, but not with the working class we have. This white working class today is too ignorant, bigoted, backwards, bought-off, too white privileged. If it is not kept in check, things could only get worse.

So, where do they turn for a social power to rotate around for building progressive social change? Often it means to the more enlightened intelligentsia, the more progressive politicians. That leads to the Democratic Party or the Canadian versions: pressure them from the left and build support for them in their struggle against Trumpers. This approach became pronounced as fear of Trumpism grew.

This may explain why many on the left repeated Trudeau’s smears and may be why they — who normally support workers — sided with the government against working people when they organized and protested. Such an approach, if not corrected, leads to more police state repression and an increasingly divided working class confused over where to turn to solve their problems.

The post Why Many Progressives Misrepresented and Condemned the Ottawa Trucker Protest first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Gains of Nicaraguan Women During the Second Sandinista Government

Women, particularly those in the Third World, often find themselves with limited ability to participate in community organizations and political life because of the bondage poverty and their traditional sex role imposes on them. On them falls sole responsibility to care for their children and other family members, especially when sick; they maintain the home, cook the meals, wash the dishes, the clothes, bathe the children, clean the house, mend the clothes. This labor becomes unending manual labor when households have no electricity (consequently, no lights, no refrigerator, no labor-saving electrical devices), and no running water. The burden of this work impedes the social participation, self-expectations, and education of the female population.

Women in the Third World (and increasingly in the imperial First World) face problems of violence at home and in public, problems of food and water for the family, of proper shelter, and lack of health care for the family, and their own lack of access to education and thus work opportunities.

In Nicaragua, before the 1979 Sandinista revolution, men typically fulfilled few obligations for their children; men often abandoned the family, leaving the care to women. It was not uncommon to hear the abuse that men inflicted on women, to see women running to a neighbor for refuge. It was not uncommon to encounter orphaned children whose mothers died in childbirth, since maternal mortality was high. Common illnesses were aggravated because there were few hospitals and if there were, cash payment was demanded.

After the 1979 Sandinista victory, living conditions for women drastically improved, achievements the period of neoliberal rule (1990-2006) did not completely overturn. Throughout the second Sandinista period (2007- today), the material and social position of women again made giant steps forward.

The greatest advance has been made by poor women in the rural areas and barrios, historically without safety, electricity, water and sanitation services, health care, or paved roads. The liberation women have attained during the Sandinista era cannot be measured only by what we apply in North America: equal pay for equal work, the right to abortion, the right to affordable childcare, freedom from sexual discrimination. Women’s liberation in Third World countries involves matters that may not appear on the surface as women’s rights issues. These include the paving of roads, improving housing, legalized land tenure, school meal programs, new clinics and hospitals, electrification, plumbing, literacy campaigns, potable water, aid programs to campesinos, and crime reduction programs.

Because half of Nicaraguan families are headed by single mothers, this infrastructure development promotes the liberation and well-being of women. Government programs that directly or indirectly shorten the hours of household drudgery frees women to participate more in community life and increases their self-confidence and leadership. A country can have no greater democratic achievement than bringing about full and equal participation of women.

Women’s liberation Boosted with the FSLN’s Zero Hunger and Zero Usury programs

These programs, launched in 2007, raise the socio-economic position of women. Zero Hunger furnishes pigs, a pregnant cow, chickens, plants, seeds, fertilizers, and building materials to women in rural areas to diversify their production, upgrade the family diet, and strengthen women-run household economies. The agricultural assets provided are put in the woman’s name, equipping women to become more self-sufficient producers; it gives them more direct control and security over food for their children. This breaks women’s historic dependency on male breadwinners and encourages their self-confidence. The program has aided 275,000 poor families, over one million people (of a total of 6.6 million Nicaraguans), and has increased both their own food security and the nation’s food sovereignty.

Nicaragua now produces close to 90% of its own food, with most coming from small and medium farmers, many of them women. As Fausto Torrez of the Nicaraguan Rural Workers Association (ATC) correctly noted, “A nation that cannot feed itself is not free.”

The Zero Usury program is a microcredit mechanism that now charges 0.5% annual interest, not the world microcredit average of 35%. Over 445,000 women have received these low interest loans, typically three loans each. The program not only empowers women but is a key factor reducing poverty, unlocking pools of talent, and driving diversified and sustainable growth. Many women receiving loans have turned their businesses into cooperatives, providing jobs to other women. Since 2007, about 5,900 cooperatives have formed, with 300 being women’s cooperatives.

Poverty has been reduced from 48% in 2007 to 25% and extreme poverty from 17.5% to 7%. This benefited women in particular, since single mother households suffered more from poverty. The Zero Hunger and Zero Usury programs have lessened the traditional domestic violence, given that women in poverty suffer greater risk of violence and abuse than others.

Giving Women Titles to Property Is a Step Towards Women’s Liberation

Since most Nicaraguans live by small-scale farming or by small business, possessing the title of legal ownership is a major concern. Between 2007 and 2021, the FSLN government has given out 451,250 land titles in the countryside and the city, with women making up 55% of the property-owners who benefited. Providing women with the legal title to their own land was a great step towards their economic independence.

Infrastructure Programs Expand Women’s Freedom

The Sandinista government funded the building or renovation of 290,000 homes since 2007, free of charge for those in extreme poverty, or with interest free long-term loans. This aided over one million Nicaraguans, particularly single mothers, who head half of all Nicaraguan families.

In 2006 only 65% of the urban population had potable drinking water; now 92% do. Access to potable water in rural areas has doubled, from 28% to 55%. This frees women from the toilsome daily walk to the village well to carry buckets of water home to cook every meal, wash the dishes and clothes, and bathe the children. Homes connected to sewage disposal systems have grown from 30% in 2007 to 57% in 2021.

Now 99% of the population has electricity compared to 54% in 2006. As we know from experiencing electrical blackouts, electricity significantly frees our lives from time-consuming tasks. Street lighting has more than doubled, increasing security for all. Reliable home electricity enables the use of electrical labor-saving devices, such as a refrigerator.

Today, high speed internet connects and unites most of the country, reducing people’s isolation and lack of access to information. Virtually everyone has a cell phone, and free internet is now available in many public parks.

Nicaragua’s road system is now among the best in Latin America and the Caribbean, given it has built more roads in the last 15 years than were built in the previous two hundred. Outlying towns are now connected to the national network. Now women in rural areas can travel elsewhere to work, sell their products in nearby markets, attend events in other towns, and take themselves or their children to the hospital. This contributes to the fight against poverty and the fight for women’s liberation.

