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  Number 363 | Octubre 2011
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Nicaragua

NICARAGUA BRIEFS

Envío team

A TABOO TOPIC GETS AIRED
“A taboo topic in the Nicaraguan elections” written by Esteban Beltrán, director of Amnesty International Spain, for El País, that country’s newspaper, and reprinted by Nicaragua’s El Nuevo Diario, reported on AI’s visit to Nicaragua in August. “We met with the five candidates for the presidency of the Republic who are running in the November 6 elections. Only Daniel Ortega did not receive us, although we did hold meetings with FSLN representatives. We asked all of them if they would be willing to make a public declaration of zero tolerance for violence toward women and eliminate the absolute prohibition of abortion from the Penal Code, at least in cases of rape and danger of the mother’s death. Some made the declaration right there, in front of dozens of journalists; others said they would do so; and all pledged to work against violence toward women, but with only one exception no one committed to allow the raped young girls we met with in Managua choose whether or not to give birth. The most recent plan to combat sexual violence was written in 2001 and ended in 2006. Since then, nothing.” It concludes: “Candidates, listen up! You have the opportunity to avoid Nicaragua being known in the world as a country where raped girls do not merit protection by the State.”

FSLN CAMPAIGN SONG
RUNS INTO TROUBLE
In June the FSLN launched its campaign “anthem” using the music from “Stand by Me,” composed by US musicians Ben E. King, Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber and first popularized by John Lennon. The lyrics to the governing party’s song are the creation of First Lady Rosario Murillo, with the musical arrangement by Lenín Ortiz and the video spot produced by Maurice Ortega Murillo, son of the presidential couple. Within two months legislator Edwin Castro, the FSLN’s legal representative, received a letter from Sony/ATV Music Publishing, informing him that it has all rights to “Stand by Me,” which it calls “one of the major icons of popular music history” and insisting that the FSLN cease using both the video and the music; it warned that legal steps would be taken if it did not. The PLI-UNE Alliance is using the music from “I Gotta Feeling” by the group Black Eyed Peas for one of its campaign songs, but had previously gotten permission to do so.

PARK OF HAPPY CHILDREN
On September 30, for the third consecutive year, the governing party inaugurated the Park of Happy Children, an initiative of First Lady Rosario Murillo, for the Christmas period. The park, with its mechanical games and other attractions, is set up on the largest of Managua’s plazas, on the edge of Lake Xolotlán. The reinstallation of the park so far ahead of time this year seems aimed at preventing the PLI-UNE Alliance, whose presidential candidate is currently in second place after the incumbent, from holding its final campaign rally there, as it had announced. Pushing forward the park’s inauguration only reinforces the impression that Managua is the city of “eternal” Christmas. In a repetition of 2009, the dozen gigantic Christmas trees formed by myriad strings of lights located in the capital’s main traffic circles have been lit night after night since before last year’s Christmas holidays. In place of a star, the trees are topped off with an outsized cube bearing governing party propaganda on all sides. The expense in electricity, maintenance and guarding of these perennial Christmas symbols is unimaginable.

NICARAGUA AT THE UNITED NATIONS
In his speech to the 66th UN General Assembly in October, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos categorically rejected the foreign intervention in Libya and advocated Palestine’s admission as a UN Member State based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, at the same time affirming that Nicaragua “legally and politically” recognizes the State of Israel. Santos also referred to other international and domestic issues, among them the following description of the project being implemented by the government he represents: “Nicaragua is going through a period of changes whose objective is to reverse the negative effects of a long, 16-year period of neoliberal governments.... The recovery of values, the restitution of rights, the strengthening of capacities, the building of a new Christian, socialist and solidary model that replaces the neoliberal model of savage capitalism, and the articulation of grassroots democracy in the National Human Development Plan form the backbone of a new phase of the Sandinista Revolution…. In this entire process, youths and women are the spearhead of Direct Democracy, which is the essence and continuity of the Sandinista Revolution…. Nicaragua can show the profound, concrete and verifiable economic, social, political, legislative and cultural accomplishments our people are experiencing.”

ILLNESSES WORSENING
The preliminary figures of a study by the Nicaragua Alzheimer Foundation reveal that this illness is advancing rapidly in the country. The Foundation calculates that some 33,254 people are now suffering from it, representing a major challenge not least because mental health and mental illnesses have never been a priority in Nicaragua. According to another study by the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, cases of diabetes increased by 50% in the country between 2005 and 2010, have represented the second most common cause of death after heart attack since 2000. The main causes are the same as they are internationally: a sedentary lifestyle, abuse of junk food, and also, in Nicaragua’s case, alcoholism. The study found that 18% of Nicaragua’s population now suffers diabetes and that this could reach 25% by 2020. Also worrying is the advance of this chronic and incurable illness among overweight children.

ANIMALS AS NATIONAL HERITAGE
To mark World Animal Day (October 4), the Amarte Foundation, backed by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA ), proposed to the National Assembly that 127 species of animals that live in Nicaragua be declared National Heritage. All of them are on the list of endangered species that are permanently and indefinitely on the no-hunting list or that only have a short hunting season to ensure their reproduction. Experts say the extinction of these species is directly related to the extensive deforestation caused by the advance of the agricultural frontier. The 127 species mentioned include 29 mammals, 80 birds, 12 reptiles, 5 fish and 1 mollusk. Nicaragua has an estimated 7% of the world’s biodiversity in 68 different ecosystems.

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