The Nicaragua Canal and the imperialist counter-attack

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23/04/2018 by socialistfight

Monday, April 23, 2018

Statement agreed by:

Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores –  Brazil

Socialist Fight  – Britain

Workers Socialist League – USA

Tendência Militante Bolchevique – Argentina

The suspension of the construction of the Nicaragua Canal and the progress of the counterattack of imperialism in Latin America [1]

For the US, the suspension of construction of the Grand Canal of Nicaragua was a strategic task of national security. The US is in an open war against China and the Canal would be a powerful tool for commercial navigation, controlled by the eastern rival, in the US backyard. There was no way to stop directly to China to carry out the work without passing the trade war directly to the military war, and then to the third world war. The way was to attack the Achilles heel of the project, the fragile Sandinista government, but by 2016, attacking the government Ortega, who was re-elected for the second time in 2016. It was then that an internal contradiction in the relationship between China and Nicaragua allowed the imperialist action time. The flirtation of Ortega with Taiwan, in a clear gesture of rapprochement with imperialism (remember the phone call from Trump to Taiwan that infuriated the Chinese?). We believe that the Sandinistas have the fallen into this diplomatic trap like a duckling.

In January 2017, Ortega was visited by the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen and he pledged to make a “battle” for the recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign country with a seat at the UN (an old claim of the Chinese bourgeoisie who fled to the island with the victory of the Chinese revolution on the continent). If Ortega hoped that with this gesture he could bargain something better with China by forcing the Chinese State to take on the Canal project in place of the entrepreneur Wang Jing, Hong Kong, owner of HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment (HKND), or, alternatively, he expected a rapprochement with Washington and mercy, we do not know.

The hoped-for outcome of this disastrous gesture is a subjective element of the Sandinista policy that we do not know, what we know is that objectively it had the opposite effect; the plan backfired. A year after Ortega’s support of Taiwan’s independence (which was intended to flatter Trump), the “smart” Ortega won as “reward”, a coup d’état, armed by the United States. In the end, abandoned by China (and Russia), Ortega and the Sandinista government became internationally isolated and vulnerable, frustrating expectations for the development of the country’s population (which he had betrayed and then fought to enforce policies against the interests of poor farmers and environmentalists), and thus became an easy prey for imperialism. Ortega’s diplomatic adventurism and demonstrates the faltering and suicidal character of opportunistic politics, demonstrations of goodwill towards imperialism only weaken him before his tormentor. In a way, there is some of that in the zig-zags of Syriza in Greece, the ANC in South Africa and the PT in Brazil.

The channel will attend a repressed demand [2] for the entire American continent, not so far carried out by the imperialist economy. The channel could mean up to 11,000 km path of the economy, reducing transport time from weeks to hours by avoiding the long and dangerous route around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America and also it will meet needs of the large modern ships of up to 20 meters draft that is too big to use the Panama canal which only allows ships with a maximum of 12 meters draft. The project cost was $40 billion. The HKND won the Channel Award work for 50 years, renewable for another 50 years. After a century of exploitation, the Canal would be entirely Nicaraguan. Russia is also part of the canal construction project.

The Panama Canal was completed in 1914 by the United States and the Panama Canal Zone, an area larger than Hong Kong, belonged to the United States by the year 2000, but the whole of Panama remains a US semi-colony. About 25% of Panama’s wealth comes from the Canal. A cargo ship arrives to pay up to $150, 000, £105,000 or 500, 0000 Brazilian Reals for the crossing.

The Panama Canal is militarily strategic and remains commercially powerful. Each year 15,000 ships, approximately 300 million tons, 4% of world maritime traffic pass through the canal. Until a few years ago, channel dimensions defined the dimensions of world shipbuilding, establishing the Panamax class. Much of the large container ships, bulk carriers, and tankers, built in the twenty-first centuries are the Post-Panamax class.

