“Relations of friendship and cooperation” between the DPRK and the Sandinistas

As noted by KCNA, “Choe Ryong Hae, vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, left Pyongyang by air on January 6 [2017] to attend the presidential swearing-in in Nicaragua. The special envoy of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, was seen off by Ri Su Yong, member of the SAC of the DPRK, Ri Kil Song, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, and Cuban ambassador Jesus Aise Sotolongo.”
In 1979, Nicaragua established diplomatic relations with Juche Korea, shortly after the Sandinista movement, called Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) took power in the country. [1] In 1985, the Koreans were giving the Sandinistas aid including a small number of advisers, patrol boats, artillery, trucks, with the CIA thinking there was a larger “supply relationship” between the two countries. Two years later, in September 1987, the South Korean National Democratic Front or Hanminjon, which favored Juche Korea, visited Cuba and Nicaragua. This was one year after Daniel Ortega, traveled to Pyongyang, and was followed by, in 1988, Nicaragua being a “handful of countries to boycott the 1988 Seoul Olympics.” Sadly, in 1990, the Sandinistas were voted out of office, undoubtedly do to the U$ aggression against the country, and the embassy of Juche Korea in the country closed in 1995. When Ortega was re-elected in 2006, “he re-established Nicaraguan relations with North Korea” and in January 2017, a delegation from Juche Korea headed by Choe Ryong Hae “attended the inauguration of Daniel Ortega for his third term as President of Nicaragua,” showing there deep connection. [2]

However, this alone does not tell the full story. On August 24, 1979, Juche Korea and Nicaragua agreed to “establish diplomatic relations and exchange ambassadors.” [3] Three years later, the foreign minister of the former, Li Chong Ok, arrived in Managua “for a three-day visit to discuss widening his Government’s aid program to Nicaragua.” But there was more. Not only did Daniel Ortega come to Pyongyang in 1983 (and 1986) along his brother Humberta Ortega, Defense Minister, in 1984, but Sandinistas trained in Juche Korea (also in Cuba and the Mideast) like Costa Rican-born revolutionary, Plutarco Hernandez, who has also studied at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow. Arms shipments to Nicaragua from Juche Korea, Cuba, and Eastern Europe increased in 1989 as Soviet aid waned. At the same time, this state of “socialist orientation” in Nicaragua, or a “gain for Marxism-Leninism” as others called it, had an ambassador in the later 1980s from Juche Korea there named Adolfo Moncada (there was also an ambassador from the ROK). They also joined Juche Korea in a boycott of the ROK Olympics in 1988 since they had refused to hold it in the northern half of Korea! It is also worth noting that Daniel Ortega met personally with Kim Il Sung in May 1983. Nicaragua received much more Soviet aid from 1983-1987 than any time prior as Somoza was in power before 1979. Even with this, the Soviets had their demise but the Koreans stuck with them, and received gifts (in 1982) from the Nicaraguan government, one of which is “an upright grinning alligator, holding out a wooden tray of cocktail glasses…with a matching ashtray” which sits in the International Friendship Exhibition Hall on Mount Myohyang in Juche Korea. In 1984, the Nicaraguans visited “North Korea and the Soviet Union in search of arms supplies” to fight the U$-backed Contras off once and for all.

Sadly, in 1990, the Sandinistas lost in elections that Fidel Castro reportedly warned (as claimed by a conservative author) the Sandinistas against engaging in at all. [4] If Fidel said that, it would be because he recognized that there would be manipulation at work, creating a Western “democracy” in Nicaragua, since the Contras had wanted the elections, meaning that the country was no longer the “hub of the revolutionary wheel in Central America” and a “base for leftist insurgency” in the region, for Cuba and the Soviets, as the CIA declared in 1981, the same year that the DPRK pledged to build “3 industrial plants, 3 hospitals, and 3 educational centers..in Nicaragua free of charge”! While the Sandinistas turned over electoral power to their enemies, the loose alliance of parties called the National Opposition Union/Unión Nacional Opositora (UNO), led by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro “courageously,” their defeat was horrible for the Nicaraguan people. As a result, Chamorro ended “ended 11 years of rule by Ortega’s Sandinista Front” (1979-1990), and relations between Juche Korea and Nicaragua were soon suspended, with UNO pledging to “end the war and the military draft, privatize State-controlled concerns and return confiscated land and property to its owners.” UNO would not have the widespread support the Sandinistas had, not at all, with the country in ruins after the victory of UNO in the elections, and the decentralization of the government, bringing “the police and military under civilian control…cut[ting] the military’s numbers.” Still the country was “thwarted by unpleasant realities – poverty, hunger and continued US interest in the region,” resulting in the UNO making more and more compromises.

