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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 336 | Julio 2009
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Nicaragua

NICARAGUA BRIEFS

Envío team

INFLUENZA A (H1N1) HITS NICARAGUA
After several weeks in which the Ministry of Health attributed the new pandemic’s absence in Nicaragua to the excellent organization of Citizens’ Power, cases started appearing on June 1. By July 6, 326 had been confirmed by diagnostic tests, always with light symptoms and rapid recovery. The health ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic met in Managua in mid-June to analyze the spread of the disease in the region. According to former Honduran health minister Elsa Palau, for every sick person detected, 10 or 20 more have the virus and don’t know it. Independent media questioned Nicaragua’s health minister for only informing pro-government and official media of the advance of the disease and because both the detection test and the Oseltamivir medication are centralized in the public health institutions and are only being given out slowly to private centers treating people infected with the flu.

TRAFFICKING IN PEOPLE
A US State Department report on trafficking of people for sexual exploitation, which evaluates the actions of 76 countries to put a stop to such crimes, included Nicaragua for the fifth year on a list of 52 countries of “origin and transit” being observed because, while their governments are making efforts, they aren’t meeting the minimum levels US law established in 2000. María Isabel Blanco, director of INPRHU’s center for children, noted a vacuum in all aspects relating to the networks that organize these crimes over the Internet. “We’re still in diapers in this respect,” she said. Sonia Sevilla, from the program to eradicate child labor, said poverty and the economic crisis have legitimized child and adolescent prostitution as a source of income. Financed by the Spanish Cooperation Agency and backed by various state institutions, Save the Children is teaching migration personnel and other government officials who work at the country’s border crossings and the Managua airport more about these crimes.

PIZANGO IN NICARAGUA
Peruvian indigenous leader Alberto Pizango came to Nicaragua on June 17 as a political exile after taking refuge in the Nicaraguan Embassy in Lima following his government’s violent response to the protest of Amazon indigenous peoples against what is ironically called the Law of the Jungle. In Bilwi, capital of Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean region, Héctor Williams, holder of the new post of Wihta Tara (top authority) of the Moskitia Community Nation—which declared its independence from the central government in April—backed Pizango’s struggle. He also charged the Ortega government with mistreating and injuring Miskitu lobster divers protesting the fall in lobster prices. These divers, who work in high-risk conditions, have seen the price they are paid per lobster drop from $4 to $2.50 due to falling demand with the international economic crisis.

ALEXIS ARGÜELLO’S DEATH
MOURNED BY HUGE CROWDS
Nicaragua was shocked on July 1 to learn that Alexis Argüello, triple world boxing champion and the mayor of Managua, had put a bullet through his heart early that morning. The government declared three days of mourning for Nicaragua’s national sports hero, a “consummate gentleman,” according to his former fight promoter Bob Arum. Thousands upon thousands of Nicaraguans lined up to bid him farewell before his burial on July 3. Managua hasn’t seen such a huge spontaneous turnout to mourn the death of a compatriot since journalist Pedro Joaquín Chamorro was assassinated by Somoza’s National Guard in 1978. Born in an acutely poor Managua barrio, Argüello made his boxing debut in 1968, when he was 16. He was crowned featherweight champion in Los Angeles six years later, world light welterweight champion in Puerto Rico four after that and world lightweight champion in London in 1981. His epic fight was his defeat by TKO in 14 rounds to Aaron Pryor in 1982. Had he won, Argüello would have become the first world champion in four different categories. Over the course of his career he won 82 of his 90 fights, 65 by KOs, earning him a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Accusing him of links to the Somocista government as a young boxing star, the revolutionary government confiscated all his properties in the eighties. But by 2000 things had been patched up with the FSLN and in the 2004 municipal elections he was the running mate to FSLN candidate Dionisio Marenco, who won Managua’s mayoral seat. By that time he claimed to have finally won a long battle against drug and alcohol addiction, and in 2008 was the FSLN’s mayoral candidate for Managua, which he won only through a massively fraudulent election. In his few months as mayor, Argüello was visibly distanced from many of his functions by order of the presidency. His mother said he had long suffered bouts of depression and often talked of suicide, which his father had attempted when Alexis was 5.

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