Friday, July 30, 2021

Glen Ford, Veteran Journalist And Founder Of Black Agenda Report, Dies At 71 ~~ Bruce C.T. Wright

~~ posted for dmorista with introductions by dmorista and collectivist ~~

Introduction by dmorista:  This is truly sad news. Glen Ford was not just one of the most important African-American socioeconomic and political analysts in the U.S. He was one of the socioeconomic and political analysts in the world. Anybody who read material at the Black Agenda Report or who watched any interviews with Ford should have recognized that fact. He will be missed.... dmorista


Introduction by collectivist

“I’ve never regretted a political decision as much as having passed 
Barack Obama when he should have failed the test; and we never made that mistake again,” Ford said in the interview." 
Glen Ford

The above statement, epitomizes the principled and honest journalism, and politics, of the late Glen Ford.

He represented a continuation of the glorious traditions of anti-capitalism and anti-white nationalism. Regular visitors of Leftist Politics know that Ford's articles have often been posted here, along with other BAR writers.

For me, his most important legacy, needed now more than ever,  is a keen understanding, and insistence, that the Black Liberation Struggle -  as the most historically, dynamic sector of  U.S. class struggle - MUST continuously expose and oppose the "black misleadership class". . .of sellouts and compradors and comfort-corrupted  house slaves.

R. I. P., Brother. . .Collectivist


Article follows:

NewsOne Featured Video
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report founder

Glen Ford. | Source: Glen Ford / LinkedIn

Glen Ford, a veteran broadcast, print and digital journalist who hosted the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on TV before going on to found the Black Agenda Report website, has died, according to reports. He was 71 years old.

Condolences began pouring in on social media once news of Ford’s death broke.

To call Ford a career journalist is a vast understatement. According to his bio on the Black Agenda Report website, Ford was reporting the news live on the radio as early as 11-years-old and went on to enjoy a career in journalism for more than 40 years that included working as a Washington bureau chief as well as a correspondent covering the White House, Capitol Hill and State Department.

After getting his start in news radio in Augusta, Georgia, Ford honed his skills at other local news stations and eventually created the “Black World Report,” a syndicated half-hour weekly news magazine that paved the way for the Black Agenda Report to be founded. Years later, in 1977, Ford helped launch, produce and host “America’s Black Forum,” the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television.

That led to the creation of “Black Agenda Reports” two years later in a successful effort to focus his syndicated content in the areas of Black women, business, entertainment, history and sports.

About a decade later, Ford branched out into the then-burgeoning popularity of hip-hop culture with “Rap It Up,” the first syndicated hip-hop music show in American history.

After co-founding in 2002, he and the rest of the website’s staff left to launch Black Agenda Report, which remains a popular source of information, news and analysis from a Black perspective.

In one of his final dispatches before his death, Ford, along with Kimberley, on July 21 addressed the jailing of former South Africa President Jacob Zuma, questioning on Black Agenda Report whether the resulting uprising there should be characterized as “riots” or an “insurrection.”

Born Glen Rutherford in Georgia in 1949, Ford famously has his surname shortened by James Brown, who owned the radio station where Ford got his start in Augusta, Georgia.

In an example of how Ford made a point to hold elected officials accountable, he once discussed during an interview in 2009 about the “ethical dilemma” he faced by questioning then-Sen. Barack Obama about his presidential agenda and his membership to the Democratic Leadership Council, which Ford — then working with — referred to as “the right wing corporate mechanism of the Democratic Party.” Obama, Ford recalled, responded with a “fuzzy mish-mash of non-answers.” But because Ford “did not want to be seen as the proverbial crabs in a barrel” and affect Obama’s political ascent, he allowed Obama to pass what he called the “bright line test.”

Ford said that was a mistake that he would never make again and suggested that it was a lesson well learned.

“I’ve never regretted a political decision as much as having passed Barack Obama when he should have failed the test; and we never made that mistake again,” Ford said in the interview.

Say No to Water Privatization in the Infrastructure Bill

Water costs have soared in recent years as federal funding for water infrastructure has shrunk. Privatization is the last thing we need.

Editor’s Note: The following open letter has been signed by 218 organizations. To view a PDF of the letter and a list of the organizations that signed it, click here.

Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sanders, and House Budget Committee Chairman Yarmuth:

We, the undersigned 218 organizations, oppose the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework that promotes privatization, and we urge you to reject it and water privatization in all its forms and fight for a bold, uncompromising infrastructure package that provides real federal funding at the level our communities urgently need.

The outline of the latest bipartisan infrastructure framework would promote a slew of privatization activities. The proposed financing sources for new investment include public-private partnerships, private activity bonds and asset recycling.

That provision promotes a Wall Street takeover of essential services like public water. It is dangerous for the public and undermines public access to essential water services.

Water privatization is an incredibly expensive financing option. Privatization through public-private partnerships, private investment schemes or asset recycling is not a source of new funding, but an expensive and high-risk way to finance water projects. The typical water public-private partnership carries a cost of capital that can be five times the cost of the low interest bonds available to municipal water systems.

Water privatization will lead to rate hikes on households already struggling to afford their water bills. Because the private entity recovers its financing costs and profit through user bills, privatizing water and sewer systems lead to considerable rate hikes for households and local businesses. Already, nearly one in three U.S. households struggles to afford their water and sewer bills, and households nationally have accrued billions of dollars of water debt during the pandemic. They cannot afford the price of privatization.

The problem at hand is that local government utilities rely almost exclusively on water bills to cover the cost of infrastructure projects because of the loss of federal support for water infrastructure. Federal funding has fallen by 77% in real terms since its peak in 1977. Local governments cannot continue to raise their water rates to levels that are increasingly unaffordable for households. Our public water utilities have a funding problem, not a financing problem. Privatization would only exacerbate the main problem facing our public water utilities.

Water privatization is not a viable or just solution for rural, small or disadvantaged communities. Private companies focus on profit maximization and avoid areas where per-household costs are high, the customer base has less wealth and bill collection problems can abound. A private company will acquire such a system if the system is contiguous to its existing network and if it can redistribute the costs across its other service areas. Because water rates are regressive, this type of subsidization is inequitable and disproportionately burdens working- and middle class families across communities.

Water privatization can trap communities in expensive deals. Public-private partnerships that involve private financing are usually 30 to 40 years long, and they are extremely difficult to exit early. After taking office, the new municipal services director in Bayonne, N.J., posed as his first question: how do we get out of the city’s water concession contract? He was told the city would have to repay the $150 million concession fee that it no longer has. Since entering into a decades-long concession deal in 2012, Bayonne has experienced rate hikes of 50% despite promises of rate stabilization. According to the Hudson Reporter, a board of education trustee recently told the new city council, You didn’t sign the contract, and neither did the citizens of Bayonne, but everyone is suffering because of it.” Similarly, Middletown, Penn., was unable to exit its water concession deal, and attempted to stop surcharges in court and lost.

Water privatization is not a solution for our nation’s water needs. Water privatization can increase costs, worsen service quality and allow infrastructure assets to deteriorate. There is ample evidence that maintenance backlogs, wasted water, sewage spills and worse service often follow privatization. In fact, poor performance is the primary reason that local governments reverse the decision to privatize and resume public operation of previously contracted services.

Communities need real federal dollars spent on drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The most comprehensive funding solution on the table is the WATER Act (H.R.1352, S.916). The WATER Act would provide $35 billion a year to fully fund our water infrastructure at the level that is needed according to EPA needs surveys.

We urge you to reject this proposed water privatization scam and fight for a bold package that provides the support our communities need. Do not compromise on water.

Politics After Trump: A Conversation with Chris Hedges ~~ Chris Hedges with intro by dmorista

~~ posted for dmorista with introduction by dmorista ~~

Introduction by dmorista

This is one of the best talks by Chris Hedges that I have seen. It is a you-tube of a talk he gave and some questions he answered at Brooklyn College in March of 2021. He starts with a succinct and hard-hitting 20 minute statement about how the political and economic power in the U.S. really works. Then there was a 30 minute question session, with questions that originated from the leadership of the Brooklyn College Student organization that hosted Hedges, these questions were uniformly excellent. Then there were about 40 minutes of questions from the on-line audience of Brooklyn College Students, these questions were of varying quality, at least half of the audience questions were really good.