The Nicaragua channel becomes more important in a period of increased protectionism, continental economic blockades and commercial world war. As is have the Suez Canal in Egypt, the main maritime trade route in the world with an annual average of 17, 000 ships passing through. This allows ships to travel between Europe and South Asia without navigating around Africa, thus reducing the distance the sea journey between the European continent and India in about 7000 kilometres, and has played host to disputes in three regional wars (1956, 1967, 1973) involving the Arab countries, imperialism, and Israel.

Image result for Nicaragua Canal and Putin images

Pasadena, Mariel, Interoceanic Canal, bold initiatives of the Eurasian core in the teeth of the empire

The project of the Grand Canal of Nicaragua is part of a series of bold initiatives taken by the nucleated nation bloc around China and Russia well below the US nose and taking advantage of the economic downturn of the 2008 crisis in the heart of the imperialist monster. The Port of Mariel in Cuba was also part of these infrastructural measures, built by Brazil to expand greatly the advantages of this block in the running of world trade against the US-led bloc of nations. The plot to fight the US included buying up an oil refinery within the state of Texas (USA) to refine the ore extracted by Russia, China, Venezuela and Brazil in the Caribbean Sea. The Pasadena refinery (Pasadena Refining System Inc. – PRSI) located in Pasadena, was bought by Petrobras from the Belgian corporation Astra Oil, with an installed capacity of 106,000 barrels/day.

Once such daring was discovered, imperialism advanced with all fury against the PT government in Brazil and Petrobras, creating an international scandal with its media organs, accusing Dilma of the crime of buying the refinery at a higher price than it was worth. That was the main weapon of the bourgeois opposition, linked to the United States during the presidential elections in 2014 in Brazil. No doubt this was one of the causes of the coup d’état in Brazil, blow that is now followed by the imprisonment of  Lula’s, the historic leader of the PT. The intensification of the economic blockade against Cuba, the attempted coup in Venezuela and now in Nicaragua are part of the same process of a counter-attack by imperialism to block nucleated governments around the agreements with Russia and China. One by one the bold steps were taken by 2016 the Eurasian core has been aborted and rolled back by imperialism. Now, the entire Canal project is presented only as a failure, but Moscow has come to aim high with him:

“The Russian President Putin declared in 2014, the inter-oceanic canal between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic in Nicaragua would contribute to the construction of a multipolar world. According to the director of the Center for Social and Political Research Vladimir Evseev:

“This is a very serious step. It is clear that Russia would not be materially capable of realizing the project. Funding will come mainly from China. If China had not taken a large part of the costs, I think that Russia would not have entered a so expensive project. Anyway, we mutually complement each other as strategic partners. We have an objective interest in containing the United States. Another issue is that China does not want to create additional problems, it is economically dependent on the United States and this restricts her politically. Russia is more independent, she has a serious back in the form of China, and conducts a policy of building a multipolar world, the construction of which China is strongly interested. “

Thanks to the Nicaragua channel Russia will have a good opportunity to strengthen its strategic position in the region. It can quickly move its fleet from the Atlantic to the Pacific, believes Vladimir Evseev:

“There will be more mobile, especially if Russia decide to deploy in Cuba a naval military base. For her, the possibility of passing through the canal will be crucial, given the proximity to the United States. For the United States it would create additional problems in terms of strengthening their own security. Thus, Russia can respond very effectively to the strengthening of NATO’s military presence near its borders in Europe. The channel would allow Russia to significantly increase trade with Latin America. This is a new gate that Russia could actively use.” [3]

For the Nicaraguan proletariat the construction of the Canal could be a structural achievement for the productive forces of the country, but at the same time they would have to oppose the establishment of any relationship of colonial dependence of the country on China and it needs to be accomplished under the control of the working class so that it does not harm the farmers, fishermen or damage the Nicaragua lake ecosystem. There is no advantage for the workers change their owner, need to be emancipated from all over the capital. The only anti-imperialist front is a necessary tactic but combined the strategy of permanent revolution.

