Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why was Bernie Sanders going on about some US war on Nicaragua? Let's ask Corb Lund and Kris Kristofferson


If there is one thing my time on this godforsaken Earth that is rapidly racing towards an eco-holocaust of unimaginable horror, it is that there are very few things that country music cannot explain.

And so it is with a recent issue that suddenly exploded into the US Democratic presidential race on March 10 in a debate in Miami between self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders and Democrat establishment figure Hillary Clinton. Sanders was asked about statements back in the 80s when he supported the revolutionary Sandinista government in the small, impoverished Central American nation of Nicaragua against active attempts by the wonderful humanitarians of the Reagan administration to the destroy the popular revolution like it was just one more trade union to smash.

Sanders said: "The US was wrong to try to invade Cuba. It was wrong to support people trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. It was wrong trying to overthrow, in 1954, the democratically elected government of Guatemala ...

"Throughout the history of our relationship with Latin America we've operated under the so-called Monroe Doctrine, and that said the United States had the right do anything that they wanted to do in Latin America.

"So I actually went to Nicaragua and I very strongly opposed the Reagan administration's efforts to overthrow that government. And I strongly opposed earlier Henry Kissinger and the [plot] to overthrow the [democratically elected socialist] government of Salvador Allende in Chile.

"I think the United States should be working with governments around the world, not get involved in regime change."

That is really not the sort of talk you expect to hear from a serious candidate for the White House. They're the words of a man campaigning to take the formal head of an Empire whose actions he just strongly condemned. No wonder his "populism" is causing some angst elites like the Goldman Sachs CEO who called him "dangerous".

But what the fuck actually happened in Nicaragua back in the 1980s that caused the US to wage such a savage, if largely hidden, war that the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled the US should pay Nicaragua $17 billion in reparations (of which, of course, the US has not paid a cent)?

Well, in the US's self-proclaimed "backyard", the people of Nicaragua had the sheer gall in 1979 to succesfully overthrow an infamously brutal US-backed Somoza dictatorship in a popular revolution. Led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), the revolution began a process of changing the economy away from one virtually entirely owned by the Somoza family and its cronies. Instead, health care and education were dramatically expanded, land was redistributed to poor farmers, workers' wages and conditions were improved, poverty was cut.

This was not just down from the top down, but was the result of a mass revolutionary movement in which the oppressed poor began taking over their own society, Democratic rights and freedoms were extending and the FSLN was twice elected. Finally, in 1990, witht he poor nation's population  ground down by a decade of US-fuelled war justified by "stopping communism", voted for the US-backed opposition just to get some peace 

This opened the way to neoliberalism in the country -- a social disaster. In 2007, the Sandinistas returned to government and they remain in  power. The Sandinistas of today not those of the 1980s and face some real criticisms, but also some very real gains for the poor, gains upsetting, as ever the Untied States. If there is anything the US empire seems to hate more than anything, it is seeing the poor get health clinics and schools.

Now if you want to know what the hell happened, you can watch a long interview with Bernie Sanders in the '80s talking about his trip to Nicaragua, you can even watch an on-the-spot documentary by John Pilger from the '80s that provides detailed information and essential background.

Or you can just ask a couple of country singers, and get the same story only shorter and put to catchier tunes. First of all, via the Canadian country singer from Alberta, Corb Lund, second via the legendary singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, whose most famous songs are "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down".

Corb takes a looks at what the Yankees did, through the story of one US special agent who was himself a victim of the US government's cynical games. Kris,meanwhile, takes a look at what the Sandinistas meant... and speaks movingly of being asked to sing his song by Nicaragua's Sandinista President Daniel Ortega at celebrations for the revolution.



'Did Reagan give the order, did cocaine pay the bill?'
Student Visas 
They took away our dogtags, they had us grow our hair
They gave us student visas when we were over there
They staged us out of Hondo al este del Salvador
I guess you'd call us Contras but no one calls much no more
There ain’t no fun in killin’ folk and I don’t wanna do no more

My great great rode at Shiloh and Grandpa drove a tank
Daddy was air cavalry, flew choppers in the Nam
I worked mostly clandestine, the branch I should not say
We played with better guns and I could use the extra pay
Did Reagan give the order? Did cocaine pay the bill?
They said we's fightin' communists but it was kinda hard to tell
There ain’t no fun in killin’ folk and I don’t wanna do no more

This was before Blackhawks and RPGs were king
My buddy on the door gun, he never felt a thing
When our Huey caught a rocket and both the pilots killed
And it pitched us over sideways on some Nicaraguan hill
My back felt like it’s broken, my legs I could not feel
I kept on shooting communists but it was kind of hard to tell
There ain’t no fun in killin’ folk and I ain’t gonna do no more

I never did heal up right from injuries sustained
Officially in Germany, officially while we trained
I remember all their faces, I dream about them still
I guess we's fightin’ communists but it was kinda hard to tell
There ain’t no fun in killin’ folk, and I don’t wanna do no more

I speak the cold logistic that warriors speak so well
Foxtrot tango whiskey alpha golf tango hotel
A soldierly bravado, an unspeakable guilt
That village, it was communist but it was kinda hard to tell
There ain’t no fun in killin’ folk and I don’t wanna do no more
Believe me, I’ve done plenty boys and I ain’t gonna do no more
But of course if they back me in the corner they’ll be dead before they hit the floor



'Sandinista, you can hold your head up high...'
Sandinista 
Sandinista, you can hold your head up high
You have given back their Freedom
You have lived up to your name

Sandinista, may your spirit never die
Hold the candle to the darkness
You're the keeper of the flame

Sandinista, keep believing in the dream
The truth is stronger than the shadows
Keep it shining in your eyes
Sandinista, may the soldiers disappear
May your children live forever
May their laughter fill your lives

Sandinista, los fuerzas de la oscuridad
Nunca pueden extinguir la puridad de tu llama revolutionara
Con su terror y sus mentiras
Con su dinero y sys maquinas
La libertad en tus ojus
El amor caliente en tu corozon
Son fuerzas mas poderosas
Que las armas de la guerra 
Sandinista, you can hold your head up high
You have given back their freedom
You have lived up to your name
Sandinista, may your spirit never die
Hold the candle to the darkness
You're the keeper of the flame


BONUS KRIS KRISTOFFERSON TRACK ABOUT NICARAGUA!

On the same album as "Sandinista" --  1990's Third World Warrior album, Kristofferson also recorded this track about the horror of the US war on Nicagua and other Central Amercian nations (like El Salvador and Guatemala where the US were still propping up horrific dictatorships) -- and the need to stand against it.




'They're killing babies in the name of Freedom...' 

Don't Let The Bastards (Get You Down) 
They're killing babies in the name of Freedom
We've been down that sorry road before
They let us hang around a little longer than they should have
And it's too late to fool us anymore

We've seen the ones who killed the ones with vision
Cold-blooded murder right before your eyes
Today they hold the power and the money and the guns
It's getting hard to listen to their lies.

And I've just got to wonder what my Daddy would've done
If he'd seen the way they turned his dream around
I've got to go by what he told me, try to tell the truth
And stand your ground
DON'T LET THE BASTARDS GET YOU DOWN

Mining roads
Killing farmers
Burning down schools full of children
Fighting communism

And I've just got to wonder what my Daddy would've done
If he'd seen the way they turned his dream around
I've got to go by what he told me, try to tell the truth
And stand your ground
DON'T LET THE BASTARDS GET YOU DOWN

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