De Blasio and the Sandinistas

According to a recent article in the New York Times [by Thomas Kaplan. 9-23-13] two of the candidates running for mayor of New York have become alarmed about the worldview of Bill de Blasio, the front running candidate of the Democratic Party. You can be sure that whatever his world view happened to be it would have alarmed them simply because they are running against him.

They are alarmed because some thirty or so years ago de Blasio supported the Sandinista party in Nicaragua which had overthrown one of the most vile dictatorships in Central America — the Somoza regime — and had carried out land reform and brought a modicum of democracy and freedom to the vast majority of the poor people of this impoverished country. Millions of young people, workers and students, in the US supported the Sandinistas and cheered their victory over the fascist thugs in Somoza’s private army — the so called “National Guard.”

The Republican candidate for mayor, Joseph J. Lhota, a former deputy mayor under the racist Giuliani administration and a supporter of “stop and frisk”, which selectively targets minority youth for police harassment and has been found unconstitutional by a federal court, is very upset over de Blasio’s past support for the people who ended the Somoza dictatorship and instituted free elections in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas are, by the way, the current government in Nicaragua having been freely elected by the Nicaraguan people.

“It’s pretty obvious,” Lhota said, “we think very, very differently about the way the governments of the world should work.” Well, the Republicans under the Reagan administration tried to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, you may recall, by illegally selling arms to Iran and using the money to finance the “contras” — the fascist remnants of the Somoza dictatorship. This was the infamous Iran-Contra Scandal — so called because the US Congress had passed a law against funding the fascists but President Reagan went ahead anyway behind the backs of the American people. It is pretty obvious that Lhota’s way of thinking is very different from the thinking of those who are opposed to fascist dictatorships and Presidents who ignore the laws passed by the US Congress.

Lhota was also upset that de Blasio had once called himself a ‘democratic socialist’.  “It’s really unfortunate that that’s the level that we’ve come to in this city,” Lhota said. It is only natural that a Republican 1 per center would be alarmed about a philosophy that considers the interests of the 99 per cent. Lhota should be reminded that some of the staunchest allies of the US are governments run by Social Democrats. The British Labour Party, which was headed by Tony Blair and allied the UK with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a social democratic party.  It holds observer status with the Socialist International and is affiliated with the Party of European Socialists in the EU.

While Lhota prides himself in being in the Republican party, a party that has just stripped 40 billion dollars over the next ten years from the food stamp program, and is waging a real class war against the poor and the middle class in this country, de Blasio was quoted as saying “Fighting for equality to me — I say this humbly — is my life’s work.” Mr. Lhota will never have to worry that will be said of him.

The other alarmed candidate, Adolfo Carrión Jr., is running on the Independence Party line. This faction-ridden party has leading figures who subscribe to an ultra-left version of Marxism and are followers of the late Fred Newmann, who created his own brand of opportunistic “Marxism,” and whose faction was, until recently, dominate in the the New York City area. Carrión’s criticisms of de Blasion (that he is a Guevarista) and that his politics are “right out of ‘Animal Farm’” is ludicrous in the extreme. Carrión, who had a promising career as a Democrat, a former Obama official and Bronx borough president, seems to have gone off the deep end with his criticism of de Blasio.

It is to his credit that de Blasio was a supporter in his youth of the Nicaraguan revolution and both Lhota and Carrión should reflect a little on the history of the US which was born of just such a revolution against the tyranny of George III. Bill de Blasio’s basic progressive instincts and dedication to service to the people are more in line with the true founders of the American Revolution than those of his two vociferous and reactionary critics.

Thomas Riggins is currently the associate editor of Political Affairs online. Read other articles by Thomas.