Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 361 | Agosto 2011




Envío team

Central Americans were deeply moved by the killing on July 9 in Guatemala of Argentine singer-songwriter Facundo Cabral while being driven to the airport by Nicaraguan citizen Henry Fariñas, who was also wounded in the attack. Cabral had performed only days earlier in Managua’s Rubén Darío Theater. Information provided by Nicaraguan authorities to its Guatemalan counterparts revealed Fariñas owning luxury nightclubs in Managua, Guatemala and Panama and having links to illicit businesses. He spent several days in a hospital, guarded by a sizeable police cordon. Nicaragua’s National Police and Public Ministry, which collaborated with Guatemala in the investigation, were reluctant to provide information on Fariñas.

Within 72 hours the Guatemalan authorities claimed they had solved the crime with the help of an anonymous “protected witness” who confessed to feeling the grave error of having killed Cabral, an unintended victim. According to the investigation, Fariñas was actually the target for having withheld drug money from Costa Rican drug trafficker Alejandro Jiménez González, alias El Palidejo. Jiménez allegedly hired three gunmen who shot up Fariñas’ vehicle; all three are reportedly in the custody of the Guatemalan police. On August 12, Nicaragua’s La Prensa reported that the Money Laundering Unit of Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation body had learned that Jiménez, who is still at large, has a false Nicaraguan passport and residency permit under the name José Fernando Treminio Díaz.

The electoral branch, which is in charge of the public registry and issuing of ID/voter cards, has been repeatedly accused of putting obstacles in the way of youth who are over 16 and thus eligible to vote, as well as citizens who have never applied for their card, have lost it, or simply applied for the new card format inexplicably debuted in an election year. The card isn’t just used to vote; it’s required for any official paperwork and banking transaction. Long lines, unjustified delays, a supposed lack of materials and sending people from one office to another are among the complaints presented in recent months by people who are suspected of not sympathizing with the governing party. In contrast, FSLN sympathizers receive their card quickly and in some cases it is even delivered to their door. The card is also issued free and in streamlined fashion to public employees who have previously acceded to pressure to join the governing party. Those who apply for the new format without the government’s endorsement pay 300 córdobas for it (some $13). With August 8 the last day to request new cards, the pressure triggered by the problems intensified and protests were organized in several municipalities. The most serious case was in San Fernando, Nueva Segovia, where FSLN shock groups showered peasants demanding their cards with rocks, leading the victims to respond in kind. One peasant was seriously wounded by police bullets.

The Institute against Alcohol and Drug Addiction (ICAD), a public institution that is part of the Ministry of Health, presented a study done in 2010 demonstrating that over half of the traffic accidents in Nicaragua are caused by alcohol consumption, and that the State spends around $55 million to deal with these and other serious problems resulting from alcoholism. Alcohol and drugs were involved in 54.1% of the crimes filed with the Police Stations for Women and Children in 2008, and 80% of the drownings, injuries and accidents treated by the Red Cross during Christmas and Holy Week are due to alcohol. It is calculated that over a million Nicaraguans (more than 20% of the total population including children and adolescents) drink alcohol regularly. The average age for starting to drink is 12-14 years old. The enormous expenditure on advertisements for rum and beer, produced by companies monopolized by the powerful Pellas Group, make ICAD’s efforts a monumental challenge.

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