Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 187 | Febrero 1997




Envío team


The International Relations Secretary of Mexico's Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) sent a message to the FSLN leaders and to its presidential candidate Daniel Ortega on November 27, 1996, regarding Nicaragua's October 20 elections, in which PRD members and legislators participated as observers. In the message, the PRD, which has been the victim of so many PRI frauds, said that "the uncertainty about the clean and healthy development of the process has made evident that the electoral road in Latin America still requires improvement, in which oversight by the authorities responsible for the correct application of the norms leaves no room for doubt about the results, particularly taking into account that interference by US interests in the affairs that are strictly the power of our nations is not ending."
On January 9, the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH) filed charges against the Nicaraguan state in the Interamerican Human Rights Commission in Washington for violating the political rights of Nicaraguans in the October 20 elections. CENIDH argued its suit by documenting the accumulated irregularities surrounding the electoral process and requested the court to recommend that effective procedures be incorporated into Nicaraguan electoral legislation to permit voters to claim their political rights. It also requested that the commission ask Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council to preserve the documentation that could provide evidence of the irregularities committed in the elections.


With the change of government, the office of the Comptroller General took an inventory of all goods in each state ministry, business and institutions, as well as those in the mayors' offices. It also reviewed the financial statements of each.

While the historically unprecedented order for this was given by President Chamorro, the news did not make her look particularly good. Comptroller Agustín Jarquín announced that millions had been moved around and spent in various ministries-- Economy, Health, Finances, Construction and Transport, Natural Resources, among others--without ever having been budgeted. Jarquín attributed this to the absence of controls. "The Nicaraguan state," he said, "is an open treasure chest in which even the just can sin."


Two days before his inauguration, from a farm in Matagalpa, Arnoldo Alemán announced the names of his new ministers. Only two are women: Blanca Rojas (Culture) and Jamileth Bonilla (Social Action). Another two women are vice ministers: (Economy and Development, and Health). Among the directors of all the other state entities, the only two women head the Women's Institute and the Children's Fund, institutions that will soon be subsumed within the new Ministry of the Family--headed by a man, Luis González. The only woman among the six personal advisers Alemßn named is Miriam Fonseca, his social affairs adviser.


At almost midnight on January 9, two men were picked up in the vicinity of the empty Liberal Alliance campaign headquarters in a unlicensed vehicle carrying 800 grams of TNT. The police detained them as potential authors of a terrorist attack. The two men were former Sandinista Police officer Néstor Moncada Lau and former Sandinista Army officer Vicente Acuña.

Although they were sentenced on January 21 to 18 months in prison following a trial, their case was surrounded by a cloud of publicly unanswered questions. The clumsy action in which the two men were discovered openly contradicts their intelligence level and their proven experience and skills in military activities.


On January 9, the eve of President Alemán's inauguration, the rearmed groups of the Northern Front 3-80 ambushed the army in Río Blanco, killing six (a major, two captains and three soldiers) and wounding four others. A notable increase in the number of rearmed has been observed since Alemán's victory, by individuals seeking to obtain advantages and make deals with the new government.

President Alemán took up the problem of rural peace by making several decisions in the first days of his administration. For one thing, the estimated 500 rearmed men should concentrate in three demobilization zones covering a total of 200 kilometers: Ayapal in Jinotega, Río Blanco in Matagalpa and El Ayote in Chontales. Over the course of February they will turn in their weapons and receive pardons. They will receive no money or privileges, though they will get land and productive assistance if they need them. If they do not demobilize in the period offered, a "firm hand" will be taken against them.

Alemán put Minister of Defense Jaime Cuadra--the first civilian in this post--at the head of the demobilization, along with JosÚ Antonio Alvarado, the new Minister of Government. The Liberal government claims to have an "inventory" of those who are genuine members of the rearmed groups, and it is likely that it does, since they campaigned on its behalf. It remains to be seen whether they will consider Alemßn's offer adequate recompense for their campaign efforts.


President Alemán declared that Managua needs "three palaces: a palace for the archbishopric, a presidential palace and a palace of government." He had already announced that the presidential one will be built across from the Rubén Darío Theater.

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