Nicaragua eight years on - Revolution and the Right to Development
Tortilla con Sal
Enviado por tortilla en Sáb, 10/01/2015 - 21:40
Tortilla con Sal, January 10th 2015
The UN Declaration on the Right to Development was approved by 146 votes in 1986 with only the United States voting against. That same year, the International Court of Justice condemned the US government for its terrorist aggression against Nicaragua. Although, now, the hope that international law and its institutions might be a force for progress looks ridiculously forlorn, back then it still seemed a reasonable prospect. But, since 1986, Western governments have acted deliberately to manipulate and undermine international law and institutions so as to defend their steadily declining global power and privilege.
The Right to Development and the West
Reading the Right to Development Declaration now, the contrast with what has happened over the last twenty five years is sharp and sobering. The Declaration reaffirms the right of peoples to self-determination and full sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources. It posits the right and duty of States to formulate development policies aimed at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population based on their active, free and meaningful participation and on an equitable and fair distribution of resources.
The Declaration requires countries to provide effective international co-operation helping developing countries to foster their comprehensive development while also insisting that all States protect their peoples against illegitimate foreign interference and threats of war. The Declaration affirms that civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are indivisible and interdependent and recommends popular participation in all spheres as important both for economic and social development and for the full realization of human rights. It also urges all States to promote international peace and security.
For people in most of North America and Europe, the Right to Development is litle more than a vain and fast-receding mirage. In their own countries, they suffer sharpening deprivation of social and economic rights resulting from economic policies deliberately designed to promote inequality. Overseas, their governments base foreign policy on crude intervention in other countries' internal affairs and vicious militarist aggression.
Western societies are marked by increasing racism and the manipulation of fears over terrorism to justify repressive restrictions of civil and political rights. That terrorism has been and continues to be promoted and supported by the same Western governments who claim to be fighting it. Western governments, dominated by corporate elites, can legitimately be accused of deliberately fomenting global instability and domestic inequality against the best interests of their own peoples
Nicaragua and its Sandinista government
On January 10th 2007, the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional entered government in Nicaragua for the first time since losing the elections of 1990. The peaceful transfer of power to a right wing government in 1990 was made possible by the commitment of then outgoing President Daniel Ortega to democratic legitimacy. Now, in 2014, the combined opposition forces of the main right-wing political parties and their completely marginalized phoney Left allies, who won the 1990 elections backed by the US government's terrorist menace of unending military aggression, can barely even muster 10% electoral support nationally. The Frente Sandinista has a large majority in the National Assembly, while President Ortega and Rosario Murillo, effectively his Prime Minister, enjoy unprecedented popularity.
It is easy to list the social and economic achievements of President Ortega's governments since 2007. Persistently above average economic growth in an overwhelmingly adverse regional and international context has increased Nicaragua's gross domestic product at annual rates well above those of its neighbours. But it is the categorical emphasis in the redistribution of that wealth that sets Nicaragua apart and explains the prolific and very public declarations of support from multilateral organizations like UNESCO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Panamerican Health Organization, among many, many others.
In fundamental material terms, since January 2007, Nicaragua has made dramatic progress in terms of road, port and airport infrastructure. It has completely reversed previous failed neoliberal energy policies in favour of energy generated from renewable resources. Health and education services, previously undergoing creeping privatization have been reversed in favour of guaranteeing universal free access. The government's focus has consistently been on poverty reduction and empowerment of previously marginalized families and people.
Impoverished families have benefited hugely from government programmes improving housing and community infrastructure, providing microcredit to urban women-led micro-businesses, devoting productive resources to rural families or guaranteeing affordable public transport and electricity. Above all the main beneficiaries have been women in Nicaragua who have been empowered and affirmed at every level. Nicaragua is realizing the Frente Sandinista's historic revolutionary programme thanks to President Ortega's deep, acute strategic vision, to the practical example and drive of Rosario Murillo and to the moral commitment of innumerable colleagues at every level of national and local government.
These and many other achievements are all worth noting in detail. But the most striking thing about the achievements of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua is their revolutionary significance in an international context marked by virulent reactionary policies in the United States and Europe. Nicaragua and its fellow member countries of the ALBA Bolivarian Alliance (Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela and a growing number of small Caribbean island nations) have effectively reaffirmed the Right to Development and put into practice all its principles and provisions. In particular, Nicaragua's record in relation to the Right to Development has been exemplary.
Given the depressed international economic context since 2007 and given Nicaragua's deepening impoverishment up until then, the turnaround effected by President Ortega and his colleagues in just eight years in domestic terms has been truly revolutionary. The Sandinista government has astutely combined traditional trade and development relationships with a commitment to developing new trade, investment and cooperation ties with a broad range of other countries around the world. The Interoceanic Canal is the most vivid example of that commitment.
In its foreign policy, Nicaragua's Sandinista government has given a consistently strong moral example via its persistent efforts, for example, to negotiate its differences with Costa Rica and Colombia. When those efforts have failed, Nicaragua has consistently and openly insisted on the peaceful resolution of differences through the mechanisms of international law. Despite being a small country, the moral force of Nicaragua's example in terms of international relations is extremely strong and explains why world leaders like Vladmir Putin and Dilma Rousseff, among many others, regard President Daniel Ortega so highly.
Nicaragua's next Presidential election will be in November 2016. In all likelihood the Frente Sandinista will win by a huge margin just as it did in 2011, when Daniel Ortega won the Presidency with well over 60% of the vote. By 2020, Nicaragua will be transformed by major infrastructure projects enabling the country to eliminate extreme poverty in the short term. These projects include not only the Interoceanic Canal and its auxiliary projects, but also a regional oil refinery on the Pacific Coast and the major hydroelectric Tumarin project on the Caribbean Coast.
In the medium and long term, Nicaragua's revolutionary implementation of the principles and provisions of the 1986 Declaration of the Right to Development is a powerful force for regional stability in Central America. As a result of the Sandinista government's policies since January 2007, Nicaragua is internationally regarded as a bulwark against the insidious corruption and terrifying violence promoted by regional organized crime and drugs trafficking. The achievements of President Ortega and his colleagues since January 2007 are self-evidently cause for optimism among the people of Nicaragua.
They are also a clear example to countries of Central America and the Caribbean of what a small, historically impoverished and exploited country can do under a government driven by a true revolutionary commitment to improve the lives of its people. Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo and their colleagues have put into practice the revolutionary vision and example of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. They have also demonstrated how that socialist vision and example vindicate the 1986 UN Declaration of the Right to Development.