In the years to come, Nicaragua went through tough times. In 1996, Daniel Ortega campaigned under the FSLN manner, saying he was “a social democrat in favour of a free-market economy and “a government for everyone”” while “Mr. Aleman, a conservative, called for a departure from the authoritarian and inefficient rule of the Sandinistas” and criticized the current government “for the country’s serious economic problems.” With Aleman viewing Sandinista “confiscations as thefts, the Sandinistas defended them as legitimate redistribution of wealth from the dictatorial regime of Mr. Anastasio Somoza they fought against.” During the presidential race, “Mr. Aleman declared himself the winner in the presidential race but Mr. Ortega refused to concede defeat and charged that there were irregularities in the vote count” even as observers said it was “fair” with the FSLN remaining “the single largest party with 36 seats while the three-party Liberal Alliance captured a total of 42 and, with the support of other conservatives, patched together an absolute majority in the 93-seat legislature.” Aleman, when he took power, “proposed a “national pact” to favour “reconciliation” and economic progress to pull Nicaragua out of its widespread poverty.” Aleman would eventually siphon “some US$100 million from government coffers, which may be chump change where you’re from, but not in Nicaragua” and in 1998, “Hurricane Mitch savaged the country…killing 4000 people and destroying a surreal 70% of the infrastructure” and the next president, “Enrique Bolaños…put Alemán in jail…but it was too late, in a way.” In 2001, Ortega tried again under the Sandinistas, saying that he “vowed to follow market-based policies and to seek good relations with the United States” but some “U.S. officials expressed concern about his party’s past ties with terrorists and its past socialist policies” while the “candidate of the Liberal and Constitutional Party for President, Mr Enrique Bolaños promised to continue the free-market policies of outgoing President Arnoldo Alemán.” Again, Ortega alleged that there were irregularities and “questioned the turnout recorded by the electoral council, which was much higher than the usual” but the OAS said it was ok. This time, Ortega “conceded defeat in the presidential elections to the Liberal and constitutionalist party (PLC) candidate, in his third consecutive election loss.” In December 2001, Ortega announced that FSLN members would “take their seats in Congress on 9 January 2002” which resolved “the impasse over the composition of the new Parliament” and on January 10, Mr. Enrique Bolaños became the president of Nicaragua itself.

“Supporters of Daniel Ortega celebrated yesterday in Managua, Nicaragua” on November 7, 2006, AP Photo printed in New York Times.

In November 2006, there were parliamentary elections, for the National Assembly, were held in Nicaragua. The main issue in the 2006 election was “the economy and how to deal with poverty in one of the poorest countries in the Americas where over 80 per cent of the population lives on less than two dollars per day” with Ortega of the FSLN saying that he “pledged to end “unbridled capitalism” while increasing foreign investment to reduce poverty. His plan included establishing development banks for agriculture and small businesses” while the “conservative camp was deeply divided” and the “Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS)…promised to build 10 000 houses per year.” In an election were almost 67% of the registered voters turned out to the polls, “the FSLN came in first with 38 seats while the PLC won 25. The ALN finished third with 22 seats and five seats went to the MRS (see note).” The following year, 2007, on January 10, Mr. René Núñez Téllez of the FSLN was elected as the “new Speaker for a two-year term” and Mr. Ortega was sworn in “as President of the country on the same day”! This victory led to renewed relations with Juche Korea.

In 2007, Juche Korea was on a roll, as it had by that point “normalized relations with most of europe, most of asia…most of africa, and much of latin america…and australia and canada and [the]…UK as U$ diplomats grumbled. In May, Ortega re-established “formal diplomatic relations with North Korea and rejected criticism of the Asian country’s nuclear weapons program,” approving the “credentials of North Korean Ambassador Jae Myong So.” Ortega said that “It isn’t right, it isn’t fair” that some countries in the world “arm themselves then want to prohibit others from arming themselves in self-defense.” [5] This is to be applauded as we cannot forget that Juche Korea helped “the regime of the oppressed Nicaragua with medicines and medical assistance” during the 1980s. As one conservative writer groaned, “Daniel Ortaga never forgets a comrade” and quoted a press release from KCNA (seemingly), noting that Ortega argued that “the DPRK’s access to deterrent for self-defence is a clear manifestation of the independent stand and this greatly encourages us…stressing that the Songun policy of Kim Jong Il is very just” while he also “affirmed the will to further develop the friendly relations between the two countries and strengthen cooperation in the international arena.” Ortega also said that “we’re going to strengthen relations.” One month before, in April, Juche Korea re-established relations with Myanmar (also called Burma), which “had been suspended since 1983 after an explosion in Yangon, the capital of Burma, during a visit by South Korean ruler Chun Doo-Hwan” was blamed on Juche Korea even though Pyongyang said that “the South Korean leader himself had orchestrated the incident.” In August of the same year, Nicaragua began building its ties with Iran, calling the U$ a “terrorist nation” (condemning the U$ invasion of Iraq and Bush II as a “world tyrant”) with Iran ready to invest nearly $500 million in Nicaragua, build a “new hydroelectric project, invest in a new port [,] and build 10,000 new houses,” with this alarming Iran haters in the West, who were also shocked by the new warm relations with Venezuela since the country joined ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), a political-economic alliance created by Venezuela. Ortega also said at the time that “world trade was dominated by the tyranny of global capitalism” which is true while many Nicaraguans seemed to favor the U$, with which Nicaragua had normalized relations. Still, the country had ended “a long neoliberal period that had…failed to kickstart the country’s economy” and the energy crisis in the country was “seemingly solved via a deal with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez,” with a government which is “dedicated to social justice and peace” in power. There are no more “severe conditions” like the ones that UNO and U$ aid polices produced.

