Nicaragua’s twentieth-century history cannot be told without placing the United States government as the main antagonist. It is their active interventions that have shaped the Central American country’s political, economic and social systems, but it is also the opposing forces to this imperialist aggression that has served as a counterbalance to writing the story of the Nicaraguan people.
From military invasions to economic blockades, the U.S. has set to extinguish every attempt to a left-wing alternative against the imposed 'Banana Republic' model, that U.S. transnational interests have exerted in the country ever since the 19th century.
Yet it is out of U.S. imperialism, that a figure rose in Nicaragua to become a symbol of rebellion and hope for past, current and future generations. Know as the ‘General of Free Men’, Augusto Cesar Sandino’s life and murder on Feb. 21, 1934, would shape the Central American republic.
But to understand the emergence and death of Sandino one must see that U.S. imperialism is at the heart of Nicaragua's composition as a nation.
US' “Good Men” in Nicaragua
By the nineteenth century, the U.S. was prepping itself to become the new dominant empire in the world. A newfound power that was especially felt in Latin America, a region the North Americans consider theirs by belief in the manifest destiny, which in turn was materialized in the Monroe Doctrine (1823). This way the U.S. assumed their role of self-declared caretakers of the American continent. But it wasn’t until President Theodore Roosevelt (1901 - 1909) that the reach of U.S. imperialism, in Central America specifically, would take its most modern configuration.
With the new imperialist sense, the U.S. reaffirmed its foreign policy through Roosevelt’s 1904 Corollary, which was was an addition and interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine presented after the European naval blockade to Venezuela in 1902–1903. The corollary states that the U.S. will intervene in Latin American if the rights or property of U.S. citizens or businesses are threatened or endangered.
"Chronic wrongdoing . . . may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation," Roosevelt said in his 1904 state of the union, adding that "in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power."
Consistent with Roosevelt's foreign policy it legitimized the use of force as a means to defend the interests - in the broadest sense - of the U.S. The result was the so-called 'Banana Wars', a series of U.S. military interventions in several Latin American countries from 1898 to 1934 of which Nicaragua was one of the main victims, as the U.S. wanted to “teach” the country how to choose “good men” as leaders.
A Nation Under US Tutelage
Under the liberal government of Jose Santos Zelaya (1893 - 1909), Nicaragua would transition into a modern state. As part of his modernization program, the country made concessions to Germany and Japan for a transisthmian canal across Nicaragua. Since the U.S. had its plans set in Panama, a competing venture financed by foreign interests, was not of their liking.
As relations with the U.S. deteriorated, civil war erupted in October 1909 when anti-government liberals joined with a group of conservatives under Juan Estrada to overthrow Zelaya. The U.S. then saw an opportunity to invade after two U.S. mercenaries serving with the rebels were captured and executed by government forces. Soon thereafter, 400 U.S. Marines landed on the Caribbean eastern city of Bluefields.
Rebel leader Juan Estrada's forces seized Managua, Nicaragua's capital and the conservative leader assumed power. U.S. Secretary of State Philander C. Knox agreed to recognize the new government, provided that U.S. demands were met. A conservative-liberal regime, headed by Estrada, was recognized by the U.S. on Jan. 1, 1911. However, Estrada’s hold on power was weak at best, sensing instability in Nicaragua once again, Knox sent Thomas C. Dawson as a “special agent” to Nicaragua. Dawson had previously overseen the U.S. invasion in the Dominican Republic.
Debt and Lackeys Shackle Nicaragua to the US' Will
The U.S. agent assessed the political situation and reported that if elections were held, Zelaya's liberals would certainly win. To avoid an unwanted liberal victory, the U.S. pushed Estrada to agree on a constituent assembly to get himself elected, approve a first short-term U.S. loan, among other concessions. As political rivalries within the conservative-liberal coalition surfaced, the Minister of War General Luis Mena forced Estrada to resign, replacing him with his vice president, Adolfo Diaz.
