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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

blues for nicaragua

A fascinating and very informative article by Richard Wall today on LRC, which covers the history of U.S. intervention in Nicaragua in light of the recent election of Sandinista Daniel Ortega to the office of President.

I remember when the Contras were in their heyday, and I was a big supporter. Foolish me! It was shortly afterwards, around 1987 or so, when I found out the truth about foreign intervention (after endless discussions with a good friend of mine who was a libertarian and a fellow lab-mate in graduate school) and all its ugly ramifications, and I've been a non-interventionist, nay, let's say it, an isolationist (I wear the term proudly) ever since.

From the article:
The problem, as always, is that revenues from agricultural exports and other projects will be allocated in the first instance to payments of interest on international indebtedness. Nicaragua, like so many poor nations, is locked into the cycle of debt repayment to the international banks. One of the primary roles of US diplomatic representatives in this context becomes that of monitoring the political and economic climate, looking out for and possibly "neutralizing" any looming threats to "stability" – the stability of Wall Street and London banking profits in particular.

In plain language this means, as it has always meant, that they must ensure countries like Nicaragua do not fall behind with their debt payments, and in this role they are merely the blander and more acceptable civilian successors of the former military presence. In Nicaragua, that role would be eminently consistent with the long history of US oversight and intervention in favor of Wall Street. In 1935, at the age of 54 and after he had retired from the US military, Major-General Smedley Butler described his period of service thus:

"I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service in the country's most agile military force, the Marines. I served in all ranks from second Lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers….I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers and Co. in 1909–1912."

And so it goes. Even Ortega, according to an Associated Press report a shadow of his former revolutionary self, seems to be bending over backwards to provide reassurance: "His speeches have focused on reassuring skeptics that he plans no radical changes and will embrace free trade, job creation and close US ties."

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