Better roads and housing, almost universal electrical and internet access, as well as indoor plumbing greatly lightens the burdens placed on women homemakers and provide them with greater freedom to participate in the world they live in.

The Sandinista Educational System Emancipates Women

The humanitarian nature of the FSLN governments, as opposed to the disregard by previous neoliberal regimes, is revealed by statistics on illiteracy. When the FSLN revolution triumphed in 1979, illiteracy topped 56%. Within ten years they reduced it to 12%. Yet by the end of the 16-year neoliberal period in 2006, which dismantled the free education system, illiteracy had again risen to 23%. Today the FSLN government has cut illiteracy to under 4%.

The FSLN made education completely free, eliminating school fees. This, combined with the aid programs for poor women, has allowed 100,000 children to return to school. The government began a school lunch program, a meal of beans and rice to 1.5 million school and pre-school children every day. Preschool, primary and secondary students are supplied with backpacks, glasses when needed, and low-income students receive uniforms at no cost. Now a much higher proportion of children are able to attend school, which provides more opportunities for mothers to work outside the home.

Nicaragua has established a nationwide free day care system, now numbering 265 centers. Mothers can take their young children to day care, freeing them from another of the major hurdles to entering the workforce.

Due to the vastly expanded and free medical system, the  Zero Hunger, Zero Usury and other programs, chronic malnutrition in children under five has been cut in half, with chronic malnutrition in children six to twelve cut by two-thirds. Now it is rare to see kids with visible malnutrition, removing another preoccupation off mothers.

Schools and businesses never closed during the covid pandemic, and Nicaragua’s health system has been among the most successful in the world addressing covid. The country has the lowest number of covid deaths per million inhabitants among all the countries of the Americas.

Nicaragua has also built a system of parks, playgrounds, and other free recreation where mothers can take their children.

Throughout the school system, the Ministry of Education promotes a culture of equal rights and non-discrimination. It has implemented the new subject “Women’s Rights and Dignities,” which teaches students about women’s right to a life without harassment and abuse and the injustices of the patriarchal system. Campaigns were launched to promote the participation of both mom and dad in a child’s education, such as emphasizing that attending school meetings or performances are shared responsibilities of both parents. 

Sandinista Free Health Care System Liberates women 

In stark contrast to Nicaragua’s neoliberal years, with its destruction of the medical system, in contrast to other Central American countries and the United States with their privatized health care for profit, the Sandinistas have established community-based, free, preventive public health care. Accordingly, life expectancy has risen from 72 years in 2006 to 77 years today, now equal to the US level.

Health care units number over 1700, including 1,259 health posts and 192 health centers, with one third built since 2007. The country has 77 hospitals, with 21 new hospitals built, and 46 existing hospitals remodeled and modernized. Nicaragua provides 178 maternity homes near medical centers for expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies or from rural areas to stay during the last weeks of pregnancy.

The United States is the richest country in the Americas, while Nicaragua is the third poorest. Yet in the US since 2010, over 100 rural hospitals have closed, and fewer than 50% of rural women have access to perinatal services within a 30-mile drive from their home. This has disproportionately affected low-income women, particularly Black and Latino ones.

Nicaragua has equipped 66 mobile clinics, which gave nearly 1.9 million consultations in 2020. These include cervical and breast cancer screenings, helping to cut the cervical cancer mortality rate by 34% since 2007. The number of women receiving Pap tests has increased from 181,491 in 2007 to 880,907 in 2020.

In the pre-Sandinista era, a fourth of pregnant women gave birth at home, with no doctor. There were few hospitals and pregnant women often had to travel rough dirt roads to reach a clinic or hospital. Now women need not worry about reaching a distant hospital while in labor because they can reside in a local maternity home for the last two weeks of their pregnancies and be monitored by doctors. In 2020, 67,222 pregnant women roomed in one of these homes, and could be accompanied by their mothers or sisters. As a result, 99% of births today are in medical centers, and maternal mortality fell from 115 deaths per 100,000 births in 2006 to 36 in 2020. These are giant steps forward in the liberation of women.

Contrary to the indifference to women in the US, Nicaraguan mothers receive one month off work before their baby is born, and two months off after; even men get five days off work when their baby is born. Mothers also receive free milk for 6 months. Men and women get five days off work when they marry.

The Question of Abortion Rights

The law making abortion illegal, removing the “life and health of the mother” exception, was passed in the National Assembly under President Bolaños in 2006. There had been a well-organized and funded campaign by Catholics all over Latin America as well as large marches over the previous two years in Nicaragua in favor of this law.

The law, supported by 80% of the people, was proposed immediately before the presidential election as a vote-getting ploy by Bolaños. The Sandinistas were a minority in the National Assembly at the time, and the FSLN legislators were released from party discipline for the vote. The majority abstained, while several voted in favor. The law has never been implemented nor rescinded.

Since the return to power of the Sandinistas in 2007 no woman nor governmental or private health professional has ever been prosecuted for any action related to abortion. Any woman whose life is in danger receives an abortion in government health centers or hospitals. Many places exist for women to get abortions; none have been closed nor attacked, nor are clandestine. The morning after pill and contraceptive services are widely available.

Sandinista Measures to Free Women from Violence 

Nicaragua has created 102 women’s police stations, special units that include protecting women and children from sexual and domestic violence and abuse. Now women can talk to female police officers about crimes committed against them, whether it be abuse or rape, making it easier and more comfortable for women to file complaints, receive counseling for trauma, and ensure that violent crimes against women are prosecuted in a thorough and timely manner.

Women make up 34.3% of the 16,399 National Police officers, a high number for a police department. For instance, New York City and Los Angeles police are 18% women and Chicago is 23%.

The United Nations finds Nicaragua the safest country in Central America, with the lowest homicide rate, 7.2 per 100,000 (down from 13.4 in 2006), less than half the regional average of 19. It also has the lowest rate of femicides in Central America (0.7 per 100,000), one more testament to the Sandinista commitment to ending mistreatment of women.  The government organizes citizens security assemblies to raise consciousness concerning violence against women and to handle the vulnerabilities women face in the family and community. Mifamilia, the Ministry of the Family, carries out house-to-house visits to stress prevention of violence against women and sexual abuse of children.

Nicaragua is the most successful regional country in combating drug trafficking and organized crime, freeing women from the insecurity that plagues women in places such as Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Women Leadership in the Nicaragua Government

The progress women have made during the second FSLN era is reflected in their participation in government. The 1980s Sandinista directorate contained no women. In 2007, the second Sandinista government mandated equal representation for women, ensuring that at least 50% of public offices be filled by women, from the national level to the municipal. Today, 9 out of 16 national government cabinet ministers are women. Women head the Supreme Electoral Council, the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s office, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and account for 60% of judges. Women make up half of the National Assembly, of mayors, of vice-mayors and of municipal council members. Women so represented in high positions provides a model and inspires all women and girls to participate in building a new society with more humane human relations.