Nicaraguan and U.S. representatives then signed a treaty on June 6, 1911, which included U.S. Government and private bank approval for the post of customs collector. In a second, short-term loan agreement, the collector general was nominated by a consortium of private banks and approved by Knox. As part of the deal, the newly appointed president Diaz handed control of the Nicaraguan national rail company and the central banking system to U.S. private firms. Although the treaty was rejected three times by the U.S. Senate as many legislations opposed the William Taft Administration's connections with large corporations, Nicaragua’s government proceeded to comply with the stipulations.
As history would have it, only US$1.5 million was obtained by Nicaragua from the US$15 million due to the non-ratification of the treaty, but truly only US$100,000 reached Nicaragua and to the pockets of private bankers to form the National Bank. The rest of the money stayed in New York's banking system while the collateral for the loans came from Nicaragua’s customs revenues, railways, and shipping industry.
By mid-1912, Minister of War Luis Mena persuaded the constituent assembly to name him successor to Diaz when the president’s term expired in 1913. Diaz then asked the U.S. government to intervene to “secure” the property of U.S. citizens. When the U.S. refused to recognize the decision, Mena began a revolt to seize power.
In August 1912, a force of around 2,700 United States marines once again landed at the ports of Corinto and Bluefields; Mena fled the country. This gave way to the U.S. occupation which lasted almost continually until 1933. Although reduced to 100 in 1913, the contingent stayed as a reminder of the willingness of the U.S. to use force and quickly intervene to preserve its interests in the country. With U.S. tutelage, conservative governments ruled until 1925 without any major mishaps, especially as the country assumed a quasi-protectorate status under the 1916 Bryan–Chamorro Treaty. This was a revised version of the 1914 Castillo-Knox Treaty, which gave the U.S. the right to intervene in Nicaragua to protect its interests.
The modified version omitted the intervention clause but gave the U.S. exclusive rights to build an interoceanic canal across Nicaragua. As the Panama Canal was inaugurated in 1913, the Nicaraguan agreement served to impede any potential foreign countries, mainly Germany or Japan, to building another canal in Central America. Also for 99 years, Nicaragua leased the Corn Islands to the U.S. and gave them the right to establish, operate and maintain a naval base anywhere in the Gulf of Fonseca; both concessions would be subject exclusively to the laws and U.S. sovereignty.
The Occupation Doesn't End, Just Changes
By 1924, a moderate conservative, Carlos Solorzano was elected president presenting a coalition ticket with liberal Juan Bautista Sacasa as his vice president, although he ended up purging all liberals from his government. Solorzano then requested that the U.S. stay to build a national military force, which would be the National Guard. After deciding it was “safe” to leave the Central American nation, the remaining Marines were withdrawn after a thirteen-year occupation on Aug. 3, 1925.
Not even a month after the occupation forces left, former conservative president (1917 -1921) General Emiliano Chamorro launched a coup d'état, forcing Solorzano and Sacasa to flee the country, and proclaimed himself president on January 1926. The political situation broke into a civil war by May, as exiled liberal forces landed in the Caribbean port of Bluefields.
Fearing the new round of conservative-liberal violence and mainly worrying that the infighting in Nicaragua might result in a liberal victory as it happened a few years earlier in Mexico, the U.S. invaded Nicaragua once again. A peace was brokered by the U.S. between liberal and conservative factions in October 1926. Chamorro resigned and the Nicaraguan Congress elected former president (1911- 1916) Alfonso Diaz to serve as head of state once again.
Yet due to Chamorro’s resignation, his vice president liberal Sacasa returned from exile from Guatemala and declared himself Constitutional President of Nicaragua from Puerto Cabezas on Dec. 1, 1926, only recognized by Mexico who was providing weapons to the liberal army.
Thousands of liberal soldiers made their way towards Managua led by General Jose Maria Moncada, winning key battles along the way. In January 1927, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge lifted the arms embargo on the Nicaraguan government, allowing his country to legally provide military aid to the conservatives. Coolidge then sent politician Henry Stimson to negotiate an end to the war. On May 20, 1927, both factions agreed to sign the truce known as the Pact of Espino Negro, under the conditions that Diaz would remain president until a new, U.S.-supervised election in 1928, both sides would disarm ending the Constitutionalist War, and a new National Guard would be established.
