Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 360 | Julio 2011




Envío team

On June 28, UNESCO unanimously added León’s Cathedral to its World Heritage list as an expression of the transition from baroque to neoclassical architecture. Construction of the Cathedral, Central America’s largest, got underway in 1747 and took 113 years to complete. In response to the news, León’s Bishop Bosco Vivas said, “We must thank our indigenous people who built it and it is for them that we must preserve it.” With this declaration, UNESCO commits itself to support the Nicaraguan government any time the Cathedral requires restoration. One woman (a slave) and 26 men are buried in the Cathedral, among the latter three poets: Rubén Darío, Salomón de la Selva and Alfonso Cortés. Of all the valuable images in the Cathedral, the most notable is the “Black Christ of Pedrarias,” one of the country’s oldest images. Tradition says it was brought to Nicaragua in 1528 by the Spanish conqueror Pedro Arias de Ávila.

An International Conference in Support of the Central American Security Strategy was held in Guatemala on June 22-33. Through it the region hoped to get financing for 22 projects, such as professionalization of the security forces, acquisition of armaments and high-tech equipment, prison attention, prevention of juvenile delinquency and the like. While the required resources were estimated at US$6.55 billion, international agencies only pledged $2 billion in soft credits, donations and technical support.

A World Bank report titled “Crime and Violence in Central America: A Development Challenge,” presented prior to the event, calculates that 70,000 Central Americans belong to the over 900 gangs or maras in the region. According to the United Nations Development Programme, the homicide rate in Central America (33.3 per 100,000 inhabitants) is the highest in the world. Central America’s insecurity is closely linked to drug trafficking activities and other organized crime.

President Ortega’s participation had a moralizing tone. “We need to get to the root of the problem, and the root is, as His Holiness John Paul II said, the savage capitalism that promotes consumerism and creates psychological and socio-cultural conditions in the developed countries that makes them vulnerable to acquiring cocaine, crack, heroine and the most diverse forms of moral and physical poisoning of the human being.”

The US-based Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research to promote sexual and reproductive health worldwide, did an extensive study of adolescent maternity in the developing world between 1990 and 2005. A fact sheet on Nicaragua it published in 2008 shows that 48% of Nicaraguan women have given birth at least once before turning 20. The proportion is much higher among women with less schooling (70%), a low socioeconomic level (68%) and those living in rural areas (62%).

Precocious pregnancy can severely affect the health of both the adolescents and the children they bear. It also can disrupt the girls’ education, often permanently. In some cases, unwanted pregnancies, particularly if the product of rape, lead to suicide. The solutions to this grave problem, which has only worsened since the study was done, are an educational system that includes comprehensive sex education, and opportunities for personal life projects that show the adolescents their lives can have other meanings than simply becoming mothers as young as possible. According to the research, which analyzed all the official national and international information available, authorities recognize the problem, but have proposed no solutions.

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