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  Number 183 | Octubre 1996
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Nicaragua

A Nicaragua of the People and for the People Nicaragua's Commitment to a Minimum National Agenda Managua, 1996

The Minimum Agenda is an initiative promoted by the International Foundation for Global Economic Development, in consultation with 150 representatives of NGOs and sectors of Nicaraguan civil society. It offers a diagnostic of the country before the elections. The new authorities should consider it seriously in their governance. There follows the complete text.

Envío team

Since 1995, as part of its program, the International Foundation for Global Economic Development (FIDEG) held a series of dialogues with diverse sectors in the country. The meetings indicated that the depth of the crisis and its causes were not being adequately addressed in the agenda of candidates up for election or in the informational or opinion media, which led to the fear of a popular vote oriented more toward candidate visibility and client promises than to rational support of a government program adjusted to the reality of the country's problems and possibilities.

To play a role at this important moment for the country, a working group made up of people from different sectors of society decided to draw up a document that by consensus, looking at no interests except those of the nation itself, would gather the issues of greatest concern into a 'basic agenda' of the most urgent political, economic, social and cultural issues of our leaders and our society.

The preparation of the National Minimum Agenda did not try to respond to or give recipes for national problems. It was thought that these correspond to both those promising to lead the country to a solution of the problems, as well as to the initiative of the diverse sectors of society who know and suffer the problems in the flesh and are able to seek or demand solutions in accord with real possibilities.

This initiative, like others being promoted in different sectors of society that were taken into account for this Commitment, is an unprecedented act in Nicaragua. It is an important step toward consolidating democracy, because it implies the active participation of all Nicaraguans in the nation's destiny, in a relationship of shared responsibility with the political leaders who this year will be competing for local and national posts in the popular elections.

The text that follows has been approved by all sectors involved and is known as NICARAGUA'S COMMITMENT TO A NATIONAL MINIMUM AGENDA.

The coordinating commission of this effort is made up of the following members:
Julia Mena, Vice President of Nicaragua
Monsignor Silvio Fonseca, Representative
of Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo
Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca, President of FIDEG

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Nicaragua's Commitment to a Minimum National Agenda

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Introduction

Nicaragua finds itself in its sixth year of an historic transition, moving from a period of war to one of peace, from polarization to reconciliation, from an economy of survival to one of development, all within the framework of democratic consolidation.

Guaranteeing this transition requires a great joint national effort, with the political and social forces as the cornerstone of that effort.

This joint effort will permit agreements to be reached around a minimum agenda that offers stability and guarantees for the building of a new stage of prosperity, but this will not occur while there persists in our country the series of factors that are the cause of evils that have submerged our country in chaos, ignorance and poverty generation after generation. The eradication of these evils is the sine qua non condition and the point of departure for Nicaraguas socioeconomic, cultural and even political takeoff.

Nicaragua is going through a critical moment, with a moral and material crisis of immense proportions that has not allowed the country to move towards aggressive economic recovery and ethical values that offer guarantees and hope for the majority of citizens. This crisis is in part the result of the population's frustration, which has rarely seen promises fulfilled.

Nicaragua finds itself far from the levels of national production and exports reached by its Central American neighbors, placing our nation in a disadvantageous situation in a world characterized by globalization, competition and the trend to form regional and sub regional economic blocs.

Clear expressions of these difficulties are: growing violence in both rural and urban areas, public insecurity, an increase in crime, social divisions, growing informality in all areas of life, corruption, nepotism, inequalities between the few who have and the majority who cannot even guarantee their daily bread, inequalities between genders and among ethnicities and frustration of the youth, as well as the excessive weight of the foreign debt, which is the main limiting factor on efforts to correct a great proportion of these difficulties.

In order to guarantee the democratic process in an integral fashion, Nicaragua requires a model of Sustainable Human Development, understood as the creation of indispensable conditions for the full development of collective and individual human potential, without mortgaging or damaging future generations. A development that promotes not only economic growth but also opportunities for a better distribution of its benefits among the populations of the Pacific and the Atlantic Coasts, that restores environmental quality instead of destroying it, that promotes peoples' autonomy instead of marginalizing them, and that stimulates the business spirit, offering stability and security. A responsible population policy should also be developed. Nicaragua needs an Ethical Code that regulates the actions of public officials at all levels in the four branches of the state.

