Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 407 | Junio 2015




Envío team

A Nicaraguan was among the seven
top-level directors of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) arrested on May 27 at Zurich’s Baur au Lac Hotel, indicted following investigations into wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. Julio Rocha López was president of Nicaragua’s Football Federation (FENIFUT) for 26 years and at the moment of his detention was FIFA’s development director for Central America. He faces a possible 20-year prison sentence in the United States on charges of conspiracy, extortion, money laundering, fraud and bribery committed
on different occasions over several years. In 2004, the same year FIFA President Joseph Blatter placed the cornerstone for a national football (soccer) stadium in Managua in recognition of a sport that has become so popular in Nicaragua that it now rivals baseball, FENIFUT handed him evidence of Rocha’s bad management. But Blatter turned a deaf ear. The stadium has still not been finished and no information is available about the resources invested in its construction. Days after Rocha’s arrest, FENIFUT declared itself a “victim” of corrupt acts by its former director.

In early May TELCOR, the Nicaraguan Telecommunications and Postal Institute, presented a bill to promote and develop the National Network of Broadband Telecommunication Services, which has so far not been subject to state regulation. While accepting the need for some regulations that would benefit consumers and not affect private providers, the business elite and diverse social sectors have expressed concern that one of the law’s objectives is to control the information accessed or received by Internet, as the bill gives TELCOR the right to access the confidential information of state institutions and private companies. The Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) promised to be “a wall” against approval of the legislation, which also involves creating a state business that COSEP believes “points toward making it a monopoly.”

On May 15, the Nicaraguan government stopped human rights lawyers and defenders Marta González from Spain and Luis Carlos Buob from Peru from entering the country. González and Buob, who both work with the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), had come to participate in the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH). Buob was treated violently and both had their cell phones confiscated. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders requested urgent action against the government for what it described as an “act of harassment” that was “arbitrary and illegal.” Within days the government did the same to French caricaturist Jules Berjeaut, known as “Jul,” who had come to participate in a discussion group titled “Humor faces barbarity: Homage to Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression” in the annual “Central America narrates” event. The government offered no explanation for its actions in either case.

The night of May 31, Xu Changbao, general manager of the Nicaraguan office of the Chinese company HKND, delivered to four members of the National Interoceanic Canal Commission—including the presidential couple’s son Laureano Ortega Murillo—the 14 volumes of the environmental and social impact study on the megaproject. The report was prepared by the British firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM) based on terms of reference they only received from Nicaragua’s Environmental Ministry last October. Consistent with the government’s lack of transparency about this project, only government media were present at the event, and no part of the study was publicly released, not even the executive summary, rumored to be about a hundred pages long. Many voiced concern that ERM was contracted by HKND, which will construct the canal, even though it is common practice.

On May 22, a Managua judge found tourist businessman Milton Arcia guilty of slander and libel against National Ports Authority Managing Director Denys Hurtado, accused by Arcia of responsibility for the arbitrary demolition of his nearly completed hotel on Ometepe Island on Good Friday. Arcia had called Hurtado a “scorpion” and the “executioner of the aquatic transport business,” one in which Arcia has worked for years. Journalists from the independent media were prevented from attending the trial, leaving only those from the governmental media authorized to enter. The Arcia case has caused commotion in the country. The bulldozing of his expensive hotel without showing any judicial order and his violent arrest when he tried to prevent it were seen by half a million people on the social networks, a media record in Nicaragua. The COSEP business elite did not fulfill their promise to defend Arcia, who, while he certainly qualifies as a big businessman, does not belong to that umbrella organization of different business chambers.

Nicaraguan environmental scientist Jaime Incer Barquero warned that if Bosawás, “the lung of Central America,” continues to be deforested at the current rate it could soon lose the Biosphere Reserve category granted by UNESCO in 1997. “It assumes the risk that this international recognition could be suspended because the government has not fulfilled the requisite of caring for, managing and conserving it,” he explained, “and that would represent a loss of prestige for the country.” At 21,000 square kilometers, Bosawás is the largest tropical rainforest reserve in Central America and the third largest in the world, housing 10% of the planet’s biodiversity. Some 40,000 hectares have been deforested annually since 2010, with both complicity and indolence by Ortega government authorities. Some 40,000 Miskitu and Mayangna indigenous people live in 75 communities in the Reserve, mainly in the buffer zone, and the latter have formed forest ranger groups with NGO support to try to protect it. But they are no match for the big lumber mafia illicitly cutting down trees in the reserve’s core and reportedly trucking the logs out under the very nose of government authorities.

The rains that fell during a three-hour deluge in Managua the night of June 2 were the equivalent of a whole month’s normal rainfall in the capital. The downpour affected the museum that conserves the Acahualinca footprints, a set of preserved human and animal steps from some 3,000 years ago, unique in the continent. An underground current undermined a 12-meter wall, which then toppled over one of the galleries conserving the archeological treasure. Nonetheless, the mud carried by the current has apparently protected the prints and the Nicaraguan government has asked UNESCO for assistance to repair the damage and redesign the museum.

The May 6-12 CID Gallup survey poll showed 52% sympathizing with the FSLN. While an even higher percentage (57%) said President Ortega would leave the country in “very good” condition at the end of this term, only 40% think he should run for yet another term next year. Given the pathetic showing of the opposition, however, CID Gallup’s analysis of the results is that “if the elections were held today, President Ortega would win by a wide margin.” Only 4% said they support the once-powerful Constitutionalist Liberal Party and 3% the Independent Liberal Party, while a critical 39% says it supports no party, is undecided or independent.

Concern about drug use and trafficking was noted by three in ten respondents, an increase over last year, while six in ten listed economic difficulties as “the main problem in Nicaragua today.” CID Gallup acknowledged that “the shortage of jobs and rise in the price of consumer goods are concerns for the majority of families and those polled about the country’s macroeconomic conditions,” but added that “those surveyed said they were hopeful conditions would improve next year.”

On May 18, the 120th anniversary of General Augusto César Sandino’s birth, the government’s communication secretary, First Lady Rosario Murillo, issued a lengthy message that includes the following (capital letters and punctuation in the original): “In this World of so many nuances; of uncertainties, inconstancies, indefinitions, inconsistencies, vertigos, the Legacy of Sandino, in that Dimension of Profound and Transcendent Spirituality, of ‘Sacred Flags,’ (again with Darío) is of unpostponable and indispensable Study and Practice, for Each Day. Because today we must maintain Principles and Values, those Sacred Flags, in the maelstrom and instability of a Planetarian Social Climate, plagued with Calamities and Catastrophes, of unpredictable gambles and more unpredictable consequences, faithful copy of the Climate, as we know it, the Air, Wind, Fire, Earth, Water… Time, the Times, Humanity. In all the unsettled Climates, in our frenetic Consciences, among continuous games
of Reality, or of Realities, to know and appreciate the Sacred, the Eternal, that which comes from God, God’s Will, his Designs, offers us the only, the firmest
and most effective, footing, among the Tempests, of which we are witnesses, and also so often, protagonists.”

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