Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 420 | Julio 2016



Nicaragua briets


In mid-June, Violeta Granera, the National Coalition for Democracy’s vice presidential candidate before it was disqualified from running, participated in different arenas of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly together with Sandinista Renovation Movement legislator Edipcia Dubón, representing the Citizens’ Union for Democracy (UCD). The two women presented OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, with a UCD text describing their countrys current situation. As Nicaragua is a signatory of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and is therefore obliged to comply with its terms, the text reminds him that “it thus corresponds to the OAS and the international community to help restore citizens’ rights and democracy in Nicaragua.” On their return to Nicaragua Granera declared: “We Nicaraguans are not alone. We come with our energy high due to the backing and enthusiasm we’ve been given by knowing we’re accompanied, that democratic Latin America is with us, because we are struggling with legality and legitimacy on our side.”

Meanwhile, the New York-based international Human Rights Foundation (HRF), created in 2005 by Venezuelan human rights advocate Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, has proposed that the OAS apply the Charter to Nicaragua. The HRF’s chief legal officer, Javier El-Hage, considers that “the principle of alternation of power is enshrined in the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC) as an essential element of democracy. Even though Ortega pushed through a constitutional amendment allowing for indefinite reelection, he did so by circumventing the separation of powers illegally. An uncontested reelection of Ortega would clearly violate the IADC, which was signed by Nicaragua in 2001. If that is the case, Secretary General Almagro should activate the IADC and, if necessary, call for the suspension of Nicaragua from the OAS.”


Panama inaugurated the third set of locks in its expanded canal on June 26. This massive work, which took nine years, cost some US$5.5 billion. Workers from 79 nations participated in the construction, with Nicaragua in ninth place contributing 120 engineers, designers, other professionals and workers. A commentary in “el19digital,” the Nicaraguan government’s official digital publication, criticized the broadcasting of the event by CNN in Spanish for sounding like a “tele-pamphlet” when mentioning the possibility of a Nicaraguan canal. The author regretted that CNN had not interviewed representatives of Nicaragua’s Chamber of Construction, professors of the University of Engineering, the National Association of Geologists and historians such as Aldo Díaz Lacayo or Rafael Casanova, much less Telémaco Talavera, the Nicaraguan canal’s spokesperson.
It argued that Panama’s canal is “an eminently artificial work,” while Nicaragua’s is, geologically speaking, “the most natural in America.” Based on that contrast, the commentary concluded that “It is not a good idea to run from our destiny: Darían greatness.”


In early June the Costa Rican government set at US$6 million the amount it believes Nicaragua must pay in compensation in relation to the International Court of Justice at The Hague’s December 2015 ruling that Nicaragua had invaded the 2.5 square kilometers of Costa Rican wetlands that country calls Calero Island, causing environmental damage. The World Court established that negotiations should take place to determine the amount of compensation, and this is the figure Costa Rica will bring to the table. The damage was reportedly produced when Edén Pastora was in charge of dredging the Río San Juan, opening three creeks (one in 2010 and two in 2013) and cutting down trees, although nature has since regenerated what was destroyed. Pastora’s excuse is that he was “obeying orders.” So far Nicaragua’s government has not reacted to its neighboring government’s request for compensation.


A study presented in Managua in late June by the International Foundation for Global Economic Development (FIDEG) demonstrates the importance of money sent home by Nicaraguan emigrants in reducing poverty here. If the US$2.3 billion in remittances that came into the country between 2014 and 2015 had not been sent, the general poverty rate would be 44.6% rather than dropping to 39%, which is the figure the study sets it at, and the extreme poverty rate would be 11.7% instead of the 7.6% the study indicates. That said, FIDEG director Alejandro Martínez Cuenca, an active member of the governing party, still related the poverty reduction achieved mainly to the success of the government’s social programs.


The charitable foundation of the multibillionaire couple Bill and Melinda Gates announced it will donate 100,000 chickens for families living in poverty in 20 countries. Gates said he was “enthusiastic” about the project. He calculates that one family could raise 250 chickens a year, earning $1,250 selling their meat, adding that the chickens would also reduce the family’s malnutrition. Gates, whose personal fortune is reportedly US$75 billion, said he is convinced that this project would allow low-income Latin American countries, among which he included Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador and Guatemala, to climb out of poverty and reach the levels of Mexico and Brazil in just 20 years. The coordinator of Nicaragua’s Council of Communication and Citizenship, First Lady Rosario Murillo, showed interest in Gates’ project, relating it to the productive bond her government has been handing out
for years now, which always includes chickens. She asked her officials to look further into “this effective form of combating poverty.”


In a long interview in the newspaper La Prensa, the peasant leader of the Council in Defense of our Lands, Lake and Sovereignty, an organization of thousands of peasants opposing construction of the interoceanic canal, said she “very much doubts” the canal will be built, “but I do believe they still want to steal our lands.” With regard to the country’s political situation, Doña Chica, as she is fondly known, said “we’re no longer the same dumb Nicaraguans they used to use. People don’t want their dignity played with any more…. Comandante Ortega feels that Nicaragua is his private property.” She added that “absolutely in no way” is she involved in politics. She believes “three sectors are to blame for the adversities we’re going through: the President of the Republic, the complicit politicians and the current police, who are repressing us. They’re killing us bit by bit.”


Following the cancellation of both competition and transparency in this year’s elections, media analyses and opinions are again looking at whether or not the Ortega government is a dictatorship. In both his daily radio appearance and La Prensa, Sandinista Renovation Movement legislator Enrique Sáenz framed the debate as follows: “Ortega’s onslaught, aimed at imbalancing the precarious electoral framework that only with great difficulty still exists, has sown confusion in broad sectors of the population, leaving them with the question ‘now what are we to do?’ The starting point is to answer the question of what kind of regime we’re actually dealing with. It isn’t an academic issue; it’s a crucial political definition because it determines the objectives to be sought, the strategy to be applied and the forms of struggle with respect to the regime. If, for example, we start with the idea that we’re in an imperfect democracy, as some preach, the path is to limit ourselves to the institutional framework in order to improve it. If, on the contrary, we believe we are facing a dictatorship, the objectives change and the fronts of struggle are greater.” He concluded by affirming his certainty that it is in fact a dictatorship.


Only four months from this year’s general elections, the FSLN has yet to announce presidential candidate Daniel Ortega’s running mate. Responding to the possibility that it could be Rosario Murillo, Archibishop of Managua Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes offered this diplomatic consideration: “It’s good to have other options. Living in the same house sometimes means sharing the same vision. If another person lives elsewhere that person might have heard other options in the streets when it comes to making a decision.”


Catholics for the Right to Decide report that there were 34 femicides in the first half of 2016, with 18 women killed by their partner or another man they knew, and 16 by a stranger. Of the 16 who died in their own home, 15 were killed by a blade of some sort. Twenty-six of the murderers are still on the run.

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