No Greater Democratic Victory than the Liberation of Women

The headway made in women’s liberation is seen in the Global Gender Gap Index. In 2007, Nicaragua ranked  90th on the index, yet by 2020 had jumped 5th place, behind only Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

Nicaragua is one country that has accomplished the most in liberating women from household drudgery and domestic slavery because of its policies favoring the social and political participation and economic advancement of poor women. Women have gained a women’s police commissariat, legal recognition of their property, new homes for abused women and for poor single mothers, economic programs that empower poorer women, abortion is not criminalized in practice, half of all political candidates and public office holders are women, extreme poverty has been cut by half, mostly benefiting women and children, domestic toil has been greatly reduced because of modernized national infrastructure, women have convenient and free health care. In their liberation struggle, Nicaraguan women are becoming ever more self-sufficient and confident in enforcing their long-neglected human rights. They are revolutionizing their collective self-image and ensuring their central role in building a new society. This betters the working class and campesinos as a whole by improving the quality of life of all and is a vital weapon in combating US economic warfare. As Lenin observed, “The experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it.” Nicaragua is one more living example that a new world is possible.

The post The Gains of Nicaraguan Women During the Second Sandinista Government first appeared on Dissident Voice.

21st Century US Coups and Attempted Coups in Latin America

During the 21st century, the US, working with corporate elites, traditional oligarchies, military, and corporate media, has continually attempted coups against Latin American governments which place the needs of their people over US corporate interests. US organized coups in Latin American countries is hardly a 20th century phenomenon.

However, this century the US rulers have turned to a new coup strategy, relying on soft coups, a significant change from the notoriously brutal military hard coups in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and other countries in the 1970s. One central US concern in these new coups has been to maintain a legal and democratic facade as much as possible.

The US superpower recognizes successful soft coups depend on mobilizing popular forces in anti-government marches and protests. Gene Sharp style color revolutions are heavily funded by US and European NGOs, such as USAID, NED, National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, and others. They make use of organizations professing “human rights” (such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International), local dissident organizations, and increasingly, liberal-left media (even Democracy Now) to prepare the groundwork.

US regime change operations have found three mechanisms this century that have been tremendously successful. First, economic warfare on a country, through sanctions and outright blockades, creates rising discontent against the targeted government. Second, increasing use of corporate media and social media to spread disinformation (often around “human rights,” “democracy,” “freedom,” or “corruption”) to foment mass movements against leaders that prioritize their nation’s development over US financial interests. This heavily relies on CIA social media operations to blanket a country with disinformation. Third, lawfare, using the appearance of democratic legality to bring down those defending their country’s national sovereignty. Related to lawfare are the electoral coups in countries such as Haiti, Honduras, and Brazil, where the US engineers or helps to engineer a coup by stealing the election.

Many of the attempted coups failed because the people mobilized to defend their governments, and because of crucial and timely solidarity declarations in defense of these governments by the Latin American bodies of the OAS, UNASUR, and the Rio Group. Today, the Rio Group no longer exists, UNASUR is much weakened, and the OAS is now fully under US control.

US Backed Coups and Attempted Coups

2001 Haiti. Haitian paramilitaries based in the Dominican Republic launched an attack on the National Palace, seat of the government of President Aristide. The attack failed, but until 2004, similar to the 1980s Nicaraguan contras, these paramilitaries launched numerous raids into Haiti, and played a key role leading to the 2004 coup perpetrated directly by US troops.

2002 Venezuela. The US government partially funded and backed the short-lived April 11-14 coup against Hugo Chavez.

2002-3 Venezuela. Management of the state oil company PDVSA organized an “oil strike,” actually a lockout of the oil workers, to drive Hugo Chavez out of power. This again failed in early 2003.

2003 Cuba. In the lead up to the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq, John Bolton claimed Cuba was a state sponsor of terrorism, producing biological weapons for terrorist purposes, just as Saddam’s Iraq was falsely claimed to have weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). During this period, the US increased its anti-Cuba propaganda directed at the country and increased funding to “pro-democracy” groups in Cuba, while anti-Cuban right-wing groups escalated their activities. The US paid “dissident” groups to organize protests and disruptions, including hijacking seven boats and airplanes to reach the US where they were never prosecuted. The goal was to create the appearance of disorder in Cuba, which, combined with its alleged biological WMDs, demanded an international intervention to restore order. Cuba squashed this movement in spring 2003.

2004 Haiti. In an early 20th century style US coup, US troops invaded Haiti, kidnapped President Jean Bertrande Aristide and exiled him to the Central African Republic.

2008 Bolivia. The Media Luna attempted coup involved right-wing leaders and some indigenous groups from Bolivia’s lowlands financed by the US. They sought to separate the richer Media Luna region from the rest of the country. In the process, they killed 20 supporters of President Evo Morales. Juan Ramon Quintana of the Bolivian government reported that between 2007-2015, the NED gave $10 million in funding to some 40 institutions including economic and social centers, foundations and NGOs. US embassy cables showed it sought to turn social and indigenous movements against the Evo Morales government.

2009 Honduras. Honduran military forces, under orders from the US, seized President Manuel Zelaya, brought him to the US military base at Palmerola, then exiled him to Costa Rica. This began an era of brutal neoliberal narco-trafficking regimes that ended in 2021 with the landslide election of Xiomara Castro, Zelaya’s wife.

2010 Ecuador. In September a failed coup against President Rafael Correa by military and police units backed by the indigenous organizations CONAIE and Pachakutik. The US had infiltrated the police and armed forces, while the NED and USAID funded these indigenous organizations.

2011 Haiti. Following the Haiti earthquake in 2010 that killed 200,000, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imposed Michel Martelly as president after threatening to cut off US aid to Haiti. Clinton flew to Haiti to demand that Martelly be named one of the two runoff candidates, although Martelly was not recognized by the Electoral Council as one of the qualifiers. Despite a voter boycott, with fewer than 20% of the electorate voting, Martelly was announced the winner of the “runoff.” One reason why most Haitians boycotted was that the most popular political party in the country, Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was excluded from the ballot. The Haiti elections were funded by USAID, Canada, the OAS, the European Union and other foreign bodies.

2012 Paraguay. President Fernando Lugo was scapegoated for a land occupation confrontation between campesinos and the police, which led to 17 deaths. President Lugo was removed from office without a chance to defend himself in a lawfare coup.

