[Below is an open letter to 60 Minutes written by Susan Lagos, a Spanish and ESL teacher who has lived in Ciudad Dario, Matagalpa, Nicaragua for 18 years. The letter was originally posted by The Alliance for Global Justice.—Editors]
“A 60 Minutes team [should] actually come to Nicaragua to interview the people that live here whose lives have improved amazingly since 2007 with free universal education and health care.”
Dear 60 Minutes:
I was appalled to see your program on Nicaragua of June 19, 2022.
I have enjoyed many other 60 Minutes programs, but this one was totally one-sided and false. I have lived in Nicaragua since 2004, and traveled here many times in the 1980’s and 1990’s. So I have lived among people with a totally different reality than those you interviewed.
The two women you interviewed are the wives of Juan Sebastián Chamorro and Felix Maradiaga, from among the wealthy, closely connected with the U.S. government, who studied in U.S. universities and who speak English. Berta Valle, wife of Maradiaga, happens to be from the family down the block from me in Ciudad Dario, Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
The Chamorro and Maradiaga non-profits (IEEPP and FUNIDES respectively) were funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), founded to do overtly what the CIA has done covertly and also by other U.S. organizations like the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. foundations, and similar European organizations.
The USAID has given more than half a billion dollars to Nicaraguan nonprofits like these since the Sandinistas regained the presidency in 2007. The USAID also organized and funded a destabilization plan known as RAIN (Responsive Action in Nicaragua) for the pre and post November 2021 election periods which is likely still functioning.
In August 2021 the Public Prosecutor’s office accused Maradiaga and Chamorro of being part of a major group conspiring with the U.S. against Nicaragua continually since 2009 and headed by Manuel Orozco Ramírez. Orozco is an associate of Creative Associates International (CAI), a global agency funded by USAID to “engineer political transitions” with over US$2 billion in U.S. government contracts as reported by Mintpress.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Orozco was in charge of triangulating resources from international organizations to Nicaraguan pro-coup foundations, among them IEEPP, Fundación Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, FUNIDES, CINCO and Movimiento Puente por Nicaragua. In turn, these organizations channeled resources to armed groups, and to gangs of communication assassins (call centers of people paid to spread lies that would favor the destabilization of Nicaragua), coordinated to overthrow the constitutional government of Nicaragua.
Orozco formed a criminal group with the accused José Pallais Arana, Felix Maradiaga Blandón, José Adán Aguerri Chamorro, Juan Sebastián Chamorro García, Arturo Cruz Sequeira, Violeta Granera Padilla, Tamara Dávila Rivas and others under investigation, who received money to manage U.S. aggression against the State of Nicaragua. Likewise, they incited foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs, the destabilization of the country with foreign financing and actions to discredit the legitimately elected Government of Nicaragua.
The nonprofits funded by the U.S. also include pro-U.S. media that the United States not only funds but helped to found; these are used to attempt to destabilize Nicaragua with constant disinformation and lies then picked up by the U.S. corporate media.
Maradiaga and Chamorro’s nonprofits were involved in channeling funds for the 2018 U.S.-directed coup attempt against Nicaragua. This was a very violent three-month long attempt to get the democratically elected Sandinista government out of power—many people were kidnapped, tortured and killed by U.S.-paid thugs, people’s homes and government buildings were burned. People in Nicaragua are still terribly traumatized by the level of violence that took place.
The reason these men were arrested in 2021 is because they committed treason and fraud and laundered money to try to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. That is a crime in any country. It is a lie that they were pre-candidates for the November 2021 election. They represented no party and had no followers or platform, so could not register to run.
No one here would vote for them, because they were part of the attempted coup in April-July 2018, which not only tried to remove President Ortega, but attempted to ruin the economy by setting up road blocks everywhere that prohibited travel to school, work, hospitals, anywhere—to get past, you had to “pay”; Many people were captured, kidnapped, torturing, robbed and killed at these roadblocks. There is a video of Maradiaga with gun-toting thugs at a university in Nicaragua, the Universidad Politécnica (UPOLI), taken over in April 2018 and used as one of the headquarters for those carrying out the coup attempt.
The U.S. government has, since the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, tried to control all of Latin America, but especially Nicaragua: William Walker in the 1850’s, the U.S. Marines who occupied and ran Nicaragua, including most elections between 1909 and 1933, the U.S. backed Somoza dictatorship from 1936-79, the Contra War (Nicaraguans call it Reagan’s war) of the 1980’s, and the neo-liberal governments in favor of the wealthy and U.S. interests from 1990 to 2007.
Then we had the attempted coup, previously planned according to Gene Sharp’s theories and carried out by his disciples, U.S. agents, including Felix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastian Chamorro.
Chamorro, nephew of U.S.-backed president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990 – 1997), was chosen by the U.S. to head the Millennium Challenge Corporation under President Bolaños where he was known for giving contracts to his friends.
The correction of this travesty of reporting from 60 Minutes requires a 60 Minutes team to actually come to Nicaragua to interview the people that live here whose lives have improved amazingly since 2007 with free universal education and health care; 99.2% of homes have electricity; about 90% have running water; the best roads in the region; housing programs; more than half a million people have received a registered title to their land. The primary goal of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity is the elimination of poverty.
Your team needs to see with your own eyes the truth and reality here, that this government of Daniel Ortega was elected by over 75% of voters in a legal election, with six other parties participating and nearly 300,000 people involved in making sure the election was free and fair. Why? Because the population sees that he cares about the future of the country and the well-being of its citizens.
I bet U.S. citizens would prefer a government that uses their taxes for housing, health care and education, instead of starting conflicts all over the globe, spending more than half of the national budget on weapons and war, for the benefit of corporations who make weapons.
Please let me know what you plan to do to rectify your very lopsided and false report on Nicaragua. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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