Daniel Ortega is in serious trouble; his brutal state security forces have been implicated in the deaths of more than 300 protesters in Nicaragua over the past three months. Yet, the American media has downplayed the story; a story which would seemingly deserve far greater news coverage than it has been given.
This will surely go down as one of the biggest stories to come out of Central America in a decade, but the vast majority of the reading American public will have little to no idea about what is happening in this nation of 10 million people. Sadly, that is often par for the course when it comes to the region. American media instinctively focuses on Europe and East Asia, Russia and China, often to the detriment of South and Central America.
Most of the news coverage thus far in English has come from publications based in Miami (where there is of course such an enormous bilingual population that the city is sometimes referred to as the capital of South America), and from such outfits as the BBC and the Guardian, which have the financial muscle to provide respectable coverage on a worldwide basis.
The normally left-wing Guardian, has actually done a fine job of reporting on the troubling developments in Nicaragua. In a recent piece, they correctly lampooned a bizarre new assertion by Ortega that the entire situation is part of a Satanic, US-backed plot to throw him out of office, and cite Uruguay’s socialist former president Jorge Mujica, who by all appearances has completely lost patience with the Sandinista regime.
Curiously, the city of Masaya, which was once a stronghold of the Sandinista movement, has now transformed into a bastion of the opposition. Recently it has seen some particularly bloody confrontations between state security forces and allied paramilitaries, facing off against unarmed protesters: largely young college students.
It would be an understatement to say that Ortega is having a bad year. Many of his one-time allies and supporters are now jaded with the Sandinista movement. They have seen Ortega’s lust for wealth and power. The betrayal of the ideals of the revolution. The allegations of child rape on the part of his step-daughter. The millions of dollars flowing into his bank accounts through self-dealing and corruption. They have had enough.
The American media can and should be doing more to expose the kleptocracy of the Ortega regime. But this is about more than just the Ortega regime.
Latin Americans have a clear choice: they can follow the lead of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and their political projects, encapsulated in the ideology of the Sao Paulo forum. Or they can follow the path of liberal democracy and free-market capitalism.
Recent results have been mixed: While Colombians elected free-market Ivan Duque by a comfortable margin, Mexicans gave an overwhelming victory earlier this month to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, often derided by critics as a socialist and a populist.
If there is one trait that links and unites today’s Latin American left, it is their disdain for democratic institutions, the rule of law, and term limits. Time and time again, we have seen the means they will use to get into power and stay in power. Evo Morales in Boliva, discarding the results of a national referendum which forbade him from running for reelection. Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, brazenly stealing the presidential election.
And now Daniel Ortega, murdering opposition protesters by the hundreds to further bolster his vice-like grip on power.
It is time for the world to pay attention. It is time for the media to pay attention.