Hedges has been forecasting many of the sorts of unfavorable developments that have occurred in the U.S. for many years now. He based much of his analysis on the sorts of negative and horrific situations and changes he saw in various places; places that devolved from relatively peaceful and at least minimally competent socioeconomic systems in countries that fell, or better said were pushed, into horrific Civil Wars. His comments and the discussion ranged from violence vs non-violence, censorship, the role of the duopoly electoral parties in maintaining the status quo, and the fact that the current state of affairs cannot last forever.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Medicare for ALL ~~ Article by Natalie Shure


Rather than force hospitals to be up front with patients about their costs, we should strip them of the power to set them.

We’ll Never Fix Hospitals’ Price Gouging If We Don’t Break Their Stranglehold on Congress

, Apu Gomes/Getty Images

Nearly every hospital in the United States appears to be flouting Trump-era rules mandating price transparency, according to a bombshell new study. Put into effect on January 1 under the Trump administration, the new directive requires hospitals to make rates they negotiate with different insurers for procedures publicly available—a move proponents argue curbs runaway health care costs by stripping hospitals of the market-hobbling opacity that’s long benefited their bottom lines. The new research published by the nonprofit group Patient Rights Advocate determined that 471 of 500 hospitals examined were not in compliance with the new rule, results even more shocking than a previous study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimating a mere 80 percent of hospitals to be in violation. The Biden administration recently directed the Department of Health and Human Services to enforce the rule as part of his extensive executive order aimed toward facilitating market competition.

It’s worth emphasizing just how conservative this line of thinking is: Not only does the fetishization of price transparency endorse the idea of health care as a market good, it also embraces a vision of patients as consumers, saddled with the arduous task of dutiful comparison shopping whenever they require care. Never mind that the path to universal health care in practically every country that has it relies heavily on public sector financing and coordination, instead of an optimized marketplace.

The price transparency policy was largely pushed by Cynthia Fisher, a Republican donor who convinced Donald Trump to enact the rule. Her goal is not just to reduce prices but to stand as a bulwark against more far-reaching change. In an interview last year with Morning Consult, she said, “This is a shape-shifting moment—we’re at this inflection point.… It is probably the last moment of time for transparency, or we go to Medicare for All.” But Medicare for All, not a piecemeal market-based approach, is the only way significantly to reduce America’s uniquely high medical bills.

Though insurers are often the most villainized part of the system, hospitals shoulder plenty of blame for our health care catastrophe. Hospitals gobble up almost a third of our national health care spending, topping $1 trillion annually. The American Hospital Association is one of the most formidable trade groups on Capitol Hill and has been a fierce opponent of not only single-payer but the public option and other watered-down reforms, as well. In most cases, it’s safe to say that hospitals have the upper hand over insurers when it comes to reimbursement negotiations, particularly when they consolidate or otherwise dominate a given geographical area.

The sums that hospitals are able to extract from payers have been widely lambasted as both astronomical and irrational, differing by tens of thousands within the same hospital or for the same procedure, depending on a patient’s insurance plan. In extreme cases, hospitals have come after their own patients with lawsuits to recoup medical debt, roping them into ruinous repayment plans for years after their treatments. In short, hospitals are so unsympathetic that critics frequently chide left-of-center health care commentators for going easy on them compared to insurers, implicitly echoing the conclusions invoked by the title of the legendary 2003 paper by health economist Uwe Reinhardt that health care costs are largely driven by hospitals’ eye-popping reimbursement rates: “It’s the prices, stupid.”

But what if the problem is the existence of “prices” at all? Why do we talk about the “price” of an appendectomy and a blood transfusion but not about the “price” of one 40-minute math lesson for a fifth grader and a half-hour of detention after school? In the U.S. health care system, the “price” of a given service is the amount a given facility gets reimbursed for it by the patient’s payer—amounts that differ wildly depending on a variety of factors. As historian Gabe Winant chronicled in his book The Next Shift: the Fall of Industry and the Rise of Healthcare in Rust Belt America, the 1980s switch from calculating reimbursement by length of patients’ stay to the “price” of care received only served to spur the corporatization of hospitals by rewarding capital-intensive high-tech and invasive care over the services offered in simpler community hospitals—empowering the bigwigs to bill for more high-cost procedures and snap up the smaller players that couldn’t. This gave large hospital chains even more market power to break the backs of whatever insurer tries to argue with them.

