Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 149 | Diciembre 1993




Envío team


Hoping to avoid a military response, the government extended the date for rearmed groups to lay down their weapons one more time. On September 28, "Pedrito el Hondureño," who led the July takeover of Estelí by the Revolutionary Front of Workers and Peasants, disarmed with 200 of his men in the Estelí mountains. On October 22, Donald Mendoza, who directed the August hostage taking of UNO politicians in Managua, turned in his weapons together with 100 of his men from the Sovereignty and Dignity Commando.

Chacal's Northern Front 3 80 responded very differently to an army warning on October 4 that its new rapid deployment unit would fight any who refused to disarm. On October 6, it ambushed an army patrol near Paiwas, killing six. Over the next week, it torched several national and international NGO vehicles, as well as some belonging to the government. With that, the army sent its troops to the northern zone Chacal controlled. UNO came to Chacal's defense, screaming the army would cause a bloodbath.

UNO's support for Chacal is not always reciprocal. In an earlier interview, Chacal said there are only two representative forces in Nicaragua: the Sandinistas (whom he called "monsters") and the Resistance (former contras); he dismissed both the government and the UNO parties as insignificant.

In any case, there was no bloodbath, and virtually no combat. Chacal and some of his closest subordinates promptly crossed into Honduras. More than a hundred civilians also fled across seeking refuge, but some started coming back soon afterward, as the army quickly and easily gained control of the area.


In order to subordinate the military to government control, a central issue of US pressure on Nicaragua, the Chamorro government created the Department of Intelligence Affairs (DAI), under the Ministry of the Presidency. The DAI replaces the intelligence apparatus created by the Sandinista government, which in 1990 was transferred from what was then the Ministry of the Interior to the Sandinista Popular Army (EPS).

President Chamorro has named Sergio Narváez, a civil engineer unknown in Nicaraguan political circles and with no background in security issues, to head the new department. She also ordered him never to make any public statements.

Lenín Cerna, in charge of state security up to now and, as such, a major target of the US and Nicaraguan ultra right, was named Inspector of the EPS, the third highest ranking officer in the army command structure.

Meanwhile, the EPS Chamorro tensions that began when the President unilaterally announced on September 2 that General Ortega would soon be retired have not eased. The two issues of contention are the date of Gen. Ortega's retirement and the contents of a bill, still at the draft stage, on military organization. Both issues are always on the agenda of the bilateral dialogues among the political forces.


According to the official report presented on October 8 by specialists from Nicaragua, the United States, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras and Canada, the Santa Rosa arms arsenal was created in mid 1991 by individuals linked to the FPL in El Salvador and ETA of the Basque Country. The international commission provided little information about the abundant documentation found in the arsenal related to the possible kidnapping of dozens of Latin American business leaders. The United States approved the report.


Before the government signed its pre agreement with the IMF, there were strong debates about the excessive proportion of Nicaragua's budget dedicated to paying on the foreign debt since 1990. The government argued peevishly that it had no choice but to pay the enormous debt "inherited due to the irresponsibility of the Sandinista government."
Daniel Ortega shot back that the bulk of the debt his government contracted was with the former Soviet Union, former East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Libya, Iran, China and Cuba, all countries to which the Chamorro government is paying nothing.
He added that the Sandinista government had contracted virtually no new debt with the IMF and World Bank, since the US embargo prevented it from receiving any credits from those multilateral giants. The only debt payments the current government is punctually making now are to these two lending agencies, since it is the only way to keep getting fresh funds. The net flow, however, is now to these agencies, not from them.

Meanwhile, a United Nations General Assembly resolution, approved by consensus, asks the international community to continue supporting Nicaragua financially "in a flexible way" and "at the levels required." The resolution responds to an appeal President Chamorro made during her speech to the Assembly last month.


According to a National Police report provided to the National Assembly, crime has increased notably across the country. In 1993, the police reported 8,522 crimes; ten years later, the figure has quadrupled, to 35,924. The police called on the government not to cut its skimpy budget even more in 1994, since it is already barely able to protect the population. The average police salary is equivalent to $70. "Professionalizing the police," said its new national chief, Comandante Fernando Caldera, "does not only mean eliminating any political banner. It also means having the means to act."

Salvador Shlaeffer, bishop of the Atlantic Coast for 25 years, died of a heart attack on October 22, during a pastoral meeting in El Rama. The 73 year old Capuchin from Wisconsin took Nicaraguan citizenship and lived for 40 years among the indigenous communities of the coast. His funeral in the port city of Bluefields demonstrated the affection the coastal population felt for him.


The cholera epidemic has risen seriously in 1993, spreading to 85% of the territory. This year, an average of one person has died daily of cholera, a far higher percentage per contracted case than 1992.

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