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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 174 | Enero 1996
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Nicaragua

NICARAGUA BRIEFS

Envío team

CERRO NEGRO ERUPTS AGAIN

The 700 meter high volcano called Cerro Negro, located some 20 kilometers outside of the city of León, began to erupt on November 19. Ten days later, a state of emergency was decreed in 22 rural districts around the volcano due to the huge volume of sand and ash it had been spewing. About 2,000 of the 15,000 residents of those districts were evacuated to safer places. By December 2, the volcanic activity had noticeably died down, but not before doing serious damage to crops and cattle pasture. A similar but even more serious eruption took place in April 1992.

THE FIGHT FOR 6% GOES ON AND ON

Thousands of students from all of Nicaragua's universities began ongoing demonstrations on October 18 to demand compliance with the constitutional article establishing that the government allocate 6% of its annual income budget to the universities. "If there's money to steal, there's money to study," chanted the demonstrators. In its 1996 budget, the government proposes assigning the universities only 4.23%. It also still owes the universities the equivalent of about $5 million from the 1992 95 budgets. By the time envío went to press in early December, the budget had not yet been approved by the National Assembly, and the students were unflagging in their demonstrations.

DANIEL FOR PRESIDENT

On November 10, the FSLN National Directorate announced that its pre candidate for the presidency of the Republic is former Nicaraguan President and current FSLN Secretary General Daniel Ortega. Candidates for all offices in those elections will be chosen in an FSLN primary in February, the first ever held. Anyone interested will be allowed to vote in that primary, not just card carrying party members.

Ortega announced that if he wins the 1996 elections, the FSLN will promote a government of "national unity," in which it will seek the participation of the Sandinista Renovation Movement and Arnoldo Alemán's Constitutionalist Liberal Party. He also said that the FSLN discards any electoral alliance with Antonio Lacayo's National Project (PRONAL) and that it will try to convince former Central Bank president Joaquín Cuadra and current president of the Supreme Electoral Council Mariano Fiallos also to run as presidential candidates in the FSLN primaries.

PRONAL REGISTERS AS PARTY

On November 23, Antonio Lacayo submitted a request for official party status for his National Project (PRONAL) with the Supreme Electoral Council. A week later, two parties (the Nicaraguan Socialist Party and the Social Christian Party) and three union federations (the General Workers Federation Independent and the National Workers Federation Authentic) that had been allied with PRONAL and now aspire to create their own coalition, officially broke with PRONAL. They labeled PRONAL Lacayo's "personal political project" and criticized him for his "verticalism" and for not taking them into account. Nicaragua now has 26 registered political parties (12 of which have no representation in the National Assembly), and another 9 in some stage of the registration process, among them PRONAL.

VIOLENCE

A daily average of four Nicaraguans died violently between 1990 and 1994, according to data of the National Police's General Inspector's Office. Of those, 70% were homicide victims and 30% were killed in traffic accidents. "Crime is the country's main epidemic," declared one police official. "Priority has to be given to health and education, but also to security."

CUBA HELPS ERADICATE LEPTOSPIROSIS

Nicaragua obtained a biological rat poison of renowned effectiveness from Cuba to eradicate the estimated 25 million rats in Nicaragua, some of which are responsible for what has come to be named the "Achuapa epidemic" after the municipality in which the Leptospirosis bacteria the rats transmit first caused human deaths. Cuba donated 5 tons of "Biorat" and Nicaragua purchased another 25 tons at preferential prices.

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