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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 184 | Noviembre 1996
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Nicaragua

NICARAGUA BRIEFS

CAMPAIGN TIDBITS

* The polling firm Borge & Associates analyzed the technical tie between the presidential candidates of the Liberal Alliance and the FSLN based on a number of elements. According to Borge, of every three Nicaraguans one is a Sandinista, one is anti Sandinista and one is neither. He called the FSLN campaign a "success" in its two aspects: "internally, to achieve Sandinista unity" and "externally" to attract those who are not Sandinistas. Borge believes that the good health demonstrated by FSLN candidate Daniel Ortega, who suffered a heart attack at the end of 1995, has helped pull in votes both within and outside of the party.


* FSLN vice presidential candidate Juan Manuel Caldera, in a tour of the United States, called on the 500,000 Nicaraguans living there to "conscienticize their relatives back home" to vote on October 20, and to do so for the "government of all" promised by the FSLN. Caldera invited "all technicians, professionals, producers and exiles in the United States to accompany us to create jobs and work for everyone."

* On September 25, 13 political parties denounced to the Supreme Electoral Council that "in places of difficult access" in the departments of Matagalpa and Jinotega, which together contain 17% of the national electorate, armed bands are campaigning in favor of the Liberal Alliance, threatening those who do not vote for the Liberals and preventing other parties from campaigning. Five days later, 18 parties in Matagalpa repeated the charge. In the intervening days, 3 FSLN electoral monitors were killed in Waslala by criminals who sympathize with Alemán. General Joaquín Cuadra, head of the army, announced that all the structures of the army would be deployed to the most conflictive zones of the country in October to guarantee the electoral process.

* One of the most concrete promises made in the electoral campaign was that of Unity Alliance candidate to the National Assembly Erick Ramírez, who reminded voters in a TV campaign spot that a primary school teacher earns 400 córdobas (less than $50) a month, a policeman 350 and a retired worker receives a 150 córdoba state pension. He compared this income with the 25,000 córdobas that Assembly legislators receive monthly, and promised "to lower the salary of Assembly representatives in order to raise those of the most needy."

* Nicaragua will elect 20 representatives to the Central American Parliament on October 20. As of 1994 the salary of each representative was $5,000 a month (it is now more), plus travel and food expenses, the assignment of two vehicles with free circulation through Central America and immunity for the representative in the entire region.

SUPREME COURT BENCH NOW COMPLETE

The Supreme Court bench of 12 justices was finally filled on September 12, when the National Assembly elected the four missing magistrates. Those elected were Fernando Zelaya and Francisco Rosales-- proposed by the executive branch--and Yadira Centeno and Marvin Aguilar--proposed by a sector of the legislative branch in which the Sandinistas, with 39 members, are the majority. Some days later the justices themselves elected Guillermo Vargas Sandino, one of the newer already sitting justices, as president of the Supreme Court.

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Although the National Assembly should have elected the Human Rights Attorney General--who will preside over the new office created by the constitutional reforms--last April, no candidate had yet achieved the needed number of votes by early October. Cardinal Obando backs the candidacy of Lino Hérnandez, president of the Permanent Human Rights Commission (CPDH), claiming that "he has a luminous trajectory." But Hernández has little backing among the National Assembly members.

FSLN ACCEPTED BY SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL

In the XX Congress of the Socialist International, held in New York on September 11, the FSLN was unanimously admitted as a "full member" of the SI. The FSLN has had observer status since 1980. Some 900 delegates of nearly 100 countries participated in the Congress.

AIDS IN THE REGION

Nicaragua's National Assembly approved the "Law of Promotion, Protection and Defense of the Human Rights of AIDS Sufferers" on September 26. In those same days, representatives of Central American NGOs met in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to study the advance of the disease in the region. Honduras is the country most affected, with 57% of the cases detected (an estimated 275,400 infected and 1,026 deaths since 1987). With 6,700 infected and 82 deaths since 1987, Nicaragua so far has the lowest incidence of the disease. It is projected that in Honduras, with 17% of Central America's population, there will be a "population collapse" by the year 2000 if the current trend continues. Various fatal strains of the AIDS virus unknown in the other countries of the isthmus already exist in Honduras.

MONEY LAUNDERING

At the end of September, the Ministry of Government sent the Supreme Court a copy of legislation aimed at preventing and punishing the crime of money laundering, against which Nicaragua is totally unprotected.

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