Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 349 | Agosto 2010




Envío team

In the first week of July, it was reported that a memorandum of understanding had been signed between the State’s National Port Authority and two South Korean private companies—with no previous public bidding process—for a US$500 million investment to construct a deep-water port in Monkey Point, on Nicaragua’s South Caribbean coast. According to official information, the project includes the transformation of that isolated and marginalized black Creole community into an economic center with office buildings, shipping lines, a marina and even a railroad and oil pipeline that would cross the country to the Port of Corinto on the Pacific Ocean, becoming an alternative to the Panama Canal for shipments to the Pacific. This isn’t the first time this project has been contemplated for Monkey Point. There was talk two years ago of interest in a very similar plan by six different countries, including Venezuela, calculated at the time to cost $350 million. The magnitude of the Korean project, the confusing information about the technical and business capacity of the Korean firms involved, concerns about the port’s sustainability and the scant information about this project in the different state institutions involved have sparked questions and suspicions that have not yet been cleared up. According to the memorandum, the Nicaraguan State would pay the $500 million investment in seven years at 12% interest.

On July 7, as part of the celebrations of the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Sandinista revolution, the government’s Communications Secretariat announced that all state universities will give a “Master Class on Sandino.” The class was inaugurated the following week and officially unveiled in a document whose introduction explains: “That the figure of General Sandino has transcended national borders until reaching a global dimension as a symbol and banner of the struggles of the peoples of the world who are combating oppression, exploitation and all kinds of internal or external oppressor dominion. That it is the right of the Nicaraguan people and an unavoidable duty of the Sandinista militancy to safeguard and protect all efforts that consolidate knowledge related to the history of all national liberation feats that had and have their greatest exponent in Sandino. That an effective form of fostering knowledge and dissemination of the feats of the General of Free Men and Women is the incorporation of branches of the Sandinista Master Class in each of our universities, related to his deeds, life and works, gradually extending this experience to each municipality, district or barrio of our country… That the Master Class on Sandino is definitely a project of patriotic, political-ideological formation of huge dimensions.”

New York City’s Colombia University School of Journalism, which has annually recognized the best journalists on the continent since 1938, awarded the prestigious María Moors Cabot Prize for 2010 to four journalists on July 17. One of the four gold medalists was Nicaragua’s Carlos Fernando Chamorro, whose father, newspaperman Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, received the same prize in 1977, only a few months before he was assassinated by the Somocista dictatorship. The university defined Chamorro as “his nation’s leading journalist—a man of conscience and integrity, a defender of his people and an honest story-teller. Nicaraguans look to his television programs and articles for truth and fairness in their highly politicized atmosphere,” adding that as the director of the TV news programs “Esta Noche” and “Esta Semana” and of the weekly newsletter “Confidencial,” he has become “an outstanding example of courage in standing up to abuse by an authoritarian regime.” Chamorro was director of the FSLN newspaper Barricada throughout the eighties, but was expelled in 1994, when the FSLN began to follow Daniel Ortega slavishly. In 2008 he was the victim of governmental persecution and calumnies and in 2010 he decided to leave the channel that broadcast his two news magazine programs, which have the greatest influence in the country, after it was acquired by the governing party.

President Daniel Ortega visited Brazil in late July with the excuse of helping to deactivate tensions between Venezuela and Colombia, but the trip emphasized economic and trade aspects. Brazil, which has considerable experience in electricity generation, pledged to support Nicaragua in reducing its energy grid’s dependence on petroleum (nearly 80% of the generation depends on fossil fuels) and strengthening renewable energy sources. Brazilian firms will invest some US$800 million in the construction of the huge 250-megawatt Tumarín hydroelectric dam and the country will support two other Nicaraguan hydroelectric projects: Brito and Boboké. President Lula da Silva will also support the process of creating Nicaraguan army units specializing in environmental defense and the implementation of public works. Lula and Ortega underscored the possibilities of developing bilateral cooperation in the field of sports as well, with emphasis on training in soccer, which is becoming increasingly popular in Nicaragua. Meanwhile, Ortega promised to back Brazil’s bid to enter the UN Security Council as a permanent member and to preside over the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

On July 18, the Army of Nicaragua’s Naval Force pursued a speedboat on its way from Colombia to Mexico carrying 2,756 kilos of cocaine with a US street value of $125 million, capturing it when it ran aground in Tasbapouni, an indigenous seaside community on Nicaragua’s southern Caribbean coast. The boat’s pilots fled inland with support from the population, while dozens of local residents armed with machetes and clubs confronted the military as they attempted to take possession of the boat and its cargo. A similar situation occurred last December in Walpasiksa, further north. However, control was established in the area and hours later the whole shipment was incinerated.

During an extraordinary summit of the Central American Integration System (SICA), held in San Salvador on July 20, the heads of State attending resolved to allow Honduras back into this regional body, thus normalizing that country’s situation. SICA requested a similar decision from the Organization of American States “in the greatest possible brevity.” Honduras has been isolated in the region and the continent as a whole since the coup d’état in June 2009 that expelled President Manuel Zelaya from government by force of arms. The President of Nicaragua was the only head of State absent from the meeting. From Managua, President Ortega rejected his colleagues’ decision, calling it “absurd, ridiculous” due to the lack of unanimity caused by Nicaragua’s absence.

The Eighth Ibero-American Conference of Constitutional Justice was held in Managua on July 7-8 with justices from 15 countries of the continent. Due to the crisis riddling Nicaragua’s Supreme Court (CSJ), justices loyal to the Constitutionalist Liberal Party did not attend. In his speech in the name of Nicaragua, Justice Francisco Rosales, one of those loyal to the FSLN, defended Daniel Ortega’s illegal reelection basing his argument on the resolution he himself signed and released to the public in October last year. Two other FSLN justices, Rafael Solís and Armengol Cuadra, have continued in their posts for four months after their term ended, based on an unconstitutional presidential degree issued in January, which has only deepened the CSJ’s crisis. Referring to Solís and Cuadra during a press conference, Roberto Argüello, the CSJ’s first president after the downfall of the Somocista dictatorship, said that “It is shameful that people who are no longer justices continue usurping posts in the Court. The resolutions signed with these two usurpers are contributing to the falsity of public documents. People whose law degrees are signed by these former justices will also be affected.”

An International Monetary Fund technical commission finally came to Nicaragua on August 4 for the fourth and fifth reviews of the neoliberal macroeconomic program that the government of Nicaragua maintains with that institution. A disbursement of US$76 million depends on the outcome of these reviews. Nicaragua expects the IMF to extend the program. The Central Bank president declared that the main point for Nicaragua is the budget proposal for 2011 and approval of the increased budget deficit that the electoral year will provoke. For its part the IMF has insisted since May that the “Christian, socialist and solidarity bonus” of $25 a month the government is giving to some 130,000 public employees with Venezuelan funds be included in the national budget. The government’s refusal to do so delayed the visit of the IMF mission for three months.

Satellite tracking devices were put on four Nicaraguan Hawksbill turtles during the first week of July to learn where they go at sea. The initiative is being developed by the international alliance called the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative (EPHI), whose goal is to investigate and save this turtle species, which is nearly extinct in Pacific waters, after discovering a nesting colony in the Padre Ramos Estuary in El Viejo, Chinandega. The marked turtles, whose movements will be followed and updated daily by satellite, are one male named Padrito and two females named Venecia and Arenita. The fourth turtle’s transmitter developed problems, and its course was lost.

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