The following speech was given by Ambassador Guisell Morales of Nicaragua to a public meeting on the topic of ‘Covid and Internationalism’ as part of our party’s ninth congress celebrations.
From Sandinista, socialist, solidarity, anti-imperialist Nicaragua I bring the greetings of Sandino’s children, from the Sandinista National Liberation Front. Thank you for inviting me to share with you this annual anti-imperialist celebration, as part of the ninth congress of the CPGB-ML, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
On this day of Red October, we offer a red salute to the communist comrades. The Red October that has been the inspiration of our battles against imperialism, of the victories of the Sandinista Revolution, the Cuban and the Bolivarian revolutions, which are a continuation and synthesis of over 500 years of struggle against colonialism, against neocolonialism, against imperialism, and against the bourgeoisie and the oligarchy’s domination, building towards a future of a humanity with socialism.
Particularly in these difficult times for humanity, Red October has a great ideological relevance for a better and more humane society, where the working class prevails in unity, bringing together all the progressive revolutionary forces that fight for socialism and humanity.
The pandemic and internationalism is the central topic of today.
The crisis created by the spread of SARS-CoV-2, which is obviously international, has exposed the injustices of the global economic order and failures of the capitalist system. It’s having a disproportionate impact on the working class, on the most vulnerable in our societies, and particularly in the developing countries.
It is a wake-up call that the current capitalist economic system is not fit to protect the health of individuals and societies, but it should be also a turning point towards creating the systems, structures and policies that can always protect those who are marginalised and allow everyone to live with dignity.
Capitalism, imperialism, competition, chauvinism and sanctions kill, and it is our duty as revolutionaries to mobilise with international action and solidarity, to address not just the crisis of Covid-19, but the multiple crises we face.
Covid-19 has exposed a dangerously unequal world, where millions are made particularly vulnerable based on their class, race or gender and an unjust global economic order; a very weak and shredded social safety net; a crisis of precarity as billions without decent or formal work, for example in the so-called ‘gig economy’ in the north and ‘informal economy’ in the south; a crisis of homelessness; a health system that has been systematically weakened by austerity and privatisation, where healthcare is not accessible to all; a greedy pharmaceutical industry, driven by profits and not the wellbeing of the people.
That is not the case in Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. We have reacted to the crisis showing that there is a people’s alternative to global injustice, and in spite of the constraints that imperialism and neoliberalism have imposed on our countries, we have managed to maintain public health systems, responding effectively to a crisis such as this, putting people first.
What would an internationalist response look like?
While the imperialists and colonialists monopolise the vaccines against Covid and maintain and increase sanctions and blockades against our peoples, causing hardship and huge limitations, a crime against humanity, Cuba and its revolution are setting the example of internationalism and solidarity, sending doctors to help other countries and developing five vaccines that it is sharing with the world.
Nicaragua and Venezuela are helping Cuba with food and other important goods, to ease the effects of the blockade and this crisis.
Despite decades of neoliberal individualism, peoples’ inherent sense of solidarity and compassion is very much alive, showing that a different world is indeed possible.
That experience of solidarity should be a permanent one – creating the systems, structures and policies that can always protect and allow everyone to live with dignity.
Capitalist globalisation is biologically unsustainable in the absence of a truly international public health infrastructure. All progressive forces should join to demand a complete overhaul of the global health governance system and the end of the illegal system of sanctions, which is a crime against humanity, which blocks medical supplies to Cuba, which aims to push regime change in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
The pandemic coincides with another, even more serious, crisis, directly tied to the global capitalist economy: climate change. Like the pandemic, it is affecting populations around the world in very unequal ways. “The climate and Covid-19 crises are combining and compounding on each other. How they interact is, primarily, a question of whom and what the political system chooses to protect … Our only hope of surviving the wrath of the natural world is wrestling back control of our political one.”
Which is why progressives have to come together to fight not only for the right to life now but also for the civil liberties and social justice of the future.