But the problem with that dynamic isn’t “prices,” it’s powera problem that price transparency does little to solve. To borrow Winant’s example, it’s tough to imagine Pittsburgh insurers holding onto too many customers were they to decide not to include University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in their networks, suggesting that listing negotiated prices could only apply so much downward pressure through competition. But even in a perfect world, transparency still wouldn’t offer much in the way of patient relief: Most hospital visits entail thousands of dollars’ worth of care even when coherently priced, so a slight reduction would leave most patients with roughly similar out-of-pocket expenses, even if their insurers save a bit on so-called “medical loss.” Framing that as a boon for health care “consumers”—a ghastly phrase the proponents of this scheme sure do seem to love!— is disingenuous at best.

Medicare for All, on the other hand, wouldn’t just obliterate health insurance as we know it, it would upend hospitals’ ability to bilk payers and patients in the process. With private insurers barred from selling plans that duplicate the benefits of the single public pool, and with providers barred from taking cash for procedures covered by Medicare, hospitals lose the privileged position they enjoy over a fractured field of insurers whose existenceunlike hospitalsprovides us exactly nothing of value. The vision outlined in Representative Pramila Jayapal’s House bill essentially transcends the concept of “prices” at all, allocating each hospital a global operating budget akin to a fire department or school. Medicare for All would also impart strict control over profits and capital expansion: Hospitals wouldn’t be permitted to keep or reinvest surplus revenue, or beef up facilities without public approval, rendering it all but impossible for them to keep taking cues from corporate playbooks.

As we move toward the more just hospitals of the future, we deserve to aim beyond a tedious master list of prices. The Biden administration is struggling to get hospitals to disclose their prices, but this is fighting the battle the wrong way around. Instead, it should be looking for a way to kneecap the power of hospitals to set them in the first place. Scrapping private insurance is the best way to do it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Nicaragua’s Sandinistas battle ‘diabolical’ US empire and poverty on 42nd anniversary of revolution ~~ BEN NORTON

~~ posted for dmorista ~~

nicaragua july 19 sandinista revolution managua plaza

Nicaragua’s Sandinistas battle ‘diabolical’ US empire and poverty on 42nd anniversary of revolution

The Grayzone reports from Nicaragua on the 42nd anniversary of the Sandinista revolution. Nicaraguans discuss their improved quality of life, President Ortega condemns the dictatorial US “empire that wants to dominate all countries,” and Vice President Murillo declares poverty an imperialist “crime against humanity.”

MANAGUA, NICARAGUA – 42 years after the victory of the Sandinista revolution, Nicaraguans are still celebrating the gains of the leftist movement, and hoping to take the transformative process to another stage.

This July 19, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans flooded downtown Managua, the capital, to show their support for the revolution and the national government that since 2007 has been led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

An ocean of Nicaraguans filled the streets bearing red and black bandanas, waving FSLN flags, and chanting revolutionary slogans.

The celebration lasted for an entire week, culminating with speeches by President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, who emphasized gains of the revolution like free universal healthcare and education for all citizens, new high-quality infrastructure, the empowerment of women and the youth, as well as an assertive stance on the global stage.

Ortega used his speech on July 19 to announce a 5% increase in government spending on social programs, and a corresponding 5% increase in the salaries of public workers.

Murillo vowed to accelerate the government’s war on poverty, linking it to the “diabolical imperialist threat” posed by US intervention. Stressing that underdevelopment of the Global South is an “imperialist imposition that has been used to dominate, divide, diminish,” the Nicaraguan vice president called poverty a “crime against humanity.”

Highlighting Washington’s decades-long war on the Sandinistas, Ortega railed against US imperialism, calling the “yanqui empire” a global dictatorship obsessed with destroying Nicaragua, Russia, China, and any country in its way, led by “rulers who want to impose their hegemony, who want to make themselves owners and lords of the planet, who even want to take over the universe.”

nicaragua july 19 2021 avenida bolivar

While tens of thousands of Nicaraguans filled Managua to commemorate the revolution, international media outlets blasted out fake news.

Spanish corporate news wire EFE falsely claimed, “Few celebrate Nicaragua’s revolution on its anniversary number 42.” In reality, although they did not receive any coverage in the mainstream foreign press, there were demonstrations this July in support of the Sandinista Front all across Nicaragua, in most the country’s departments and major cities, including MasayaEstelíBoacoRivasChinandega, JinotegaMatagalpaGranadaLeonChantalesCarazo, and beyond.

