An inside look at Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution on its 41st anniversary

by Ben Norton

The Grayzone | July 23, 2020

Nicaragua Sandinista Revolution 41 anniversary Ortega coronavirus

MANAGUA, NICARAGUA – Since the 1823 declaration of the Monroe Doctrine, the US government has portrayed all of Latin America as its own imperial “backyard.” Among the most enticing prizes for US political leaders and corporate oligarchs over the decades has been Nicaragua.

A North American colonialist and mercenary named William Walker declared himself the dictatorial president of Nicaragua in 1856, touching off a war across Central America that left thousands dead. In 1909, the US military invaded Nicaragua and overthrew its progressive president, José Santos Zelaya, a nationalist who sought to reunify Central America in a federal republic, and who had canal plans of his own. This set the stage for decades of continuous US military interventions, interference, and occupation of the country.

Sandinistas July 19 anniversary masksSandinista supporters fill with Managua’s Plaza La Fe with their cars and protective equipment round midnight on the evening of July 18, 2020 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone)Celebrating the 41st anniversary of the Sandinista RevolutionThe 41st anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution could not have been more different from the celebration the year before.In July 2019, The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton reported on the 40th anniversary. Hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans from across the country flooded the capital, filling Managua’s Plaza La Fe to the brim, and stood for hours under the baking sun, brandishing leftist flags and clothes, eagerly devouring the revolutionary sermons of Sandinista leaders and foreign dignitaries.The 40th anniversary celebration of the Sandinista Revolution, in Managua’s Plaza La Fe in July 2019 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone) ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”size-full wp-image-28882″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Nicaragua Sandinista Revolution 40 anniversary plaza” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-40-anniversary-plaza.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; margin: 0px auto;”>The 40th anniversary celebration of the Sandinista Revolution, in Managua’s Plaza La Fe in July 2019 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone)By July 2020, the entire planet had ground to a halt by a coronavirus strain that left hundreds of thousands of people dead and unleashed a global economic crisis.In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in March, the Sandinista government cancelled all public events. This meant that not only was the enormous July 19 rally called off, but also other important national holidays marking victories in historic battles, the commemoration of the June 23 birthday of Sandinista Front founder Carlos Fonseca Amador, and even public funerals for revolutionary leaders Edén Pastora and Jacinto Suárez, who died during the crisis.These cancellations, and the global health catastrophe, slightly dampened the spirits of Nicaraguans. But it didn’t stop grassroots Sandinistas from showing their love for the movement.In lieu of its annual July 19 rally, the Nicaraguan government decided to hold a midnight TV broadcast of fireworks.So thousands of Nicaraguans spontaneously flooded downtown Managua out of their dedication to the Sandinista Front.Sandinista supporters fill Managua’s Plaza La Fe with their cars and families on the evening of July 18, 2020 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone) ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”size-full wp-image-28337″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Sandinistas July 19 cars Plaza la Fe” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-cars-Plaza-la-Fe.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; margin: 0px auto;”>Sandinista supporters fill Managua’s Plaza La Fe with their cars and families on the evening of July 18, 2020 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone)Usually on the night of July 18, millions across Nicaragua hold huge community parties, called vigilias, in their barrios to commemorate the anniversary of the revolution at midnight.In July 2019, The Grayzone reported from a vigilia in San Antonio, a working-class barrio in Managua, where thousands of largely young Sandinista supporters celebrated with a concert.But for the first time, in 2020, there were no vigilias. Instead, people organically filled Managua’s Plaza La Fe with their cars, families, and friends. Many wore protective masks as they waved their Sandinista flags and watched the fireworks.This had not been planned beforehand; it truly happened at the grassroots. FSLN activists I spoke with made it clear that this event was not sponsored by the government, which was not encouraging people to come out and was following public health measures.Fireworks in Managua, Nicaragua at midnight on July 19, 2020 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone) ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”size-full wp-image-28339″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Sandinistas July 19 fireworks plaza” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Sandinistas-July-19-fireworks-plaza.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; margin: 0px auto;”>Fireworks in Managua, Nicaragua at midnight on July 19, 2020 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone)President Daniel Ortega delivers fiery speech condemning “savage capitalism”On the evening of July 19, the Nicaraguan government held a small gathering in Plaza de la Revolución, the site where the Sandinista guerrillas had declared victory 41 years before.President Daniel Ortega delivered a lengthy speech addressing the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis, calling it an indictment of foreign neoliberal for-profit health systems.He sat with top government officials, all of whom were wearing medical masks, including Vice President Rosario Murillo, National Assembly President Gustavo Porras, and the directors of the health ministry, finance and public credit ministry, military, and police.Nicaragua revolution 41 anniversary Ortega Murillo ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-28662″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Nicaragua revolution 41 anniversary