On October 14th, the Guardian published a fine example of disingenuous slitheriness and downright mendacity with Rory Carroll’s disinformation gem in defence of fellow Guardian writer Gioconda Belli’s dissident Sandinista colleagues in
Bernays helped John Foster Dulles structure the 1954 coup against the reformist government of Jacobo Arbenz in
In response to the government investigation, the small right-wing aligned Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS) party has mobilized international liberal opinion via its influential media buddy-network. Their campaign fits well into the disinformation war waged incessantly by international corporate media to discredit and demonize the ALBA governments of
To do so they have combined into the Bolivarian Alternative for the
The motifs exploited and distorted in these media disinformation bulletins are always the same : human rights and freedom of expression concerns, economic competence and stability, corruption, regional security issues, terror and narcotics. The NGO motif has come to prominence now because the
NGOs in the Nicaraguan economy
The Nicaraguan Central Bank reckons that international NGOs donated around US$267m to
So one can very probably take as a more realistic, but still quite conservative, current figure for the 4,200 non-profit NGOs registered with the government in
Even on conservative estimates taking that US$315m per annum figure for
So of the original US$315m only about US$82m will remain for capital investment, non-productive project work (education, training, health care and social work) and productive projects in agriculture and small and medium sized businesses. Even if half that US$82m was made available for productive activity. It is almost insignificant in terms of overall national economic development. Just one major disaster – Hurricane Mitch in 1998 – cost
The same applies to so much of the over-hyped development cooperation game. International development cooperation to developing countries is a fraction of those countries’ repayments of external debt and other outflows to rich country economies. Development cooperation just about helps them sustain their extremely vulnerable economies, wrecked by decades of unfair terms of trade, structural adjustment and foreign debt. Under the current “free market” system, countries in
That is why ALBA is so important. It changes exponentially the possibilities of economic development for impoverished countries in
NGOs in Nicaraguan politics
But whereas non-profit NGOs contribute little beyond subsistence support to meet peoples’ basic needs, the story is very different from the perspective of a small but well-connected political party like Nicaragua’s MRS. The MRS has a little over 5% electoral support in Nicaragua. It’s popular base is insufficient to help it mobilize effectively. The MRS punches well above its weight in national politics because its leaders include the owners of national media and because the party is supported by local NGOs.
The 4200 non-profit NGOs registered in
That is a significant sum of money for political purposes anywhere in the world. It is a relatively huge sum in an impoverished country like
The Guardian report
That is why the Nicaraguan government is investigating non-profit NGOs. It is also why the Guardian completely excludes such vital context from its spurious coverage of the issue. The Guardian report starts
"Oxfam targeted as
• Sandinista crackdown to ‘clean up’ political funding
• Fears grow for freedom of speech and European aid."
The headline hints at the underlying issue of non-profits getting involved in politics and immediately sends it to oblivion with scare quotes. The headline and its accompanying bullet points touch on the traditional propaganda components. Freedom of expression is there and the economic stability motif is also exploited by suggesting a threat to "aid". Note the emotive use of "targeted" and "crackdown" and more scare quotes around another of the government’s reasons for the investigation.
The first sentence in the body of the article sets the tone with dishonest hyperbolic assertion, "The Sandinista government has launched a sweeping crackdown on non-governmental organizations". A recent review found that 700 of
The "sweeping crackdown" against this tiny number of organizations is supposed to prompt "concerns about freedom of speech and democratic rights". But those concerns spring most obviously from the MRS political party whose base lies precisely in the NGO movement. The NGO sector in
Carroll strikes a note of implied incredulity by saying that this "sweeping crackdown" is on NGOs "including OXFAM". The implied question is "who in their right minds would target dear old harmless granma OXFAM ?" Anyone familiar with the development game as played by the major Western Bloc development NGOs knows very well they all, both at home and abroad, tread a questionable line in their "advocacy" between education and information work and active intervention.
One can very plausibly argue that these wealthy Western Bloc NGOs constitute the soft, extra-mural arm of NATO country foreign policy. The term NGO is in fact largely a misnomer. They receive much, if not most, of their funding either from government development cooperation departments or from the development cooperation budget lines of the European Commission.
The one solid attributable quote from a participant in the Nicaraguan controversy in Carroll’s whole report is from Oxfam’s chief executive. She is reported as saying that OXFAM works in a "transparent, accountable and non-partisan way." Her glib, unconvincing assertion bears little reality to the practice of any of the main Western Bloc NGOs working in
OXFAM is not accountable to people at grass roots in any meaningful way. It is only notionally accountable to its donor base in the
Carroll’s short article is dense with falsehoods, distortion and innuendo. The second sentence runs "Police raided the offices of two pressure groups…" What Carroll does not report is that the police searches, far from being unexpected "raids", were follow up measures resulting from a refusal of the organizations concerned to cooperate with an official investigation.
The investigation resulted from a request by the Ministry of Governance asking the Public Prosecutor’s office to investigate apparent non-compliance by those organizations. Both the organizations concerned, the Centro de Investigaciones para Comunicación (CINCO) and the Movimiento Autonomo de Mujeres (MAM), were twice requested to visit the public prosecutor’s offices to assist the authorities with their enquiries. They refused to do so.
CINCO is a non-profit registered with the Ministry of Governance. It is not supposed to be a political "pressure group". The director of CINCO is the widely respected but controversial journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who is a high profile supporter of the MRS. MAM, part of the opposition MRS political alliance, is a recognized pressure group focusing on women’s rights.
The director of MAM is Sofia Montenegro a pugnacious, uncompromising activist, who is also on the board of CINCO. Most of this essential information is missing from the Guardian report. The MRS opposition alliance is not even mentioned, let alone its connections with MAM and CINCO.
This is the context in which other organizations involved in the investigation, like OXFAM, are being asked to assist the authorities in clarifying whether or not non-profits have been funding the opposition MRS campaign. Part of that campaign involves propaganda suggesting that Daniel Ortega should be assassinated. That propaganda has been condemned by non-partisan solidarity organizations, including the umbrella
The Guardian also reports the extraordinary falsehood that "Several European governments are preparing to axe tens of millions of dollars in aid in protest, a sign of how much international support Ortega has lost since his return to power last year." No foreign government has made any such announcement. Although it is common knowledge that throughout Latin America, European governments are reviewing their aid programmes because their countries’ "aid" lobbies tend to believe their countries’ focus should be in
The only support Carroll offers for his baseless assertion is an anonymous quote from "one diplomat in
Serving MRS electoral propaganda
But Carroll’s report still does not explain that CINCO seems to have received money from foreign donors via OXFAM and other organizations, that it then passed on to MAM, a member of Nicaragua’s political opposition. Carroll falsely misrepresents the official investigation, suggesting that OXFAM had to "pre-empt" a "raid". The normal procedure in such investigations is to request the party concerned to go for an interview to the public investigator’s office, which is what OXFAM did.
Carroll’s report in the Guardian completely misses the fundamental issues involved in the official investigation into non-profit NGOs. He seems not to be aware of or to understand the relevant Nicaraguan legislation or the way NGOs are supposed to manage their accounts or the difference between a non-profit in
Current opinion polls suggest the FSLN government in