There should also be a national commitment to transform the unequal power relations between men and women that lead to women's subordination, and to promote a change in the living standards of women and of society as a whole.

Nicaragua needs to promote a Culture of Peace among its citizens, understood as a process that comes from the population itself and strengthens democratic values, as this constitutes an indispensable condition for the peaceful governing of society. This culture must be based on respect for life, liberty, justice, equity, solidarity, tolerance, human rights; equality between men and women, respect for the cultural values of our own peoples and especially the populations of the Atlantic Coast, as well as the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Nicaragua has potential that must be developed and converted into concrete actions. It is with an eye to this potential that we call on the nation to contract the commitments described below, in order to use those potentials and energies that the country has in its own resources. In addition, if this National Commitment to Construct a Minimum Agenda is to guide the actions of all people and institutions in the building of a Nicaragua in development and democracy, it demands the political will of those responsible for establishing the necessary and sufficient conditions to construct a decision making process that leads to the effective resolution of the primary problems of all society.

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Commitments

1. National agreement on elections and governability

As part of civil society and as political agents, we commit ourselves to contribute our efforts to guarantee that the electoral process is carried out with as much calm as possible. Nicaragua needs us to reach a national agreement to accept the results of the entire process, which, by its honesty and transparency, will be the genuine expression of the people's will.

We should promote a continuous agreement reaching process with all political and social forces, so that these will join in the design, implementation, follow up and control of national development policies that include economic and social policy, institutional and municipal policy, as well as international policy. This process of harmonizing the country's forces should have as its reference and conceptual framework peaceful living, mutual respect and the full commitment to democratic principles generally accepted in the modern world, abandoning and condemning any practice that damages this overarching principle.

2. A frontal fight against corruption. Transparency, probity and the responsible exercise of public functions:

It is urgent for Nicaragua to accept the culture of honor and honesty, scrupulous management of state goods and thus administrative transparency. All of this implies guaranteeing ethical principles that should be incorporated in the educational process, that start from within the family and that should be accompanied by a legal framework geared to promoting those principles.

All of us, future governors and the governed of this country alike, must commit ourselves to combat the impunity that fells all efforts to make administrative transparency effective.

3. Public security: Guaranteeing legality to reduce public concern and defenselessness and promote democratic development, as well as the total disarming of the civilian and para military population, without distinguishing ideologies or parties.

Public anxiety and defenselessness are the manifestations of serious problems that range from the alarming rise in common crime, to the institutional violence that often forces people to live within an illegal framework, together with the impunity reigning in the country that derives from the failure to hold to laws and the delays in the justice system.

The growing insecurity both in rural and urban areas of Nicaragua affects every person's sense of tranquility. The problems of security in rural zones are the reflection of the absence of programs and actions that would provide these populations access to certain basic services and guarantee their incorporation into the productive and social life of their own communities.

Different sectors of civil society as well as the political parties should therefore commit to guaranteeing the total disarmament of the civilian and para military population without party or ideological distinctions and in conditions that guarantee the life and integrity of all the disarmed. We cannot continue being hostages to and victims of common criminals or armed groups that continue massacring peasants or provoking their exodus to other countries, or that leave our homes to the mercy of any armed delinquent. We should also commit ourselves to develop laws that fill the legal gaps that remained after the 1995 Constitutional Reforms and that can effectively respond to the principal problems noted. Institutional reforms are needed that reestablish authority, particularly in rural areas. As civil society we demand law and justice at the national level.

We must accept commitments to clean up the judicial system at all levels and guarantee the effective functioning of the judicial branch independent of other branches. No one should be able to operate outside of the law. We should therefore put a priority on modernizing laws and codes that set the minimum legal framework for reestablishing legality and reducing discretion in the application of the law. The laws and codes are the following:

Organic Tribunal Law
Laws of Civil and Penal Procedures
Law of Banks and Other Financial Institutions
Environmental and Territorial Laws
Penal Code
Fiscal Code
Trade Code
Labor Code
Civil Code
Family Code
Civil Service Law

We are aware that a legal framework alone will not guarantee the rule of law. Therefore, we insist on the immediate disarming of the civilian and para military population and on the promotion of actions to permit more effective and efficient social participation in the drafting of legislation and measures aimed at preventing problems of drug trafficking and crime in general, which are additional factors lowering the living standard of our population.