Ortega Murillo” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; clear: both; margin: 0px auto 1rem;”>Hundreds of Sandinista Youth activists sat in the audience. Everyone wore a mask, with chairs spaced out to maintain social distancing.Nicaragua Sandinista Youth 41 anniversary masks (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone) ” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-28344″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Nicaragua Sandinista Youth 41 anniversary masks” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; clear: both; margin: 0px auto 1rem;”>The Sandinista Youth (Juventud Sandinista) are the lifeblood of the revolutionary movement. They are the young activists, almost all of whom are volunteers, who work at the grassroots, provide services to everyday Nicaraguans, and organize their neighborhoods.Nicaragua Sandinista Youth 41 anniversary masks chairs (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone) ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-28343″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Nicaragua Sandinista Youth 41 anniversary masks chairs” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-masks-chairs.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; clear: both; margin: 0px auto 1rem;”>In his speech, President Ortega condemned the exploitative “economic model that has been installed in the world” that puts profit over people. He pointed out that the pandemic “does not touch the pockets of large capital,” that huge corporations are doing fine, while poor and working people are suffering and dying.In a gripping moment, Ortega called the Covid-19 pandemic an international wake-up call, declaring:“The worst epidemic is what causes hunger, and that is the epidemic of savage capitalism, which was put into place across the world, until this epidemic (of Covid) arrived, and shook it up. It has shaken up savage capitalism and is telling them, ‘That is not the path!’ It is shouting to them that that is not the path, and that if they want to protect their peoples — because with all of their capacities, with all of their riches, they have not been able to protect their citizens.“Because their hospitals have been overflowing; because they did not have the medical equipment to deal with the emergencies in the developed countries, in Europe, and in the United States of America, that great power that spends billions and billions of dollars on war, on death. How many North Americans – and how sorry we are for this – have died due to a lack of medical attention in the United States?“That is what lays bare the failure of that model. And that is the wake-up call that is being sent by God, with the force of nature, to savage capitalism: That the path must be changed, the path must be changed, and that they learn to practice a form of commerce, of social development, of economic development, of financial development, that is just and based on solidarity, that will bring peace and tranquility to all of the inhabitants of our planet.”Sandinista Youth activists hold up their FSLN bandanas in front of Nicaragua’s National Palace in Managua, on the 41st anniversary of the revolution (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone) ” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”size-full wp-image-28827″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Nicaragua Sandinista Youth 41 anniversary bandanas” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-bandanas.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; margin: 0px auto;”>Sandinista Youth activists hold up their FSLN bandanas in front of Nicaragua’s National Palace in Managua, on the 41st anniversary of the revolution (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone)Nicaragua’s free universal health systemThe one theme that President Daniel Ortega stressed above all others in his speech was how important it is for countries to create universal, not-for-profit health systems. He emphasized that the Sandinista government has invested vast resources creating a free, socialized health program that serves “the poor, the humble, the workers, the people.”In the 13 years since the Sandinista Front returned to power in Nicaragua in 2007 through democratic elections, Ortega boasted, the FSLN government has built 19 new hospitals, 18 regional health centers, 452 neighborhood health offices, and 128 maternal homes, where pregnant women with few resources or from rural areas can go to live and/or receive free medical attention.An additional seven new hospitals are currently in construction as well. And Nicaragua has established 80 mobile health clinics which travel to different working-class barrios to help residents.Since the Sandinista Front returned to power in 2007, the number of health workers in Nicaragua has increased from 22,000 to 36,983 (a growth of 168 percent); the number of doctors, from 2,715 to 6,182 (a 228 percent increase); and the number of nurses, from 6,384 to 11,050 (173 percent higher).The neoliberal governments that ruled Nicaragua from 1990 to 2007 had systematically privatized and underfunded the country’s health services. This created a grossly unequal system in which rich Nicaraguans received superior medical attention, while poor workers often died from basic preventable ailments.The Sandinista government’s establishment of free socialized healthcare, along with universal education, has been one of the keys to its popularity, helping to maintain a core working-class base of people who had never been helped by the government before.The Nicaraguan government goes out of the way to make sure that its citizens know their medical services are free. When I visited the cozy town of Jinotega, nestled in the mountains north of the capital, I walked by the community’s main hospital, which has a message printed on the side in all capital letters and conspicuous blue font: “In this hospital all of the health services are totally free. If they give you a bill, immediately report it.”A message printed on a hospital in Jinotega, Nicaragua stressing that all medical services are free, taken in May 2020 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone) ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?fit=300%2C203&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?fit=845%2C572&ssl=1″ class=”size-full wp-image-28331″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?resize=845%2C572&ssl=1″ alt=”Nicaragua Jinotega hospital free healthcare” width=”845″ height=”572″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?resize=300%2C203&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?resize=1024%2C693&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?resize=768%2C520&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?resize=1536%2C1040&ssl=1 1536w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?resize=150%2C102&ssl=1 150w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?resize=1200%2C813&ssl=1 1200w, https://i1.