By 2009, Ortega was fiery as ever. In November, he lashed out at the U$ for “criticizing Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs,” and asked, before the UN General Assembly, “what right the United States has to question a country that is seeking nuclear development for peaceful – or even military – purposes” and added that “the best path for humanity is for nuclear weapons not to exist, and he called on the United States to take the first step in nuclear disarmament.” [6] The U$ propaganda outlet of the Cold War era, Voice of America (VOA) grumbled that “Mr. Ortega has a long history of opposing the United States.” The following year, Ortega received Kim Hyong Jun at his house in Managua for one hour, the foreign minister of Juche Korea and discussed “strengthening ties between the two countries,” with this Kim in “Nicaragua…as part of a three country tour of the Americas that also includes visits to Cuba and Venezuela” and he told Ortega that “Kim Jong Il sends his fond greetings.” The state media of Nicaragua responded by saying that Juche Korea was a “brother nation” that the latter “demonstrated “solidarity and cooperation” with the Sandinista Revolution in the 1980s.

In 2011, there was another set of elections for the “90 directly-elected seats in the National Assembly” with the Sandinistas, which had implemented “a series of programmes aimed at providing the poor with microcredits, farm animals and transport subsidies…[and] provided a US$ 33 monthly bonus for government workers” since the election in 2006. While the “country’s Constitution prohibits consecutive presidential terms” Ortega filed a suit in 2009 “before the Constitutional Chamber of the Nicaraguan Supreme Court, arguing the presidential term limit violated his constitutional rights” and not long after “the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the President,” a ruling which was “subsequently approved by the Supreme Electoral Council,” allowing Ortega to seek another term. Ortega, challenged by “Mr. Fabio Gadea Mantilla’s Liberal Independent Party (PLI) and former President Arnoldo Alemán’s PLC” said they would “fight corruption” and “restore rule of law and democracy to Nicaragua.” The Sandinistas, who argued that “no previous government had helped the people as the FSLN had” and Ortega who “promised to reduce poverty and illiteracy” were victors, with the final results giving “62 seats to the FSLN and 26 to the PLI. The PLC took the remaining two seats. In all, 37 women were elected” and in the presidential elections “Mr. Ortega was re-elected with 62 per cent of the votes” with the opposition “alleging fraud” but this was rejected. On his victory, Raul Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela “extended their congratulations” for Ortega, whose campaign “enjoyed popular support, particularly for his vast social aid programs,” while the “political opposition in Nicaragua” was “fractured and struggled to gain momentum behind any one candidate during the campaign,” with Ortega building a “strong base of support among the poor with the roll out of social welfare programs, providing subsidized food, clothing, health services and education programs.”

FSLN supporters celebrate after 2011 presidential election in the streets of Managua. AFP photo.

In 2012 and 2013, Ortega was moving along, as so was Nicaragua. Some said, rightly, that he was making “great strides towards making health care, education, and work more accessible to the masses” noting that “unemployment is now just 5%” even though underemployment was still high,” but that since there is “education and health care more readily available, there is much hope for Nicaragua’s future.” [7] Still, it was noted that “Nicaragua still has a long way to go,” since the “main source of work” in the country “remains agriculture and sweat-shop style labour” and education is widely available but “many students cannot afford to go to school when their families need money to make end’s meet.” Still, good efforts have been made! The following year, in July, a Nicaraguan foreign delegation went to Juche Korea, showing the strong connection between the countries.

In 2014 and 2015, Nicaragua and Juche Korea moved together. In October of 2014, Juche Korea supported Nicaragua’s recommendation to take “practical measures to provide safer working conditions, suitable for its citizens” at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process of the UN Human Rights Council which “provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries” and to fulfill “their human rights obligations.” In fact, of the 268 recommendations, 113 enjoyed the support of the Juche Korean government, 4 were “partially accepted,” 58 were “noted,” 10 were not supported, and 83 were rejected on the grounds they “seriously distorted the reality of and slandered the country.” [8] This meant that about 65% of the recommendations, 175 of them, were accepted. If you remove the 83 horrid ones, which distorted the reality of the country and slandered the Koreans, as those recommendations are not legitimate, then of these 185 recommendations, then 95% of the legitimate recommendations were accepted either fully, partially, or noted by the government itself, which is quite impressive, considering that these recommendations come from countries which are broadly bourgeois. The following year, Nicaragua took a strong stand. They said they would not join the Paris agreement because, in the words of the lead envoy, Paul Oquist, “we’re not going to submit because voluntary responsibility is a path to failure. We don’t want to be an accomplice to taking the world to 3 to 4 degrees and the death and destruction it represents.” This response was, and is, totally understandable. However, with Juche Korea ratifying the Paris Accord on November 4, 2016, Nicaragua did the same, acceding to it on October 23, 2017. This leaves, of the countries that signed the agreement, specifically Yemen, Uzbekistan, Tanzania, Turkey, Suriname, South Sudan, San Marino, Russia, Oman, Mozambique, Libya, Liberia, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Iran, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Colombia, and Angola, as the only ones that have not ratified the agreement.