2013 Venezuela. After the April election that Nicolas Maduro narrowly won, Henrique Capriles, the US-supported loser, claimed the election was stolen and called his supporters out into the streets in violent protests. Due to the strength of the UNASUR countries at the time, the US could not convince other countries to also reject Maduro’s victory.

2014 Venezuela. “La Salida”(The Exit), led by Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, resulted in 43 deaths, and aimed to drive President Maduro from power. Again, the US could not get other Latin American governments to denounce Maduro, either in UNASUR or in the OAS.

2015 Ecuador. Between 2012-2015, $30 million from NED went to political parties, trade unions, dissident movements, and media. In 2013 alone, USAID and NED spent $24 million in Ecuador. This paid off in 2015 when CONAIE, which thanked USAID for its funding, called for an indigenous-led uprising. They began with marches in early August and concluded in Quito for an uprising and general strike on August 10.  The attempted coup failed.

2015 Haiti.  A new electoral coup for the presidency was funded by the US to the tune of $30 million. Both the US and the OAS refused Haitians’ demands to invalidate the election. The police attacked Supporters of opposition parties were shot with live and rubber bullets, killing many. President Michel Martelly’s chosen successor Jovenel Moise became president.

2015 Guatemala. The US engineered a coup against right-wing President Otto Perez Molina because he was not sufficiently subservient.

2015 Argentina. Argentine prosecutor Alber Nisman was evidently murdered days after he made bogus criminal charges against President Cristina Fernandez, claiming she was involved in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. This was used to create a scandal, unseat her, and bring neoliberals back to power. Neoliberal forces and media used the case to disrupt the Kirchner coalition from winning another presidential election.

2015-2019 El Salvador. El Salvador’s right-wing opposition backed by the US sought to destabilize the government of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).  The conservative mass media launched a smear campaign against the administration, in concert with a surge in gang-driven homicides that the police chief said was part of a campaign to drive up body counts and remove the FMLN government. Sanchez Cerén and other former officials who were members of the FMLN later became targets of lawfare, “a strategy used in recent years by conservative groups in power to try to demobilize the organization and resistance of the peoples against neoliberalism and other forms of domination.”

2016 Brazil. US-backed right-wing movements launched a campaign against President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party for “corruption.” Aided by the corporate media, they organized a series of protests in Brazil’s largest cities throughout 2015. In March 2016, a massive political demonstration brought together more than 500,000 people in support of impeaching President Rousseff. She was finally impeached by Congress and removed from office in a successful lawfare coup.

2017 Venezuela. Violent protests (guarimbas), led by Leopoldo Lopez, sought to oust President Maduro, with 126 fatalities. The guarimbas ended after the elections for the National Constituent Assembly.

2017 Honduras. The US supported an electoral coup by President Juan Orlando Hernández involving widespread electoral fraud and government killing of dozens in protests. The US quickly recognized him as president and pressured other countries to do so also, even though the OAS itself had called for a new election.

2018 Nicaragua. US-backed violent protests, supported by anti-FSLN media and social media disinformation campaigns, sought to remove President Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas from power. After two months, public sentiment turned strongly against the violent protests and they disintegrated.

2018 Brazil. Former President Lula de Silva was the leading candidate to win the presidential election, but was imprisoned due to a lawfare operation of the US and Brazil’s right-wing, using bogus corruption charges. Bolsonario won the election, aided by a large-scale fake news operation which sent out hundreds of millions of WhatsApp messages to Brazilian voters.

2019 Venezuela. In January, Juan Guaido declared himself president of Venezuela after US Vice President Pence assured him of US recognition. On April 30, the Guaido-Leopoldo Lopez’ planned uprising outside an air force base flopped. Later, a mercenary attack from Colombia failed to seize President Maduro in the presidential palace.

2019 Bolivia. The US engineered a coup against Evo Morales, in part by using a social media campaign to make the false claim he stole the election. The OAS played a key role in legitimizing the coup. The disastrous coup government of Jeanine Anez lasted for just over one year.

2021 Cuba. The US orchestrated and funded protests against the Cuban government in July and November. The US sought to build a new generation of counter-revolutionary leadership by creating new “independent” press and social media platforms. These failed more miserably than the 2003 protests.

2021 Bolivia. In October, the right-wing tried to organize a coup and general strike, demanding the release of former President  Anez who was now imprisoned. The attempt was only successful in Santa Cruz, the center of the Media Luna. Later, mass organizations led a rally, encompassing 1.5 million, to the capital to defend the MAS government.

2021 Peru. The right-wing oligarchy used lawfare unsuccessfully to unseat new President Castillo, a leader who emerged from the popular indigenous movement, seeking to remove him for being “permanently morally incapable.” However, a new lawfare case has been brought against President Castillo concerning “corruption.”

2021 Nicaragua. The US planned to repeat the 2018 Nicaragua protests, combined with a concocted campaign that the Daniel Ortega government had imprisoned US-financed opposition “pre-candidates” before the presidential election. This coup attempt failed but the US and OAS refused to recognize the election results.

In 2022 we can expect the US to continue “regime change” operations against Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, and now Chile with the election of progressive President Boric.

This list of 27 US-backed coups and attempted coups in the first 21 years of this century may be incomplete. For instance, not included are the lawfare frame-ups directed by Ecuador’s former President Lenin Moreno, a US puppet, against former Vice President Jorge Glas, who is now imprisoned, nor against former President Rafael Correa, now in exile.

This listing of US coups and attempted coups is also misleading. As throughout the 20th century, the US daily, not periodically, interferes in what it considers its colonies to both impose neocolonial regimes and maintain those regimes which open their markets to the US without conditions and align themselves with US foreign policy.

Under the facade of “democracy promotion” Washington works to advance the exact opposite goal: foment coups against democratic and popular governments. Governments and leaders that stand up for their people and their national rights are the very targets of “democracy promotion” coups.

Present day US reliance on soft coup operations involves funding not only NGOs and right-wing groups in the targeted countries for training in Gene Sharp style “democracy promotion” programs. Many liberal and liberal-left alternative media and NGOs in the US now receive corporate funding, which pushes their political outlook in a more pro-imperialist direction. This is well-illustrated in the soft coup attempts against Evo’s Bolivia and Rafael Correa’s Ecuador. These NGOs and alternative media give a false humanitarian face to imperialist intervention.

Moreover, these regime change operations are now openly being used at home against the US people. This is seen in the confusion and political divisions in the US population, manufactured by the 2016 Hillary Clinton Russiagate disinformation campaign against Trump and the Trump 2020 stolen election disinformation campaign against the Democrats. For those of us opposed to US interventionism, we are called upon to expose these new sophisticated methods of soft coup interference, to demand the national sovereignty of other nations be respected, and to bring together the US people against this manipulation by the corporate rulers.