However, one can not disregard naively manipulation of social movements (ecologists and peasants) by imperialism and its agents against the Nicaraguan Canal construction. Under pressure from the right-wing opposition, which accuses him of “selling the country”, to negotiate the mega-project with China, Ortega wanted to demonstrate political independence from China by supporting Taiwan, the counterrevolutionary island protected by the US. In other words, to demonstrate independence from China, the Sandinista plan did not require China’s sovereign conditions in the construction of the Canal, and it made a gesture of subordination towards the US by supporting Taiwan. It looks like Daniel Ortega did everything wrong.

The imperialist counter-attack recovers several governments to its orbit and forces the Eurasian core to wait for “better times”

China, in turn, retreated from their huge investment programme because it realised that Nicaragua was not shielded against imperialism, there was no political security on the part of the Nicaraguan government, nor was willing to pick a fight with the US, nor was it willing to take the consequences of the construction of the canal. This fragile situation of the Central American country worsened after the defeat of Kischernista nationalism in Argentina to Macri, after the parliamentary coup d’état in Brazil and imprisonment of Lula without strong resistance.

In Ecuador, Lenin Moreno (a self-declared socialist), the successor of Correa and member of his same party, the Country Alliance (AP), has sold out, supporting in the country the same methods of Lawfare [4] used in Brazil against the PT. [5]  Maybe Scioli [6] would have won the election in Argentina if he had used the same turncoat manoeuvre as Moreno. And now, with the dissolution of the Unasur (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, the Union of South American Nations) after the withdrawal of half of its members.

The intelligentsia and Chinese diplomacy have the historical strategy of avoiding a physical confrontation with the enemy at all costs, concludes that Latin America is not as “safe” to give major strategic steps, at least not at that time the empire is counterattacking triumphantly. The same thought must be shared by Russia, which among other projects was willing to participate in the construction of the Canal, but both Nicaragua and for the American continent as a whole, it’s better to disband now and expect “better times”.

It is true that China has not interrupted its pre-established contracts and investments in Latin America because also the economy of the new U.S. puppets governments would collapse if they suspend current trade relations with China. They cannot pivot their commercial relations for the imperialist metropolis that is carrying out a protectionist policy and is not interested in occupying the mercantile space that today belongs to China. The main form of an imperialist drain on the resources of the semi-colonies is financial (creditors, rentiers imperialist drain the national capital exported by payment of semi-colonial government debt) and non-market. [7] The latter is the predominant form in relations between the non-imperialist capitalist countries, although not coexist hegemonic elements of finance capital and monopolies in China.

Imperialist defeat depends on the Latin American proletariat

For the Latin American countries can be integrated into the capitalist bloc nucleated by Russia and China would first have to break the political siege and geostrategic tax and re-established in recent years to counter-attack the empire. Aid for the anti-imperialist struggle will not come from China or Russia, as in the Crimea, Donbass, and Syria. At that time, the bourgeoisie of Russia and China are afraid to play consistently in the US backyard may cause a third world war, a war in which the chance of losing for an even greater destructive arsenal of land, is greater than win.

The imperialist encirclement of our continent can only be broken from “inside” and only Venezuela points in that direction, not by chance it was the only country that has been beset by coups, military and the hybrid war since the first hours of the millennium, it has come out on top so far. However, it is beset with an almost continuous state of instability. There are also the economic limitations of bourgeois nationalism, particularly in Venezuela, of failing to overcome the monoculture of oil production, there was not a strong push for agricultural and industrial development. The coup sabotages of shortage would not have much impact if there was in the country a strong agricultural and industrial development. [8]

Imperialism has advanced in its political control in Latin America, without yet getting rid of the trade bonds and investments that these backyard countries have received from the Eurasian core and especially China.

The Latin American national bourgeoisie and the bloc of Eurasian nations led by Russia and China are incapable of solving even the problems of the continent’s repressed structural and logistic demands, because although imperialist opponents are not ready to fight against (in the Chinese case, for example, beyond the Chinese borders), but are also oppressed by imperialism. “The bourgeoisie of colonial and semi-colonial countries is a semi-ruling, semi-oppressed class.” (Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism, 1940). Only a permanent and continental revolution could carry out these outstanding tasks that no fraction of the bourgeoisie will carry them out.