2016 was another year of victory for the Nicaraguan people. The Sandinistas won “70 of 90 seats at stake in the 92-member National Assembly” and the “Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), which allied with the FSLN in the outgoing legislature, took 13 seats” with these elections following the “dismissal of 28 opposition members” and hence were “boycotted by the opposition.” For the third consecutive term, thanks to a 2014 constitutional amendment which “allowed for indefinite presidential re-election,” Ortega was re-elected and his wife, “Ms. Rosario Murillo, became Vice President” with both sworn in “on 10 January 2017.” During the campaign for this election, the Sandinistas promised to “work for peace, stability and the security of Nicaraguan families” and during this election, a “50-per cent quota for each sex, introduced by the 2012 amendments to the electoral law, was applied for the first time,” with 42 women elected, which was “up from 37 in 2011.” Article 147 of the Constitution says that “those related to the president either by blood or affinity” cannot be “a candidate for president or vice president” but lawmakers differ “over the definition of the affinity relationship.” Affinity, as defined in the fourth edition of the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, is a relationship through marriage or a “close relationship” and connection. This would seem to disqualify Ortega and his wife. Other dictionaries call it a “natural attraction, liking, or feeling of kinship” or an “inherent similarity between persons or things.” However, the Nicaraguan government has a valid point, saying that the Constitution of Nicaragua only “prohibits only blood relatives — like two siblings, or a parent and a child — from being on the same ticket” but not those who are married, with Ortega’s wife, Rosario Murillo, crediting the “Sandinista revolution for opening the doors to her candidacy as a woman.” [9] It is worth noting that in the most recent constitution, in 2014, a bit different from the 2005, 1987, or 1974 Constitutions, says that:

“Independence, sovereignty, and national self-determination are inalienable rights ofthe people and the bases of the Nicaraguan nation.” (Article 1)

“Nicaragua is an independent, free, sovereign, unitary and indivisible State. It is organized as a democratic and social state based on the rule of law which promotes as superior values the protection of the dignity of the people through the legal order, liberty, justice, equality, solidarity, social responsibility and, in general, the primacy of human rights, ethics, and the common good” (Article 6)

“All individuals are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection. Thereshall be no discrimination based on birth, nationality, political belief, race, gender, language, religion, opinion, origin, economic position or social condition” (Article 27)

“Nicaraguans have the right to freely express their convictions in public or in private, individually or collectively, in oral, written or any other form” (Article 30)

“All persons shall have the right to have their physical, psychological and moral integrity respected. No one shall be subjected to torture, procedures, punishments, or inhumane, cruel or degrading treatment. Violation of this right constitutes a crime and shall be punished by law.” (Article 36)

“No one shall be detained for debts. This principle does not limit the mandates of competent legal authority for the non-fulfillment of alimony duties. It is the duty of all national or foreign citizens to pay their debts” (Article 41)

“Unconditional equality of all Nicaraguans in the enjoyment of their political rights, in the exercise of these rights, and in the fulfillment of their duties and responsibilities, is established; there exists absolute equality between men and women” (Article 48)

“Citizens have the right, individually or collectively, to petition, denounce irregularities and make constructive criticism to the Powers of the State or to any authority, to obtain a quick resolution or response and to have the result communicated in the time period established by the law.” (Article 52)

“The State shall give special attention in all its programs to the disabled and to the relatives of those killed or victimized by war in general.” (Article 56)

“Nicaraguans have the right to truthful information. This right comprises the freedom to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas, be they spoken or written, in graphic or by any other chosen procedure.” (Article 66)

“The labor of Nicaraguans is the fundamental means to satisfy the needs of society and of persons, and is the source of the wealth and prosperity of the nation. The State shall strive for full and productive employment of all Nicaraguans under conditions that guarantee the fundamental rights of the person.” (Article 80)

“Full labor union freedom exists in Nicaragua. Workers shall organize themselves voluntarily in unions, which shall be constituted in conformity with that established by the law.” (Article 87)

“The State has the obligation to enact laws intended to promote actions to ensure that no Nicaraguan shall be the object of discrimination for reasons of language, culture or origin” (Article 91)

“The principal function of the State in the economy is to achieve the sustainable human development in the country; to improve the living conditions of the people and to realize a more just distribution of wealth in the pursuit of a good life. The State must play the role of facilitator in the production sector which creates the conditions which allow the private sector and the workers to pursue their economic, productive and labor activities in a framework of democratic governance and full legal certainty, so that they may contribute to the economic and social development of the country.” (Article 98)

“The natural resources are national patrimony. The preservation of the environment, and the conservation, development and rational exploitation of the natural resources are responsibilities of the State; the State may sign contracts for the rational exploitation of these resources in a transparent, public procedure when required by the national interest” (Article 102)

“Free health care is guaranteed for the vulnerable sectors of the population, giving priority to the completion of programs benefiting mothers and children. Specific family and community health programs shall be developed” (Article 105)

“The land reform is the fundamental instrument for the democratization of ownership and the just distribution of land; it is a means constituting an essential part for the global promotion and strategy of ecological reconstruction and the sustainable economic development of the country” (Article 106)

“The public officials are accountable to the people for the proper discharge of their functions and must inform them of their official work and activities. They must pay attention and listen to their problems and try to solve them. Public functions must be exercised for the benefit of the people.” (Article 131)

