Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 111 | Octubre 1990



Harvest of Misery

Envío team

When Nicaraguans went to the polls on February 25, many voted their pocketbooks and stomachs, hoping that a government friendly to the US would translate into economic prosperity at home. But recent United Nations information for Nicaragua (cited in Barricada of 9/3) indicates the following grim reality:

* The country has a 40% unemployment rate.
* The country’s illiteracy rate is 20% and climbing
* 80% of the population lives in poverty
* There is a shortage of 300,000 housing units
* Infant mortality has risen to 61.7 per 1,000 live births
* The war left 10,000 young people permanently disabled
* 1,300 children have died of diarrhea and measles in 1990.

This situation has its roots in the economic crisis that Nicaragua has been facing for several years, but many blame the intensity and acceleration of the crisis on UNO’s unwillingness to put priority on basic social services.

Health minister and pediatrician Ernesto Salmerón says diseases like diarrhea, measles and respiratory illnesses are not being combated effectively because the resources simply aren’t there. He called the situation “horrifying” and said the government must spend more on health care, noting that Costa Rica spends $235 per capita on health compared to $12 in Nicaragua. Forty million dollars is needed immediately to adequately attend the country’s population, 56% of whom are under age 15.

Salmerón warned that the already over-taxed health system will be further stretched with the return this year of tens of thousands of refugees. Yet Minister of Finances Emilio Pereira announced the first week of September that health and education budgets would be cut to the “minimum” in an attempt to reduce the fiscal deficit.

The agricultural situation offers little hope, as drought has destroyed huge extensions of lands planted with basic grains. In the department of Madriz alone, 67,000 manzanas of grains were lost—including 20% of the country’s entire corn crop. Hunger is a daily reality for many Nicaraguans. Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo acknowledged that the Nicaraguan people are “anguished by the economic crisis,” adding that “the poor are hungry, they are going through serious difficulties.”

Print text   

Send text

<< Previous   Next >>


Polarization and Depolarization

Education: UNO Goes To School

Health Minister Under Fire


“We Erred to Win...”

On Concertation: From Left to Right

Harvest of Misery
Envío a monthly magazine of analysis on Central America
GüeGüe: Web Hosting and Development