Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 410 | Septiembre 2015





On August 13, the Nicaraguan government formally asked the Swiss justice authorities to extradite Nicaraguan citizen Julio Rocha. He was one of seven high-level FIFA directors arrested on May 26 in a Zurich hotel on orders of the US Attorney General’s Office and indicted in a New York court for various crimes (corruption, extortion, bribery and fraud, among others). Rocha was president of Nicaragua’s Soccer Federation (FENIFUT) for 26 years and at the time of his detention was FIFA’s Development Director for Central America and the Caribbean. The United States had already requested his extradition, as it did with the other six. After making its own extradition request public, Nicaragua’s Prosecutor General’s Office, also known as the Public Ministry, announced that an accusation of money laundering and illicit enrichment while heading FENIFUT had been filed against Rocha in a Managua court on August 4. The hope was to get the lead on the US, which has not yet initiated a trial. The US, in turn, has requested that Switzerland prioritize its request. At the time of Rocha’s arrest, Nicaraguan authorities denied having any accusation against him. Given that two of Rocha’s brothers are National Police commissioners, former Nicaraguan attorney general Alberto Novoa suggested that wanting to try him in Nicaragua could be a way of doing him a “political favor” as courts here are never neutral in cases the government considers important.


Nicaragua’s Telecommunications Institute (TELCOR) signed a contract with the Russian Federal Agency on August 19 for installation of the Glonass Satellite System, which will give Nicaragua access to 24 Russian satellites that provide a 24-hour observation and monitoring service. Paul Oquist, the presidency’s public policies minister, called it a “historic day,” announcing that the satellite images the system provides can be applied to land registration, crops, floods, droughts, transport, deforestation, security, defense and the struggle against drug trafficking, organized crime and trafficking in people. Nicaragua is only the second Latin American country after Brazil to have signed an agreement for the Glonass system. Days later, Oquist reported that Nicaragua is preparing to join a Latin American bloc against the militarization of space and thus “deal with US pretensions to put weapons in space,” a project he called “a Damocles sword orbiting around the head of all humanity.”


A study by the M&R Consultores polling firm titled “Physique of Nicaraguan men and women and the incidence of body fat,” which surveyed 1,500 Nicaraguans aged 20 and older in 50 municipalities, found that 35.9% of the women and 45.5% of the men are overweight. Of the total number surveyed of all ages, 23.5% are obese and 2.6% of those are morbidly obese. Specialists say this puts Nicaragua among the 10 most obese countries in the world, due to bad eating habits, lack of exercise and genetic factors.


According to a Business Survey of 2,539 businesses in Nicaragua, only 4.5%, all of which are run by university-educated executives, customarily keep formal accounting books,. Another 31% do spontaneous accounting, none of which
is written down; 28% do their bookkeeping by hand in a notebook and the other 37% keep no books at all. Nearly 42% of the businesses are registered with the municipal government, with fewer also registered with the General Income Division, the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute or the Mercantile Registry. Close to 82% of the businesses use their own resources as their main financing source.


On August 25, a group of professionals presented a Citizen’s Bill to Interrupt Pregnancies for Health Reasons to Save the Life of Women and Girls, for which they have already gathered 6,000 notarized signatures, 1,000 more than required to introduce such legislation to the National Assembly. The initiative establishes four acceptable causes for interrupting a pregnancy: obstetric emergencies that put the woman’s life in danger, systemic illnesses that affect her health, congenital malformations in the fetus and pregnancies resulting from rape.


Nicaragua learnedn early August that the US government has eliminated its annual review of the Nicaraguan government’s handing of US-owned properties, for years a condition for the country to receive US aid. This waiver requirement was based on US legislation, introduced years ago by Sen. Jesse Helms, that prohibits the granting of US bilateral aid for certain programs to any country that confiscated properties from a US citizen or company and did not return or indemnify it. Originally aimed at Cuba, it began to be applied to Nicaragua in 1994; between then and 2012 the Nicaraguan State has paid out nearly US$1.28 billion in indemnifications. The US government now considers that Nicaragua has basically complied with the requirements, although some 150 particularly complicated and controversial cases are not yet resolved. Still pending is a second dispensation, the fiscal transparency waiver, which Washington has refused to grant Nicaragua since 2012. It is the least important of the two, since it only affects some bilateral aid, whereas the property waiver could mean Nicaragua being cut off from aid from the international financing institutions.


On September 1, days after the Army executed two peasants, one rearmed and the other an elderly grower, on a farm in San Antonio de Oskiwás, department of Jinotega, security expert Elvira Cuadra wrote an article for the digital magazine Confidencial that she titled “Los forajidos de siempre” (The eternal desperados). In it she says that “the powers that be have always called them ‘desperados’ and attribute their action to common criminality. So it was in the nineties with the groups of former Nicaraguan combatants who took up arms again when the government [of Violeta Chamorro] failed to comply with the demobilization agreements, and so it was before that when the FSLN guerrilla columns were struggling against the Somocista dictatorship. And even earlier, those who didn’t recognize Sandino’s just battle against the [US] military intervention in Nicaragua called his troops ‘bandits’ or ‘outlaws.’ They have also been called ‘desperados’ in other times and other places. It is not surprising that they are now being called the same thing or something similar here. But as the refrain goes, ‘Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.’ In this case, the rural bands in Nicaragua are a mixture of political discontent, unmet peasant needs, state deafness and the availability of weapons.
“But times change and the huge little difference between before and now is who’s supplying the weapons. In other times they came by way of the solidarity of those who shared the political ideals of armed groups demanding justice and democracy. In the nineties, the weapons came out of caches where quantities of rifles and munitions had been stored in the same areas where the war of the eighties had been waged. But where are they coming from now? Worse yet, where will they come from should the bands turn into a more permanent reality? These issues are neither irrelevant nor casual. With the threat of drug trafficking spreading through Central America, the existence of groups of unhappy peasants in Nicaragua’s rural zones is an invaluable opportunity for the organized crime cartels, above all because the country prides itself on being their retaining wall. Guess, then, who will provide their weapons now.”


It was learned in early August that Alba Generación, one of the companies in the Albanisa consortium run by the presidential family, has obtained a concession from the National Water Authority to use the underground water of the Chiltepe-Xiloá aquifer in the municipality of Mateare to generate electricity in its Managua Plant hydroelectric project. Alba Generación also owns various bunker-driven thermic generators: the low-yield Hugo Chávez plant and nine very inefficient batteries of generators known as the Che Guevara plants. Albanisa, the parent umbrella, also owns the Camilo Ortega Saavedra wind park of 40 aero-generators in Rivas. The Humboldt Center pointed out that the concession for the new hydroelectric project, which will reportedly generate up to 140 megawatts and is to be located near the Chiltepe Peninsula protected area, was granted to Alba Generación without an environmental impact study
and without any public consultation with the area’s population. The Center also stressed the importance of underground waters close to Managua, which are used to supply the capital’s population, warning that water used to generate electricity cannot later be used to drink or even for irrigation.

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