Sacasa left the country since he refused to sign, as did another liberal leader, Augusto Cesar Sandino.
The ‘General of Free Men’ Rises
The illegitimate son of a wealthy landowner of Spanish descent and an Indigenous servant of the Sandino family, young Sandino was the definition of the mestizo identity in Latin America. From an early age, he saw and lived the disparities between the wealthy elites and the working-class people of his country.
Although he lived with his mother until nine years old, his father then took into his home and arranged his education and well being. As a young adult, Sandino witnessed the U.S. invasion of Nicaragua in 1912 and the power struggle between the conservative elites. But it was at the age of 26 in 1921 that his life took a turn, as he tried to kill the son of a rich conservative townsman who had insulted his mother. Afterward, he had to flee and went to Honduras, Guatemala and eventually settled in Mexico. Influenced by the ideals of the Mexican Revolution, during his three-year stay in Tampico, Mexico, Sandino acquired a strong sense of Nicaraguan nationalism, strongly embraced his Indigenous heritage and took on an anti-imperialist stance.
In 1926, his father urged him to come back, Sandino returned and settled in the northern department of Nueva Segovia. He took a job at the San Albino gold mine owned by a U.S. firm, where he organized the mine workers and taught them about social inequalities and the need to change the political system and soon after the civil war erupted. Parallel to Moncada’s liberal army, Sandino organized a rebel force consisting mostly of peasants and workers to fight against the conservative regime of Chamorro for the liberals. After the U.S. intervention ended the war with the Pact of Espino Negro, Sandino refused to order his followers to surrender their weapons and returned with them to the Segovia Mountains.
Sandino, called Moncada a traitor vendepatria (nation-seller) and denounced the foreign intervention, reorganized his forces as the Army for the Defense of Nicaraguan Sovereignty (Ejercito Defensor de la Soberanía de Nicaragua-EDSN) and led a new counter-offensive against the ruling elite and the U.S. empire that backed them. He declared war on the U.S., which he called the "the enemy of our race," referring to the Latin Americans.
"I will not abandon my resistance until the...pirate invaders...assassins of weak peoples ...are expelled from my country...I will make them realize that their crimes will cost them, dear...There will be bloody combat...Nicaragua shall not be the patrimony of Imperialists," Sandino said in 1928.
As the general and his forces gained international notoriety, the U.S. grew more annoyed by the fact that they couldn’t capture him. On Jan. 20 1928 Rear Admiral David F. Sellers, Commander of the U.S. Special Service Squadron operating against the forces of Sandino in Nicaragua, wrote to the general demanding his surrender, arrogantly ordering him to stop the fighting in the Nueva Segovia department, especially against U.S. forces and mining companies from the U.S., alluding to the Espino Negro accords and the fact the U.S. would intervene in Nicaragua based on the agreements.
“The only way to put an end to this struggle is the immediate withdrawal of the forces invading our country, at the same time replacing the current President with a Nicaraguan citizen who is not among the candidates for the Presidency and that representatives from Latin America supervise the elections instead of North American marines,” Sandino proudly responded.
With the popular and rural support, Sandino’s forces grew both in number and strength, inflicting important losses to the U.S. Marines who never captured the ‘General of Free Men’. But most importantly showing the world that a group of peasants could face the "Colossus of the North," as he referred to them. After a year-long exile in 1929 in Mexico, where he desperately looked for foreign support, he returned to Nicaragua to continue his fighting to face an internal enemy as well.
As the support within the U.S. for the Nicaragua occupation faded and the Great Depression (1929) made overseas military expeditions too costly for the U.S in January 1931 Henry Stimson, then-Secretary of State announced that all U.S. soldiers in Nicaragua would leave following general elections and that newly created and U.S.-commanded Nicaraguan National Guard would take over responsibility for the fighting. In the 1932 elections liberal and former vice president, Juan Bautista Sacasa won and was installed as head of state on Jan. 2, 1933.