Any progress of the fight against barbarism on the continent depends on the united front struggle against the reformist orientations which govern the majority of organised masses, the defeat of imperialism and its counterrevolutionaries agents. Combined with this task is the organization of workers on an international scale, including the working class of the USA, under a revolutionary program to go beyond these same hegemonic directions that today has led the movement to defeat and Paved the way of the reaction.

Notes

[1] Frente Communista dos Trabalhdores, translated from the Portuguese, segunda-feira, 23 de abril de 2018

CANAL DA NICARÁGUA E CONTRA-ATAQUE IMPERIALISTA,   A suspensão da construção do Canal da Nicarágua e o avanço do contra-ataque do império na America Latinahttp://lcligacomunista.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/canal-da-nicaragua-e-contra-ataque.html

[2] Nicaragua Canal will expand relations between Latin America and China – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xepw2i34MwE

[3] Nicaraguan canal will contribute to building multipolar world – https://br.sputniknews.com/portuguese.ruvr.ru/news/2014_09_09/Canal-nicaraguense-contribuir-para-constru-o-de-mundo-multipolar-0624/

[4] Lawfare is a form of asymmetric warfare, consisting of using the legal system against an enemy, such as by damaging or delegitimizing them, tying up their time or winning a public relations victory. The term is a portmanteau of the words law and warfare.

[5] Moreno was expelled from the party in November 2017, basically for allying with the right wing, pro-imperialist opposition, who only lost by 2.3% in the Presidential runoff election, against Correa and his own party.

[6] Daniel Osvaldo Scioli is an Argentine politician, sportsman, and businessman. He lost the Presidency to Mauricio Macri in 2015 in a runoff election.

[7] The difference between the imperialist monopoly capital and merchant capital according to Lenin is, “the extraordinary growth of a class, or rather, of a stratum of rentiers, i.e., people who live by “clipping coupons”, who take no part in any enterprise whatever, whose profession is idleness. The export of capital, one of the most essential economic bases of imperialism, still more completely isolates the rentiers from production and sets the seal of parasitism on the whole country that lives by exploiting the labour of several overseas countries and colonies.” Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter VIII. Parasitism and decay of capitalism, https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch08.htm

Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism, and of commodity production generally; monopoly is the exact opposite of free competition, but we have seen the latter being transformed into monopoly before our eyes, creating large-scale industry and forcing out small industry, replacing large-scale by still larger-scale industry, and carrying concentration of production and capital to the point where out of it has grown and is growing monopoly: cartels, syndicates and trusts, and merging with them, the capital of a dozen or so banks, which manipulate thousands of millions. At the same time the monopolies, which have grown out of free competition, do not eliminate the latter, but exist above it and alongside it, and thereby give rise to a number of very acute, intense antagonisms, frictions and conflicts. Monopoly is the transition from capitalism to a higher system. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter VIII, Chapter 7, Imperialism as a special stage of capitalism, https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch07.htm

[8] 5. Soberanía y seguridad (Sovereignty and security) feed – https://www.telesurtv.net/bloggers/Soberania-y-seguridad-alimentaria- 20171027-0003.html

 

Nicaragua1Since April 18, when the government proposed social security reforms, violent protests have taken place across Nicaragua. | Photo: Reuters

Nicaragua: Next in Line for Regime Change?

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Nicaragua-Next-in-Line-for-Regime-Change-20180421-0014.html

Draft by Tortilla Con Sal

Statement agreed by:

Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores –  Brazil

Socialist Fight  – Britain

Workers Socialist League – USA

Tendência Militante Bolchevique – Argentina

Communist Revolutionary Action – Greece

In defense of Nicaragua, against the USA and its coup agents

A new focus of tension emerges from the current cold war, a new operation “regime change” is underway, the US now support a campaign to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.