This is precisely the case in Nicaragua, where a legitimate electoral process is underway in accordance with the institutional rules of the national common good, not akin to the authoritarian imperial or neocolonial conditioning that has sought, throughout history, to undermine the sovereignty and dignity of women, of the development of small independent nations by articulating old and new schemes of destabilisation, interference, threats, subjugation and aggression.
These elections are our people’s instrument for continuing to advance in the consolidation of an authentic political, social, economic and cultural model of solidarity and community, which overcomes the unjust relations of inequality and exclusion, and which allows everyone, in particular the excluded, to access education, healthcare, basic services and a dignified and healthy life, in harmony with nature, within a nation that promotes relations of dialogue, respect and cooperation among all the peoples of the world.
Fear of a good example
To enhance the new model of development, based on socialism and solidarity, forged during the last 14 years by the Sandinista government with workers and workers’ movements, collectives and cooperatives on the front foot, the FLSN government, from 2006 to the present, has transformed Nicaraguan society for the better. This is the main reason why a well-funded and US-orchestrated campaign of permanent aggression and misinformation is seeking to conceal the truth and to overthrow the overwhelming popular will of the Nicaraguan people.
Imperialism and its international and local neocolonial allies, with their campaign of lies, hides the development of our many world-leading social programmes to eliminate poverty and redistribute wealth, our advances in closing the gap between the rich and the impoverished, which in the wider world has widened sharply.
Between 2007 and 2016, poverty in Nicaragua was reduced by half, from 48.3 to 24.9 perent. Extreme poverty fell by more than half, from 17.2 percent in 2007 to 6.9 percent in 2016, thanks mainly to the strong promotion of a popular economy that involves the redistribution and sustainability of resources, and which has made possible further progress in the diversification of economic sectors and the restoration of basic rights and social justice.
During 14 years, Nicaragua had the highest economic growth rates in Latin America, an impressive reduction in poverty and extreme poverty, and an improvement in integral human development that allowed access to healthcare, education, social security, employment and housing for thousands of Nicaraguans, mainly from the traditionally excluded sectors. There was an expansion of the electricity network, of drinking water, of internet and communication routes.
Our country registered the best citizen security in central America and the homicide rate is one of the lowest in Latin America. The encouraging outlook confirmed: healthy national accounts, monetary stability, sufficient international reserves, low inflation, increased public social investment, improvement in social equity and a model that was consolidated with sovereign and unalterable commitment toward the national interest. The robustness of the results is unquestionable.
Allow me to mention just two examples: healthcare and gender equality.
In 14 years, Nicaragua has strengthened healthcare, building 21 new hospitals and remodelling 46 more. It has built or remodelled 1,259 medical posts, 192 health centres and 178 maternity homes.
Additionally, it has equipped 66 mobile clinics, made from converted articulated trucks confiscated in drug busts. In 2020, these mobile clinics provided nearly 1.9 million consultations in a country of just less than 7 million people.
We have doubled the number of doctors and health workers, making it possible to maintain the lowest levels of Covid infections in central America, to keep all health services at normal levels and to advance vaccinations against Covid, thanks to assistance Russia, China and now Cuba.
All this, combined with the school lunch programme, which guarantees a hot meal to 1.2 million primary school children every day, has reduced by 46 percent chronic malnutrition in children under five and by 66 percent chronic malnutrition in children aged six to 12 years old. Infant mortality rates have been lowered by 61 percent and maternal mortality rates by 70 percent.
According to the Global Gender Gap report, in overall gender equality, Nicaragua has gone from 62nd out of 153 countries in 2007 to number five in the world, reducing the gender gap by over 80 percent. Nicaragua is number one in the world in women’s health and survival, women’s educational attainment, and women cabinet ministers, and is number three in terms of the overall political empowerment of women. Because without the full and equal participation of women there is no revolution.
Unsurprisingly, during its years of rebuilding the country, the FSLN has gathered electoral strength: winning the presidency by 38 percent in 2006 and re-elected in 2011 with 63 percent and again with 72 percent in 2016. These progressive years have overturned the damage wrought by the US-backed neoliberal regimes.