As the U.S. withdrawal loomed close, the U.S. Ambassador Matthew Hanna and General Moncada had their trusted ally Anastasio Somoza Garcia named as director of the National Guard, the most important power in Nicaragua’s political scene. Somoza Garcia was born in Nicaragua’s elite, being the son of a rich coffee landowner. He attended school in Philadelphia and was trained by U.S. Marines, thus developing strong ties with the military, economic, and political figures of the U.S.
With US Invaders Gone, A Dictator is Placed
U.S. troops left Nicaragua in January 1933 as Franklin D Roosevelt invoked his new Good Neighbor policy ending 40 years of direct military intervention in the region. The Marines passed control of the 4,000 enlisted National Guard troops to Somoza Garcia. With the occupying forces gone Sandino agreed to talk with Sacasa’s government. In February 1934, negotiations began. During their meetings, the liberal administration offered Sandino a general amnesty as well as land and safeguards for him and his guerrilla forces to stop the fighting still raging between the guerrilla forces and the National Guard.
Sandino, who regarded the Somoza’s forces as unconstitutional because of its ties to the U.S. military, insisted on the guard's dissolution, yet he pledged his support for the president and agreed to order his forces to surrender their weapons within three months.
Somoza saw in Sandino a strong force that could affect his hunger for power later on. So on Feb. 21, 1934, as the General of Free Men left the presidential palace after having dinner with Sacasa, Somoza Garcia gave orders to kill Sandino, without the president’s approval.
Sandino, his brother and two of his most trusted generals were arrested by National Guard officers, they were then taken to the airfield, executed, and buried in unmarked graves in Larreynaga. The Nicaraguan president, despite his disapproval, was too weak to contain the National Guard director. After Sandino's murder, the National Guard launched a ruthless campaign against the EDSN, and in about a month, Sandino's army was destroyed.
As Sacasa’s popularity and power diminished, Somoza Garcia took advantage of pushing the president to resign by June 6, 1936, an interim president was elected by Congress until elections were held. In December, Somoza was elected president by a margin of 107,201 votes to 108, “an implausibly high margin that could have been obtained only through massive fraud.”
On Jan. 1, 1937, he took office and also the role of director of the National Guard, combining the roles of president and chief of the military. The military dictatorship was established and a U.S.-backed dynasty under the Somoza family that would last four decades.
The Caribbean Community leaders affirm regional unity as a way to face common problems and threats.
The Community of the Caribbean (Caricom) begins Tuesday its 31st Inter-Sessional Meeting to discuss common policies on security, climate change, tourism, and trade. Its country members will also discuss a regional approach to the coronavirus virus and other noncommunicable diseases.
"We should determine how we can face each challenge. In Barbados, we think it is about the union," she said and recalled that collective action is the answer to important in solving new epidemiological problems.
"We had no idea of the ability to act that we would have to face on the threats of the Covid-19."
According to Barbados Prime Minister, the solidarity attitude should also be displayed on the subject of the U.S. foreign policy's threats to the sovereignty of the Caribbean peoples' sovereignty.
"Only with unity, we can fight against imperialist governments that seek to oppress the peoples," PM Mottley stressed.
"We are family, we are kith and kin. Being kith and kin must stand for something...As a family, nothing can separate us."
The Caricom's concern for unity and solidarity was triggered by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent attempts to divide the Caribbean countries, an outcome which could facilitate the President Donald Trump administration's geopolitical agenda, especially concerning Venezuela.
In January, Jamaica hosted an international meeting attended by some Caribbean countries "hand-picked" by Pompeo. Local analysts and politicians appreciated that meeting as an obvious attempt to divide the Caricom.
On that occasion, Mottley said that, as Caricom chairwoman, it was impossible for her "to agree that my foreign minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of Caricom are not invited," as reported by the Jamaica Observer.
Established in 1973, the Caricom includes Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St. Lucia, Suriname, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Turks & Caicos, and Trinidad & Tobago.