The post 21st Century US Coups and Attempted Coups in Latin America first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Alabama Coal Miners’ ongoing Six Month Strike against BlackRock’s Warrior Met

Striking miners (Source: UMWA)

Larry Spencer, UMWA District 20 Vice President, represents the 1,100 coal miners in three UMWA locals which on strike against Warrior Met in Alabama since April 1, 2021. He will give an update on the strike in a September 28 webinar. The strikers are fighting to reverse concessions that were foisted on them in 2016 when BlackRock and other billionaire creditors set up Warrior Met Coal and took over mine operations with the aid of a bankruptcy court.

To keep their jobs, Warrior Met made the miners work up to seven days a week and take a $6-an-hour pay cut, accept reduced health insurance, and give up most of their overtime pay and paid holidays.

BlackRock is one of the three majority shareholders in the new company. Black Rock is the world’s largest investor in fossil fuels, and the world’s largest asset manager complicit in Amazon destruction.

BlackRock’s net income was $1.55 billion in the second quarter of 2021, with a record $9.5 trillion in assets. Warrior Met makes up just a tiny fraction of its portfolio.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts pointed out, “The workers gave up more than $1.1 billion in wages, health care benefits, pensions, and more to allow Warrior Met to emerge from bankruptcy five years ago. The company has enjoyed revenue in excess of $3.4 billion in that time. But it does not want to recognize the sacrifices these workers made to allow it to exist in the first place. All those billions came up to New York to fatten the bank accounts of the already-rich.”

Invoking shared sacrifice, Warrior Met had promised lots of improvements once the company attained financial solvency. When contract negotiations began last spring, however, Warrior Met reneged on its promise, refusing to bargain in good faith.

“They’re making us work seven days a week, up to 16 hours,” says Brian Kelly, president of United Mine Workers of America Local 2245, who’s worked in the mine for 25 years. “Now we’re forced to work every holiday except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.”

Excessive overtime is a key issue in the strike. Miners have been forced into 12-hour shifts stretching into weekends—without the double pay on Saturday and triple pay on Sunday that they used to get.

Health insurance went from $12 for seeing any doctor in the world to $1,500 family deductible and co-pays up to $250. Given work conditions in a coal mine, health care is vital. Miners face silicosis, black lung, diesel, smoke.” Black lung is caused by breathing in coal dust, which silts up the lungs, scarring and destroying them.

Another main dispute is that management is demanding the power to fire strikers and to give strikebreakers and new hires seniority priority.

Strikers blocked scabs from entering the mines—until the company obtained an injunction to stop them. Strikers have been arrested and run into by vehicles driven by company employees.

On July 28, 1,000 miners and supporters rallied in New York City to protest outside the offices of BlackRock Fund Advisors. There, South Dakota Federation of Labor president Kooper Caraway told Wednesday’s demonstrators that “workers all over the world are going to stand with you and support you, and there’s nothing BlackRock or any other rich asshole can do about it.”

Hamilton Nolan wrote an excellent report on one of their biggest rallies a week later, August 4:

There were more than a dozen CWA members from Atlanta who worked for AT&T, decked out in red shirts. There was a gaggle of UAW members. There were Teamsters, and teachers, and government workers, all proudly in their union t‑shirts. There were union officials from Georgia and Kentucky and Tennessee and South Carolina. There were presidents of locals from other states, climbing the stage to present $500 checks to the strike fund. There was an entire tent full of longshoremen wearing custom-made white t‑shirts that said ​“Port workers in solidarity with mine workers.” They had come from Charleston, Jacksonville, and Mobile, Alabama, on a single bus that stopped in each city, collecting the comrades.

I spoke to many of these attendees and, to a person, the question of why they had gone to all the trouble to show up was answered as if it didn’t require any explanation at all. ​“Solidarity,” they said. ​“They supported us, so we’re supporting them.” ​“This is what the union’s about.” To take a 30-hour round trip on a bus was, for them, a no-brainer. This is what the union’s about. For one day, this was just common sense. But in the context of the United States of America in 2021, this was a rare sight to behold.

Corporate news has scantly covered the strike, although ABC News had a favorable report.

The UMWA declared: “The people who manage the Wall Street hedge funds that own Warrior Met don’t know us, they don’t know our families, they don’t know our communities. And they don’t care. All they care about is sucking as much money as they can, every day that they can, from central Alabama.”

The post Alabama Coal Miners’ ongoing Six Month Strike against BlackRock’s Warrior Met first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Alabama Coal Miners’ ongoing Six Month Strike against BlackRock’s Warrior Met

Larry Spencer, UMWA District 20 Vice President, represents the 1,100 coal miners in three UMWA locals which are on strike against Warrior Met in Alabama since April 1, 2021. He will give an update on the strike in a September 28 webinar. The strikers are fighting to reverse concessions that were foisted on them in 2016 when BlackRock and other billionaire creditors set up Warrior Met Coal and took over mine operations with the aid of a bankruptcy court. To keep their jobs, Warrior Met made the miners work up to seven days a week and take a $6-an-hour pay cut, accept reduced health insurance, and give up most of their overtime pay and paid holidays.

BlackRock is one of the three majority shareholders in the new company. Black Rock is the world’s largest investor in fossil fuels, and the world’s largest asset manager complicit in Amazon destruction.

BlackRock’s net income was $1.55 billion in the second quarter of 2021, with a record $9.5 trillion in assets. Warrior Met makes up just a tiny fraction of its portfolio.

** Register for the September 28 webinar with UMWA strike leader Larry Spencer **

UMWA President Cecil Roberts pointed out:

The workers gave up more than $1.1 billion in wages, health care benefits, pensions, and more to allow Warrior Met to emerge from bankruptcy five years ago. The company has enjoyed revenue in excess of $3.4 billion in that time. But it does not want to recognize the sacrifices these workers made to allow it to exist in the first place. All those billions came up to New York to fatten the bank accounts of the already-rich.

Invoking shared sacrifice, Warrior Met had promised lots of improvements once the company attained financial solvency. When contract negotiations began last spring, however, Warrior Met reneged on its promise, refusing to bargain in good faith.

“They’re making us work seven days a week, up to 16 hours,” says Brian Kelly, president of United Mine Workers of America Local 2245, who’s worked in the mine for 25 years. “Now we’re forced to work every holiday except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.”

Excessive overtime is a key issue in the strike. Miners have been forced into 12-hour shifts stretching into weekends—without the double pay on Saturday and triple pay on Sunday that they used to get.

