Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 310 | Mayo 2007




Envío team

In the first hundred days of his new government, President Ortega fired three Cabinet ministers, all of them women. The first, only days after assuming her post, was Minister of the Family Glenda Ramírez. Ortega gave no reasons. Then in March, it was the head of the Institute of Culture, Margine Gutiérrez. Ortega gave no explanation in that case either. Finally, Amanda Lorío, head of the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry (MARENA), was removed on April 20. That time, Ortega did give a reason, exaggerating to the point of qualifying as an “act of corruption” the fact that for two days Lorío brought a specialist in homeopathic medicine to the Ministry to give consultations to interested MARENA workers at a minimal charge. The FSLN representative in the Comptroller General’s Office charged that Lorío had violated the State Contracting Law, the Organizational Law of the Comptroller General’s Office and the Probity Law, while FSLN legislator Gustavo Porras assailed her with an inquisitor’s passion. The three dismissals were humiliating for those affected.

Neither Ramírez nor Lorío spoke to the media afterward, but Gutiérrez stated that she was quite sure the reason was “not having asked permission” to speak. She had expressed her own criteria about her portfolio and distanced herself from Ortega’s gift of two original Rubén Darío manuscripts to Venezuela’s President Chávez, an act that violates Nicaragua’s laws protecting its national patrimony.

In mid-April, Cardinal Obando publicly lamented that he had been unable to start his new job as president of the Commission of Verification, Peace, Reconciliation and Justice, created especially for him by President Ortega, because the presidential decree creating the commission had not yet been published, he had no budget or personnel and Ortega hadn’t appointed him an executive secretary. A national poll taken by M&R between April 11 and 14 asked people if they supported the cardinal’s decision to accept the post, to which 73.3% responded that they did not and only 17.7% that they did, while 5.1% had no opinion and 3.9% said they weren’t interested. Among those who volunteered their political affiliation, the greatest rejection of Obando’s decision came from ALN sympathizers, with 84.4%. While fewer FSLN sympathizers opposed the decision, 63.2% is quite significant opposition given that the idea came from their leader. In declarations to a national TV channel, the cardinal shrugged off the results by saying he doesn’t believe in polls.


Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki paid a surprise visit to Nicaragua on April 21 to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, which include cooperation in various areas, trade agreements and investments in our country. At the end of the visit, Ortega declared his backing for Iran’s uranium enrichment program, sanctioned by the UN Security Council. “People have a right to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes,” said Ortega. “It can’t be a right just for some nations. What we do oppose is atomic energy being used for war.”

The Ortega-Murillo couple inaugurated the Zero Hunger Program on May 5 in distant Raití, Jinotega, thus avoiding the presence of unfriendly national media reporters. This program will run the five years of the government’s term, during which time it is planned to benefit 75,000 families (15,000 per year) at a cost of US$150 million. Raití’s Miskitu, Mayangna and mestizo communities are extremely poor, which was why this place was chosen to kick off the program, which will provide previously selected families with a $2,000 “productive food bond” made up of a breed cow and pig, hens and a rooster, seeds, corral materials, training, etc. The idea is to provide the family table with meat, milk, eggs and fruit, eradicating hunger and malnutrition. Orlando Núñez, one of the program’s designers, said the beneficiary families in Raití had rejected the cows, requesting short-haired sheep instead, and also asked for assistance to cultivate cacao rather than basic grains. Their main request is to “save the Río Coco,” on whose shores they have historically built their communities, but which is now shrinking due to encroaching deforestation. Presenting the philosophy behind the Zero Hunger Program on April 21, President Ortega declared that the initiative gives Nicaragua “moral authority” to negotiate with the IMF.

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