Emergency in Nicaragua for Indigenous Rights and Nature

By Courtney J. Parker*

The rain forest and the peoples who try to preserve it are under constant attack in Nicaragua. Photo: Getty Images

HAVANA TIMES – What we’re seeing in Nicaragua now is not unique. 

Case in point, despite a long, rich history of Taino culture, there are no recognizable Indigenous groups represented in Cuba today.

This is because a little-known Marxist text specifically outlines informal Marxist policy on Indigenous Peoples. It is obscure for good reason, but the results are unmistakable.

When asked about Indigenous Peoples in the context of Marx’s ‘the inevitable revolution’, Marx’s position was that they must assimilate or be dealt with, accordingly.

Marxist theory in Nicaragua is often expressed as a desire to have a raceless, egalitarian, society.

Even the original revolutionary Sandinistas went after the Indigenous and Kriol protected rainforest, holding 80% of the country’s natural resources. They saw nationalizing it as a way to fund their well-intended social programs.

Perhaps it’s time to stop arguing about capitalism and socialism and focus on a political economy which doesn’t exploit Indigenous and minority populations, and the planet, to all of our demise.

The Miskito especially have been demonized internationally. Even cultural icon Iggy Pop has a song about them by ‘Sandalistas’ and counterculture ‘communists’ from the Iran-Contra era.

The Miskito fought their own battle protecting the second largest rainforest (second only to the Amazon) in La Moskitia from the FSLN during that notorious era.

However, an enemy of an enemy is not always a true friend. Miskito leader Brooklyn Rivera claims they never had an alliance of any sort with the Contra.

Cuba, on the other hand, has maintained a different policy of conservation. They have conserved much of their biodiversity (which we can only assume used to be Taino territory).

Today’s FSLN is destroying the Indigenous and Kriol territories with myriad sorts of violence, fire, and roads. Their goal today is still above and beyond assimilation; they are seeking to expand the agricultural frontier, embed settlers to create illegal mines and various other destructive resource exploitation.

What is happening in Nicaragua right now under Daniel Ortega’s growing authoritarian grip has one foot in the dark side of Marxism and one foot in the right-wing authoritarianism like Bolsonaro’s attitude toward the Amazon in Brazil.

Both ends will eventually meet in mutual destruction. The consequences of not respecting the roles and rights of the most biodiverse and carbon mitigating forests in the western world, and the Peoples who protect them.

The cavalier attitude the Ortega administration had to the environmental destruction via the proposed transoceanic canal was the first real indicator of the new FSLN’s attitude toward Nicaragua’s biodiverse regions, Indigenous and campesino rights, and even climate change.

As of late, their continued violence and harassment by the deployment of paramilitaries and colonizers often known as ‘colonos’ (or ‘settlers’) in English, have put Nicaragua’s Indigenous and minority rights, and the rights of nature, in a full state of emergency.

*Dr. Courtney J. Parker holds a PhD in public health from the University of Georgia with an emphasis on Native populations.

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