Additionally, maximum efforts should be made to put the Human Rights Prosecutor's Office into action, with adequate and necessary resources to make it a guarantor of the fulfillment of laws and respect for individual and collective human rights of Nicaraguans. This Prosecutor's Office should play an important role in establishing mechanisms and procedures to let people needing justice applied know where to channel their demands.

State modernization should also be promoted, meaning a small but efficient state, with a practice of public service that acts justly in order to contribute to balancing the distortions generated by the market.

Within the framework of the promotion of a real democracy, the state through its different branches should work and commit itself to strengthening a municipal decentralization that promotes local development, with the goal of solving problems to meet population needs.
The secondary law regulating the Autonomy Law of the Atlantic Coast is imperative for the consolidation of democracy in that region of the country. The process to build municipalities should not only go through a phase of decentralizing functions, but should also offer the technical and financial resources so that municipalities can make decisions and better carry out their functions with community participation.

4. Stimulate production and promote coherent and effective policies for productive recovery; find a just solution to the property problem, guaranteeing its future inviolability.

As sectors involved in the productive issue, we recognize that it is fundamental to seek a certain macroeconomic equilibrium, as a necessary condition to guarantee the economy's price stability. We also recognize that the country's fundamental motor force of development is in private enterprise and initiative, as well as national and foreign investment, and therefore this principle should be stimulated in a practical and decided manner. The country's leaders should demonstrate this through effective political will.

In this sense, within the process of structural adjustment we should reach an agreement on the primary problems in the macroeconomic field, as well as identify the primary foreign and domestic restrictions that it faces. The knowledge of existing and new regional commitments would allow society's greater involvement in the formulation of articulated proposals that could feasibly negotiate better conditions with international organizations and foreign cooperation in general.

These actions should be oriented toward establishing some flexibility in economic programs to allow manipulation of the excessive monetary restriction that impedes the normal functioning of the country's productive and commercial activity and the struggle against poverty. We should promote socioeconomic policies that contribute to controlling, reducing and eliminating the extreme poverty of the great majority of the Nicaraguan population.

We recognize the importance of PROPERTY RIGHTS to stability in productive efforts. This is a natural right, which, in addition to its social function, is closely linked to the key structure of our society, the family. Its flagrant violation is also one of the main obstacles to national reconciliation and the greatest impediment to individual productive activity of both Nicaraguans and internationals.

Therefore, we demand concrete commitments to carry out all possible efforts leading to a solution to this problem and its future inviolability, as well as a definitive solution to and respect for indigenous community lands. There should be an acceleration of actions to guarantee just and adequate compensation to all those nationals and foreigners affected in the past by different dispositions in the framework of already approved laws.

We must promote campaigns and actions to advocate a culture of shared responsibility in the productive recovery that the country needs. Such commitments include the design and application of clear incentives for those who assume these responsibilities and the responsible management of natural resources, our material base for development. Legal procedures, mechanisms and policy coordination should be established to stimulate and promote production. This necessitates a revision of the tributary system in order to reduce the tax burden, as well as all those elements affecting production costs and distribution (transport, energy, fuel, among others) and the establishment of coherent policies to stimulate production; which will help reduce in contraband and the cost of living.

Nicaragua is an eminently agrarian country with small productive units, which require adequate conditions to participate more aggressively in the recovery process and job creation at the rural level. Integral programs must be initiated that promote the development of participatory diagnostic abilities for greater identification of problems and thereby establish proposals for training, technical assistance, trade and financing according to local needs and potential. These programs should also be in correspondence with the objectives of social order established in this National Minimum Agenda.

We demand commitments to direct a significant portion of the international financial cooperation that Nicaragua receives to the integral development of productive programs in the regions where poverty is most concentrated. Civil society organizations should also be developed, and already existing ones supported, within a framework of decentralization and strengthening of local power to implement these programs.

Small and medium enterprises can play a protagonist role in both rural and urban areas. Integral programs of technical training and incentive policies should be developed to take advantage of their potential. These enterprises can then be the source of massive job creation, particularly for women and young people.

A great part of the production problems lies in the high risk and uncertainty that surrounds any economic activity in the country. Therefore, we are convinced that if the issues presented in this Agenda are dealt with, it will be possible to begin to visualize the correction of some of the cost factors that affect production and competition.

Laying the basis for sustainable human development requires the urgent design of and broad consensus for the formulation of a development strategy which should contemplate productive diversification, the articulation of currently existent disperse efforts in the productive and economic area, and the articulation of social, economic and environmental policy, maximizing the rational use of local resources and the participation of civil society in the entire process of planning, designing, implementing and evaluating the development strategy.

