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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 151 | Febrero 1994
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Nicaragua

NICARAGUA BRIEFS

Envío team

CONGRESS OF EX CONTRAS

The First National Congress of former combatants in the Nicaraguan Resistance was held in Managua in the first week of December. The main aim was to unify the various political and social organizations of ex contras that have emerged in the past three years, a goal it fell somewhat short of accomplishing. In an implicit rejection of the recently accredited National Resistance Party, the participants agreed to organize to run in the 1996 elections. They also stated that they would not make an alliance with the UNO parties. They declared poverty as the people's "public enemy number one" and accused many old Resistance leaders of engaging in their own "piñata." They demanded an accounting of the money and goods received since the war's end, which have never trickled down to those at the bottom.

FIGHTING IN THE NORTH

The strongest battles since the change of government in 1990 took place in Quilalí and El Jícaro at the end of January between the army and the recontra group known as the Northern Front 3 80. The casualty toll in only the first two days of fighting was 5 dead and 2 wounded for the army, and 11 dead and an undetermined number of wounded on the FN 3 80 side.

FN 3 80 chief José Angel Talavera, known as "El Chacal," showed up in Nicaraguan territory in January, after having supposedly fled to Honduras in October 1993 (some in the north suggest he may never have left).

According to a year end report, the army suffered 49 dead and 80 wounded combating the rearmed groups in 1993.

DONOR MEETING

The Nicaraguan government hosted a meeting of the international community of donors (36 delegations of donor countries and international lending agencies) in Managua on December 15 16. The donors' objective was to evaluate the country's economic situation and exchange views, while that of the government was to halt the slide in foreign cooperation.

In her opening speech, President Chamorro stressed that "if foreign aid is delayed, strongly conditioned or turned into a political tool, as happened in 1992, democracy in Nicaragua could collapse."
WHY PRIVATIZE TELCOR?

Responding to pressures by the international lending agencies, the Nicaraguan government will turn much of its attention in 1994 to privatizing Telcor, the state telecommunications company.

As part of an ongoing fight against this decision, the Telcor workers' union sent an open letter to the Nicaraguan media and the National Assembly, documenting the high level of technification and profitability Telcor has reached. The union estimates that the company's net earnings between 1993 and 1994 will be nearly $23 million.
"We consider," stated the letter, "that the high economic yield, the market and financial feasibility and the substantive support that the government has transferred [to Telcor] does not justify privatization." The union called on the legislators to "firmly reject" the privatization project as "anti national and plagued with corruption."
POET V. GENERAL

An article by conservative poet and La Prensa board member Pablo Antonio Cuadra, published in that newspaper on December 17 unleashed a stinging debate in the media that lasted for days. Under the title "Beheading of the Innocents," Cuadra charged the army with committing an act of genocide against the civilian population of Wanito, a small town in Nueva Segovia.

Army chief General Humberto Ortega sued Cuadra for libel and injuries, but withdrew the suit only days later. The two finally made peace in an unexpected meeting witnessed by Cardinal Obando y Bravo.

Various sources, including newspaper journalists who visited the scene, later agreed that the army had carried out an important military operation against recontra groupings on October 19 in Wanito, but that it had not resulted in any civilian casualties. It had, however, caused a great deal of fear.

ATLANTIC COAST ELECTIONS

After four Sundays of registration, 83% of the Atlantic Coast's estimated eligible voters signed up to exercise their right to vote on February 27 for a new Regional Council in each of the coast's two autonomous regions.

While politicians and the media in the Pacific have treated the elections as a testing ground for the popularity of national parties, the essential issue for many costeños is their autonomy, established as law during the Sandinista government.

The second stage of the law, involving the establishment of rules and regulations for its implementation, had not been done by the time of the 1990 elections, since it was felt that this step should involve the new elected autonomous authorities themselves. It has still not happened nearly four years later, despite continual complaints by the regional authorities, and the Chamorro government has continuously violated both the letter and the spirit of the original law.

In her December 15 speech closing the 1993 legislative session in the National Assembly (the body empowered to approve the new law), President Chamorro made no reference to the law, the elections or the coast's specific and serious problems.

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