In this Christmas season, we hold a special feeling for all of you who have shared in Nicaragua’s struggle. Your continuing concern for the peoples of Central America gives reason for hope, despite the difficult days ahead.
This December we remember with you the thousands of families in El Salvador and Guatemala who will find in this Christmas season the poignant absence of a loved one. In this moment of ultimate loss and suffering, we share their hope for the coming of life, the victory which cannot be so far off.
We also wish to share with you this time of birth in Nicaragua and hope that you will visit us soon to enjoy this precious victory which continues to be won day after day. Throughout Nicaragua, neighbors recently celebrated the Purísima, an eleven-day celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The involvement of the popular organizations in planning the festivities and the rich expressions of religious sentiment throughout the celebrations stand in sharp contrast to claims of totalitarianism circulating in the exterior. We include an article describing this celebration in three of Managua’s popular barrios.
Will the United States intervene militarily in Nicaragua or implement a naval blockade? This sobering question both interrupts the festive atmosphere in the barrios and occupies the attention of Nicaragua’s leadership. We include an article which reports on U.S. government statements and reactions registered in Nicaragua. The article also reports the reactions of various Latin American governments to the possibility of intervention, comparing this with other historical instances of U.S. intervention on the continent.
In recent days, a letter appeared in all the Nicaraguan newspapers, signed by the directors of ANCEN (National Clergy Association) and CONFER (Conference of Nicaraguan Religious). This letter is addressed to Pope John Paul II requesting that he declare January, 1982, a month of universal prayer for peace in Central America. We have included a copy of this letter.
Within Nicaragua, national unity continues to be a primary goal of the revolution. Continual efforts are made to integrate the various parties into the decision-making process where differences can be worked out. Recently the Frente Sandinista delegation in the Council of State introduced a bill concerning political parties. The content of the bill is now under discussion in the Council and is open to substantial revision. The introduction of this bill has focused considerable attention on the political parties. Included is an article introducing these political parties and also the major aspects of the bill.
A number of important events have taken place this month. An International Agrarian Reform Conference was held in Managua from November 30 to December 6. Participating in the Conference were representatives from Latin American campesino movements, as well as scientists and intellectuals from Europe and the Americas. Besides the sharing of knowledge and experience vital to Latin America, the Conference also achieved the following:
1) The formation of the United Front Against Exploitation, comprised of intellectuals and campesinos;
2) The formation of an international association of agrarian reform investigators, working in solidarity with campesino groups;
3) The establishment of a basis for the creation of a continental organization which will bring together campesino movements and small and medium producers.
As this envío goes to print, preparations are under way for the United Nations Conference on Racial Discrimination to be held in Managua December 14–22.
The Council of State recently passed the “Squatters Rights Law”, which was first presented by the Government Junta on July 19, 1981. In the first stage of implementation, land titles will be granted to 54,500 heads of household. Approximately 200,000 persons throughout Nicaragua will benefit from this law. The law responds to social demands voiced through the popular organizations at the grass roots level. Sandinista Defense Committees are now preparing to help in the implementation of the law.
Artisans, small producers prisoners and others are working to produce thousands of gifts for the Christmas season. Brightly colored toys, household items and other goods will soon fill the booths of the Christmas Fair, called the Piñata, organized by the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Culture. The Piñata will offer gifts at low prices while channeling business to Nicaragua’s small producers. (Small industry has increased by 25% since the victory). The Piñata will also save on foreign exchange which in past years has been diverted to importing Christmas gifts.
A special thanks to all of you who have responded to our inquiries giving us a better sense of your informational needs. We have received numerous responses from Latin America, North America and Europe.
The majority of our readers have expressed a preference for in-depth articles rather than short news briefs. Many have also requested a one-page synthesis attached to these articles. In future envíos, we hope to begin to include this. We are now sending the envío out in English and Spanish with one article each month translated into French and German. Please let us know in what language you prefer to receive the envíos.
We are especially grateful to those of you who have reproduced and circulated our material. This is extremely important given the very limited financial resources with which we are working and the general situation of economic austerity in Nicaragua. If you have not yet done so, please let us know in the next month if you wish to continue receiving our material as we are now in the process of revising our mailing lists.
In closing, we wish you a joyful Christmas season and hope you will join us in our prayers that the New Year will bring a just and lasting peace to the people of Central America.
The Institute Staff.