Since April 18, armed right-wing paramilitary groups have carried out a wave of violent attacks against public institutions, leftist demonstrators and police, to create chaos and promote civil war in the country. 10 people were killed and more than 80 were injured, including at least 30 policemen. Most of the deaths resulted from the lethal use of firearms by right-wing provocateurs.

The strategy is similar to that which was successfully used in Libya, Ivory Coast and Ukraine, and unsuccessfully carried out in Thailand, Syria and Venezuela. In the case of Nicaragua, following the triumph of Daniel Ortega in 2007, the US Embassy in that country launched an intensive support program for the right-wing opposition, the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN). ”

The geopolitical cause for this escalating coup against Nicaragua lies in the attempt to completely halt the risk of the execution of the Chinese project of building a large inter-oceanic canal, much larger than the US-controlled Panama Canal. If it were to be executed, such a project, which is temporarily suspended, would enable China to make a leap in world trade. The US is in an open trade war against China. The United States will try everything to prevent the construction of this Canal by its archivists, so they must carry out the regime change operation in Nicaragua, trying to overthrow the Sandinista government, using any pretext.

The right-wing rebellion began after the announcement of the Sandinista government to suspend negotiations with Nicaragua’s private sector business organization, the “Higher Council for Private Enterprise” (COSEP). The FSLN government sought to establish an agreement with COSEP for social security reform. As there was no agreement, the Sandinistas announced unilaterally the reforms in the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security (INSS).

The issue of retirement reform, the INSS

Depending on the correlation of forces, the great imperialist capital and its Nicaraguan agents may be able to impose a coup d’état, dismiss the FSLN or, if not so much, reach an agreement with the Sandinistas by bargaining for better conditions of appropriation of the social security system at the expense of the right the retirement of the working population.

The social security system has a deficit of about $ 75 million per year. The Sandinista government and the businessmen have different positions on how to balance the deficit.

In Nicaragua, large capital does not allow the Sandinista government to maintain the minimum age of 60 years and the contribution time in 750 weeks. They accuse the INSS of being ready to go bankrupt and to make investments with no commercial return. Before the rebellion, the Sandinistas had already ceded announced the 5% discount of pensions. This policy of conceiving of big capital against the law of the masses demoralizes the left nationalist government, confuses the workers and favors the right, as we saw with the PT in Brazil.

According to Telesur [1], the Sandinista reform advocates a gradual increase in the contribution of employers by 3.25% and by workers by 0.75%; the increase of the government’s own contribution to public sector workers by 1.25%; Revise the salary ceiling so that people who earn high salaries pay the social security contributions proportional to their income; Deduct 5% of retiree’s pensions so that they receive the same health benefits as active workers (which they currently do not receive); Maintenance of the number of weekly contributions to qualify for a full pension in 750 contributions (just over 15 years of contribution); Maintenance of reduced pension and minimum pension; Maintenance of Christmas bonus; Maintain the value of pensions against the annual devaluation of 5%; Maintain all INSS clinics in the public system.

After the violent protests, the government is inclined to yield to blackmail and calls on COSEP to return to the table for further negotiations.

In turn, in this struggle, the bosses want to: Increase the retirement age from 60 to 65 years; Elimination of the reduced pension paid to pensioners who were unable to complete the 750 weekly contributions required to receive a full pension; Eliminate the minimum pension guaranteeing that no one has a pension lower than the minimum wage for industrial workers; No longer maintain the value of the pension against the national currency to offset the five percent annual devaluation applied by the Central Bank; Double the number of weekly contributions for a pension from 750 to 1500; Privatizing INSS medical clinics.

It is necessary to completely defeat the coup imperialist objectives, to make a United Front (AIUF) with the FSLN, trade unions and popular and student organizations, to expand mass self-defense committees and to demand from the government the popular weapons to crush the new “Contras”. It is necessary to go beyond the historical and dangerous limits of Sandinismo, gather forces and political organization of the masses to demand that the 5% more in the social security contribution be paid by the bosses. It is necessary to be suspicious of any employer agreement between the government and the right-wing opposition at the expense of workers’ rights. Therefore, we must oppose the privatization of retirement, the increase of the minimum age and the time of contribution, striving to nationalize the entire financial and health system, under the control of the workers, to ensure the maintenance of the state-controlled social security system users, active and retired workers.

