Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 308 | Marzo 2007




Envío team

In an interview for the Univision TV network, broadcast on February 15 in Miami and repeated in Nicaragua, convicted former President Arnoldo Alemán reiterated his aspiration to be President again. When asked by journalist Jorge Ramos whether he intended to run again in 2011, Alemán responded, “As to whether I want to, I can tell you yes. But if you’re asking me if I’m going to try, I don’t know.” “But would you like to be President again?” Ramos insisted. “I’m telling you yes, and I’m asking for your support,” replied Alemán. Some leaders of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) who are in talks with Alemán supporters in the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) saw these declarations as an obstacle to Liberal unity. Worse yet, Alemán made a surprise appearance at the ALN headquarters to achieve a blow for effect in the PLC-ALN dialogue, but ALN leader and presidential runner-up Eduardo Montealegre refused to receive him. Alemán met with other ALN leaders, but no results were made public.

The bilateral Venezuela-Nicaragua cooperation agreements announced by Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega on January 11 were signed in Managua on March 6-7, after a mixed commission involving 60 Chávez government officials hammered out the final details. Ortega had met with Chávez in Venezuela on February 23 to speed up the agreements, which provide the financial basis for the new government’s social programs.

On that occasion, Ortega presented his Venezuelan counterpart with two hand-written poems by Rubén Darío dedicated to Simón Bolívar. Various institutions and figures of Nicaraguan culture—which tellingly did not include the Ministry of Culture—criticized the gesture because the poems were a national heritage that Ortega did not have the right to dispose of unilaterally. On March 5, in a speech to the Venezuelan officials on the commission, Ortega said, “I’m sure that Rubén, looking down from heaven, is content.”

Two weeks later the first generating plants supplied by Venezuela to alleviate Nicaragua’s severe energy crisis went on line. On February 24, the Pearl of the Caribbean pulled into the port of Corinto bearing the third shipload of fuel that Venezuela is selling to Nicaragua at concessionary prices. Its cargo consisted of 50,000 barrels of diesel and 10,000 of gasoline priced at $4 million. The government reported that similar shipments would be arriving every 15 days without interruption.

In mid-February, President Ortega wrote to Pope Benedict XVI asking for his comprehension and authorization for Cardinal Miguel Obando to head up the National Council on Peace and Reconciliation. Ortega pointed out that the post he has offered the cardinal is not political but rather “Christian and humanitarian.” Obando, who had immediately voiced his intention to accept the position, says he expects a positive response from the Vatican. The cardinal’s acceptance of Ortega’s offer has been heavily criticized in the written, radio and television media, including political cartoons. On February 22, the President called La Prensa’s campaign against the cardinal by “dirty and disgusting” and publicly defended Obando by saying, “For all the mud thrown at it, a diamond is always a diamond.”

On February 12, the Amayo Aeolic Consortium of companies from three countries announced an US$87 million project to install 19 wind generators in 36 hectares of the Rivas isthmus. This wind farm will produce 40 megawatts of energy starting in 2008. In the same days, the Compañía Licorera of Nicaragua exported 3 million liters of ethanol to Europe in its first shipload of this bio-fuel obtained from discarded sugar cane pulp. The company, belonging to the powerful Pellas Group, presented the Ortega government its project to produce and nationally consume ethanol as vehicle fuel. The project involves extending sugar cane production, establishing a legal framework and creating the necessary infrastructure for massive commercialization of the product.

On another front, the government initiated a legal process to annul the geothermal energy concessions granted to the San Jacinto-Tizate project, owned by the Canadian Polaris company in which COSEP president Erwin Krüger is a stockholder, and to the Israeli Momotombo Ormat project because neither company had made the agreed-upon investments. The new government inherited a chaotic, non-functional and failed model for the privatization of energy generation and distribution that was promoted by Enrique Bolaños as Vice President and then consolidated during his presidency.

On February 15, the Alliance for the Protection of Nicaragua’s Biodiversity charged that our country is illegally importing experimental LL601 transgenic rice from the United States. It announced that the rice had been found in 20 randomly selected samples from different imported brands and one national brand being sold in the country’s supermarkets. This rice variety was genetically manipulated by Bayer to make it more resistant to pests but was withdrawn from the market in the United States, Japan and the European Union after it was found to be harmful
for human consumption. The deputy agricultural and forestry minister responded that the country’s border controls make the charges very unlikely, but his ministry and the Ministry of Health formed a commission to investigate the matter.

The sixth national convention of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), held on February 18, elected National Assembly representative Enrique Sáenz to replace Dora María Téllez as its president. Leaders and active members of the Movement for the Rescue of Sandismo, founded in 2005 by the late Herty Lewites, also officially joined the MRS party during the convention. According to Sáenz, the MRS, which lost two of its five elected parliamentary representatives to FSLN manipulations, is currently the “stone in the shoe, or better the thorn in the side” of the FSLN. Sáenz praised Dora María Téllez’s decision not to run for reelection as a good example to the country’s political class.

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