The onslaught of disinformation, spread shamelessly by Western corporate outlets, is part of the unconventional warfare that has been waged against Nicaragua and its leftist government, since the Sandinistas returned to power through a series of democratic elections beginning in 2006.

In 2018, the United States backed a violent coup attempt aimed at overthrowing the FSLN and the party’s President Daniel Ortega. For months, right-wing bands waged a campaign of sabotage to destabilize the country, erecting barricades that battered the economy, while hunting down Sandinista activists in their homes and on the street.

The putsch fizzled out in July 2018. But just when it was on the path to recovery, Nicaragua encountered a new series of stumbling blocks.

nicaragua july 19 2021 avenida bolivar crowd

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the world, further damaging Nicaragua’s economy. The US-funded anti-Sandinista opposition exploited the health crisis to launch another bid to sabotage the government.

As if this were not enough, that November, Central America was hit by not one but two hurricanes, Eta and Iota.

Despite the many obstacles, Nicaragua is still moving forward. The Sandinista government guarantees free, socialized, high-quality healthcare and education for all of its citizens.

And while Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in the western hemisphere (after Haiti), it has some of the strongest social programs in the region, as well as excellent public infrastructure, on par with that of much richer Latin American countries.

The Sandinistas have also heavily emphasized the role of women in leadership positions. It passed laws requiring government offices to be split at least 50-50 between men and women, leading to the fifth-highest level of gender equality in the entire world, and the highest in Latin America.

The government’s gains are especially impressive when considering that Nicaragua’s neighbors in the so-called Northern Triangle – Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala – are wracked by catastrophic violent crime rates, making them some of the most violent nations on Earth that aren’t officially at war.

Compared to its neighbors, Nicaragua is an oasis of stability and peace. And many Nicaraguans attribute their relative security to the Sandinista Front.

According to a survey taken this May by the mainstream polling firm, M&R Consultores, 76% of Nicaraguans feel their country has progressed in the 14 years of rule of the Sandinista Front. 73% say the government gives them hope, 69% personally approve of President Daniel Ortega, and 63% believe their families will have better lives and jobs with the FSLN staying in power.

When I walked around downtown Managua on the week of July 19, the wellspring of popular support was palpable.

nicaragua sandinista revolution anniversary 2021

“Thanks to the Sandinista Front and Comandante Ortega, my children can go to college for free, and the public schools are excellent,” said a middle-aged woman. “When I was a child, in the neoliberal period, we had to bring our own desks to school, and there were holes in the walls.”

“We have various new hospitals, and they’re free,” a man effused. “Before you would go and pay a lot, and they would just give you a pill.”

As I strolled down Avenida Bolívar a Chávez (the main street in the capital, where monuments to Venezuelan anti-imperialist leaders Simón Bolívar and Hugo Chávez had been erected), I spoke with dozens of people who had gathered to celebrate the revolution.

“The roads were horrible before Comandante Ortega returned,” recalled an elderly man. “It was just earth and mud outside my house. Now I have good roads all around my neighborhood.”

“I remember the neoliberal era. We had nothing. They privatized everything. They pillaged the country,” a woman lamented. “Before the Sandinista Front came back, we didn’t even have electricity or water. It went out every day.”

Many women emphasized the role the Sandinista Front has played in empowering them and their family members.

Several Nicaraguans also recognized me and stopped to show gratitude to The Grayzone for reporting on their struggle. “Thank you for telling the truth about what is going on,” a young Sandinista activist said. “The other media outlets say so many lies. They are all lies.”

sandinistas nicaragua july 19 2021 managua

Before Covid-19 broke out, Managua was the site of massive rallies each July 19, in which hundreds of thousands of Sandinista supporters filled downtown Managua to celebrate. At The Grayzone, we have reported on these enormous popular celebrations, which essentially amount to multi-day parties in the streets.

Both last year and this year, however, the government cancelled the official July 19 celebration, over health concerns due to Covid-19. (I also reported on the 41st anniversary of the revolution in 2020, from inside Managua.)

Yet these cancellations did not stop the hardcore base of the Sandinista Front from filling the streets of  Managua in celebration.

The night before the anniversary, on July 18, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans filled Managua’s Plaza La Fe.

Sandinista revolution anniversary July 18 2021

A long line of cars stretched all the way down Avenida Bolívar. Sandinistas were willing to sit in hours of traffic to attend.

