Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 72 | Junio 1987




EnvĂ­o team

The first Central American conference on Environmental Action took place in Managua in mid-May, marking the first time that issues of environmental concern have been formally discussed at a regional level. Nicaraguan ecologists and biologists consider the conference an important first step in beginning to resolve environmental problems common to the Central American nations.

Delegates from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama took part in the three-day event. In addition, international observers from Mexico, Europe and the United States, including members of the Environmental Project on Central America (EPOCA), a Bay Area-based organization, were present. Among the issues taken up during the conference were tropical deforestation, an increasing problem that threatens the stability of the entire Central American ecosystem; the environmental impact of military conflicts in Central America; pesticide use and technological dependence in agricultural development; and the role of environmentalist in the search for peace.

One possible project related to this last topic is the formation of two or three "peace parks" along the Nicaragua-Costa Rican border. The Association of Nicaraguan Biologists and Ecologists (ABEN), hopes to preserve several large tracts of semitropical forest along the border as peace parks, concrete example of the fragile system shared by all the region's countries.

The Nicaraguan government has expressed its willingness to receive any Nicaraguans who may be expelled from the United States by the Simpson-Rodino immigration legislation that took effect in May. It also characterized the law as "contradictory and inhuman."

On May 24, the labor ministers of the five Central American countries signed a joint statement in which they expressed their concern about the Simpson-Rodino legislation. In addition to the statement, Nicaragua expressed its willingness to participate in any Central American initiative that would bring about a "just and equitable solution to this serious problem."

The Nicaraguan Red Cross, in a move supported by the Nicaraguan government, has offered its organization to facilitate the return of counterrevolutionaries to the country who wish to take advantage of the amnesty law first decreed by the Sandinista government in December 1983. By doing so, they hope to encourage the return of some Nicaraguan citizens who may not trust the government's offer of amnesty or do not wish to present themselves directly to Sandinista authorities.

The Nicaraguan Ministry of Transportation (MITRANS) is taking a new tack in its ongoing and increasingly difficult goal of getting people where they have to go as quickly and painlessly as possible. In May Nicaragua imported its first lot of bicycles from the Soviet Union. The government plans to import another lot each year for the next five years.

A commentary in the daily Barricada said, "These first 10,000 bicycles represent 10,000 empty seats in the city's busses, 10,000 fewer people in lines waiting for busses." Most of the bicycles will be given to workers in Managua's productive sector who are now dependent on the capital's woefully deficient bus system.

MITRANS also has long-term plans to build some bike paths through key sections of the city, for the protection of what it hopes will be thousands of new cyclists in Managua. The US-based "Bikes not Bombs" organization, which has donated a number of bicycles to Nicaragua over the years, maintains a bicycle assembly and repair workshop in Managua and will continue working with MITRANS in this area.

Nicaragua's professional organization, "CONAPRO Heroes and Martyrs" (made up of 22 different professional associations), is currently discussing a plan to "repatriate" some 8,000 technical and professional people who have left Nicaragua since 1979.

CONAPRO President Freddy Cruz said most professionals left the country for one of the following reasons: close links to the Somoza government; unwillingness to participate in military reserve service or have their sons drafted; and what he called "tensions and fears resulting from the US aggression."

This brain drain has had a damaging impact on Nicaragua, which had a very small professional and technical class even before 1979 and can ill afford to lose qualified professionals, particularly in key area such as health.

Cruz said a number of professionals have returned to Nicaragua largely due to the economic and legal difficulties they have encountered abroad as they try to integrate themselves into a new, often unwelcoming, society. He added that the recently passed Simpson-Rodino immigration legislation could make it increasingly difficult for Nicaraguans in the United States.

Cruz said that CONAPRO has been inspired by the example of the Miskitu repatriation project currently underway, in which the Nicaraguan and Honduran governments, along with the UN High Commission on Refugees, are facilitating the return to Nicaragua of thousands of Miskitus who sought refuge in Honduras in recent years.

CONAPRO's various associations will discuss and formulate their repatriation proposal then pass it on to the National Assembly for final discussion and approval.

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