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Nicaragua as a pawn in global geopolitics

Again, as in the 1980s, Nicaragua is making a gross political mistake: standing in the middle of the struggles for hegemony of the great industrialized countries of the world. Español

Vladimir Putin arrived on a working visit to Nicaragua. With President of Nicaragua Daniel Ortega. 2014. Image: Kremlin/Russian Presidency. All rights reserved.

Some countries in the world are extremely impoverished, even though they have natural resources. Some perceive and/or discover opportunities and take advantage of what other countries do not perceive: they apply technology to exploit natural resources and this allows them to stand out and enrich themselves. And then there are the highly industrialized countries abundant in human, technical, technological, economic, financial, and historical resources - global leaders in many respects. Of course, the difference between them and the rest is the fact that their decisions have a worldwide impact.

The former are defined as small countries of little economic importance - that is, they do not have a determining role in the global order. Generally, their role is a secondary one in commercial terms – even though, at times, due to their geographical situation, they are considered strategic countries - to be used, but not to be treated with due respect as independent nations.

During the 1980s, Nicaragua went through an experience derived from the struggle between East and West. It was a struggle which apparently had to do with ideology: communism vs. capitalism. But it was in fact a dispute between powerful countries which sought to establish their global hegemony in order to take advantage of natural, human and geographical resources. That is to say: the reasons for the dispute were geopolitical, as diplomats call them. And the country was only a pawn in global geopolitics.

During the 1980s, Nicaragua went through an experience derived from the struggle between East and West. It was a struggle which apparently had to do with ideology: communism vs. capitalism.

We Nicaraguans must remember that in the 1980s neither party won. The war ended as a result of a decision the great world powers made. Brezhnev and Reagan had a conversation and agreed on their interests as developed nations: they both turned off the tap of military supplies and the war effectively came to an end. It was a shame that the parties on the territory were not at all prepared for disarmament or peace. Specifically, the Sandinista People's Army (EPS) and the Nicaraguan Resistance (RN) did not know how to stop what they had started years ago. There were no winners or losers.

What was the country left with? A ruined economy; social, political and humanitarian instability; family enmities; young people dead; abandoned lands; violent social habits; a net loss of skills and productive knowhow; a lack of physical infrastructures; the presence of Cuban and Russian military advisers - the same who are still intervening in the internal affairs of the public administration -; a huge amount of legal and clandestine weapons which were later used to rob rural families; war schizophrenia among the young.

Between 1990 and 1995, Nicaragua was mired in chaos – from which it has not yet recovered. And today, three decades later, we are back to square one and to the very same policies. For political and corruption-related reasons, some party leaders have ushered the comeback of one of the parties in the war and cleared the way for a political revival: same ruler, same ideology, same practices.

Putin’s Russian Federation and Trump’s United States are both strong in terms of population and technology, influential in their strategies and very often interventionist in other peoples’ lives. Their actions are focused on positioning themselves geo-strategically in order to secure their own interests. Generally, political leaders in these countries talk loudly and attack each other verbally, but in practice they tend to agree and negotiate the sharing out of the world geography so as to develop their influence and control.

For political and corruption-related reasons, some party leaders have ushered the comeback of one of the parties in the war and cleared the way for a political revival: same ruler, same ideology, same practices.

Today, in Nicaragua, we are experiencing this type of relationship. The last three public administrations have insisted on expanding relations with Putin's Russia. What this love affair has produced so far has been the a steady supply - we do not know whether generously donated or sold - of tanks, military supplies, communications centres, and assorted vehicles.

Considering the historical behaviour of the rich industrialized countries as regards the small and impoverished countries, we are again making a gross political mistake. A Central American country right in the negotiation and discussion spaces of non regional powers: Nicaragua will be manipulated for the sake of the geostrategic interests of both East and West, and the result will be the same as in the 80s. When we shall be no longer useful to the great powers’ interests, they will dismiss us and we will be left to pay the bill in terms of human, economic and social costs.

Nicaragua should avoid standing in the middle of the struggles for hegemony of the great industrialized countries of the world. We must give up political action which has proved to be clumsy and improper. The war has in no way benefitted the country - on the contrary, the costs of the war have not and never will be recovered. What we Nicaraguans need is peace, education, schools, teachers, health centres, hospitals, electrification, roads, highways, respect for human rights and decent work.

About the author

Cirilo Antonio Otero es sociólogo e investigador social y director del Centro de Iniciativas de Políticas Ambientales (CIPA) de Nicaragua. oterocirilo19@gmail.com

Cirilo Antonio Otero is a sociologist and social researcher and the director of the Centre for Environmental Policy Initiatives (CIPA) in Nicaragua. oterocirilo19@gmail.com


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