Health insurance went from $12 for seeing any doctor in the world to $1,500 family deductible and co-pays up to $250. Given work conditions in a coal mine, health care is vital. Miners face silicosis, black lung, diesel, smoke.” Black lung is caused by breathing in coal dust, which silts up the lungs, scarring and destroying them.

Another main dispute is that management is demanding the power to fire strikers and to give strikebreakers and new hires seniority priority.

Strikers blocked scabs from entering the mines—until the company obtained an injunction to stop them. Strikers have been arrested and run into by vehicles driven by company employees.

On July 28, 1,000 miners and supporters rallied in New York City to protest outside the offices of BlackRock Fund Advisors. There, South Dakota Federation of Labor president Kooper Caraway told Wednesday’s demonstrators that “workers all over the world are going to stand with you and support you, and there’s nothing BlackRock or any other rich asshole can do about it.”

Hamilton Nolan wrote an excellent report on one of their biggest rallies a week later, August 4:

There were more than a dozen CWA members from Atlanta who worked for AT&T, decked out in red shirts. There was a gaggle of UAW members. There were Teamsters, and teachers, and government workers, all proudly in their union t‑shirts. There were union officials from Georgia and Kentucky and Tennessee and South Carolina. There were presidents of locals from other states, climbing the stage to present $500 checks to the strike fund. There was an entire tent full of longshoremen wearing custom-made white t‑shirts that said ​“Port workers in solidarity with mine workers.” They had come from Charleston, Jacksonville, and Mobile, Alabama, on a single bus that stopped in each city, collecting the comrades.

I spoke to many of these attendees and, to a person, the question of why they had gone to all the trouble to show up was answered as if it didn’t require any explanation at all. ​“Solidarity,” they said. ​“They supported us, so we’re supporting them.” ​“This is what the union’s about.” To take a 30-hour round trip on a bus was, for them, a no-brainer. This is what the union’s about. For one day, this was just common sense. But in the context of the United States of America in 2021, this was a rare sight to behold.

The crowd at the Brookwood rally was multiracial. Not multiracial like a fashion ad, or a painstakingly assembled corporate board, but a large group of Black and white people united for a common purpose. The UMWA miners who are on strike at Warrior Met now are an integrated group, and so their supporters in the community are integrated as well.

It is possible, down South, to get a racially integrated crowd where everyone agrees politically, but to get thousands of Black and white people whose politics range from strongly pro-Trump to strongly pro-Black Lives Matter together in a single place, in total unity of purpose, with virtually no conflict, and without being the explicit result of trying to assemble such a crowd to satisfy some sort of demographic diversity goals — well, that just doesn’t happen that much, ever.

This is the promise of unions. Not just better wages, or better working conditions, but a better society. Unions offer a frame for human interaction that does not otherwise exist. Our everyday experience in a society that is racially segregated, unequal, and politically polarized tells us that getting young and old and Black and white and left and right all together for something should be extraordinary or impossible; but at a union rally, where everyone’s common interest is plain to see, it becomes natural.

Little mainstream news has covered the strike, although ABC News had favorable report.

The UMWA declared:

The people who manage the Wall Street hedge funds that own Warrior Met don’t know us, they don’t know our families, they don’t know our communities. And they don’t care. All they care about is sucking as much money as they can, every day that they can, from central Alabama.

You may donate to support the strikers electronically or send a check to UMWA 2021 Strike Fund, P.O. Box 513, Dumfries, VA 22026. Messages of support can also be sent ten.htuosllebnull@02tcirtsidawmu.

Webinar co-sponsors: Alliance for Global Justice, Chicago ALBA Solidarity, Black Alliance for Peace, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, Black Workers for Justice.  Contact:  Stan Smith, moc.liamgnull@001htimsdleifsnats, 773-322-3168.

The post Alabama Coal Miners’ ongoing Six Month Strike against BlackRock’s Warrior Met first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Failure of Trump’s “Coup”: A Victory for the US Empire

The Democrats’ second trial of Trump ends like the first: the outcome known in advance, the entire process designed to sell to the anti-Trump masses that the Democrats were leading some progressive counter-attack. Both impeachments enabled these politicians to present a national diversion to avoid addressing real issues the US people suffer from: the pandemic, lack of vaccines, no national health care program, increasing homelessness, closed schools.

The Democrats’ first impeachment over Trump’s phone call to Ukraine aimed to sully his name for the benefit of the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.  They purposely did not address Trump’s actual crimes: his cruelty to Latino immigrants on the border, his indifference to  police abuse of Blacks and Latinos, his racist attacks on non-white US citizens and residents, his neglect of the threat of global warming, funding the genocidal war against Yemen, bombing other countries, such as Syria, illegal and cruel sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela.

The second impeachment, for the vague charge of “incitement of insurrection” sought to permanently ban Trump from “holding any office,” removing him as an election opponent in 2024. The Democrats reduced themselves to presenting as “evidence” of inciting insurrection Trump’s statement “’if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” However, this insubstantial statement could easily be used to indict any progressive social change movement, much as the Smith Act of 1940 had been used against leftists. The Democrats conveniently avoided mention that Trump in his January 6 speech explicitly told protesters to “peacefully march to the Capitol.”

The second impeachment also charged Trump with refusing to accept the November 2020 election results. However, the Constitution states Congress must officially certify the Electoral College votes and the presidential victor, giving Trump the constitutional right to challenge these votes in Congress. The articles of impeachment concluded “Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution”. Whatever our opinion of the man, this only continues the Democratic Party-national security state McCarthyite campaign against Trump begun in earnest in 2016. Trump’s second acquittal marked a setback for this McCarthyism the Democrats have been pushing.

Trump’s “coup” and the Democrats’ “coup”

Trump’s attempt on January 6 pales in comparison to the Democrats’ well-orchestrated lawfare coup operation set in motion in 2016. As Consortium News, The Grayzone, Stephen Cohen, Glenn Greenwald have documented,  by late 2015 the Democrats were working with national security state officials to paint Trump as beholden to Putin – including stories of Putin’s alleged ownership of “pee tapes” of Trump with prostitutes in Moscow hotels. The Democrats funded the Steele Dossier fabrication, beginning a years-long fact-free story of Trump collusion with Russia to steal the election.

While Democrats charge Trump with propagating his Stop the Steal story, they have not renounced their own fake Trump-Putin collusion story. In fact, it set the stage for their first impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even tweeted – after Congress certified the 2016 Electoral College vote “Our election was hijacked. There is no question. Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy & #FollowTheFacts.”