5. Quality of life:

We demand that the political parties make clear and concrete promises to guarantee a quality of life compatible with human dignity, including the guarantee of a healthy environment (drinking water, electrical energy, sewage, environmental health). Productive reactivation is fundamental, as is a drastic reduction in the foreign debt that sucks the country's resources and prevents effective improvement in the quality of life for Nicaraguans. Improving living conditions also requires commitments oriented to the establishment of a population policy congruent with the country's growth, that stimulate the incorporation of the population variable in all areas of development, taking into account the nation's Christian and moral principles.

The historic vestiges that the Atlantic Coast faces are due among other causes to abandonment by the government and the scarce opportunities of that region's population to access basic services and productive resources. The existence of policies influenced by the customs and traditions of the Pacific has generated greater levels of poverty in Atlantic Coast homes in relation to the rest of the country. Thus, a commitment that implies joint efforts to overcome Nicaragua's current poverty levels cannot omit the need for public policies to support the Atlantic Coast, in a framework of respect for ethnic cultural values, as well as the establishment of legal frameworks and mechanisms to permit real and more effective participation by the Atlantic Coast population in programs to overcome poverty and promote the region's productive reactivation.

One of the main causes of poverty is the general lack of jobs. Open unemployment and underemployment affect more than half of the economically active population, but in the Atlantic Coast it is more than 80%.

Gender focus in public policies: Unemployment and underemployment affect more than half of the economically active feminine population. Their strong presence in the economy's informal sector excludes them from the right to social and labor benefits; they do not have access to bank credit and have very little access to property; salary discrimination persists; 50% of homes headed by women are in extreme poverty. Family and institutional violence continues to significantly affect women; 50% of women have suffered physical mistreatment some time in their lives and one in four women with partners are mistreated every year; 80% of women who are abused do not seek help. Illiteracy is higher for women, and even more for rural women. Delays in justice affect women more, and women often do not recur to the law for economic and in some cases cultural reasons. The countrys current laws continue to discriminate against women.

Sustainable human development cannot exist without women's real and effective participation, as they are just over half the country's population. We therefore demand that public policies have a gender focus and be applied in all programs and actions that try to affect the structural causes that put Nicaraguan women in greater conditions of poverty.

We demand that policies and programs be oriented to provide women greater access to productive resources, financing, markets, technology, information, access to education and integral health services. Shared responsibility should be promoted in the reproductive sphere, to permit women's greater insertion into economic, political and social processes, as well as a better positioning in society, through women's real and effective participation in decision making at all levels and their political participation and participation in state structures.

Children: 85.7% of children in Nicaragua live in poverty. The national average calorie consumption of children covers only 88% of daily requirements and just 72% in rural areas. A great majority of them face cerebral deficiencies due to undernourishment in their early years. This cannot continue, because it compromises the nation's future development.

The issue of children must be addressed now. We must accept our commitment to promote and implement programs focusing on dealing with children urgently.

Adolescence: 80.8% of adolescents in our country live in high levels of poverty and more than 50% are indigent. More than half of the adolescent population does not attend school and has no work. This situation, in addition to creating emotional needs, promotes youths in many cases to turn to drugs and actions outside the law. It must be remembered that this is the generation that will follow us in running the nation.

The situation of adolescents demands the attention of everyone, both the government and civil society. We should accept commitments to build programs for training, education, employment, sports and recreation for this important social sector. This does not mean establishing paternalistic policies, but guaranteeing opportunities for the personal development of youths.

The third age: If the panorama of population sectors already mentioned is serious, that of those over 65 years is even more critical. This population receives no attention from the government and generally not from civil society either, which generally sees the elderly as a family responsibility. This sector has one of the highest incidences of suicide, as a response to the abandonment and contempt that they feel from society in general. The few places that exist to attend to the elderly lack minimum conditions for human and dignified treatment. Some of these specialized centers have been closed in recent years, and there are no integral attention centers for the elderly in the hands of NGOs or other organizations.

The concerted actions are needed to establish policies and programs point to society's greater involvement, as well as a change of vision about this sector's issues. Said policies and programs should be oriented to integrating all elderly people as active members of society, based on the principle that they are people who have given greatly and can continue contributing to society from their objective possibilities.

