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  Number 447 | Octubre 2018
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Nicaragua

Nicaragua briefs

CENTRAL BANK FIGURES
NO LONGER PUBLISHED

On September 6 the Central Bank of Nicaragua (BCN) stopped publishing daily reports about the status of public and private finances (international reserves, currency in circulation, deposits in private banks...). During the years of the Ortega-Murillo administration, official financial, economic, health, security and education statistics have all become increasingly unreliable. In the September issue of envío, economist Néstor Avendaño explained that the Central Bank has millions of dollars of international reserves set aside as deposit insurance and other obligations that it can’t sell to private banks looking to buy dollars to cover withdrawals on dollar deposits, among other things. “Although we know they shouldn’t be touched,” Avendaño warned, “they could be touched silently. The day we hear that the Central Bank isn’t publishing the international reserves data we’ll know it’s touching what shouldn’t be touched.”

THE ARMY ON THE BORDER?

Despite repeated statements by its chiefs that the Army is not participating in the conflict and their avoidance of any mention of the official version of a coup attempt, it is rumored that soldiers are patrolling the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border. The rumor was confirmed by Francisca Ramírez, the nationally and internationally recognized leader of Nicaragua’s anti-canal peasant movement, who fled to Costa Rica in late September following mounting death threats. Her journey into exile was an authentic odyssey, and she said it was made even more dangerous by the Army’s presence on the border. “I want to clarify something to the people of Nicaragua and to the entire world,” she said in an interview with the Nicaraguan daily newspaper La Prensa. “And that is that the Army has a discourse in which it says it has nothing to do with what is happening in Nicaragua. But I could see with my own eyes that they are quite active on the border, watching who’s going through. They have a list they go over. I crossed the border in the dawn hours and the Army was there. That means they’re lending themselves to the persecution and atrocities the government is committing.”

RELEASING BALLOONS
HAS BECOME A CRIME

On September 9 people carried blue and white balloons—the colors of the national flag—during a massive march in Managua in protest against the government’s repression. From that day on, especially on the national holidays of September 14 and 15, releasing blue and white balloons became widespread. Some also had political messages written on them, while others bore the names of political prisoners or murdered young people. In several municipalities of Matagalpa and Carazo citizens were arrested for doing this and videos show government agents bursting the balloons.

CRISIS IN TOURISM

On October 3, the cruise ship “Island Princess” arrived in San Juan del Sur with almost 3,000 people aboard, including tourists and crew. Although Vice President Rosario Murillo, the government spokeswoman, stated in her daily address that virtually all the tourists had left the ship to visit Granada and other nearby cities—”Thank God”— the daily newspaper El Nuevo Diario said that only 200 had done so. On October 2, the cruise ship “Mariner” was expected in the port of Corinto but decided to cancel its visit to Nicaragua. Several countries—including the US, Canada and Spain—have issued travel alerts advising their citizens to avoid travelling to Nicaragua because of the prevailing instability. The US State Department has also warned US citizens and people with dual Nicaraguan and US nationality that they risk being arrested or expelled if they participate in protests. International tourism has declined drastically since April 18, costing this industry 60,000 jobs; 80% if them in small and medium sized companies, many of which have gone bankrupt.

STUDENTS EXPELLED

The Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH) reported that by the end of September more than 100 studentsfrom different majors in the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) had been expelled for “political reasons”: 96 from UNAN-Managua and 48 from UNAN-León.

A CHALLENGE FOR THE LEFT

Former Salvadoran guerrilla Joaquín Villalobos has added his voice to the debate about the Left’s failure to criticize Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, throwing them all into the same sack while he’s at it. “The democratic Left will benefit the most from the ending of leftist dictatorships... The savage repression of the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan opposition and the complex struggle they are waging is no coincidence. They are facing not one but three governments and with them the entire far Left... While they are currently enduring difficulties, the governments they are confronting are historically debilitated, struggling to survive and with no future. They can kill, imprison, torture and be extremely cynical, but this doesn’t resolve the economic, social and political problems they are experiencing nor free them from international isolation. The struggle isn’t between Left and Right but between democracy and dictatorship, and the democratic Left will benefit the most from ending leftist dictatorships after decades of paying the costs and suffering the blackmail of being called traitors if they dare to question Cuba. The democratic Left must struggle with its feet on the ground and, without shame or fear, adopt democracy, the market and the desire for individual improvement that motivates all human beings. It makes no sense to struggle for ideals and end up defending personal privileges to the death. There are no moral or political reasons or practices to defend something that, in addition to not working, generates massacres, famines and dictatorships.”

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