Nicaragua July 18 2021 avenida bolivar

During a midnight fireworks launch, Nicaraguans blasted revolutionary music from their cars, and partied into the early morning.

Sandinista anniversary July 18 2021 plaza la fe

The enthusiasm that many Nicaraguans felt toward the Sandinista Front was tangible. One woman displayed a leg tattoo of President Daniel Ortega.

nicaragua sandinista ortega tattoo

While tens of thousands of Nicaraguans filled Managua’s Plaza La Fe and Avenida Bolívar on the night of July 18, many more held large community parties, called vigilias, in working-class barrios.

I attended a large gathering in the blue collar neighborhood of San Antonio, where young people mingled with elders and danced to a blend of reggaeton, rap, and música testimonial – revolutionary songs sang in unison and celebrating the Sandinista Front’s victories.

Revelers constantly stopped me to thank me for “reporting what is actually happening” in their country, complaining that the pro-Sandinista majority is ignored by foreign corporate media outlets, which instead act as mouthpieces for the elite right-wing opposition.

Sandinista revolution vigilia San Antonio 2021

An older man related to me the story of how he had left Nicaragua to study in Germany, and later worked in the United States, but later decided to return home because he wanted to support the revolutionary process.

“I have seen the poverty and homeless in the United States, and it is horrible, it is barbaric in a country with so much wealth,” he said.

Another Sandinista supporter exclaimed to me, “We want to thank the people of the United States who support the Sandinista Popular Revolution. The people of the US are not the same as the government; we know that!”

The older man had been involved in the armed struggle in the 1970s, and said that during the ’80s, he met many US activists who arrived in Nicaragua to help build the revolution.

Sandinista revolution 2021 vigilia San Antonio

The vigilia in San Antonio was organized by local Sandinista activists, who put a series of poster boards outside of the event, highlighting what they consider to be the most important gains of the revolution.

“The revolution is health for everyone,” read one, showing photos of the socialized healthcare system and new hospitals built under the FSLN government.

nicaragua sandinista vigilia health

“The revolution is: free, high-quality education,” read another poster. It included images of new school infrastructure, a state-of-the-art technological training center, and the free school supply program.

nicaragua sandinista vigilia education

“The revolution is: building road infrastructure and dignified homes,” the boards continued, displaying the Sandinistas’ highly subsidized public housing initiative.

nicaragua sandinista vigilia infrastructure

And last but not least was a sign emphasizing, “Without the participation of women, there is no revolution!”

nicaragua sandinista vigilia women

After days of community celebrations of the anniversary across Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo delivered speeches in Plaza de la Revolución, in the heart of Managua.

Ortega proceeded to his speech down Avenida Bolívar, standing through the open roof of his presidential vehicle and waving at the thousands of Nicaraguans who had rallied to commemorate the revolution.

ortega car crowd july 19 2021

The president’s security team reportedly did not support the decision, but Ortega insisted on greeting his supporters.

ortega car crowd july 19 2021 night

Nicaraguan President Ortega: US empire wants to dominate the world and suppress all other powers

Although Nicaragua is a small country of 6 million people, its Sandinista government punches above its weight on the international stage.

In the 2021 celebration, Ortega made it clear that anti-imperialism is at the forefront of the FSLN’s revolutionary program.

The “world is more and more shaken by the desires of the North American rulers, who want to impose their hegemony, who want to make themselves owners and lords of the planet, who even want to take over the universe,” the Nicaraguan president declared. “That is how far their plans go. Because they have atomic bombs, because they have lots of money.”

“And they can’t understand that that era, where imperialism had a period that was temporary, but a period of hegemony, when the balance between the Soviet Union and the United States was broken, that that moment of hegemony that it had, it was a few seconds, and that disappeared,” Ortega said.

“Now the peoples of the world are fighting; the North American people are fighting, bravely, the North American people are fighting, and the peoples of Europe are also fighting,” he continued.

“Those countries that still dream of imposing their colonialist, neocolonialist policies in the world, they are simply outside of reality. That is no longer possible.

“When the universe was created, and in the universe, Earth came up, there was never any god that said, ‘The yanquis are going to be the owners of the world.’ Not in Africa, not in Asia, not in our American lands where are ancestors were, our roots. There were a multitude of gods worshiped by different cultures, and not one god said ‘We must submit ourselves to the yanqui empire.'”