People with disabilities: Due to natural and social causes, primarily armed violence, the number of people with disabilities has been increasing, the majority of them young people who demand full participation and equal opportunities. It is necessary that this broad sector of society be taken into account at the different levels of the country's political, economic and social life, as it includes all sectors of society; children, women, youth and the elderly.

People with disabilities should participate in government decision making that affects their lives through their organizations, so that these decisions be truly respectful of their human condition. In this sense, Law 202 should be fully implemented in the areas of prevention, rehabilitation and building of opportunities. Its regulations should be established, emphasizing the National Rehabilitation Commission.

Health: In Nicaragua 56 of every 1,000 children born alive die before their first birthday. Four of the main causes of death among children are preventable: neonatal complications, diarrhea, and acute respiratory infections, all exacerbated by malnutrition.

Maternal mortality in Nicaragua--130 per 100,000 live births--is one of the highest in Latin America, aggravated by the fact that 25% of births per year are by women under 18 years old. Recent years have seen an alarming growth in accidental deaths or deaths from violent causes, currently the primary cause of death among adults.

Confronting this situation requires the integral articulation of policies and efforts currently dispersed among those who work in the health field.

A priority must be put on public sector resources in primary health care at a level that will allow people access to those services, as well as offering the necessary information and knowledge to permit a productive economic and social life.

Housing: The 1995 national housing deficit was estimated at 398,627 units, of which 245,270 correspond to overcrowding, 133,000 to different quality problems and 20,000 units to annual population growth. This amount is equivalent to 48% of the national inventory, according to the 1995 census. This situation influences family stability and thereby education of those living in the home.

We should commit ourselves to the minimum objective of keeping the housing deficit from growing. Massive programs must be promoted that are within the reach of great sectors of the population throughout the country, through the implementation of programs oriented to rehabilitating and constructing houses for low income families, through coordinated actions using state, municipal and civil society efforts and resources.

Housing construction programs, in addition to their social function, represent an energizing factor for the economy.

Education: Preliminary 1995 global registration in education reached 1.1 million students: 3,000 in special education, 99,145 in preschool, 764,587 in primary school and 220,670 in secondary education. Despite this data, 447,995 children lacked access to preschool education, 160,835 lacked access to primary education and some 600,000 adolescents lacked access to secondary education. To this dramatic panorama it should be added that 46% of children in first grade cannot go on to second grade, and more than 101,174 children drop out annually.

Thirty percent of primary school education teachers are empirical, and their average salary is under 500 cordobas monthly.

Illiteracy is growing at an alarming rate; it has already reached 30% and is one of the biggest threats to future society. This situation, aggravated by the low quality of education, obliges an extraordinary joint effort of the state and civil society. We share the criteria that if these deficits are not reduced it will be impossible to overcome poverty and improve living standards for the entire population.

Those elements oblige a radical and global reform of national education, with the goal of forging a truly National Education System that adequately articulates the different sub systems (preschool, primary, technical/vocational, secondary and higher education). It is also urgent to turn education into the backbone of our country's development and a fundamental human right in the construction of sustainable peace and development.
We should respect and carry out the constitutional principle that establishes that "education is the undeniable function of the state," "access to education is free and equal for all Nicaraguans," and "primary school is free and obligatory in state centers."

Additionally, the revision of the educational system should promote an adequate balance between demands for human resource formation at all levels and the country's concrete needs for growth and development.

Policies should also be established that give incentives to youths to choose technical careers at different levels. The search for equality of opportunities also requires that we make a special commitment to give attention to literacy programs for adult women peasants and urban residents, and to basic education for all Nicaraguan girls.

For these public policies to be congruent with the above, we demand concrete commitments to earmark a greater proportion of public funds to educational investment.

6. Scientific and technological training:

Nicaragua currently invests less than 0.1% of its GDP in assimilating new technologies in the productive process, while international recommendations for countries like ours are that this should be no less than 1%.

We recognize the decisive role of knowledge in productive processes today and the challenges this puts to our countries in economic globalization, opening markets and competition, ever more based on scientific and technological progress.

The promotion of human resources, as well as the role and recognition of national professionals should be stressed in all government policies. Access to knowledge and information plays a role as relevant as the strengthening of the business base, industrial modernization, liberalization and the opening of new markets--all factors aimed at increasing the competitiveness of our economies in the new subregional, regional and transregional economic spaces that are forming. Therefore, we demand public and state policies that give preferential attention to human resource training, technical progress and information accumulation, which should mean putting a priority on investments in education, science and technology, as well as designing an energetic policy of scientific and technological development linked to development demands.