“Legislative Power is exercised by the National Assembly through delegation and by the mandate of the people. The National Assembly is composed of ninety members (diputados) and their alternates elected by universal, equal, direct, free, and secret suffrage through the system of proportional representation. In accordance with what is established in the electoral law, twenty national members are elected and seventy members in the departmental and autonomous regions.” (Article 132)

“The election of the President and Vice President of the Republic takes place by universal, equal, direct, free and secret vote. Those who receive a relative majority of the votes cast shall be elected.” (Article 146)

The same year, the U$ Congress passed a bill to sanction Nicaragua, passing the House but not the Senate luckily for Nicaraguans. Additionally, Nicaragua expelled three U$ government officials in the country “on temporary assignment,” possibly related to these sanctions. [10] Relations with Juche Korea were strong without question. In September, Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the SPA, took “part in the 17th NAM Summit as head of a DPRK delegation” where they “met heads of state of different countries in the period of summit” and met with, on the side, “the prime minister of Uganda, the vice-president of El Salvador, the vice-president of Nicaragua and the vice prime minister of Vietnam who doubles as its foreign minister.” In November, member of the Presidum of the WPK’s political bureau, Choe Ryong Hae “met the presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua” and led a “DPRK state and party delegation on a visit to Cuba to mourn the demise of Fidel Castro Ruz, the supreme leader of the Cuban revolution” as Rodong Sinmun described him. The same month, Kim Yong Nam “sent a message of greeting to Daniel Ortega Saavedra upon his reelection as president of Nicaragua” and expressed the “belief that the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries would grow stronger in keeping with the requirement of the new era” and wished “the Nicaraguan president bigger success in his responsible work for the development of the country and the well being of the people.” [11]

Sandinista supporters “flock to the streets of the capital to celebrate” in November 2016. AFP or AP photo.

Then we move onto 2017. Some declared that Nicaragua was a “poor country” and an “agricultural nation” with a growing industry of tourism, which was bound in bourgeois conceptions. [12] At the same time, the murderous empire bared all its teeth. There were threats that Nicaragua would be sanctioned for supporting Venezuela, with such sanctions imposed by the U$ Treasury Department in November on certain individuals, which the UK supported, even though this would hurt Nicaragua’s economy without question. Luckily, the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) failed in the U$ Senate after passing the House “without question”! This showed the true side of liberals, like Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Dick Durvin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Albio Sires of New Jersey, who sided with conservatives, like Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, David Perdue of Georgia, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. Cruz decried the “Ortega regime,” painting it as some tyrannical monster who is helping a “ruling elite” and allying with “anti-American regimes,” Leahy declared that Ortega had “subverted the institutions of democracy” for his own benefit, Menedez said that the U$ must “restore public confidence in democratic institutions,” Durbin said that “Nicaragua and Venezuela have tragically gone backwards” unlike the rest of Latin America, and Capito declared that the U$ has a “very long history of supporting human rights and protecting democracy around the world.” Of course, such imperialist rhetoric showed that all of them just spoke for the empire through liberal and conservative prisms.

In 2017, Nicaragua also gained further ties with Taiwan, with the two countries signing a defense agreement in September. [13] The U$ also declared it would, in January 2019, end the “special status given to 5,300 Nicaraguan immigrants that protects them from deportation.” Additionally, Freedom House released a blistering, anti-communist review of Nicaragua having words like “unchecked corruption,” “electoral fraud,” “subservient,” “largely politicized,” “retaliation,” and “democratic deterioration,” to name a few, but admitting that the

constitution provides for a directly elected president, and elections are held every five years…the constitution provides for a 92-member unicameral National Assembly…Legislative elections are held every five years…Ortega retains significant popular support, thanks to his adept management of a booming economy and support for social programs…half of each party’s candidates for mayoralties and council seats must be women…Religious freedom is generally respected…Academic freedoms are generally respected…Private discussion is usually free…Access to the internet remains unrestricted, and many people speak their minds freely on social networks…Although nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are active…The constitution and laws nominally recognize the rights of indigenous communities…Governmental and nonstate actors generally respect travel, residence, and employment choices….The 2012 Comprehensive Law against Violence toward Women…codified femicide and establishes sentencing guidelines for physical and psychological abuses against women