The continuous Democratic Party double standard and hypocrisy in relation to Trump explains a great deal of his supporters’ anger. As Scott Ritter noted, “For the supporters of Donald Trump, the events of Jan. 6 did not occur in a vacuum but were rather the culmination of what they believed to be a four-year campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the president they voted for and, by doing so, disenfranchising not only their vote, but by extension their role as citizens.”

The second impeachment show intended to divert the 81 million Biden voters from their expectations and demands for progressive change, given the Democrats have won the presidency and both houses of Congress. It stifled any budding movement demanding the Democrats take action for a national health care program, a bailout for the people, a jobs program, a Green New Deal, etc. Their impeachment spectacle sought to vilify Trump and his supporters, as well as solidify what Glenn Greenwald describes as the new alliance of the national security state, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Bush era neo-cons, and mainstream corporate media with the neoliberal Democratic Party.

Who were the Trump voters

Central to the Democratic Party – and even leftist – spin is that Trump supporters are racist, sexist white men, the “deplorables.” This prejudiced stereotype hardly explains why 9 million Obama voters switched to Trump in 2016. Nor explain why, after four years of hostile mainstream media coverage, he won 10.5 million more votes in 2020.  A look at the 2020 election voter breakdown contradicts their condescending stereotype.

In 2016, Trump won the white women vote by a margin of 9%, even though his opponent would have been the first woman president. In 2020 this vote margin increased to an 11% margin. In 2016, Trump won 28% of the Latina vote; in 2020, 31%. In 2016, Trump won 5% of the Black women vote; in 2020, 9%, despite Kamala Harris being on the Democratic ticket.  In 2016, he won 13% of the Black male vote; in 2020 it rose to 19%. Overall, comparing 2016 and 2020, Trump’s vote share rose 4% with Blacks, 3% with Latinos, and 5% with Asian Americans. Of the LGBT community, Trump was said to have won 28% of the vote, double his 2016 percent. In sum, people of color, LGBTs  the very ones said to be central to the Democratic coalition, shifted toward Trump.

The group where Trump lost vote share involved white men, even though he won 35% more of the white working class vote than Biden. In 2016, Trump won 65% of the white men vote; in 2020 it fell to 61%. This hardly squares with liberal and pro-Democrat mythology that a Trump supporter is a racist white man.

The US leftist movement co-opted by the Democratic Party

Despite the November election choice coming down to two corporate neoliberals disliked by the great majority of the US population, more than 159.6 million Americans turned out to vote. The corporate rulers’ effort to neutralize popular opposition to their two parties and lure in social movements was so successful that the election turnout marked the highest percent of  voter population in 120 years, 66.7%. Even leftist groups capitulated, dressing this up as “fighting fascism” as they climbed aboard the two corporate party bandwagon.

Typically, every four years the liberal-left, in order to justify a vote for the corporate Democrat presidential candidate, tries to paint the Republican candidate as a herald of fascism. In Fascism? First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump, I wrote:

Leftists recognize corporate America owns the two parties, yet many still vote Democrat. Every four years, we must first defeat the fascist, then build our movement. So is the story we are told. This has been an effective strategy to trap us in the Democratic Party. It has worked for generations. Not only does it reinforce our domination by corporate America, but it seriously miseducates people about fascism.

Needless to say, so long as corporate America has the liberal-left tied to their two party system, they have no need for fascism. They need fascism only when their customary method of rule breaks down and they face a very direct threat of losing control to revolutionary forces. The historic function of fascism is to smash the radicalized working class and its allies, destroy their organizations, and shut down political liberties when the corporate rulers find themselves unable to govern through their charade of democracy.  No such problem here.

This capitulation to the corporate Democrats, including by self-described leftist groups, was hard to imagine just earlier in 2020, with the massive Black Lives Matter protests and the anti-neoliberal Bernie Sanders movement.

While the vast majority of voters for both parties voted for their version of the “lesser evil,” the record election turnout for this charade was a great victory for corporate America irrespective of who won.

A successful Trump coup would be a worse outcome for the corporate rulers

The Democratic Party, liberals and leftists claimed Trump was planning a coup, a fascist coup even, on January 6. We are supposed to be grateful this alleged fascist insurrection was put down. But to play along with this coup story, if it were successful, the result would ignite massive nationwide protests by anti-Trump voters. After Trump’s election in November 2016, there were large “Not My President” protests in over 20 cities and many universities around the country. In 2020 between 15-26 million are said to have mobilized in Black Lives Matter rallies. Between 3-5 million participated in the anti-Trump Women’s Marches in 2017. Trump and his supporters have also shown they can turn out their base not only in large rallies but in armed protests.

Murders by individuals in both camps have already occurred in Charlottesville, Portland and Kenosha. Both anti-Trump and pro-Trump protesters firmly believe they are the ones defending US democracy and freedom against their opponents, that their own candidate legitimately won the presidential election. Right wing Trumpers fear socialists will take over the US, while the anti-Trump left fear fascists will.

Nationwide confrontations and mobilizations by these opposing forces following a successful Trump coup could seriously damage the overall political stability of the US system for some time. This would weaken the US empire’s ability to sell its “freedom and democracy” image and political leadership role abroad. It would undermine US capacity to assert its military and world cop ideological power around the world.

Consequently, the best result for the US empire would be for Trump to lose the election, his “coup” to fail, and he be banned from running for political office. The US rulers achieved almost all that agenda. US leftists, declared opponents of the empire, must ask themselves why this very agenda was also their own agenda.

The post The Failure of Trump’s “Coup”: A Victory for the US Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What the US Constitution Specifies about Choosing the New President

Regardless of the traditional bluster about the Founding Fathers and the world historic nature of the US Constitution, the electoral system it set up to choose a new president is far from democratic. We now find Trump attempting to use the Constitution as written to be “re-elected.” Those who laud “our great democracy,” claiming Trump is maneuvering in an illegal manner to stay in office, even alleging a “fascist coup,” base their assertions to no small extent on illusions about the US electoral system.

The first illusion we must discard is that the people’s vote determines the winner of the US presidential election. That is not true, as many were unpleasantly reminded in 2016 when, for the second time this century, a loser of the popular vote was declared president.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states the winner of the Electoral College vote determines who will become the new president. Each state and the District of Columbia choose several Electors based on their population. According to the Constitution, these Electors gather at the Electoral College after the election to choose the new president.

The second illusion is that the winner of the popular vote in each state wins the state’s Electors for the Electoral College. In fact, the Constitution states that Electors are under no obligation to honor the majority vote of the people of their state. Our vote for president is no more than a recommendation.

