The spread of Western Democracy - Venezuela is NEXT?

April 10, 2019

Sec. of State Mike Pompeo recently openly admitted that the sanctions are causing pain and suffering and that this would accelerate the process of toppling the Maduro government.

When Chamorro was elected, George H. W. Bush removed the embargo that Ronald Reagan had imposed during Sandinista rule and promised economic aid to the country In addition, the United States paid off the past-due debts of Nicaragua that were owed to private banks, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Some people in Chamorro's campaign team were hoping to get $1 billion in aid from the United States to help rebuild the country after the years of civil war, but the Bush administration instead gave $300 million to the country in the first year of Chamorro's presidency, 1990, and $241 million the year after.

Given the devastation that Nicaragua had faced, this aid was not enough to make any serious improvement and the renegotiated loans created even more debt

Nicaragua, Victory U.S. Fair Play

The Nicaraguan election has proved that open, honorable support for a democratic process is one of the most powerful foreign policy tools at Washington's disposal. It is more effective than the sordid practice of using the Central Intelligence Agency to engineer coups and secretly finance political parties. It is more legitimate than military force, and, in this case, it has been more decisive.

In dislodging the Sandinistas, Nicaraguan voters have done peacefully what the U.S.-backed contras could not do violently. The few million U.S. dollars that financed international election observers and made the centrist opposition viable were much better spent than the hundreds of millions that purchased weapons and cost thousands of lives.

Some will argue that without the contras' military pressure, President Daniel Ortega Saavedra would not have agreed to hold elections at all. It is true that partly because of the confrontation with the U.S., Nicaragua's economy suffered terribly, setting the stage for the widespread public discontent with the Sandinistas reflected in Sunday's balloting.

But few governments become moderate during a war; the contra war strengthened Sandinista hard-liners and probably contributed to their oppressive policies. The way to resolution opened only when Congress suspended the war, in effect, to give the Sandinistas a chance to proceed democratically. International scrutiny, spurred by President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, provided the context in which voting could be conducted in a relatively free atmosphere.

By that time, considerable groundwork had been laid for about five years with small grants from the National Endowment for Democracy, a nongovernmental institution wholly funded by Congress. La Prensa, the opposition newspaper of the new President-elect, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was kept afloat with newsprint and other supplies subsidized by the endowment. Money went to build a centrist democratic movement, to bolster an independent trade union, to train oppositionists in organization and campaign techniques and to persuade voters to register.

Thus, Nicaragua's election has vindicated Washington's fledgling program of providing public, above-board funding to help democratic procedures take root in countries with authoritarian regimes.

But there are cautionary notes and subtler morals to this story. One is the virtue of supporting the electoral process rather than a particular party.

Last fall the Bush Administration foolishly proposed making direct contributions to the opposition's campaign. The endowment was poised to convey the funds until some of its supporters on Capitol Hill objected; the endowment's board then voted to rebuff the Administration and hew to the line that had been drawn elsewhere in the past: funds to enhance the fairness of the election, not to promote the success of a candidate.

The line was quite thin in Nicaragua. Congress voted $9 million, most of which went through the endowment, to help the opposition level the playing field against the Sandinistas' power to muster the resources of government. Under the law, the opposition could use U.S. funds to purchase cars, fax machines and other equipment - but not to buy bumper stickers, produce buttons or print campaign posters. The distinction was probably lost on most Nicaraguans, although the opposition obviously overcame the stigma of being Washington's client.

Significantly, the nonpartisan funding proved the most important - for the get-out-the-vote campaign, in which Nicaraguans were reassured repeatedly that their ballots would be secret, and for the monitoring teams, which publicized and curtailed Sandinista harassment of oppositionists.

The money intended to help Mrs. Chamorro's campaign most directly was probably the least effective. Most equipment and payments were delayed by Sandinista bureaucrats until the last three weeks, too late to have much impact. Her victory suggests that such campaign aid was unnecessary.

Now the Administration has pledged economic aid, but Nicaragua also needs help in building democratic institutions - an effective legislature, an independent judiciary and a free press. A strong U.S. commitment to that effort would be a sign of a lesson learned.

David K. Shipler is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Sandinistas are defeated in Nicaraguan elections


A year after agreeing to free elections, Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government loses at the polls. The elections brought an end to more than a decade of U.S. efforts to unseat the Sandinista government.

The Sandinistas came to power when they overthrew long-time dictator Anastacio Somoza in 1979. From the outset, U.S. officials opposed the new regime, claiming that it was Marxist in its orientation. In the face of this opposition, the Sandinistas turned to the communist bloc for economic and military assistance. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan gave his approval for covert U.S. support of the so-called Contras—anti-Sandinista rebels based mostly in Honduras and Costa Rica. This support continued for most of the Reagan administration, until disapproval from the American public and reports of Contra abuses pushed Congress to cut off funding.

In 1989, Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega met with the presidents of El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala to hammer out a peace plan for his nation. In exchange for promises from the other nations to close down Contra bases within their borders, Ortega agreed to free elections within a year. These were held on February 26, 1990. Ortega and the Sandinistas suffered a stunning defeat when Violeta Barrios de Chamarro, widow of a newspaper editor assassinated during the Somoza years, polled over 55 percent of the presidential vote. The opposition also captured the National Assembly.

[ The assassination of Chamorro's husband sparked the
Sandinista Revolution. His image became a symbol of their cause and when Daniel Ortega led the Sandinista guerrillas triumphantly into Managua in July 1979, Chamorro was with them. ]


The Chamorro years initiated a period of significant economic and social decline for Nicaragua. From 1990 to 2001, the country fell from 60th to 116th in the world in terms of human development, and has become the poorest of America after Haiti, according to United Nations Development Programme.. ]

Chamarro’s election was a repudiation of over 10 years of Sandinista rule that had been characterized by a destructive war with the Contras and a failing economic system. The United States saw Chamarro’s victory as validation of its long-time support of the Contras, and many analysts likened the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas to the crumbling of communist regimes in Eastern Europe during the same period. Critics of the U.S. policy toward Nicaragua retorted that negotiations among the Central American presidents had brought free elections to Nicaragua—which nearly 10 years of American support of armed conflict had been unable to accomplish.


US Foreign Policy in Latin America
Daniel Harper
Written at: University of Nottingham

Click here to return to Main page.
I get really annoyed with people who say time travel isn't's that sort of attitude that lost us the 5th world war!