The same year, Nicaragua, along with Argentina and Cuba, commemorated “the first anniversary of the death of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro,” but, as some worried, “Nicaragua’s close relations to Cuba, Russia and Iran could hurt it in the Trump era…the situation obviously could become complicated.” Still, this solidarity should be applauded. Sadly, in September 2017, Nicaragua condemned the Juche Korea for missile launches, saying that “the Republic of Nicaragua expresses its deep concern and condemnation of the incessant launches of ballistic missiles and the Sixth Nuclear Test by the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. We condemn all types of Nuclear Tests or Tests by any Nuclear Weapons State, we urgently call for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the abandonment of the Nuclear Programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, in accordance with the Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. We urge the Parties involved to return to the Path of Dialogue and Negotiation, which will allow us to develop and find a peaceful solution as soon as possible, to build Peace, Stability, Security, Welfare, Development and the Reunification of the Great Korean Peninsula.” Still, this is a broad condemnation and has no hard feelings toward Juche Korea whatsoever. It seems unfortunate that Nicaragua felt it had to make this statement. But perhaps it is partially due to their economics. In June of that year, the U$ State Department in their Investment Climate Statement thundered that the government was “actively seeking to increase economic growth by supporting and promoting foreign investment” and added that the government emphasized “it pragmatic management of the economy through a model of consensus and dialogue with private sector and labor representatives.” The statement went onto say that a “key draw for investors is Nicaragua’s relatively low-cost and young labor force,” noted that Nicaragua is “a party to the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)” and has a strong “trade relationship with the United States.” It was also noted that Nicaragua currently “offers significant tax incentives in many industries” which include “exemptions from import duties, property tax incentives, and income tax relief” and a well-established “free trade zone regime.” After grumbling about “weak governmental institutions, deficiencies in the rule of law…extensive executive control,” and transparency, the statement also said that the Nicaraguan government actively worked to “attract foreign direct investment as one of its primary tools to generate economic growth and increase employment” and noted that not only do “foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity” but the “Government of Nicaragua does not formally screen, review, or approve foreign direct investments.” Even the 28,000 property owners whose land was seized by the Nicaraguan government in the 1980s was last compensated in August 2015, while Ortega said that “the government will not act to evict those who have illegally taken possession of private property without discrimination for the nationality of the owner.” The statement said that “Nicaragua is a highly-dollarized economy” and added that Ortega “used funds provided by Venezuela through…ALBA…to increase the role of the state and quasi-state actors in the economy” and noted that “the government owns and operates the National Sewer and Water Company (ENACAL), National Port Authority (EPN), National Lottery, and National Electricity Transmission Company (ENATREL). Private sector investment is not permitted in these sectors,” saying importantly that “Nicaragua does not have a privatization program.”

While Nicaragua condemned the missile tests of Juche Korea, the relationship between the two countries was still strong. In January 10, Choe Ryong Hae, special envoy of Kim Jong Un, attended the swearing in of Daniel Ortega in Managua, and met with the presidents of Venezuela (Nicholas Maduro) and Bolivia (Morales Aima), and Cuban first vice-president on the sidelines. [14] In his inaugural speech, as summarized by Rodong Sinmun, Ortega said that “Nicaragua has smashed the U.S. aggression and interference and achieved the reconciliation and unity,” declaring that “his country would develop the friendly relations with the world progressive peoples respecting its sovereignty” and Hae, afterwards “congratulated him on his reelection and expressed support and solidarity with the cause of the Nicaraguan people” and was subsequently invited to “a reception given by the Nicaraguan government that day”! Again, the relationship between the two countries is undeniably strong. The same year, the Cubans attended the inauguration of Ortega, who is part of the Latin American left, strongly praising the country and its leadership as they are dedicated allies.

Nicaragua and Juche Korea flag pin

Oxfam, a bourgeois organization on the whole, admitted on their page on Nicaragua that the country is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, having “more than six million inhabitants” and a predominantly young and female population, which is largely “concentrated in urban areas” while “indigenous and ethnic minority groups make up about 15 per cent of the population.” They admitted that a the “socio-political revolution that took place in Nicaragua during the 1980’s was an inspiration for change throughout the world,” adding that at the time “Nicaragua was on the verge of delivering a fairer political system thanks to the social movers of the time” but that now, the country “is saddled with debt and the second poorest in America.” You could say that is the case, however, there have been great advances since 2006. Recently, Nicaragua gained a victory with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling favorably in an environmental dispute, with the court only ruling that Nicaragua had to pay less than half a million US dollars, lower than the 6.7 million demanded by Costa Rica, “on the maritime delimitation between Nicaragua and Costa Rica in the Caribbean Sea” with this money being “environmental reparations for damage caused by Nicaraguan soldiers between 2010 and 2013” on Portillos Island where 300 ancient trees and a channel was dredged near a river, establishing a military camp. Initially the Costa Ricans wanted “compensation of US$6.1 million, which included the salaries of public servants who worked in the area and the cost of equipment maintenance,” but this was not accepted by the court, with the curt instead read to rule “on a maritime border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the territorial border north of the Portillos Island on Friday afternoon.” The representative before the ICJ for Nicaragua, Carlos Arguello, aid it was unfortunate that that the two countries could not “reach an agreement,” saying that Ortega was willing to “compensate Costa Rica, but not for the requested amount,” noting that the “costs of the trial exceeds the amount determined by the court as reparations.”

At the present time, there is a Nicaraguan embassy in ROK (which recently signed a free trade agreement with “Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama…with hopes of increasing exports of cars, steels and cosmetics”) and the Nicaraguan legislative system is churning along. In February of this year, Ortega rejected the exclusion of Venezuela from the Summit of Americas in Peru in April, saying that “We hope that these obstacles can be overcome, those vetoes that are being applied to Venezuela by closing the space to participate in a table where all the countries of our America will be. Precisely if there is a problem is when you have to get to that table, to those places, because it is the place where you can talk about these issues and find a solution. Now they have taken the decision to exclude Venezuela from that meeting, that does not make sense, it does not have logic and it breaks away from the principle of respect for the charter of the United Nations and all international norms.” Ortega was also quoted as saying that “this is not good logically for the region, we hope that this veto being done to Venezuela can be overcome,” and noted that even the Ecuadorean government (now clearly reactionary), “also rejected the exclusion of President Maduro from the summit,” while the governments of “Cuba, Uruguay, and Bolivia have already expressed their opposition to excluding Venezuelan from the summit.” The country is also proposing measures to “regulate social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, among others)” because as vice president Rosario Murillo put it, “we’re in social media and we can be negatively influenced through these social networks, the Internet, because we receive this information from other realities and other countries,” which has led some to cry “totalitarian” while they don’t recognize that “freedom of information” in a broad, unregulated form benefits the capitalist class as it allows them to subvert anyone who opposes the global capitalist system by infiltrating their countries. [15] For this reason, the move forward in Nicaragua should be strongly supported by comrades.