7. Environmental conservation and natural resource management:

The environment is in an advanced state of deterioration that threatens the material base and equitable and harmonic development, with deforestation of more than 150,000 hectares per year. Approximately 7.7 million hectares of national territory present different levels of erosion, particularly in processes of hydric erosion. The deterioration of our drainage areas and deforestation due to the advance of the agricultural frontier have devastating consequences for the environment that mean: loss of soil fertility, loss of ability to replenish aquifers and energy potential, the setting off of erosive processes, climatological changes, etc., that endanger the minimum conditions to support our very own life.

It is imperative that measures be taken to formulate and implement policies and programs that permit a rational use of our environment, for which we demand the approval and instrumentation of laws to regulate all those aspects related to irrational exploitation of these resources, industrial activity and the conservation of natural and cultural patrimony, particularly on the Atlantic Coast. Additionally, we should promote actions that articulate both state and civil society roles, so as to influence peoples' behavior with respect to the environmental issue. This is an attempt to promote a new culture of saving and conserving our natural heritage and resources.

The protection of natural resources, in particular on the Atlantic Coast, requires mechanisms of international relations with neighboring countries in order to build understanding, prevent irrational exploitation of natural resources and better redistribute the benefits derived from a sustained use policy of the same.

8. A national emergency program to fight poverty, generate productive work and rescue children:

Given the material crisis of over 75% of the Nicaraguan population, it is necessary that, at the national level, the government and civil society in its broadest sense accept commitments and responsibilities in forming and implementing emergency plans to fight against poverty, generate productive jobs and rescue children, as a political and ethical imperative and the greatest expression of social solidarity.

A minimum commitment that we should accept is to develop programs and activities aimed at preventing an increase in the number of homes in chronic poverty and to focus programs on gradually reducing, in a sustained manner, the number of homes that have fallen into poverty as a result of economic policies and the crisis of recent years.

9. Citizenry's participation

All the elements of this diagnosis have led the population to hopelessness and indifference in the face of the great challenges the nation requires to guarantee a future to coming generations.

This indifference and hopelessness is also the product of the frustration that we Nicaraguans have because we see no perspectives for improving our living standard. This situation in part results from incorrect and inopportune policies, domestic and foreign restrictions that limit the field of action and thereby the possibility of affecting the main problems. But it is also the result of a lack of mechanisms to permit a new belligerence on the part of civil society in the evaluation of policies and programs.

Nicaragua's problems are so great that their solution requires a great national effort with the convergence of all sectors of society, because democracy should be something more than the opportunity to participate in elections. Democracy also implies that these same people can participate, offer opinions and influence the formulation, implementation, follow up and evaluation of public policies, as well as their concrete results.

To guarantee such democratic participation, diverse actions should be carried out, among them the organic regulation of the executive office institutions to establish civil society's role, rights and responsibilities in that sector, energizing the procedures by which the National Assembly consults with civil society, principles stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic that should be fulfilled so that every bill is consulted with those sectors of society to which it applies.

Nicaragua requires that all people who are truly concerned for the country take a break to reflect on the analysis of this Minimum National Agenda, which has resulted from the collective work of various organizations and people.

Many things need to be done to put an end to this desperate situation, but the actions related to the problems described here cannot be postponed without catastrophic consequences for the country. It will be difficult to eradicate these problems without the support of all Nicaraguans. This election year offers an opportunity. It urges that we take on concrete activities related to the points of this agenda and we invite social sectors, the media, political parties and other civil society institutions to contract a moral commitment with the nation to do whatever is within our reach to solve these problems.

The challenge is also for the new government that will be elected by popular will to lead the country's destiny at the end of the twentieth century and into the new millennium.

Our support as civil society is this: to promote reflection on the critical problems the majority of people in our country face. This Minimum Agenda does not attempt to dictate the political platform of candidates in the coming elections. With Nicaragua's Commitment to a Minimum National Agenda, we invite the political parties not only to share this assessment, but also to present us with platforms for governing, with concrete policies and proposals to solve the problems identified here.

This document has been signed and supported by over 150 representatives of ecclesiastical, productive, union and women's sector organizations.

Published with the support of COSUDE
and Friedrich Ebert Foundation

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