字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント Nicaragua! You probably haven't heard about how crazy things have gotten And China has a hand in it Welcome to China Uncensored, I'm Chris Chappell. So, I interviewed my first terrorist. At least, that's what the dictator of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega calls him. At the Oslo Freedom Forum, I sat down with Felix Maradiaga. He's an academic and political activist in Nicaragua. Back in September 2018, he spoke at the UN Security Council about how the Ortega regime brutally represses Nicaragua's people. Afterwards, the Ortega regime issued a warrant for Maradiaga's arrest. They accused him “organized crime and financing of terrorism.” Riiiight. In fact, Maradiaga was attacked by a mob of 50 Ortega supporters— and had to be hospitalized. Now I'm betting a lot of you watching probably don't know much about the situation in Nicaragua. The country rarely makes it into the US news. But there is one country that really cares about Nicaragua— and that's China. The Chinese Communist Party has its fingerprints all over Nicaragua. And Felix Maradiaga joined me in Oslo to give the rundown. Thank you for joining us today, Felix. Thank you for the invitation. Absolutely. So, for those watching who don't really know much about Nicaragua, can you tell us what the political situation is like there? It's very complex at this point. The Daniel Ortega regime has closed any possibility for peaceful protest. There are about 400 people in prison, just for exercising their constitutional right to protest. Basically, we live in a police state. But isn't he a president? Doesn't that mean it's a Democracy? Well, that's the problem with dictatorships. I call them dictatorships 2.0; because they have been able, many of them, to bend the rules, which have been developed for Democracy, to pretend they are Democratic Regimes. And Daniel Ortega came to power in 2007 again, due to a very strange reform in the Constitution, that allowed him to be elected. But in any case, in 2011 he was re-elected against the Constitution. So, our argument, as we have presented to the organization of American states, is that he is not a legitimate president under our Constitution. Well, I coined a term that I use to describe the leader of China. Not quite a president, not quite a dictator. A “presitator”. So, if you would like to use “presitator” to describe Ortega, I'm perfectly happy with you using [crosstalk] I think it works perfectly, and that should be a red flag for Democracies around the world. I like to use the painful situation of Nicaragua to make a case for Democracies around the world. That when Democracies do not really deliver what the average citizen wants, it opens a door; an opportunity for authoritarian regimes to emerge. So, what's China's role in Nicaragua? The situation in Nicaragua is quite strange, in terms of the relationship with China. Nicaragua is one of the very few countries around the world that actually has diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, not with China. On the other hand, at the political level, it's well known that Nicaragua has ties with China. And, in fact, the flagship project, as Daniel Ortega argues, in terms of foreign investment; it's a canal that is supposed to connect both of the oceans. And that is not an investment from Taiwan, but actually from China. Which, once again, is strange, because we do not have, as a country, a formal relationship with the People's Republic of China. It is clearly a move by the Chinese regime as well, because a project of such size could not be pursued without the support of the Chinese government. They're using, at this point, a company registered in Hong Kong to pursue the project. So, you think China may be trying to “woo” Nicaragua? To abandon Taiwan in favor of the Communist Party? I think that, ideologically, that has been a long term project of the Sandinista party. Ideologically, the Sandinista party and China, they've always had a lot in common. When Democracy was re-established in Nicaragua in 1990, during the sixteen years of Democratic transition that we had, Nicaragua developed a close relationship with Taiwan. But I have to say that, unfortunately, even Taiwan, at least in relationship with Nicaragua, has behaved in a very unfortunate way; in the sense that Taiwan, despite many requests, is one of the very few countries that continues to openly support the Daniel Ortega regime. So, we are seeing China and Taiwan competing for Daniel Ortegas' attention. How is the Sandinista party ideologically aligned with China? Well, as you know, the Sandinista party emerged as a classical Marxist party in the 1960s. And in 1979, it became a successful, political military movement that defeated the dictatorship of Somoza. Now, the new version of the Sandinista party, that came back into power under Daniel Ortega in 2007, continues to have the rhetoric of Marxism and Socialism; but in practice, is a very pragmatic regime. It's just one more authoritarian regime that will use rhetoric and one side just to attract allies, but will basically use any tools, any ally, to pursue its objectives. Well, it's interesting you say that; because I know the, sort of, Marxist or Communist rhetoric is often used in Latin America, where there is a lot of promises made, but it always seems to end in authoritarianism. Why does that line of reasoning still keep getting used? That's a very interesting question. But