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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 289 | Agosto 2005
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Nicaragua

NICARAGUA BRIEFS

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BOLAÑOS’ SON DIES AT 50
President Bolaños’ youngest son Jorge died at the age of 50 on July 27. He was rushed from Managua to a Miami hospital after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage from which he never recovered. Fifty-year-old Jorge Bolaños collaborated with the FSLN in the seventies and publicly criticized several of the rural development projects implemented by his father’s administration. More recently, he was a harsh critic of the FSLN-PLC pact, which has thrown the Bolaños government into crisis. At his burial in Masaya on August 2, poet Julio Valle-Castillo, a childhood friend of Jorge’s, read a letter in which he said: “You died of something absurd, because brain death in a country that so needs brains is a terrible waste. But deep down I feel that you died of tension, of intensity, disgusted, sickened and fed up, because you viscerally turned on the unjust plans, threats and accusations they made against your father’s decency and integrity.” The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, for which Jorge worked as an agronomic engineer and head of its Central American Maize Program, praised him as a “distinguished scientist and professional” and a “passionate researcher,” underscoring his “dedication to work and his pursuit of excellence, creativity and ethics.”

MOVEMENT FOR NICARAGUA LOBBIES WASHINGTON REPUBLICANS
A delegation of the Movement for Nicaragua, led by former Supreme Electoral Council president Rosa Marina Zelaya, traveled to Washington to request the support of congressional members and Bush government officials for its activities in opposition to the FSLN-PLC pact. With respect to next year’s election process in Nicaragua, they requested US support for their demands that the Supreme Electoral Council be dissolved, the electoral law reformed, Nicaraguans abroad granted the right to vote, the voter roles cleaned and primary elections held in the political parties. On announcing its trip, the Movement for Nicaragua released a communiqué informing the Bush government that the country’s situation is “a threat to the stability of the region and the security of the hemisphere.”

The movement, spearheaded by Nicaragua’s private sector in the umbrella organization COSEP but also including the participation of a number of progressive organizations and individuals, has been organizing sizable marches against the pact in different departmental capitals. While it claims to have no party-based agenda of its own, many fear that the Movement for Nicaragua is fully aligned with the interests of the Bolaños government, which has caused divisive debates within progressive organizations that want to see an end to the pact but fear being manipulated by the Right.

NICARAGUAN GENOME
The Central American University’s Molecular Biology Center (CBM), created six years ago, has now deciphered the “Nicaraguan” genome. Although all human beings share the same basic genome, each population has its own “standard” DNA that depends on historic migrations, the climate, food and hereditary characters that have become fixed over time. This important scientific advance will provide Nicaragua with a database to determine paternity, resolve crimes including rape and contribute to forensic techniques.

The genetic characterization of the Nicaraguan people will also help detect the existence of genetically based chronic, degenerative and neurological illnesses in our population, which will assist the national medical community’s treatment and prevention work. According to CBM director Jorge Huete, who is heading up this research, “What we are trying to do is define our population’s specific molecular markers. We have concluded the first phase of the research, which was to create the database. We will now go on to the second phase, to decipher the genome of our country’s different ethnic groups.” That will involve identifying the genome of the Miskito, Rama, Garífuna, Creole, mestizo, Mayangna, Matagalpa, Sutiava and Monimbó peoples, which are the country’s largest still identifiable groups.

YATAMA WINS ITS CASE
In a decision handed down on June 23 but only made public in Nicaragua in early July, the Inter-American Human Rights Court condemned the Nicaraguan state for having violated the rights of candidates running for the indigenous political organization YATAMA by excluding them from the 2000 municipal elections on a technicality. The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH) accompanied YATAMA in its lawsuit, which they presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2001. The Court’s ruling represents a legal precedent for guaranteeing indigenous peoples the right to participate in electoral processes in conditions of equality, respecting their organizational forms, uses and customs. YATAMA’s exclusion from those elections was one of the many punitive expressions of the original FSLN-PLC pact. In its sentence, the Court requires Nicaragua to reform the electoral law that grew out of that pact, a demand insistently shared by all the national sectors currently opposing the new manifestation of the pact.
YATAMA, whose membership is primarily Miskitu, is the most important autonomous, indigenous, community based political organization on the Caribbean coast today, having converted to that civilian status from an anti-Sandinista military organization in the eighties. The year after its welcomed return from war in 1989, it won a number of seats in the first autonomous government in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), home to the majority of the country’s Miskitu population. But it later fell into a slump through much of the nineties due to poor leadership and political infighting.

YATAMA currently presides over the RAAN’s autonomous government and won three mayoral offices in that same region in last year’s municipal elections. Even though the pact was behind YATAMA’s disqualification in the previous elections, YATAMA is now allied to the FSLN, one of the parties to that pact, whose coast members won a degree of autonomy from the national FSLN line some years ago. This year’s July 19 celebration in Managua made apparent that the alliance extends to the national FSLN as well, in that three of the seven non-Sandinista representatives seated on the stage were YATAMA leaders.

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