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  Number 345 | Abril 2010
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Nicaragua

NICARAGUA BRIEFS

Envío team

UNITED STATES AND ARNOLDO ALEMÁN
Two US congressional aides, one from the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the other from the House of Representatives, visited Nicaragua on April 6 to take a reading of the country’s political situation—typically meeting with only the anti-FSLN opposition. They met with big private enterprise representatives and with leaders of the We’re Going with Eduardo Movement and the Sandinista Renovation Movement. Seeking to project the image that the US government has withdrawn the interdiction weighing on his leadership, they also breakfasted with former President Arnoldo Alemán on his hacienda. At the end of that meeting Alemán said, “In over two and a half hours of conversation, the ice has been broken; there’s a new stage. We spoke of everything, of the errors that have been committed, that we have committed… They’re very clear that the PLC is the biggest and best organized party. They’re also very clear that it’s the one with structures in all 153 municipalities. It was made clear that the US government won’t oppose what the Nicaraguan people choose.” He later added that he hoped the people would choose him as President in 2011.

THE RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH
Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff visited Nicaragua on March 27 to present the Universal Declaration of the Common Good of the Earth and Humanity, which he is disseminating all over the world in hopes that its principles will complement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved by the United Nations over 60 years ago. Following a meeting with Boff promoted by Father Miguel D’Escoto—who until a few months ago chaired the UN General Assembly—President Ortega declared Nicaragua’s adhesion to the Declaration and expressed his intention to reform the Constitution to incorporate the Declaration’s contents. It starts with the principle that the Earth is alive and that all life is born of it, so it must be considered our Mother and must be preserved and cared for. President Ortega announced that his government will publicize the Declaration in schools, universities and business, union and social organizations. Before reading out the draft version, Boff recalled that it would require the resources of three planets Earth for all human beings to live like the middle classes in the United States, Europe or Japan currently do.

SALVADOR CARDENAL DIES
The beloved Nicaraguan signer-songwriter Salvador Cardenal Barquero died in Managua on March 8 at 50, after a long and complex illness called crioglobulinemia. Cardenal, also a painter with a degree in ecology, distinguished himself through the poetry he set to music in defense of the environment and respect for nature and animals. In 1980 he and his sister Katia formed Duo Guardabarranco, named for Nicaragua’s national bird. They quickly became part of Nicaragua’s cultural life and Latin America’s new music movement, participating in folk and political song festivals and performing in over 30 countries around the world. World-famous Nicaraguan musician and composer Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy produced the duo’s first CD, “Un Trago de Horizonte,” in 1982, and they later recorded a series of CDs with renowned US singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. Salvador made nine CDs with Katia and three as a soloist. “Casa abierta” (Open house) and “Araré” (I will till the soil) are two of his best-loved songs. In 1986 he won the Ibero-American Television Organization (OTI) national song festival for “Días de amar” (Days of loving) and four years later took second place in the OTI international song festival as composer of “Dame tu corazón” (Give me your heart), sung by his sister in the United States.

HUMBERTO ORTEGA SPEAKS OUT AGAIN
In the context of the mid-March release of a new edition of his book La Epopeya de la Insurrección, (The Saga of the Insurrection) retired General Humberto Ortega once again offered his thoughts on Nicaragua’s political situation in another long interview with El Nuevo Diario. He said of the Caribbean Coast elections: “I don’t think there has been fraud in the coast. The problem is that any irregularity, defect or error, which are common to such processes, are magnified following the events of 2008, which indicates that the Supreme Electoral Council has not recovered its credibility. These elections haven’t erased that blow to the credibility unfortunately dealt by an institution as key to democracy as the electoral branch.”

Referring to the heated issue of the election of new Supreme Electoral Council magistrates, he said: “The ideal would be for those who choose those officials to listen to what the people are saying, and make decisions that we know won’t satisfy everyone, but at least will increase the credibility of the process.” Ortega banked on a change of magistrates with these words, understandable by anyone with ears: “Consensus must be sought and those who make the decision about these appointments must not take this selection lightly. Maybe the most desirable won’t be achieved this time around, but the most viable could be. And the most viable wouldn’t involve leaving things as they are, because if nothing changes, it will be worse.”

Last but not least, the general said this about the 2011 elections: “I wouldn’t reject the idea that the FSLN could win the elections cleanly in 2011, just as the PLC or a coalition could. So the FSLN should be the first and main force with an interest in finding a real solution to the problem of the electoral branch’s lack of credibility... Knowing it can win, the FSLN should be the first to ensure that the entity that’s going to count the votes is credible and certifies that things were clean, legitimating that victory. In politics, there is no greater democratic shield than clean elections.”

THE ONGOING SAGA OF THERAPEUTIC ABORTION
In mid-March, 20 National Assembly representatives from the PLC, We’re Going with Eduardo Movement, and MRS benches began to push a bill to add legal exceptions to the Penal Code that would allow doctors to apply therapeutic abortion when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger. The Ortega government has been strongly criticized in international human rights forums and pressured by European donor governments urging decriminalization of therapeutic abortion, made totally illegal under any circumstances during the 2006 electoral campaign with active collusion by the FSLN. Various charges of unconstitutionality have been filed with the Supreme Court regarding the criminalization of therapeutic abortion, but the Court, which largely answers to the FSLN, has illegally dragged its feet in issuing a ruling. According to an official report presented by National Assembly representative Mónica Baltodano, one of those promoting the bill, in 2008 the deaths of 28 women were recorded as “indirect obstetrics,” 13 of which could have been avoided had the pregnancy been therapeutically interrupted. The fiercest opponents to the bill are the Bishops’ Conference and the FSLN legislators.

The head of the FSLN parliamentary bench, Edwin Castro, made the following declarations regarding the new bill to a pro-government digital bulletin: “This bill by the anti-democratic and anti-grassroots forces couldn’t have come at a worse moment than Lent and Holy Week, which is a moment for reflection, for pardon, the moment of Jesus’ sacrifice for life, to resurrect life, to deliver himself to the people so they would have life. This is the moment they are projecting a death bill with abortionist positions. The people of Nicaragua have to be clear which of us are pro-life and which are pro-death.”

The Nicaraguan Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics and the Nicaraguan Society of General Physicians published a declaration on March 26 supporting the bill: “We trust that the reform will be approved by a parliamentary majority so we will be permitted to work according to our clinical judgment and prescriptive freedom without running unnecessary risks such as being imprisoned for fulfilling our duty to preserve life and save women’s lives.”

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