Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 372 | Julio 2012




Envío team

On July 2 the six justices of the Central American Court of Justice (CCJ) issued a unanimous ruling against the Costa Rican State for “ecological and related damages to the Río San Juan of Nicaragua,” caused by the 160 kilometers of highway under construction right alongside the river. The court ordered Costa Rica to halt the work. This suit was filed by two Nicaraguan environmental organizations and will be incorporated into the one their government has already presented to the International Court of Justice at The Hague on the same issue. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla reiterated that she does not recognize the CCJ’s jurisdiction and announced that Costa Rica will withdraw from the Central American Integration System (SICA) as long as Nicaragua is chairing it. The countries rotate the presidency every six months and Nicaragua’s began on July 1.

On June 19, German Ambassador Betina Kern and French Ambassador Antoine Joly announced that the First Prize on Human Rights in Nicaragua was being granted to the women’s organization Aguas Bravas, created five years ago to accompany female survivors of childhood sexual abuse employing a methodology centered on mutual support groups. (See an account of the first six months of work of this pioneering organization in the March 2008 issue of envío.)

In a major press conference, the Army of Nicaragua announced on June 14 that it had discovered and arrested a Colombian “spy” it accused of sending classified military information to the Colombian government with the complicity of a Nicaraguan army lieutenant and a captain paid to leak the information. The Colombian, Luis Felipe Ríos, was working as a correspondent for a Spanish magazine specializing in issues of defense and commercial aviation. A week later a military court sentenced the two army officers to 17.5 years in prison. The Public Ministry accused Ríos of espionage and violation of state secrets. Prosecuting attorney Armando Juárez called his activity “an aggressive act whose objective was sensitive information on military strategy and on the fundamental capacity of our institution to defend sovereignty.” In the preliminary hearing Ríos admitted his guilt, hoping to reduce his sentence, which could be up to 16 years in prison. The army never explained what sensitive issues had been leaked. Colombia’s Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzón, stated that Ríos never worked for his country’s armed forces and was only a journalist.

Nicaragua’s representative in the Río+20 Environmental Conference held in June was suspended Maryknoll priest Miguel D’Escoto, President Ortega’s international relations adviser today and his foreign minister during the eighties. In his speech, D’Escoto lamented that the final declaration “will contribute virtually nothing to the struggle for our survival as a species because it doesn’t at all recognize the knowledge and wisdom of our original peoples, who are teaching us to coexist in harmony with Mother Earth, and also does not include the central values of all our different religions and ethical-philosophical traditions: love, social justice, defense of life and solidarity.” He referred to President Ortega as a “faithful disciple of Jesus of Nazareth” because he spreads these ideas and stated that “after Fidel and Daniel, the Lord sent us another great prophet, beloved and admired around the world by the poor, the dispossessed, the hungry and all who love peace and justice: Comandante President Hugo Chávez Frías, who has made his homeland, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the nerve center of the ecological and humanitarian revolution in all of our Latin America and the Caribbean.”

In its party convention on July 1, the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) elected Ana Margarita Vijilas as its new president and Víctor Hugo Tinoco as vice president with the favorable vote of over 90% of the convention delegates. It was a novel expression of generational turnover by the party. After accepting the post, Vijil said: “The MRS is today one of the three decisive political forces in Nicaragua. It now has the challenge of confronting the dictatorial pretentions of Ortega and his followers, opening paths of democracy and creating opportunities of wellbeing and prosperity for all Nicaraguans. It is a huge challenge for me. I’m 34 years old and have a lot to learn from the historical leadership experience of our local leaders, from you. I put my honesty, dedication, tenacity and my own experience and preparation at the disposition of the MRS. Without question, I will do some things right and I will make mistakes in this period. I anticipate accompaniment and critical support from all of you. I belong to a generation that found in the MRS a channel for its hopes of changing Nicaragua and a political option. It’s now my turn, in these historical circumstances, to work together with you to put Nicaragua in first place among the country’s political forces, to achieve a country for all, liberty and democracy for all, opportunities for all, a government for all; something that’s only possible in Nicaragua with the MRS.”

Benita Kern, whose four-year mission as German Ambassador to Nicaragua has concluded, left the country on June 28, having left her mark in the firm language she used with the government and her many initiatives in the field of culture. Germany decided to reduce its cooperation with Nicaragua largely for political reasons and Kern made the definitive announcement at the end of 2011 following the alleged fraud in the November municipal elections. Germany will continue its cooperation with Nicaragua only in projects related to drinking water and sanitation. A week before Kern’s departure, the German government’s development cooperation through the Fostering Citizen’s Rights program also said goodbye to Nicaragua, closing all its projects. In her last public speech upon receiving the José de Marcoleta order given to all departing diplomats, Kern chose to give the government a message that was not all to the liking of those who decorated her: “You have a civil society of which you can all be proud. A strong civil society is important, because that’s the only way societies can make progress.” In her final public appearance, Kern received the keys of the city of Granada. In addition to other projects implemented in Granada in these years, Germany will finance the city’s sewage system with an investment of some $35 million.

On June 5, President Ortega sent the National Assembly a bill on the creation of the legal framework for an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua and for the Authority that will regulate this Grand Canal, as it is being called. After quick consultations, the law was approved on July 3, with the abstention of only the two MRS legislators. With that Ortega is reviving a dream that has been festering in the Nicaraguan psyche for over 150 years. The mega-project was presented in Belgium in June by the man named to direct the Grand Canal Authority, current Deputy Foreign Minister Manuel Coronel Kautz, who in the eighties was responsible for various failed mega-projects. Without so much as a glint of realism or possibilities of becoming viable, the project is considering six possible routes for the Grand Canal, which is calculated at a cost of US$30 billion. Despite the fact that this is almost five times the country’s entire annual gross domestic product, Nicaragua plans to retain 51% of the shares and claims it expects the canal to be up and running in the next 10 years.

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