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  Number 434 | Septiembre 2017
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Nicaragua

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NICARAGUAN “DREAMERS”

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the US Department of Homeland Security, Nicaraguans account for only 2,506 of the 113,676 Central American youths who benefitted from the Obama government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and will now be affected by President Trump’s proposed elimination of it. Called “Dreamers,” they were taken to the US as undocumented children, learned English and are now pursuing the “American Dream,” entering or already studying in universities or having gotten decent jobs and reportedly excelling in them thanks to this program’s protection, even though they’re still undocumented. Most of them left their country of birth too young to have anything but the vaguest memory of it or to have learned Spanish.

COOKING AND GARBAGE

According to data from the most recent Household Report prepared by the National Institute of Development Information (INIDE), 44% of Nicaraguan households cook with firewood and 54.1% with butane gas, while the remaining 1.2% say they don’t cook at all. Similar figures have been appearing with little variation since 2009. The report also indicates that only 52.1% of households set their garbage out for the garbage trucks, 34.6% burn it (including plastics, which releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere) and 7.8% toss it into the rain ditches or elsewhere.

THE CANAL’S SUBPROJECTS SEEMINGLY RESURRECTED
After a lengthy official silence about the highly controversial megaproject to build an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua— which has yet to get underway four years after it was first announced—the Ortega government sent the diplomatic corps in Nicaragua a White Paper on the subject. The text, also published on the government’s official web page, emphasizes six subprojects associated with the canal, which the government grandiloquently calls a “Multimodal Regional and World Logistical Center.” The six subprojects, which the government says it will execute itself, are a presumably deep-water port in Brito, on the country’s Pacific Ocean side; another in Punta Águila, on the Caribbean side; a free trade zone for manufacturing, finances and transport in Rivas; an international airport near the latter area; and 565 kilometers of highways, roads and bridges.

MARCH 91 AGAINST THE CANAL LAW

On August 15 the peasant movement organized as the Council in Defense of our Land, Lake and Sovereignty held its 91st march demanding that the government annul Law 849, the law on the interoceanic canal and its associated subprojects. The march, accompanied by Bianca Jagger in representation of her human rights foundation, took place in the district of La Fonseca, municipality of Nueva Guinea, the movement’s birthplace. Jagger has pledged to use her prestige and resources to globally disseminate the movement’s demands until it achieves its objective. She worked with Amnesty International to prepare a report titled “Danger: Rights for sale. The Interoceanic Grand Canal Project in Nicaragua and the erosion of human rights” as the basis of a global campaign against the canal project. The movement held its 92nd march with the same demand 22 days later, on September 6, in the district of El Fajardo, department of Río San Juan.

MONEY LAUNDERING

It was learned only in August that on May 17, the director of Nicaragua’s Financial Analysis Unit (UAF), retired Major General Denis Membreño, sent a circular to all financial institutions in the country with directives for preventing the crime of money laundering and that these same institutions then received another circular two days later stating that Membreño’s “has no validity whatever,” with no further explanation. The UAF circular was reportedly based on an analysis of 106 judicial branch sentences for crimes linked to money laundering. It identified typologies used to launder money in the country, such as bringing both licit and illicit money in across the border without declaring it, using front men, creating shell companies or corporations and using small-denomination bills… Cattle trading has also been acknowledged as one of the means for laundering money from drug trafficking. In June 2015, denunciations abounded regarding cattle rustling across the border between Honduras and Nicaragua. It was calculated at the time that 290,000 head of cattle were moved out of Nicaragua illegally between 2013 and 2014.

WAVE OF FEMICIDES

The organization Catholics for the Right to Decide reports that 39 women have been murdered in Nicaragua as of the last day of August this year, with a marked use of fury and cruelty. Women’s organizations all over the country held marches in Managua and Matagalpa declaring themselves “on alert” in the face of these crimes. Their demands include a genuine commitment by all state institutions to respond to women at risk and to reestablish the Women’s Police Stations, dismantled by the Ortega government. The recent trial of a former military officer who stabbed his partner 59 times then cut off her head because she said she was leaving him shocked the country. In response, Vice President Rosario Murillo announced on September 14 that the Ministry of the Family would design a “permanent campaign” to present to the Catholic and Evangelical Churches. She described it as a proposal “to work still more strongly on family, couple and community values, working with the churches in such a believing and devoted country as ours.” Murillo announced she will “ask for the support of priests, pastors and nuns so we can more vividly instill those values we have in our society thanks to God.”

ORTEGA IN AVVENIRE

Shortly before bishops from Nicaragua’s Episcopal Conference arrived at the Vatican for an “ad límina” visit to speak with Pope Francis, the news daily Avvenire, which belongs to the Italian Episcopal Conference, published a front-page report on Nicaragua by Lucia Capuzzi, who covers Latin American issues for the paper. In it, the journalist stated that the presidential couple’s regime moves “between authoritarian populism and the oligarchic clans.” With respect to the corporative dialogue between Ortega and the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP), the big business umbrella organization, the paper says that “although Ortega’s rhetoric has changed little, his policy is totally liberal,” adding that “it is no surprise that his allies are the leaders of business associations, whose favor is curried with tax exemptions.” The text notes that economic prosperity “has been concentrated in few hands” and refers to the “ever stronger” peasant resistance movement, headed by the “passionate peasant,” Francisca Ramírez, that is fighting against the interoceanic canal and for annulment of the canal law.

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