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The 2016 Presidential Elections: a Report From Nicaragua

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On November 6, Nicaragua held its national elections, two days before the US electoral theater of the absurd. I was asked to be an official election observer for the Nicaragua elections, one of 63 total from 44 countries. My first exposure to Nicaragua occurred in early 1986, thirty years ago, during the Reagan Contra terrorist war (1981-1990) ravaging the entire society with murders, rapes, arsons, and assassinations, attempting to overthrow the Sandinista (FSLN) -led revolution.

It was a welcome relief to be outside the US during our elections. Despite a constant barrage from the US State Dept of the corruption in Nicaragua (pot calling the kettle black), the unsafe conditions in and danger to tourists (more hypocritical rhetoric, since Nicaragua is far safer than all the other countries in Central America, and safer than the US), and more than a million dollars of funding from the US’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to fund dissent against the Nicaraguan government (more imperial meddling), the FSLN (Sandinista Liberation Front Party) won 70 of the 92 seats (76%) in the National Assembly, and its Presidential candidate, the much maligned revolutionary fighter Daniel Ortega, won with 72.5% of the vote of 3.8 million registered Nicaraguans.

The polling stations were generally located in schools or community centers, were well organized with trained volunteer staff, extremely safe and nonviolent, and voting was by very colorful/pictorial paper ballots. There was no intimidation, and it was very orderly. As observers, we could watch wherever we wanted to, inside and outside the polling stations.

The Ortega-Murillo government has been systematically demonized by the US for years. Though there are genuine issues relating to political policies and personal behavior of some members of the Nicaraguan government, they pale in comparison to the grotesque behavior of US politicians, and the country is not bombing, intervening, or torturing people around the world. Its programs elevating the status of the poor, expanding land reform, improving education and health care for more people, building transportation and communication infrastructure, and committing itself to assuring a high percentage of the nation’s energy from renewables (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal), and its control of drug trafficking while experiencing relatively low crime levels, makes it a nation that is exemplary compared to most others.

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S. Brian Willson, as a 1st lieutenant, served as commander of a US Air Force combat security police unit in Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta in 1969. He is a trained lawyer who has been an anti-war, peace and justice activist for more than forty years. His psychohistorical memoir, “Blood On The Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson” was published in 2011 by PM Press. A long time member of Veterans For Peace, he currently resides in Portland, Oregon

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