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Jinotega-hospital-free-healthcare.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; margin: 0px auto;”>A message printed on a hospital in Jinotega, Nicaragua stressing that all medical services are free, taken in May 2020 (Photo credit: Ben Norton / The Grayzone)“What does a family do if there is no healthcare? They lose the ability to work; they keep continuously getting sick,” President Ortega proclaimed in his anniversary speech, explaining the Sandinista Front’s outlook. “What do children and the youth do without healthcare? They lose their ability to go to school; they get sick. And what do workers, construction workers, fishers, shopkeepers do?”“What do the farmers do without healthcare? Well, productive activity would collapse, and many people in our country would go hungry and die, as billions of people across the planet do,” the FSLN leader added.Ortega went out of his way to thank farmers, construction workers, teachers, and all workers, praising them for keeping society running. He reiterated the Sandinista Front’s commitment to collaborating closely with and helping workers, especially in the food sector.Ortega also thanked the brigade of Cuban doctors who arrived in Nicaragua to assist in the fight against the pandemic. Cuba has sent similar medical teams to more than 30 countries, including industrialized nations like Italy.Nicaragua Sandinista Revolution 41 anniversary Ortega Murillo ” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-28819″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Nicaragua Sandinista Revolution 41 anniversary Ortega Murillo” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i2.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Revolution-41-anniversary-Ortega-Murillo.jpg?w=1690&ssl=1 1690w” sizes=”(max-width: 845px) 100vw, 845px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; display: block; vertical-align: middle; clear: both; margin: 0px auto 1rem;”>Daniel Ortega appeals for peace – and calls out US role in violence and coupsAfter the importance of universal socialized healthcare, the other theme that Daniel Ortega stressed the most in his speech was how fundamental peace must be for the country to advance.“Our commitment is to peace, unity, and stability for the Nicaraguan people,” the president said. All of Nicaragua’s substantial social “programs can only be carried out when there is peace. Because if there is not peace, it is impossible to develop these programs.”“Because that is what has happened on other occasions,” Ortega added, indirectly referencing the 2018 coup attempt and the US-backed Contra terror war in the 1980s. “They destroy ambulances; they kill drivers; they kill health workers and education workers.”“We lived through this in the years after the victory of the revolution,” Ortega continued. “They destroyed equipment that was being used to build roads in the mountains. They destroyed hospitals and health centers. They killed teachers; they killed doctors. There were thousands of deaths! There were 50,000 victims of that terrible war that was imposed on us by the US government.”Despite the 1990 peace agreement that ended the US-backed war on paper, Ortega noted, “There remained remnants of that war; there remained stay-behinds who continued committing crimes against working families, against families that didn’t want to give them what they demanded, and that killed Sandinista leaders, and that killed judges, and that killed entire families. And they were fed, funded, and armed.”Ortega said these gangs that had their origins in the US-created Contra army have killed hundreds of people since 1990, and were involved in drug trafficking linked to Colombia. “But the so-called ‘human rights’ organizations run by the (US) empire, that are funded by the empire,” have blamed these deaths on the police and the military, Ortega added.As his stem-winding address drew to a close, the Nicaraguan president – who is known to his supporters as El Comandante (the Commander), given his military leadership in the armed struggle in the 1970s – stood up and railed against US imperialism.“Look at the hardships that are happening in Europe, powerful countries, the hardships that are going on in the United States, where they don’t even think about spending billions of dollars to try to put out the fire, but they weren’t able to,” Ortega said.So imagine what “it means to manage an economy like ours, so small, so fragile, attacked by the empire,” he continued. “Yes, attacked by the empire! That is, something totally brutal. An empire as powerful as that, torturing a country like Nicaragua, trying to hurt the Nicaraguan people, trying to demoralize the Nicaraguan people, trying to frighten the Nicaraguan people.”“But the people have shown, in the most difficult circumstances, that the people are not cowards, that this is a brave people,” the president added.Ortega boasted that September 2021 will be the 200th anniversary of Central American independence from Spanish colonialism, and that Nicaragua has a long history of resisting foreign conquest.Nicaragua Sandinista Youth 41 anniversary cathedral ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?fit=845%2C475&ssl=1″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-28831″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?resize=845%2C475&ssl=1″ alt=”Nicaragua Sandinista Youth 41 anniversary cathedral” width=”845″ height=”475″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?w=1920&ssl=1 1920w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?resize=1536%2C864&ssl=1 1536w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?resize=150%2C84&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg?resize=1200%2C675&ssl=1 1200w, https://i0.wp.com/thegrayzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Nicaragua-Sandinista-Youth-41-anniversary-cathedral.jpg” style=”max-width:100%;” />

SOURCE: https://thegrayzone.com/2020/07/23/nicaragua-sandinista-revolution-41-anniversary/

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