In this bunch of promoted actions, organized, sponsored, and paid by imperialism to destabilize and sink Nicolás Maduro's government. Good news are looming like the capture and knowing of many of those involved in failed assassination attempt on Venezuela’s President, the installation of the announced measures to defeat the economic war started by the U.S. and its allies from the national oligarchy and, in this panorama, the strengthening of the currencies that have begun to circulate in the country, with the purpose of containing the inflation and it will keep social programs and the subsidy of gas prices.
About this point it’s important to highlight the announcement that Venezuela will sell its oil according to the international market prices, keeping in this field the solidary support to the most needed countries in the region.
On top of everything mentioned before, it’s overwhelming the popular support to the president, the wide rejection to the assassination attempt. Also the growing and bigger manifestations of support to the Bolivarian process, showing the strong mind and patriotism of most of the population.
This is extremely important, because only like this will be stopped the U.S. decision of turning Venezuela into chaos, to start a civil war with the purpose of not only put a final end to the Bolivarian Revolution and Chavez followers - that would be their first objective -, but also to destroy the national State to wipe out any form of future resistance.
Belgian intellectual Michel Collon has said something similar referring to the “constructive chaos” applied by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Middle East.
To better explain this, the French analyst Thierry Meyssan went back to 2004, when several Pentagon experts explained that, in the future, the U.S. will wage new wars to divide the world in two zones: one stable for him and its allies, and other where there were not a stable government neither development, but chaos, to guarantee that nobody could develop a power that would threaten its world hegemony, what he rounded up saying that "the situation in Venezuela is ready, and when U.S. wishes it, it will begin a war".
It’s not the first time that it’s said, but if we see what happened in Ukraine, Syria and Libya is exactly the same methodology applied today against Venezuela.
It always begins the same, with the indicting the government of committing horrible crimes, then they send to the country special forces, a few snipers deployed on rooftops during a manifestation, with the objective of shooting against both demonstrators and the police, stirring huge confusion. After that each side is convinced that it was the other one that shot him, and that is the beginning of an internal confrontation.
In this way would begin a “symbolic war” that the international media would use to explain that it’s a "revolution" to which the U.S., would give all its support through “non-governmental organizations” and the military bases built in neighboring countries around Venezuela.
Against Libya they used Egypt and Malta; in the case of Syria, almost every bordering States: Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. If they plan to attack Venezuela, undoubtedly they will use a State or several border States of Venezuela, like it’s the case of Colombia, where there are seven military bases controlled by the U.S., and now it’s also spoken of Peru, what is not certain.
Forgive me if I repeat these concepts already written, it’s just to make you never forget, because in the end the U.S., despises all those they send to overthrow governments that are a nuisance to them.
Hence the importance that, in the Venezuelan case, to go all the way to clarify everything around the failed assassination of Nicolas Maduro keep a strong hand and let’s hope this measure are carried fully to try palliate the economic problems.
Many today denounce that the Venezuelan extreme right and their dissociated followers play with fire and, blinded by greed, the irrational hatred and deceit, they don't notice that they are being used by imperialism in a game where everyone loses, but the companies that profit from war and destruction.
Havana, Jul 10 (Prensa Latina) The Sao Paulo Forum will condemn the destabilizing campaigns against Nicaragua and Venezuela, the U.S. blockade of Cuba and the imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, analysts and political leaders from the region denounced.
The 24th edition of the event, to be held in this capital from July 15 to 17, will be attended by representatives of progressive and left-wing organizations from several countries.
Latin America is today subjected to an intensive imperialist counteroffensive, warned the renowned Argentinean intellectual Atilio Boron, who noted that this counteroffensive aims to overthrow the government of Venezuela, further tightened the tourniquets of the U.S. blockade of Cuba, isolate the Bolivian government of Evo Morales and create an opposition beachhead in Nicaragua.
In light of the situation in Latin America today, it is necessary to create a big anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist wave, and build strategies of unity, said the executive secretary of the Sao Paulo Forum, Monica Valente.