But all these advances, from the hegemonic perspective and parameters of the US and its imperial allies, were unacceptable.
It is precisely because of these achievements that the USA has been pursuing regime change in Nicaragua. It funded and instigated a violent right-wing coup in 2018 in which over 200 people were killed. Equally contemptibly, the US then sought to blame the FLSN for the murderous violence of the failed coup, and this utterly baseless falsehood has since been regurgitated verbatim by supposedly progressive, liberal or left-wing sources as well as by the ‘human rights’ industry.
The continued mass popularity of the FLSN government (polling around two-thirds of the popular vote) is evidence of the disconnection between what the Nicaraguan people experience and believe, and the lies being told by others elsewhere in the world. Any person genuinely committed to the truth, and, indeed, to the wellbeing of the people of Nicaragua, should ask themselves why there is such a jarring difference between the views of the vast majority of Nicaraguans and the US version of events being peddled across the world, Britain included.
A good gauge of what would have happened had the 2018 coup attempt been victorious is already provided by the Añez government’s actions in Bolivia, where the US brought fascists to power through a misinformation campaign and the delegitimising of election results in order to overthrow the sovereign will of the Bolivian people and their social progress. Had the coup in Nicaragua succeeded, the structural connection between Nicaragua’s socioeconomic developments and national sovereignty, on which the latter rests, would have been brutally demolished, including the repression and murder of many Sandinistas and social leaders.
The US Congress has passed two bills, the NICA Act and the RENACER Act, the latter of which directly targets over half the population of Nicaragua with economic sanctions (and will indirectly impact the whole population in any case, even in its initial measures) and it explicitly intends to interfere in Nicaragua’s elections, as stated in the bill’s full title: Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform Act of 2021. It threatens that Nicaraguan voters should choose an opposition candidate if they do not want to suffer serious deprivation and harm over the coming years, just as was previously imposed by the US in 1990.
Oppose US domination
It is this kind of imperialist overreach that should be made toxic and should be condemned and opposed in the strongest possible terms by internationalists across the world.
US aggression is the antithesis of democracy; it is coercive and dictatorial imperialism at its worst. Internationalism and progressive forces of the world have a responsibility to stand up for international law and for the right of the Nicaraguan people, and of the Cuban, Venezuelan, Bolivian and Peruvian people to determine their own sovereign future without external and imperialist interference.
To this I must add that these most recent anti-imperialist battles have been won and are being won by electoral means, and that the electoral space, which used to be the private property of the oligarchs, has now been occupied by the continent’s peoples, from the electoral triumph of Hugo Chávez onwards. The latest victory is that of Professor Castillo in Peru.
Only imperialist tyranny will seek to stop us. But, as we did in the past, Nicaragua’s people will not side with tyrants. Sandinistas will take a stand on the side of the people and their freely expressed wishes to continue our vibrant, participative and inclusive society, to continue building a better Nicaragua and a better world.
In Nicaragua, the people will vote and it will be Nicaraguans who will decide their future. Regardless of whether or not it complies with the imperialist and neocolonialist agenda, the Sandinista Revolution will continue to confirm to friends and enemies that in Nicaragua, democracy is in the hands of the people, and no longer in the hands of the elites. And we, as well as the revolutions in Cuba and Venezuela, will continue to be a firm source of hope for socialist, liberation and progressive movements, a voice for the self-determination of the peoples who demand to be protagonists of their own destiny.
In times of health crisis, anyone who is genuinely committed to a better world needs urgently to give their solidarity to Nicaragua, to Venezuela, to Cuba, and to all progressive, socialist and communist countries, and to defend their tremendous achievements, which have massively advanced social justice and inclusion.
From the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, comrades, we are with you in the trench of the battle of ideas; in the struggle for humanity. We stand tall and firm, calling for the union of the workers and comrades of the world, to be international forces of change.
Another world is possible if we are united, fighting together for the victories of the future.
As Che Guevara said: “We will be the nightmare of those who want to steal our dreams.” Let’s stand up together for our dreams, our future; for peace, for people and for the planet.