In the years to come, the relationship between Juche Korea and Nicaragua will undoubtedly remain strong, helping both countries serve as part of an anti-imperialist front even though the Nicaraguan are clearly socially democratic while the Koreans are on the socialist road with their Juche ideology.


Notes

[1] “North Korea and the World” project by the East-West Center and the National Committee on North Korea (NCNK). As Manuel S. Marin wrote on page 211 of Opus Dei: A Templar’s Credo for the Advent of the City of God in the City of Man, “North Korea would probably assign its resources to something else, if it didn’t have to fear the United States,” which is important to remember.

[2] Eric Talmadge, “Senior North Korean leader to attend Nicaragua inauguration,” AP, Jan 6, 2017. This article said that “a senior North Korean delegation left Pyongyang on Friday to attend the inauguration of Nicaragua’s newly elected President Daniel Ortega. Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is heading the delegation as a special envoy…Choe, sent off by an honor guard, departed Pyongyang on Friday morning’s scheduled Air Koryo flight to Vladivostok. He was expected to travel via Moscow and Cuba before arriving in Nicaragua. North Korea and Nicaragua opened diplomatic relations in 1979.”

[3] Reuters, “North Korean in Nicaragua,” New York Times (reprinted in), Mar 15, 1982; “North Korea‐Nicaragua Tie,” New York Times, Aug 24, 1979; Dae-Ho Byun, North Korea’s Foreign Policy: The Juche Ideology and the Challenge of Gorbachev’s New Thinking (US: Research Center for Peace and Unification of Korea, 1991), p 108; Robert S. Leiken, Why Nicaragua Vanished: A Story of Reporters and Revolutionaries (US: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), pp 65, 119, 204; CIA, Directorate of Intelligence, Directory of the Republic of Nicaragua: A Reference Aid (Washington, D.C.: CIA, Aug 1, 1998), p 50; Danielle L. Chubb, Contentious Activism and Inter-Korean Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), p 230; Wayne Limberg, “Soviet military support for third-world Marxist regimes,” The USSR and Marxist Revolutions in the Third World (ed. Mark N. Katz, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp 53, 64, 151; Charles K. Armstrong, Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950–1992 (US: Cornell University Press, 2013), pp 209, unknown page; Lee Edwards, The Conservative Revolution: The Movement that Remade America (US: Simon & Schuster, 1999), pp 242, 251; Robin Road and John Cavanagh, “Don’t Neglect the Impoverished South,” Diversity and U.S. Foreign Policy: A Reader (ed edited by Ernest J. Wilson III, US: Psychology Press, 2004), p 63; Timothy C. Brown, pro-Contra book titled When the AK-47s Fall Silent: Revolutionaries, Guerrillas, and the Dangers of Peace (US: Hoover Institution Press, 2000), pp 28, 45, 91; AP, “Nicaragua Aide Seeks Arms in North Korea,” New York Times (reprinted in), Apr 4, 1984.Other states listed in 1986, in Katz’s book, as having “socialist orientation” were Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Cape Verde, Madagascar, Mozambique, “South” Yemen, Congo, Grenada (until 1983), and Afghanistan. Unknown page Armstrong’s book says that the DPRK sided, in Angola, with the FNLA against the MPLA meaning that they, were in effect siding with the U$ against the Soviets. The FNLA was armed and trained in Zaire by Chinese instructors, and helped by the Romanians. Other pages of his book say that the DPRK built a presidential palace for the president of Burundi in the “late 1970s” and became a major source of assistance for Guyana after 1976 when the country had a falling out with the Soviets and Cubans, giving “assistance in industry, agriculture, education, and military equipment” but these relations did not last “long enough to survive Burnham’s death in 1985.” It was also said in this book that Juche Korea established relations with Iran in 1974, under the Shah, and then after the Iranian Revolution strongly allied with the new government.

