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A year after Nicaragua’s coup, the media’s regime-change deceptions are still unraveling

Corporate media outlets blamed Nicaragua’s government for a deadly arson attack during the 2018 coup attempt, but new information raises serious doubts about the official story, highlighting the campaign of regime-change misinformation.

by John Perry

Part 1

Last year’s failed coup in Nicaragua erupted when student protests against social security reforms quickly turned into an armed attempt to bring down the government of Daniel Ortega. The regime-change attempt was a battle for people’s minds as well as for control of the streets.

Violence was used to terrorize government supporters, but it was even more important as a propaganda vehicle. 

A journalist shot while on camera, demonstrators hit by sniper fire, or an arson attack on a family home were all high-profile crimes that were immediately blamed on the government. Key to the anti-Sandinista public relations blitz was an organized barrage of social media postings, indignant statements by local “human rights” bodies condemning the government, right-wing media reaching the same judgment, and local people intimidated into “confirming” the story.

At the Global Conference for the Freedom of the Press in London, on July 11, Nicaragua’s Minister for National Policy Paul Oquist launched a blistering attack on the almost uniformly pro-opposition coverage of his country’s political crisis by mainstream US and British outlets. 

Facts and truth don’t matter to the aggressors in the Post-Truth era, only placing their interests first, above all else. This is a new level of perverse freedom; freedom from all ethics and all morality,” Oquist thundered. “Fake news in the post-truth era supports coordinated destabilization campaigns, illegal sanctions and the criminalization of those who defy them, threats of aggression and armed aggression.

During their push for Ortega’s ouster in mid-2018, opposition groups acted on the largely correct assumption that if they were quick to portray any violence as being the government’s fault, a compliant international press would repeat it. Major international human rights NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch could be relied on to take the judgments of their local counterparts at face value. 

Once a consensus about how to portray the violence had been reached internationally, it would be repeated by regional and global bodies such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the UN, and inevitably by the US State Department.

After a series of such violent incidents, the reputation of the Ortega government internationally was sealed.

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