Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 166 | Mayo 1995




Aldo Díaz Lacayo


The strike by some 60% of Nicaragua's schoolteachers continued during all of March and was still holding strong when envío went to press, just before Easter week. During that time, several schools were occupied and, on April 5, a sizable demonstration was held in Managua.

Education Minister Humberto Belli answered the teachers' demand for an 80% salary increase with various acts of police repression, the firing of over 300 striking teachers, however, and a costly media campaign aimed at discrediting the strikers and offering unacceptable counterproposals.

"The stoppage," claimed Belli, "has an unknown political agenda, since they struck knowing that there is no salary solution." The teachers, however, have offered various suggestions on where the increase could come from: the recent reduction of debt payments to the Paris Club creditors; an additional tax on alcoholic beverages, bottled soft drinks and cigarettes; and the funds from privatizing state assets, among others.


After a three week evaluation, an International Monetary Fund mission warned Nicaragua's government that the telecommunications company must be privatized by June and the number of state employees must be reduced by another 8,000 this year if it wants to continue receiving the funds promised in compliance with the ESAF accord. According to the government, the IMF gave Nicaragua a 7 (out of 10) for fulfillment of its international commitments.


In a controversial document, CORNAP, the government agency created to oversee the privatization of the state assets acquired during the Sandinista administration, announced that it has now privatized 345 of the 351 businesses. Several mines and a textile factory remain to be sold. The Comptroller General's office, meanwhile, charged that CORNAP neither controlled nor audited the privatizations, which have been characterized by secretiveness. Various analysts thus see them as the pivot point of the Chamorro administration's own "piñata."
The most shocking aspect of the CORNAP report is its claim that virtually nothing was obtained for the public coffers. CORNAP states that it sold the businesses including profitable gold mines and tourist complexes like Montelimar for a total of 195 million córdobas (about US$27 million). Independent estimates of the value of what was sold range between 14 and 20 times higher. The big question opened by this report is thus why these valuable assets were sold at such low prices. Even more questionable is CORNAP's claim that it spent 138 million córdobas in the process.


The government has announced that an anti drug information center will be set up in Nicaragua to share information with the US Drug Enforcement Agency. It is the first step toward establishing a DEA presence in the country.

On March 29, a National Anti Drug Council was created, made up of government and civil society institutions; it will draw up national plans to deal with the growing drug traffic and use. Two days later the National Police, in collaboration with the DEA, captured over 1,400 kilos of 98% pure cocaine being carried in a Nicaraguan fishing boat off the Caribbean coast.

This is the biggest blow to drug traffic in Nicaragua so far. The haul is equal to half of all the drugs intercepted between 1990 and 1993 as well as half the amount captured in 1994 alone.


After nine months of internal discussion, the FSLN published its project to reactivate the national economy, thus submitting it to public debate.

The document states that the main actor in reactivation should not be the state but the productive private sector: conventional businesses, small and medium producers and the sectors born out of the agrarian reform and the creation of the Area of Workers Property (APT). The countryside is given preference over the city, and the primary sector over the secondary and tertiary ones as the motor forces of reactivation.

It also advocates a permanent forum for dialogue and negotiation, and the state's participation as regulator of the economy. It suggests various mechanisms for this, among them selectivity in credit provision and in the opening to the international market.


The VI National Congress of the Farmworkers' Association (ATC) was held in Matagalpa on March 25 26, with 400 representatives of the ATC's 500,000 members participating. More than 10,000 ATC members are now owners and managers of 33 rural businesses in the APT, a new form of associative ownership that arose after the change of government when the ATC and others waged a strong fight for worker ownership of the state properties being privatized.

Edgardo García was reelected ATC secretary general. While in Matagalpa, he was notified that he had also been administratively appointed to the FSLN National Directorate, replacing Mirna Cunningham, one of the five members who resigned. García received the same number of votes as the coast leader in the elections during the Extraordinary Congress last May, but was passed over to assure the required quota of women on the Directorate.


On March 10, the army announced the results of its military plan to assure the coffee harvest in Matagalpa, Jinotega and Estelí. Over 100 criminal bands were broken up during the plan's implementation, which began last October. In a total of 42 armed confrontations, 95 of the band members were killed and 3,022 captured. In the same period, 55 civilians were killed and 36 kidnapped by the groups in those zones. Sixteen of the 3,585 army members who participated in the plan fell in combat and 4 of the 732 police were killed.


Between April 25 and May 9, 12,000 census takers will visit some 750,000 households throughout the country to count the population and gather reliable national census data. No census has been done in Nicaragua for 23 years, which makes any statistical calculations or analyses very unreliable.

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