Workers must overcome Sandinismo to carry out the socialist revolution

The right has several fractions, from the most political to the most fascist and bellicose. COSEP businessmen and the right wing of the Catholic Church are stirring up the protests and there are sectors such as the Citizens for Freedom and a right-wing break from Sandinismo, the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), which orchestrate the attacks. The support of some particular groups of the sectarian left to these gangs proves the reactionary nature of the protests. In recent years, a political organization that claims itself internationally as a Trotskyist has supported and embellished all the regime change and coup campaigns of imperialism, the LIT (IWL-FI), led by the Brazilian PSTU. So LIT’s support, followed by the Partido de los Trabajadores de Costa Rica and the PST-Honduras to the protests in Nicaragua, as well as supporting all of the recent offensives of imperialism, in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt, Brazil is further evidence that these protests are part of a reactionary movement of agents of imperialism, as LIT itself increasingly resembles. Recent history urges us to believe that if the LIT supports it, it is a reactionary coup d’etat of imperialism. When you have doubts as to what position to take in any situation, see … If the LIT is in favor, we are against. If it is against, we are in favor.

Since the first half of the twentieth century, the US has been funding armed right-wing groups that have committed the worst atrocities in Nicaragua against the country’s working people. The best-known US-funded death squads were the revolutionary “Contras” who started a right-wing guerrilla after the Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrew the National Guard government of dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979. Throughout the 1980s, Cons “imposed chaos and destabilized the Sandinista government until in 1990 the FSLN lost the elections to the right, coming to regain the government by voting in 2006 with Daniel Ortega. Now again, the Sandinistas are threatened by violent counterrevolution. The right wing began to exasperate after the election of Daniel Ortega in 2006 and re-election in 2011 and 2016. But Sandinismo’s greatest weakness lies in the very bourgeois, reformist character of the FSLN. And this is so because the Sandinistas oppose the realization of a complete social revolution in the country, oppose the expropriation of the means of production of the whole of the big bourgeoisie and imperialism, oppose the armament of all the working people and the complete disarmament of fascist right wing.

The weakness of Sandinismo is underlined by the recent announcement by the government that the resolution of the reform is repealed. On April 22nd, after five days of violent protests, the government seems to have yielded in the face of the right-wing pressure and blackmail, calling on COSEP to return to the table for further negotiations with the Catholic Church as the guarantor of peace. Even if the government totally gives in to the demands of imperialism and the Right in an effort to appease them, the recent record of imperialism in regime change operations –Ukraine, Syria etc– suggests that this effort is highly likely to be futile.

In the same week of this reactionary offensive in Nicaragua, the United States ordered and the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Paraguay obeyed, by the withdrawal of these countries from Unasur, the Union of South American Nations, in 2008 by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to counter US dominance in the region.

Any victory of the imperialist gangs in Nicaragua will strengthen the right-wing reaction around the world, will favor the blockade of Cuba, the right-wing coup in Venezuela, to the bombing of Syria. That is why we defend the FSLN from the attacks of the imperialist-sponsored “Contras” without politically supporting Sandinismo and calling on the working class to go beyond the strategy of class collaboration and to fight for their rights. The defeat of the right in Nicaragua will weaken imperialism, and fiscal adjustment policies, such as the social security reform, represent a victory for the workers that will advance the struggle for socialism.

Notes

[1] Nicaragua: Next in Line for Regime Change? The pattern is similar to events in Libya, Syria and Venezuela, where extreme right-wing political minorities conspired with foreign elites to overthrow the national status quo.

 

One thought on “The Nicaragua Canal and the imperialist counter-attack

  1. Excellent article!

    Liked by 1 person

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