Free public health “clinics and hospitals are for all Nicaraguan families,” not just Sandinistas

In a particularly memorable moment, Ortega argued that Nicaraguan opposition supporters were themselves victims.

“There are even those Nicaraguan families that, for diverse reasons, aren’t able to understand what is the struggle for dignity, for justice, which has to do with their own material realities, and those families are also victims,” he said. “I mean, the people who oppose us, because there are people who oppose us, as a result of the ferocious propaganda that there is, and they are in misery.”

“But when they see that they are passing a new highway, they are happy. And they are not upset because it was the Government of the People-as-President that is building that road,” Ortega continued. “And when a clinic is being built, and when a hospital is being built, as dozens of hospitals have been built in these years [of the Sandinista government], clinics for women, the doors are open for all Nicaraguan families.”

“They are not clinics or hospitals only for Sandinista families. They are clinics and hospitals for all Nicaraguan families!” Ortega emphasized.

He then announced a 5% increase in government spending on social programs, including a 5% raise for public sector workers.

Ortega also stressed the importance of housing the population. “We will continue giving property titles until all Nicaraguans in our homeland have a house, a lot, a place to live, a farm,” he said.

Since 2007, the Sandinista government has given poor and working-class Nicaraguans more than 501,000 property deeds, in both urban and rural areas, Ortega emphasized. This is important because it ensures that Nicaraguans are secure in their homes, and have legal protections so they cannot be displaced by wealthy landlords, corporations, or developers that want to steal and exploit the land they live on.

“When the property is recorded in the [government] registry, there are no latifundia-style thieves who can steal that property from the peasants,” the Nicaraguan president reassured.

Ortega: Coup-plotters provoked Nicaraguan police with violence and wanted them to shoot back

In his discussion of the violent 2018 coup attempt, Daniel Ortega praised the national police for “resisting the provocations, the bullet wounds, the deaths.” He specifically highlighted the officers in the city of Masaya, who were under siege for weeks by heavily armed extremist coup-mongers.

“How difficult it was in that moment to have to tell those comrades there not to shoot back, not to resist, to endure it, not to shoot, while the terrorists were firing bullets, with funding from the yanquis and the oligarchy, attacking every day,” Ortega said.

“It was a provocation. They wanted the police to react, so they could say it was a massacre,” the president continued, explaining the strategy of the US-backed putsch. “The police were simply following orders to resist without firing any bullets, which are the most difficult orders to follow, when an institution is being attacked, when a command is being attacked.”

Ortega’s comments recalled an op-ed published in the New York Times by a US government-backed anti-China activist, titled “A Hong Kong Protester’s Tactic: Get the Police to Hit You.” The unusually candid 2019 article explained how Western-sponsored insurgents employed “aggressive nonviolence to provoke the authorities,” based on a strategy called “Marginal Violence Theory,” which uses “the most aggressive nonviolent actions possible to push the police and the government to their limits.”

But as The Grayzone has reported, the tactics Nicaragua’s opposition employed in 2018 were anything but non-violent.

Ortega: US empire is “crazy” and “wants to dominate all countries”

“This is a complex struggle, because it is a struggle that involves the global interests of the empire that wants to dominate all countries,” Daniel Ortega continued in his speech.

The US empire “wants to suppress other powers, instead of getting along with the powers it wants to suppress them. It wants to suppress the Russian Federation; it wants to subordinate it. It wants to suppress, it wants to subordinate the People’s Republic of China. They’re crazy! They’re crazy!” he said.

The US empire “wants to suppress powers, and they want to suppress nations as well, like Nicaragua,” Ortega went on. “We are a strategic point, and that is where the yanqui persecution of Nicaragua comes from, because here there is a giant resource, which is a canal through Nicaragua.”

And US government officials “don’t want, they have never wanted, as long as Nicaragua has existed, they have imposed treaties so that Nicaragua would not sign any agreement with any country of the world, even European countries, if they don’t authorize it. They gave themselves the right over our land. Because there were traitorous sell-out governments, and they gave themselves the right to say to the Europeans, here you cannot enter, here we will decide the canal, we the United States, the yanqui empire.”

“We are in the middle of that battle, in that struggle, and it is a struggle, yes, one in which we are advancing,” Ortega said.

