Donald Rumsfeld visited Nicaragua last week. The apparent reason why seemed to be to offer moral support to President Enrique Bolaños after his disastrous showing in Nicaragua’s recent municipal elections. Like US catspaws President Gutierrez of Ecuador and President Toledo of Peru, Bolaños, with less than 10% of last week’s vote, is clearly rejected by more than 90% of his people.
It is important to note that the Sandinista party led by Daniel Ortega, the FSLN, won around 45% of the vote on a turnout very similar to that of the US elections in 2000. That’s pretty much the same turnout that saw supporters of President Chavez of Venezuela returned overwhelmingly to power in Venezuela’s local elections at the end of October. The Sandinistas now administer over 80 municipalities in Nicaragua including almost all the main cities. The Liberal Party controls around 55 municipalities.
The party supporting Bolaños, APRE, won just 10 municipalities, with one major city, traditionally Conservative Granada, in dispute. So Nicaragua has delivered another blow to United States’ attempts to railroad Latin Americans into an ever tighter neo-liberal “free trade” straitjacket, with ever greater inequality in the distribution of their countries’ wealth. But encouragement for Enrique Bolaños was not the main purpose of Rumsfeld’s visit.
Control of Latin American resources is vital for the economies of North America, Europe and Australia. That is why Paul Martin of Canada and President Chirac of France supported the US coup in Haiti. That is why Britain and Australia are the main supporters of the US occupation of Iraq.
That is why energy giants like Spain’s Repsol (dominated by US shareholders), France’s Total, Britain’s BP and British Gas are working together with the IMF, the World Bank and the US government to strong-arm Bolivia’s President Mesa into resisting overwhelming popular demand in Bolivia for greater State control of the country’s gas resources. Right now, Russia, China and other Asian countries are negotiating energy deals with countries like Brazil and Venezuela. That is the main reason for Donald Rumsfeld’s visit to Nicaragua.
The United States is the only country with the military might to defend European, Canadian and Australian needs for energy resources. There are three keys for the foreseeable future to keep open ready access to cheap energy for those countries. One is the key that opens up energy reserves in Central and South West Asia. Another is the key that opens up West Africa, hence France’s recent intervention in the Ivory Coast. The third key is the one that opens up Latin America.
To sustain its current shaky global control, the United States has to dominate Latin America and its energy resources. No one will invest money in a United States that cannot control its own backyard. Likewise, investor perception that the United States is unable to guarantee its energy needs would provoke a rapid, catastrophic collapse of the dollar. That is why the United States government has such a huge budget for military spending. It has to be able to terrorize energy rich countries into bowing to its demands.
If the peoples of small countries like Nicaragua fail to submit to US rule, international investors will quickly begin to ask what that fact implies for confidence in the dollar, already weak, as a strategic reserve currency. Having won the municipal elections so emphatically and having demonstrated the capacity of their followers to deliver on promises locally, the FSLN is very likely to win the presidential elections in 2006. If the FSLN wins those presidential elections the US will be faced with another country alongside Venezuela and Cuba governed by people with the determination, resourcefulness and talent to defend the interests of their people.
Last month, the United States people elected a government that will not permit such sovereign autonomy of other nations in opposition to the needs of the United States empire. So when Donald Rumsfeld came to Nicaragua he could not have cared less about the de facto illegitimacy of the government of Enrique Bolaños. What Donald Rumsfeld had on his mind when he came to Nicaragua was the heroic Iraqui resistance in Fallujah.
The reason Donald Rumsfeld came to Nicaragua was to press for the destruction of the main anti-aircraft defences of the Nicaraguan armed forces, namely 1,367 SAM-7 ground-to-air missiles. One of the agreements Bolaños reached with Rumsfeld on his visit to Managua was the destruction of those missiles. Rumsfeld is preparing the terrain for a trouble-free military intervention in Nicaragua should the FSLN win the Presidential election in 2006.
From the point of view of the Pentagon 1,367 SAM-7s represent what? At 50% effectiveness that’s over 500 airplanes down. At 30% effectiveness that’s over 300 airplanes down. Could a US intervention in Nicaragua with support from the armed forces of El Salvador and Honduras succeed readily without total air dominance? No. Could 30% effectiveness of 1,367 ground-to-air missiles deny total air domination? Yes. So the SAM-7s have to be destroyed prior to any US armed assault against Nicaragua, hence Donald Rumsfeld’s visit to the politically enfeebled Bolaños.
Fallujah has proved an old truth : only peoples in arms can defend their basic rights against the aggression of colonial predators like the United States. No one should have any doubt at all that US government plans for Latin America or any other part of the Americas, including the United States itself, have absolutely nothing to do with democracy. The Bush regime and its foreign accomplices are doing everything in their power to bully and bribe politicians throughout Latin America into continued subservience to US, European, Canadian and Australian corporate interests.
Since they are no good at diplomacy, the war-criminals in the White House are clearly making arrangments for massive armed intervention so as to cow whole populations into voting against their best interests out of sheer terror. In doing so the US is merely confirming its long-standing total break (since at least the 1986 World Court judgement condemning the US for terrorism against Nicaragua) with the international humanitarian and human rights consnsus since the Nuremberg trials of 1945. For the moment, perhaps until the United States finally slumps into definitive decline, the Geneva Conventions and the other international human rights and humanitarian conventions have become irrelevant bits of paper.
The United Nations has become just another arena for the deployment of bribes and other inducements to the betrayal of its objectives and Charter. President da Silva of Brazil has sent troops to Haiti to consolidate the United States instigated coup. Why? Most likely so as to demonstrate that Brazil too can be a willing accomplice of the delinquent US empire, doing its dirty work whenever the current emperor whistles and always with one ear pricked alert to the wishes of the IMF and international investors.
Brazil may well be rewarded with a place on the UN Security Council – that most sophisticated of protection rackets. This reality also explains why Brazil is treading so carefully in defending its State oil company’s interests in Bolivia. Da Silva needs to sustain his bogus popular credentials without frightening off foreign investors and big business.
It is unlikely that the peoples of Latin America are so foolish as to fail to realise all this. Nor are they likely to ignore the experience of Iraq, of Fallujah. They may well consider it simple prudence to prepare adequately for armed resistance to the coming aggressions being planned against them by the government of the United States and its local allies in the region.
Before he moved on recently to other duties, General James Hill of the US Southern Command had made over a dozen visits to Ecuador in the last year of his assignment. His purpose was to press the US servant there, President Gutierrez, to step up military pressure along Ecuador’s frontier with Colombia on the Colombian FARC armed resistance. Rumsfeld’s visit to Nicaragua ups the ante in Central America and the Andes, confirming that the United States has well-advanced contingency plans for yet more aggressive military interventions in Latin America.
TONI SOLO is an activist based in Central America. Contact via www.tonisolo.net