Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 234 | Enero 2001




Envío team


After two attempts to get into the Initiative for Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), which failed because the Alemán administration was not exercising good governance, the International Monetary Fund finally approved Nicaragua’s entry on December 18, 2000, with the World Bank following suit three days later. This decision places the country at what is called the "decision point." According to official information, this means that the country’s annual average foreign debt service will be reduced by over half: from US$310 to $150 million. The government announced that the money freed up will be used to support the Strategy to Combat Poverty, one of the conditions imposed on Nicaragua for admission into the HIPC.

According to the initiative, if Nicaragua continues meeting its conditions faithfully for the next three years, it will reach the "culmination point," where its $6.5 billion foreign debt will be slashed to $1.6 billion. Nicaragua’s entry into the HIPC was a product of the international community’s "flexibility" and desire to avoid any worsening of the economic and social crisis the country is going through. Put another way, the creditors felt they could not continue making the population pay for the sins of its government.


Finally bending to unrelenting national and international pressure, President Alemán and Minister of Government José Marenco Cardenal announced in the first week of February that they were "desisting" from a capricious two-month effort to summarily expel retired US nurse Dorothy Granada from Nicaragua. For the past ten years, Granada has dedicated her boundless Christian energies to a health clinic and women’s cooperative in the isolated and impoverished community of Mulukukú in northern Nicaragua. Last November, during a public event honoring the clinic, the Liberal deputy mayor of a neighboring municipality informed President Alemán that it only treated Sandinistas. Spurred by that polarizing and confrontational spirit that has so damaged post-war Nicaragua, Alemán and Marenco went into action. In the ensuing days a local resident claimed the clinic had performed an abortion on a relative, and someone else charged that the clinic treated members of the armed organization known as FUAC.

At 4 am the morning of December 8, Granada’s 70th birthday, a contingent of police arrived at her door in Mulukukú with a Migration Department order issued at Marenco’s command to cancel her residency and deport her immediately. Fortunately she had stayed in Managua the previous night and went into hiding when informed about this illegal proceeding.

It is not the first time the Alemán government has shown its contempt for the work national and international nongovernmental organizations are doing to aid and empower Nicaragua’s downtrodden population, but this time it bit off more than it wanted to chew. An international network had long been set up to support the work of the clinic and cooperative, and it mobilized immediately. Letters and e-mails flooded into Nicaraguan government and US congressional offices. The US ambassador in Nicaragua visited the government to urge due process and, in only one day of canvassing, the burgeoning solidarity movement got 32 congressional representatives to sign an unusually strong letter demanding that Granada get her day in court. The signers tersely added that independent investigations by Nicaragua’s Office of Human Rights Ombudsman and others had found no evidence to support any of the charges. In fact, the alleged abortion victim actually showed up with her infant to disclaim the accusation and praise the clinic’s assistance with her delivery.

Once the deportation order was lifted and Granada emerged from clandestinity, she and her Nicaraguan co-workers have been sought after constantly for media appearances. Their heartfelt posture of reconciliation in the interviews has served as just the antidote to the poisonous sentiments spread by government officials.


Herty Lewites, who won Managua’s mayoral seat on the FSLN ticket last November, took office on January 14 in a festive act. In his inaugural speech, he announced that he will prioritize delivering property titles to some eleven thousand poor families living on hundreds of precarious squatter settlements in the capital. He called on President Alemán—who had pulled out all stops to prevent Lewites from occupying his new municipal post—to "sit down together, set aside political differences and work for the good of this country, which merits it."
In the ensuing days, Lewites released details about the bankrupt state in which he found the municipal government after 11 years of plunder by two successive Liberal administrations, the first one (1990-1995) run by Arnoldo Alemán. According to Lewites, superfluous expenditures; ghost employees and supernumeraries; unjustified indemnifications; missing furniture, equipment and machinery; and all manner of other irregularities "tied his hands" in trying to implement all the projects he had promised during his campaign.


Vilma Núñez de Escorcia, president of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH), was elected as one of the Latin American vice presidents of the prestigious International Human Rights Federation (FIDH), which is based in France and is made up of human rights organizations from 158 countries. The elections took place at the federation’s 34th Congress, held in Morocco in mid-January. One of Núñez’s first proposals will be for an FIDH mission to observe Nicaragua’s November 2001 presidential elections.

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