I think that a big component of that line, as you clearly define it, is that there is sort of romanticism; Utopia of socialism being closely tied to egalitarian principles. And we have to be very candid in saying that Latin America has been one of the most unequal regions of the world. There is a big issue of poverty. There is a big issue of class struggle in Latin America. And of course, the narrative of Marxism continues to be very compelling, at the narrative level. But in practice, it's a system of dominance that doesn't really provide freedoms for the individuals. And in countries where levels of education are so low, that type of populistic rhetoric becomes really dangerous. So, I think that, in the case of Nicaragua, as in many other underdeveloped parts of the world, the only tool to fight that kind of lines is through education. When people are well informed, and when people have the basic tools to pursue employment and health and basic rights, populism, and particularly Marxism, doesn't have any chances. So it's basically, in Latin America it's still a fertile ecosystem for this type of narrative, because of our inequality and low levels of education. Well, so with the Nicaragua canal, I know that seems to have stopped. Correct? Yes. We have seen that many of the initial parts of the projects, such as, for example the environmental impact studies, the meteorological studies as well. And some other engineering studies, they have been stopped at all. Many environmental activists argued, from the very beginning when the project was first mentioned about five years ago, is that this project was never an authentic, legitimate investment. It was always a project that had something fishy, for example, money laundering. For example, something that is quite clear; a project designed to, basically, take away land from indigenous communities, and from the farmers and the campesino communities of Nicaragua. In fact, what we see today in Nicaragua, it is closely connected to what is known as The Campesino Movement; which are the land owners that mobilized in 2013, 2014, against the Chinese project. This movement that emerged, as a land right movement, is closely connected to the peaceful protests that we see in Nicaragua today. So, the Chinese investment in the canal. That didn't do anything to benefit the people of Nicaragua? No, not at all. Not at all. And if you read the law that was approved in record time, so it took very few hours to approve. One of the strangest laws, in terms of investments. The Canal Law has been elevated to the rank of a constitutional law in order to create, almost, a state within a state. So, let's assume that the project will evolve. Basically, the canal area would have been outside of the tax authorities of Nicaragua. It would be outside of the judicial authorities of Nicaragua. So clearly, the Daniel Ortega regime was trying to develop something with the Chinese that went beyond a normal investment. And the land owners actually perceived that, as that's the reason why they mobilized. This project never benefited Nicaraguans. It actually affected and destroyed many of the environmental areas of our country. Well, now that it's been stopped, does that benefit the people of Nicaragua? Well, the people of Nicaragua have always said that we are a country that has open arms to foreign investment, as long as these investments are clean, are legitimate, are under the rule of law, are based on the principles of fair trade and free markets. That's what the Nicaraguan people believe. I mean, we are a country of entrepreneurs, and a country that has suffered many wars, and we understand that investments are important. However, the experience with the Chinese has been very unfortunate. The way in which some teams of Chinese engineers have intervened in private property rights, the way in which the project has been developed with complete lack of transparency, is something that raises a lot of flags. So as we have argued, together with many environmental activists and grassroots leaders and local communities, is that the way this project was designed, it's far from a project that could bring development to Nicaragua. So, is there concern about debt trap diplomacy? Yes. Yes. And it's also a concern of a project that was assigned, as many other projects in Nicaragua that have been developed with Russian money, with Venezuelan money from either the period of Hugo Chavez, or Nicolas Maduro. It's just another project to enrich a family. Another project just to enrich an authoritarian regime that has amassed money as no other regimes in previous times. So, it's not a project aimed at developing the country in terms of attracting employment, and other types of clean investments. Does China provide any military equipment or training? As I said, Nicaragua is a country that does not have a formal relationship with China. So, at least officially, the Chinese are not working; in terms of bringing official corporations to the military or to the police. There are unofficial accounts, and we have strong suspicions that there are some relationships in terms, for example, of espionage, and in terms of collaboration with the regime. But it has been very hard to actually document and prove those suspicions. Okay. What about things like censorship and surveillance? I know there's been, sort of, a push for more internet censorship, more surveillance, facial recognition technology. Is any of that coming from China?