[4] Giancarlo Soler Torrijos, In the Shadow of the United States: Democracy and Regional Order in the Latin Caribbean (US: Universal-Publishers, 2008), pp 114, 116, 118, 119, 120, 122, 123; Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner, “Conclusion,” The Foreign Policies of the Global South: Rethinking Conceptual Frameworks (ed. Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003), p 183; Matthew M. Aid, “Sins of Omission and Commission: Strategic and Cultural Factors and US Intelligence Failures During the Cold War,” Intelligence and Strategic Culture (ed. Isabelle Duyvesteyn, US: Routledge, 2013), p 55; Stephen M. Walt, Revolution and War (London: Cornell University Press, 2013), p 379; Mattias Gardell, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam (US: Duke University Press, 1996), p 205; Fatima Nduka-Eze, Joe Garba’s Legacy: Thirty-Two Selected Speeches and Lectures on National Governance, Confronting Apartheid and Foreign Policy (US: Xlibris Corporation, May 2, 2012), p 386; Jeff Goodwin, No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945-1991 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p 289; Howard J. Wiarda, “Crises of the Castro Regime,” Cuban Communism (8th Edition, ed. Irving Louis Horowitz, US: Transaction Publishers, 1995), p 783; Thomas H. Hendrikson, Using power and diplomacy to deal with rogue states (US: Hoover Institution, 1999, first printing), pp 15, 16; “Nicaragua Re-Establishes North Korea Ties,” The Panama Investor Blog (reprinting from Newsmax), May 19, 2007; Lonely Planet, “History” of Nicaragua, accessed Mar 15, 2018; MapsOfWorld, “History of Nicaragua,” accessed Mar 15, 2018; “History Of Nicaragua,” HistoryWorld, accessed Mar 15, 2018. The Nation of Islam, at the second Mathaba conference in the later 1980s, had delegates from “Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Uganda, Ghana, and North Korea” along with delegations from the FMNL-FDR in El Salvador, M19 in Colombia, IRA, Moro National Liberation Front in Philippines, ANC, Pan-African Congress, Aborgines in Australia, indigenous people from the U$ and Canada, and blacks and Chican@s from the U$!

[5] “Nicaragua Re-Establishes North Korea Ties,” The Panama Investor Blog (reprinting from Newsmax), May 19, 2007; Trevor London, “Nicaragua and North Korea, Comrades Again,” May 27, 2007; Joachim Bamrud, “Nicaragua Building Ties With Iran,” Newsmax, Aug 15, 2007; Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah, The Political History of Ghana (1950-2013): The Experience of a Non-Conformist (US: AuthorHouse, 2014), p 382; Lonely Planet, “History” of Nicaragua, accessed Mar 15, 2018; INTUR, “History and Culture” of Nicaragua, 2018; “Nicaragua embraces North Korea,” North Korean Economy Watch, May 18, 2007.

[6] “Nicaragua’s Ortega Lashes Out at US,” VOA, Nov 1, 2009; “Nicaragua Strengthens Ties With North Korea,” The Tico Times, Oct 1, 2010; Larisa Epatko, “Nicaragua’s Ortega Projected to Win Third Term, Opens Door to Long Rule,” PBS, Nov 7, 2011.

[7] “A Brief History of Nicaragua,” The Giving Lens, Jan 14, 2012; Virginie Grzelczyk, North Korea’s New Diplomacy: Challenging Political Isolation in the 21st Century (US: Springer, 2017), p 82.

[8] The countries which posed resolutions Juche Korea didn’t support included Italy, Chile, Mexico, Hungary, Belgium, Mexico, Botswana, Australia, Greece, and Germany. The countries that posed recommendations which were rejected on the grounds they “seriously distorted the reality of and slandered the country,” 70 (about 85% percent) of which were countries in Europe and North America. The other 13 (15% percent) were scattered across the globe, but mostly in East Asia and Latin America, with only two in the Mideast and Africa.

[9] Frances Robles, “Wife and Running Mate: A Real-Life ‘House of Cards’ in Nicaragua,” New York Times, Oct 30, 2016; Holly K. Sonneland, “Update: Five Things to Know ahead of Nicaragua’s General Elections,” Americas Society/Council of the Americas, Aug 2016.

[10] Felicia Schwartz, “Nicaragua Expels Three U.S. Officials,” Wall Street Journal, Jun 17, 2016.

[11] KCNA, “Blessings sent to new Nicaraguan president,” Pyongyang Times, Nov 11, 2016. Similar translation here to the one cites in the text.

[12] Tim Lambert, “A Short History of Nicaragua,” localhistories.org, 2017; “Sen. Cruz: ‘The U.S. Stands With the People of Nicaragua’,” Press Release, Dec 22, 2017

[13] Elizabeth Shim, “Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen meets with leaders of Honduras, Nicaragua,” UPI, Jan 10, 2017; AAP News, “Nicaragua, Taiwan sign defence agreement,” Shepparton News, Sept 3, 2017; Reuters Staff, “U.S. to end protected status for Nicaraguan immigrants in 2019,” Reuters, Nov 6, 2017; Freedom House, profile of Nicaragua, “Freedom in the World 2018” page, accessed Mar 15, 2018; U$ State Department, “Nicaragua,” 2017 Investment Climate Statements, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Jun 29, 2017, accessed Mar 16, 2018.

[14] KCNA, “Special envoy to attend new presidential swearing-in in Nicaragua,” Pyongyang Times, Jan 9, 2017; KCNA, “Kim Jong Un’s special envoy visits Nicaragua and Cuba,” Pyongyang Times, Jan 16, 2017.

[15] “South Korea signs free trade deal with Central America as first in Asia,” The Straits Times, Feb 21, 2018; “S. Korea, five central American countries to discuss cooperation,” Yonhap News, Feb 19, 2018; Karina Martin, “Nicaragua’s proposed social media controls follow dictatorship handbook,” PanAm Post, Mar 15, 2018. Apparently the “North Korean nuclear problem” was discussed with Nicaragua among other countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama) by ROK on February 19.

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