The Chamorro government won an important political and economic victory in the April meeting of the "Paris Club" donor countries in France. According to the government, the group, com prised of 17 governments and 11 international organizations, authorized agreements totalling $750 million in aid to Nicaragua. It also promised to continue its economic collaboration with Nica ragua in 1994 and 1995 if the government shows satisfactory progress in its current structural adjustment plan.
In its proposal for an alternative economic plan, called "For a National Solution to the Crisis," the FSLN recommends that the government, in order to reactivate the Nicaraguan economy, adopt policies that: 1) reduce the importation of consumer goods, 2) selectively and temporarily protect national production, 3) develop the peasant economy and food self sufficiency, 4) make public investment more effective, 5) promote real social policies, and 6) promote foreign investment. In an extraordinary session being held in mid April as this issue of envío went to press, the Sandi nista Assembly was studying the political measures that would make this alternative viable.
In March, Managua's Nejapa lagoon dried up completely perhaps irreversibly. It left only a round bed of mud in which dozens of turtles burrowed for survival. This environmental tragedy is only one indicator of the ecological disaster toward which Nicaragua could be heading. It was attributed to the widespread drought that has affected a large part of the Pacific coast for several years, due largely to massive and indiscriminate deforestation. More than 100 rivers in the Pacific region have been reduced to dry and dusty ditches in the past 5 years. Ecologists say that if Nicaragua continues with its current level of generalized poverty, without plans for sustainable development, the Pacific coast will be a total and irreversible desert in 50 years.
In mid March, the report that a high powered bomb would explode in the National Palace which houses the offices of several state dependencies set off an exhaustive police investi gation. Members of the police force unofficially recognized that the bomb did, in fact, exist and was very powerful, and that the number of bomb scares through out Managua increased substan tially that month. The most signi ficant of these obliged a commercial airline, which was carrying Minister of the Presi dency Antonio Lacayo toward the Paris Club meeting in France via Miami, to change its route. The plane was threatened that it would be the target of a Red Eye surface to air missile of the kind still held by rearmed ex contra groups in northern Nicaragua.
On March 30, the Sandinista and "center bloc" deputies the majority of the National Assembly made $6.5 million in cuts in 1993 budget allocations for the state bureaucracy. They reassigned that funding to support community projects in 80 different municipalities, including some on the Atlantic Coast.
Also in March, the country's different hospitals and health centers started charging for services. The health workers grouped in the FETSALUD union are fighting for health care to continue to be free of charge for large sectors of the population: the unemployed, disabled war veterans, retirees and other people over 60, children under 5, pregnant and lactating women and those affected by illnesses such as tuberculosis or leprosy.
The accords regarding the privatization of state enterprises to the workers have been continually affected by non compliance. One example is the case of BANANIC. When this state banana enterprise was privatized in November 1991, it was agreed that the workers would receive 25% of the value of the bananas exported. Nevertheless, 347 workers of the La Candelaria plantation returned to the Gurdián family, its former owner have not received the $940 corresponding to each of them from 1992 exports. The 116 unionized workers who fought most belligerently for the fulfillment of this agreement were illegally fired by the Gurdián family, who, after losing the case before the Labor Ministry, has still not reinstated the workers. Massive unemployment throughout the country, but especially in the west due to the cotton crisis, fosters such arbitrary conduct toward workers on the part of business and landowners.
According to a Nitlapán UCA study, in 1991 and 1992, the two years in which the Chamorro government received the greatest amount of international economic aid, of each $100 received, only $25 went toward reactivating national production or health and education services; $33 went toward large commerce and the import of foreign goods, while $42 was eaten up in debt payments to foreign governments and international institutions.