The Constitution Grants Full Authority to the Electoral College; Our Vote is a Suggestion

The state legislatures are given the entire right in the Constitution, under the 12th Amendment, to choose the Electors themselves. They heed the popular vote out of choice, not because it is mandated or even suggested in the Constitution. Neither does the Constitution specify that Electors must pledge their vote to any candidate. Nothing in the Constitution or federal law binds an Elector’s vote to anyone. Therefore, the people’s vote for president is not binding on the Electors, it is a suggestion.

All laws pledging Electors to vote for their party’s chosen presidential candidate originate at the state level, not the national level. The Supreme Court upheld the legality of these state laws in its 1952 ruling Ray v. Blair.

Just this year the Supreme Court ruled in Chiafalo v. Washington that states may choose to enforce state laws that bind Electors to voting for the winner of the state’s popular vote. The Supreme Court recognized that “such promises of candidates for the Electoral College are legally unenforceable because violative of an assumed constitutional freedom of the Elector under the Constitution, Art. II, section 1, to vote as he may choose in the Electoral College,” but added “it would not follow that the requirement of a pledge is unconstitutional.”

Electors not Voting as Pledged

As of 2020, only 33 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring Electors to vote for the candidate they pledged to vote for. However, in half of these jurisdictions no legal mechanism enforces this. Only 14 of the 50 states have voided votes contrary to the pledge their Electors and replaced the respective Electors. In two of these states they may also be fined. Three other states impose a penalty on “faithless” Electors but still count their votes as cast.

In US history, through 2016, there have been a total of 165 instances of “faithless” Electors. Most, 63, occurred in 1872 when the presidential candidate died after the election but before the Electoral College convened. However, “faithless” Electors are not rare: between 1948 and 2016, Electors did not vote as pledged in ten presidential elections.

In the 2016 presidential election, some Electors in six states (Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii, Texas, Maine, and Washington) did not vote according to their pledge. Only Colorado, Maine, and Minnesota invalidated those votes. Washington became the first state to ever fine faithless Electors (a mere $1000 each) for their vote.

The most disputed presidential election occurred in 1876 in which rightwing forces engineered the end of Black Reconstruction, laying the basis for Jim Crow. Samuel Tilden outpolled Rutherford B. Hayes in the popular vote by a margin of 3%. He won 184 electoral votes to Hayes’ 165, with 20 electoral votes in dispute. Each party in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina reported its candidate had won the state amid various allegations of electoral fraud and intimidation of voters. Congress then stepped in and selected the president by handing 20 electoral votes to Hayes, giving him the victory with 185 electoral votes to 184.

The most recent and scandalous denial of the popular vote occurred in 2000, when the mostly Republican appointed US Supreme Court intervened in the decisive Florida vote. In a 5-4 decision, they upheld the Republican dominated Florida state legislature’s right to stop the vote recount, where “hanging chads” had arisen as a major issue. This left 178,000 votes in mostly Democratic areas yet to be counted, allowing Republican candidate George W. Bush’s 537 vote lead to stand and be selected as president.

Methods Available to States for Disregarding the Popular Vote for President

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution establishes the state legislature, not the popular vote count, as the vehicle to choose the Electors and thus the president. While state legislatures are constitutionally entitled to disregard the state popular vote, it would be politically prudent to provide a reason. A state legislature could claim that confusion over the validity of some election day votes or mail-in ballots causes it to question the validity of state popular vote, and it – in practice, the dominant party in the legislature – then directly selects the Electors.

As CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria recounted before the 2020 election, “Taking account of the confusion” over the vote, whether real, alleged, or fabricated, or claimed mobs and violence at voting stations, “legislatures decide to choose the Electors themselves.”

It was not only Trump Republicans who have tried to throw out reported state vote totals. In 2016, the CIA, FBI, and NSA concocted stories of Russian interference to favor Trump. Democrats claimed Russia had hacked into voting systems and altered votes. They worked to alter the Electoral College vote just as Trump is now doing. The Atlantic ran an article after election day 2016 and before the Electoral College met, entitled The Electoral College Was Meant to Stop Men Like Trump From Being President. It argued that it was the duty of members of the Electoral College to defy voters and elect Hillary Clinton on national security grounds because of alleged Russian interference. As Greg Palast says, both Democrats and Republicans use “fear of vote fraud to commit fraud.”

Zakaria continued that in 2020 eight out of nine key swing states have Republican legislatures. “If one or more decide that balloting is chaotic and marked by irregularities, the [state legislature] could send [to the Electoral College] what they regard as the legitimate slate of Electors, which would be Republican.” That would give Trump ample Electoral votes to be declared the new president.

Or, the leadership of the majority party in a state legislature could question the outcome of the state’s popular vote and claim this forces them to choose their own Electors for the Electoral College. The state minority party could counter and say they respect the validity of the popular vote and send the Electors as decided by popular vote.

If who are the valid Electors in a state is disputed, when the US Congress validates the Electors on January 6, it could exclude all the Electors from a disputed state. For instance, if in 2020, both Florida and Wisconsin submitted two separate slates of Electors, Congress could invalidate both slates and the remaining Electors from 48 states would choose the president. If this happened, neither Biden nor Trump would gain the required 270 Electors.

In that situation, the Constitution, Article II, Section 1, explicitly directs the House of Representatives to vote to determine the new president, but it does so with each state casting a single ballot. If this were to happen Donald Trump would be “re-elected” in a constitutional manner, because most state legislatures have Republican majorities.

What Does This Mean for Our Future?

This reveals that the “democratic” nature of the US election system is wishful thinking, based on – possibly deliberate – misunderstanding. Nowhere does the original Constitution nor any later amendment specify a citizen’s right to vote for president. Yet, the Constitution does provide many avenues through which to nullify a presidential vote if the winner represented a force outside of the traditional oligarchy. That helps explain why, given the every four-year much heralded “great exercise in democracy” no actual representative of the US people, nor progressive has ever been elected president, no matter how much people try.

Regardless of the popular vote for president, the two corporate parties have many constitutional maneuvers at their disposal to block a possible future working people’s party candidate who wins the national election from taking office. Given that the two parties, in their struggles even among themselves, have sought to use the Constitution to invalidate unfavorable popular vote counts – in 2000, 2004, 2016, 2020 – it can be expected they will use every means available to block any successful working people’s party.

This shows that the struggle to build a mass working people’s party would encounter barriers the Founding Fathers rigged in the Constitution to ensure ruling elite control. Unfortunately, the US people are still at the level where most desiring fundamental change think it can come from within the system, within the two corporate parties, within the restrictive constraints of the US Constitution.

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