Valiente, who is also the International Relations secretary of the Workers' Party (PT) of Brazil, noted that the meeting in Havana will contribute to denouncing the political persecution against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been in prison for more than 90 days in Curitiba, on charges that he did not commit and that, according to denunciations, are a maneuver to prevent his candidacy to the presidency, as he is leading all vote intention surveys.
That will be the main issue that the PT will submit to the meeting of the Forum in Havana, Valente pointed out.
Lula and the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, played a key role in the foundation of the Forum in 1990 in Brazil, with participation of more than 100 left-wing parties and groups.
On the last day of the meeting, participants will hold a plenary session dedicated to Fidel Castro's thinking.
'Fidel will be present in that forum. He has been since he summoned us and we want to feel dignified sons and daughters of him,' said the general secretary of the Communist Party of Uruguay, Juan Castillo, who added that the best tribute to the revolutionary leader is to continue to strengthen unity.
According to the official from the International Relations Department of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Idalmis Brook, the meeting in Havana will allow discussing urgent issues for the region's left-wing forces, particularly the importance of unity.
For his part, Chilean writer and journalist Manuel Cabiese noted that Havana offers 'the best scenario' for a serious debate on the prospects of Latin America's left wing.
Cuba on Saturday slammed U.S. policy towards Latin America, calling it a return to a past of "domination and impositions," adding that Havana won't accept threats or pressure from Washington to modify its political system.
"Cuba won't accept threats or pressures from the United States. It doesn't want confrontation, but will not negotiate or cede one millimeter in its socialist principles," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in remarks at the ongoing eighth Summit of the Americas.
Rodriguez, who was leading the island country's delegation to the meeting, highlighted that the thawing ties between Washington and Havana were maintained since 2015 until Donald Trump assumed the U.S. presidency and decided to roll back the detente.
"The U.S. economic blockade and the financial persecution continue, but at the same time Washington is further isolated when it comes to their policy towards Cuba," he said.
According to the foreign minister, Cuba is currently in the presidential election process that will last until April 19, 2019 when Cubans decide a new president to succeed incumbent Raul Castro, younger brother and fellow revolutionary of Communist Cuba's founder Fidel Castro.
In addition, Rodriguez said that the younger generations in Cuba are closely linked to the ruling Communist Party, and that they will "firmly" commemorate the Fidel-led revolutionary troops' victory in defending the island against a U.S.-masterminded aggression in the early 1960s.
He was referring to the failed Playa Giron -- literally Bay of Pigs -- invasion of Cuba in April 1961 by U.S.-sponsored mercenaries comprised of mostly Cubans traveling in exile to the United States after Fidel Castro overthrew the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.
"Cubans, especially the younger generations, closely linked to the (Communist) Party, founded by (Jose) Marti and Fidel (Castro), together with Raul (Castro), will commemorate firm, secure and optimistic victory against the mercenary aggression in Playa Giron," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez warned of Washington's aspiration to re-establish its "imperialist domination" in Latin America, imposing Cold War era policies and a return to the "Monroe Doctrine," a 19th century strategy to control the region for political and economic purposes.
"Now the objective is to restore imperialist domination, destroy national sovereignties with unconventional interventions, overthrow popular governments, reverse social achievement and restore continental neo-liberalism in a continental scale," he said.
The Cuban diplomat said Washington has returned to the "use of force" and the "imposition of unilateral coercive measures" in its policy towards the region.
"We will only advance through integration and unity within the diversity that led to the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Recent events show that the Organization of American States (OAS) and especially its secretary general are mere instruments of the United States," he said.
The official also expressed the island country's solidarity with Venezuela, saying the exclusion of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from the summit was a "historic setback" imposed by the United States.
The diplomat also condemned Saturday's missile strikes on Syrian government facilities by the United States, Britain and France.
Suspended for decades by the OAS, Cuba only returned to the Summit of the Americas in 2015 when the seventh version of the gathering was held in Panama.
