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  Number 324 | Julio 2008
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Nicaragua

NICARAGUA BRIEFS

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NICHO MARENCO
In the first days of Dora María Téllez’s hunger strike, Dionisio Marenco, longtime FSLN luminary and currently mayor of Managua, called her cell phone to offer his solidarity. Days later he said, “The cause Dora María is struggling for is a just one. It is a very large error that they’re not letting the MRS run, one that will have a political cost for all of Nicaragua. The MRS isn’t a tiny party, a micro-party; it’s very strong in Managua. It makes no sense not to let it run. Nicaraguan society has evolved toward a pluralist process. This doesn’t encourage the construction of a free society. They’re taking away freedom of participation and this will jeopardize everyone.”

To the question on the CID-Gallup poll in early June, “Who do you believe could be the future leader of the FSLN once Daniel Ortega concludes his term,” the largest percentage mentioned Marenco, the political operator closest to Ortega until he began to differ publicly with some of the presidential couple’s decisions with the authority acquired by being mayor of Managua. Marenco has said several times that when his own term ends on January 29, he doesn’t plan to continue participating in politics. In late June, Marenco had a long conversation with US democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama about Nicaragua’s situation during the Third Hemispheric Forum of Mayors held in Florida, in which mayors of 20 cities from 14 Latin American countries participated.

THE MEJÍA GODOYS DENY THEIR MUSIC TO THE FSLN AND THE GOVERNMENT
On June 13, Carlos Mejía Godoy released an open “Letter to Ms. Rosario Murillo and Declaration to the Nicaraguan people” in which he said, “I want to express my firm and formal protest at the governing party’s use and abuse of my song title “La Consigna”…. The only musical work authored by me that I granted to the FSLN, when I belonged to its ranks, is what is called the “Anthem of Sandinista Unity.” All the rest of my modest but worthy musical and literary work is registered in the General Society of Authors of Spain…. I’ve sent a letter to Spain advising them that the FSLN Party and the government of Nicaragua are categorically denied authorization to disseminate, exploit and commercialize
the 208 songs that make up my artistic patrimony, which, like my patriotic and revolutionary dignity, will be the only inheritance I will leave my children. In the dramatic context our people are living through, newly threatened with another family dictatorship, a sordid replica of the tyranny of the Somozas, I cannot permit these songs, inspired precisely by the sacrifice and immolation of thousands of Nicaraguan brothers, to serve as a musical background for a continuation, from the flowery stages, of the most shameful tragic-comedy of recent years…. This is not an economic demand but a moral one…. If they persist in abusing the musical works that do not belong to them, there will be cause for an international lawsuit....”

Ten days later, his brother Luis Enrique Mejía likewise prohibited the government of Nicaragua and the state-run Channel 4 and the FSLN’s Radio YA from using any of his songs, citing Nicaragua’s Law of Authors’ Rights and warning that if this “moral right is not respected, I will be prepared to take the corresponding legal actions.” In his own public letter he states, “The Sandinista National Liberation Front is not the same party as yesterday, the one for which we sang with all the pride and passion and commitment of our militancy, which we received when we had already composed many of the songs that our people were able to learn, enjoy and sing up through the eighties…. We have differed with the FSLN since 1991 and always take care not to fall in the trap of responding with the same language to the personal insults and fanatic offensive remarks of some militants of the current FSLN for our defense of our moral and patrimonial authors’ rights, which all authors and composers in Nicaragua and the world have…. They are using the sacred blood of those who fell in the long struggle for the liberty of our people for political and family ends and with the authoritarianism and perversity portrayed by the entire body of the Ortega government and his new family party, which we want absolutely nothing to do with.”

MURILLO ACQUIRES EVEN MORE POWER
By presidential decree, President Daniel Ortega appointed his wife Rosario Murillo as head of the Social Cabinet in June, putting her in charge of all government social programs (Zero Hunger, Zero Usury, Streets for the People) as well as of the supervision and organization of what is now called the National Social Welfare System. The decree is part of an ongoing reform of the executive branch without going through the parliament. The same day the decree was officially published in La Gaceta, Murillo cleared up any remaining doubt about the state party symbiosis by stating in the first working session of the newly named Cabinets of Citizen’s Power (GPC): “We have made it clear from the beginning that the FSLN Political Secretaries are the Delegates of Citizens’ Power in the departments… It seems to me that we’re assuming citizens’ power is something apart from the FSLN. And that can’t be! …We have to recognize that without the Sandinista Front there is no citizens’ power.” The Councils of Citizens’ Power (CPCs), the decreed basis of citizen’s power, are still minority groups to which power and control over the majority of the population are being conceded. In the latest national CID-Gallup poll, only 2.5% of those surveyed in Managua and 1.8% in the rest of the country said they belonged to a CPC. Only 13.8% of those in Managua asked if they might be interested in getting involved in the future said they would and that dropped to 10.8% in the interior of the country. A full 79.2% of those who defined themselves as Sandinistas admitted they had never participated in any CPC activity.

CENI CASE SENT TO THE COURTS
On July 7, Public Prosecutor Armando Juárez presented a formal accusation against 39 people accused of being co-authors, accomplices or necessary cooperants for crimes against the capital wealth of the state, fraud and influence peddling in the well-known case of the bank bailout bonds known as CENIs. Ever since Daniel Ortega took office, he has judicially controlled and politically managed the CENI case. For months, the CPCs directed by Rosario Murillo have engaged in an insistent radio and television campaign, financed with public funds, against only two of those now accused—PLC Managua mayoral candidate Eduardo Montealegre and La Prensa director Jaime Chamorro—making them appear the only ones responsible for the fraud and using the epithet “thieves” against them. Independent economists have repeatedly pointed out the contradiction enveloping the case of the CENIs: issued illegally, they were nonetheless renegotiated by the Bolaños government, which gave them a veneer of legality. Now, at the same time as the new government is accusing some of those who issued and renegotiated them, it has again gone back to the two private banks that benefited from the fraud (BANPRO and BANCENTRO), negotiating another extension of the repayment deadline and lowering their interest a bit more.

VS. DORA MARÍA TÉLLEZ
On June 26, in the first activity of reflection she had planned after concluding her hunger strike, Dora María Téllez was bathed with filthy water and mud and received with stones and mortar fire by a small group of students from the University of León who, on the pretext of demanding the delayed payment of their scholarships, prevented Téllez from entering the university campus to participate in the forum-debate on citizens’ rights promoted by León’s civil society associations. Conservative Party legislator Alejandro Bolaños Davis, an earlier victim of the Supreme Electoral Council, which arbitrarily stripped him of his legislative seat, was to have accompanied her in the forum-debate, but he too was attacked and muddied. The forum ended up being held in the street. The group of students responsible for the literal mudslinging had been encouraged by university student leaders who work with the FSLN. The repudiation of their action was widespread.

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