In the US there has been an outpouring of outrage, especially from the Democratic party establishment, condemning foreign (read Russian) interference in the elections and warning of more attempts this year too. I think it is safe to say that everyone agrees that countries should steer clear of other nations’ elections, though in this internet age and the rise of social media that might well be a forlorn hope because private and quasi-private entities can meddle in many ways. It has reached the stage where any glitch in the process, any irregularity at all, is immediately pointed to as possible sabotage by foreign agents.
But what is astonishing is how everyone stays silent about blatant meddling by the US and some of its European allies in the elections of other countries. This has gone on for so long and has been so well documented that I won’t bother to recount the many cases. But convenient historical amnesia alone does explain this double standard. As Ben Norton writes, this kind of brazen interference is being carried out in Nicaragua right at this very moment with no attempt at concealment.
A far-right leader in Nicaragua has boasted that the country’s unpopular opposition forces are meeting with representatives from the US embassy and European Union, who have pledged them support in their bid to oust the ruling leftist Sandinista Front government.
According to this Evangelical opposition figure, the US government and EU are pressuring Nicaragua’s badly divided opposition to unite in the lead-up to the 2021 election, with the goal of unseating the Sandinistas.
This frank admission of foreign meddling in Nicaragua’s democracy comes after a violent coup attempt in 2018, in which right-wing groups funded and supported by the US governmentfailed to overthrow the elected president, Daniel Ortega.
On January 30, right-wing leaders from a group called the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACJD) held a press conference to announce their expansion as part of a process of “fortifying.”
The ACJD is a coalition of opposition groups, several of which are funded by the US government and coordinate closely with Washington. It was formed in 2018 during the coup attempt against the Sandinistas.
Of course, the US has been meddling in Venezuela for some time now, even inviting self-declared opposition leader Juan Guaido to the White House and fomenting coups in that country. This is a bipartisan affair as can be seen with Nancy Pelosi, one of the loudest voices about Russian interference in US elections, welcoming Guido to the US Congress, even calling him the ‘Interim President’.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 6, 2020
And it is doing the same thing in Bolivia.
The US government has a long history of elevating fringe far-right figures like these in coup efforts targeting independent leftist governments in Latin America.
In the putsch against Bolivia’s democratically elected leftist government in November 2019, for instance, Washington supported the installation of a Christian extremist with a long and documented history of anti-indigenous racism, Jeanine Añez. Her fringe opposition party also reaped just over 4 percent of the vote in the 2019 general elections.
Whenever I listen to media reports of foreign meddling in US elections on NPR, I wait for some of their reporters and analysts to mention the flip side to this story but they never do. Either they are being blatant propagandists or they have become so blinkered in their outlook that they cannot see what is plainly visible to the rest of us.