"Pastors for Peace has always embraced the commitment of Cuban leaders to put the welfare of their people first," Gail Walker, the director of the organization said.
The 48th contingent of the United States-Cuba Friendship Caravan, organized by Pastors for Peace, arrived in Havana yesterday to deliver a symbolic donation of important drugs and medical supplies, as well as demand the end of the “economic, political, and cultural embargo.”
The group traveled through 50 cities in the United States to do solidarity work and speak on the realities of the ongoing embargo, promoting the normalization of relations between the two countries.
The most recent caravan has traveled in the context of a renewed wave of U.S. aggression toward Cuba, as the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has rolled back several gains made in recent years toward normalization, and has heightened anti-Cuba rhetoric.
On Friday the visiting group, mostly from the United States, is paying tribute in Havana to the founder of Pastors for Peace, Reverend Lucius Walker. Reverend Walker, who died in 2010 is considered by many in both Cuba and in the United States to be a tireless fighter in defense of Cuba's revolution and against U.S. aggression.
His daughter, Gail Walker, is currently the director of the organization, and carries forward its original vision.
“Inside the United States, a campaign still persists whose purpose is to undermine Cuba and its revolutionary principles. Pastors for Peace has always embraced the commitment of Cuban leaders to put the welfare of their people first. That’s why we continue … calling upon the U. S. government to end its efforts towards regime change," she said in an interview with Cuba Debate.
Walker founded the organization as a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, and was inspired by what he saw as anti-imperialist struggles in Latin America. The project focused on solidarity efforts with Cuba beginning in 1992, sending regular caravans to the Island.
They have consistently defied the travel ban on U.S. citizens to perform their work.
When Walker died, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, ran an announcement declaring “we do not want to think of a world without Lucius Walker.”
His final resting place is in Havana, and he is honored by a plaque at the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Tribune across from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
"It will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area," said Lt. Col. Rick Francona.
The U.S. military dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province in Afghanistan Thursday — in an area where the munition’s impact is likely to be felt by at least 95,000 people.
CNN first reported the strike after speaking to four U.S. military officials who had direct knowledge of the mission.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb or as it’s nicknamed, the "mother of all bombs" – MOAB, is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is the world’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.
@DavidWright_CNN Breaking: US military has dropped most powerful non-nuclear US bomb, MOAB, targeting ISIS in Nangarhar, Afghanistan -- first ever combat use
@DavidWright_CNN MOAB - also known as ‘Mother of all bombs" - a 21,600 lbs munition; dropped Thursday & US military currently assessing damage
It was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft that was stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.
The target was allegedly an ISIS cave and tunnel complex.
"The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told press shortly after the munition was dropped. The strike "targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely."
The MOAB, which was developed during the Iraq War, has never before been used in the battlefield.
While the U.S. Forces Afghanistan claim that they took “every precaution to avoid civilian casualties”, and while it remains to be seen what the impact of the strike will be, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona told CNN, "It will feel like a nuclear weapon to anyone near the area", implying that it will likely be grave.
The anti-G-7 demonstrators held banners emblazoned with slogans such as “Tuscany against the G-7!” and “Out with the murderers!” as leaders from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the United States met under the chairmanship of Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
“The G-7 are the terrorists, and those who launched 59 missiles on Syria a few days ago are terrorists. Syrians have been suffering because of the war they caused and their policies,” one of the demonstrators said, as reported by Press TV.
Another protester said, “The foreign ministers have long been active, because the region has resources, and oil and natural gas pipelines underground, and also because there are vested economic interests. They want to increase their own capital rather than help people around the world.”
Lambasting U.S. aggression in the region on Friday, Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations Sacha Llorenti compared the basis for the unilateral move to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous 2003 presentation to the U.N., when fraudulent evidence of an alleged Iraqi weapons program was presented to justify the U.S. war on Iraq.
Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah also decried the move, issuing a sharp warning to Washington Friday, calling it a “stupid move carried out by Trump’s administration (that) would usher a major and serious tension in the region and complicate the situation in the whole world.”