Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 67 | Enero 1987




Envío team

José Comás, Central American correspondent for the Madrid daily El País, was denied entrance to Honduras in early December as he tried to cross the border at El Amatillo with a US journalist. Though Spanish residents do not need visas to visit Honduras, officials there cited a law stating that people whose passports are stamped with visas to enter communist countries can be denied entrance to Honduras. Comás has visited Cuba several times.

At the border, Honduran officials searched Comás' belongings, confiscating three copies of the Nicaraguan daily Barricada and one issue of envío.

When the new "Karl Marx" hospital in Managua was officially turned over to Nicaragua in late December, Minister of Foreign Cooperation Henry Ruíz called it a concrete expression of solidarity by the people and government of East Germany.

The hospital, which has operated 15 months at partial capacity while construction was being finished, has 230 beds and specializes in general and internal medicine, gynecology and surgery. In addition, it offers laboratory, X-ray and pharmacy services and has physical therapy facilities as well. To date, the hospital has provided over 118,000 consultations; 3,000 patients have been hospitalized and 1,500 have undergone surgery.

Meanwhile, West German workers from Bremen have donated a boat, the "Gropel," which will be converted into a floating medical clinic to serve all of the Río San Juan region, Special Zone III. The "Gropel" should be in service by May of this year.

The UNICEF peace torch, which arrived in Nicaragua in early December, will stay in Managua as both the Honduran and Salvadoran governments have refused to allow it to enter their countries. The torch, which has passed through over 100 countries, left New York on September 16 to mark the International Year of Peace as well as the 40th anniversary of UNICEF. At a ceremony in Managua celebrating the arrival of the torch, one Nicaraguan child commented, "The kids of Nicaragua want peace so we can laugh and sing."

One hundred and thirty students from the "Nelson Suárez" Technical School recently completed their training and will begin work with the construction ministry (MICONS) and the municipality of Managua. Seventy-seven of the students were trained as mechanics, specializing in trucks and the large equipment used by MICONS. The other students were trained as electricians and heavy equipment operators.

All of the students, young men who have completed their military duty (known as cachorros, or pups), received food and lodging as well an economic stipend for the duration of the course. Fifty of the students will continue their studies while they work.

To help Nicaragua cope with a serious shortage of rice, an essential in the Nicaraguan diet, three countries are sending large shipments of the grain to Nicaragua in the coming weeks. The Soviet Union has agreed to send 25,000 tons (along with 70,000 tons of wheat), while North Korea and Austria will contribute 5,000 and 3,000 tons respectively.

As he watched a group of compañeros receive basic military training in a clandestine FSLN camp in the 1960s, Carlos Fonseca is said to have advised the instructor, "And also teach them to read." The phrase has become well known throughout Nicaragua as literacy programs continue in all parts of the country.

One such program has an unusual setting: the "Jorge Navarro" Penitentiary, which recently granted 77 prisoners (from a starting class of 80) their literacy certificates. The teachers were prisoners, too, working under the direction of a methodological adviser from the Ministry of Education. The prison also has a primary school where the prisoners can complete their elementary education in an accelerated program.

In other literacy efforts, the Sandinista Youth Organization has organized an educational brigade of 700 students who will begin teaching this December in prioritized areas of rural Managua. They plan to work in 40 small communities and 47 agricultural cooperatives to reorganize and strengthen existing adult education programs. The students are working alongside representatives from the ATC (the farm workers' union) and UNAG (the union of small farmers and cattle ranchers) in this latest literacy campaign.

As part of the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the FSLN’s founding, the National Directorate held special recognition ceremonies in November for hundreds of Nicaraguans who had collaborated with the FSLN prior to 1979.

At the Managua ceremony, Interior Minister Tomás Borge told those assembled that "Carlos Fonseca would have given his life again to be here with this constellation of Sandinistas." The "historic collaborators," as the FSLN calls them, are people who housed and fed the FSLN activists and combatants, ran messages and weapons and did a whole variety of logistical tasks that ensured the FSLN's survival during the difficult years of the dictatorship.

Speaking on behalf of the collaborators, José Pérez said of the first FSLN activists, "We remember those humble 'muchachos' and their example and political force that we have inside us today. We shouldn't think that we have completed our task. What we did yesterday, what we're doing today and what we'll do tomorrow is nothing more than a sum of all the tasks in all the areas we have ahead of us."

They have survived three contra attacks to date, yet the work at Miraflor, Estelí is going stronger than ever. Miraflor is a grouping of 19 cooperatives (including one made up entirely of demobilized "cachorros," young men who spent two years in active military service) in the mountains of Las Segovias, Region I. They have over 5,000 hectares and 800 head of cattle, and recently added a new potato-seed project. The latter is part of a national program and has incorporated people from Managua and the dry zones in Las Segovias. They have three annual harvests, with an average production of 50,000 hundredweight per 32 cultivated hectares.

With financial help from Holland, 138 houses have been constructed. Future projects include 2 schools, 19 more houses, a childcare center and improvements on an existing health care center. Because of the multiple contra attacks, the coops are self-defense units, with the workers going into the fields armed to defend themselves against any possible attack. Fifteen people were killed in the three past attacks, and a great deal of infrastructure necessary to the cooperatives' functioning destroyed. The last contra attack was May 20 and today, as one coop member said, "Every peasant in Miraflor is an armed militia member."

Most women coffee pickers in Nicaragua have traditionally gone to the plantations accompanied by several small children—infants carefully swaddled and carried in arm and the older children tagging behind. Nicaragua's social welfare agency, INSSBI, along with the association of salaried farm workers, the ATC, has been working since 1979 to increase the number of childcare centers in the coffee growing regions of the country. This season, they will open 11 more rural child development centers (CIRs) in Region VI (Matagalpa and Jinotega.) There are currently 38 CIRs in the crucial coffee growing zone. The CIRs provide balanced meals as well as recreational and educational activities for the children and, not surprisingly, help increase the productivity of their mothers in the fields. INSSBI is also inaugurating a number of "children's cafeterias" aimed at providing a nutritionally complete lunch each day for the coffee pickers’ children up to age 14.

In another program aimed at facilitating the coffee harvest, special Ministry of Construction (MICONS) brigades are working on repaving and improving the roads between the coffee plantations (often in isolated areas) and the main highways. They have completed work on more than 75 kilometers of roadways in Region VI and will finish 90 kilometers more before the coffee harvest is completed. Transportation has traditionally been a problem for the coffee harvest and a representative of the regional government described the MICONS work as essential in the successful completion of the harvest.

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