“Simply, what I can say is that, despite the empire’s attempts to destroy our country, here is Nicaragua, on its feet, firm and moving forward,” the president declared. “Despite the fact that they have tried to destroy the economy, they have killed, spreading terror, they have put into practice terrorism in Nicaragua, they have laundered billions of dollars in Nicaragua to spread terrorism.”

“And there they are doing the calculations where they are carrying out investigations into the infamous foundations, and millions of dollars are showing up here, millions there, and we are talking about millions of dollars to be used to try to destroy the Nicaraguan people. And they have failed.”

Sandinista women lost arms hands revolution Ortega
Sandinista women who lost their hands and arm in the revolutionary struggle, honored by President Daniel Ortega on the 42nd anniversary celebration (Photo credit: Canal 6)

While on stage for the anniversary celebration, Ortega honored two female guerrilla fighters who had lost their arms or hands in the Sandinista armed struggle. He also praised the revolutionaries who in the 1980s fought the CIA-trained Contras, which he referred to as “the yanqui government’s mercenaries, criminals, terrorists.”

Before his speech, Ortega grabbed a giant Nicaraguan flag and declared, “This flag does not have and will not have any stars!” It was a symbolic denunciation of the US government’s desperate attempt to try to reimpose control over Nicaragua.

Ortega was also referencing a popular Sandinista song called Soberanía (Sovereignty), which went viral in Nicaragua this July, and was performed on stage at the celebration. The tune has become a unifying anthem for the Sandinista Front’s 2021 electoral campaign. Its lyrics read as follows:

Sovereignty in my land is written in large letters

And not in ink but rather in blood, throughout history

Here we do not want foreign interference

It will never be the same when a Nicaraguan speaks compared to someone outside

Outside, outside they can say what they want

But if you are here in Nicaraguan land, respect my flag

The blue and white flag, which does not have a star

Here all countries have their ambassadors

But some of those those men do not respect diplomacy

And there is one, with his arrogance, who makes his way in the White House

And if he wants to speak, he should abandon his position

And he will see how short his time on this Earth lasts

I am not speaking about war, it is only a demand

That he can speak his BS, but outside the country

Outside, outside they can say what they want

But if you are here in Nicaraguan land, respect my flag

The blue and white flag, which does not have a star

For which Sandino raised up the Red and Black [flag]

Nicaraguan VP: Poverty is a ‘crime against humanity’ imposed by imperialism

In her speech at the 42nd anniversary event, Vice President Rosario Murillo also strongly condemned “the most brutal aggressions of North American imperialism” and the “diabolical imperialist threat.”

Murillo also put an emphasis on the need to “continue fighting against poverty, that imperialist imposition that has been used to dominate, divide, diminish.”

The Vice President declared, “We fight against poverty, which is hatred, which is a crime against humanity, and we fight so that its promoters stop those hatreds that they impose with methods that are considered novel or unconventional, but we refuse to refer to them as ‘soft’ or ‘color [revolutions],’ because nothing is light or easygoing or colorful in the shameless and dark minds in the dens where the colonialists and imperialists of the planet plot their crimes.”

This July, the Sandinista Front launched a new five-year National Plan to Fight Against Poverty, especially dedicated to further developing the country and raising living standards for working-class people.

William Grigbsy, a prominent Nicaraguan radio host whose daily program Sin Fronteras (Without Borders) is influential within the Sandinista movement, reflected on Murillo’s speech, emphasizing that the vice president referred to poverty as a “crime against humanity.”

“To me, this is one of the most powerful things that Rosario said,” Grigsby commented. “Poverty is an imperialist imposition. It is the maximum expression of capitalism. Poverty is an imposition; it is not something that we are because we want to be, or because we are stupid, as some people say. No brother, they have imposed it on us, creating the rules to impoverish us, to make us poor, and to live with that terrible scourge that is poverty

Grigsby emphasized the country’s contrast with Haiti: “It is a nation that has so much wealth. But they are pillaging it. The copper, the other minerals, it is being stolen, by the Canadians, the yanquis, the French, and they keep plundering it, in the north of Haiti. They are the owners. They even own the police.”

Grigsby added, “It is the same that has been done against us, that has been against the Salvadoreans, the Hondurans, the Mexicans, any country. They have pillaged these countries and imposed the crime against humanity they call poverty.”