Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 227 | Junio 2000




Envío team


According to the figures of a household survey done recently by the United Nations Development Program UNDP), only 50% of houses in Nicaragua have electricity and drinking water. Of that number, only 28% have piped water inside the house. Only 25% have a toilet while 61% have a latrine and the rest have no hygienic service at all.


Maritza Sequeira showed up at the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center in early May to charge that Marlon Castillo, PLC legislative representative for the department of Río San Juan, had used a false identity—his name was Germán Alvarez—and committed polygamy by marrying for a second time without divorcing her, his first wife. Sequiera also charged that he did not contribute to the maintenance of their four daughters. For several days Castillo vehemently denied everything, arguing that it was a "political plot." Suddenly one morning he burst into the National Assembly building before official opening time and spent the next five hours at the directors’ table holding a gun to his head and threatening suicide, while at the same time admitting that what Sequeira had said was true. He was finally persuaded to give up his theatrical suicide intentions. On May 15, the Assembly board suspended Castillo from his elected post as legislator, but did not name a commission, as the law requires, to investigate whether his parliamentary immunity should be removed so he can stand trial for the crime of polygamy. By sidestepping its responsibility, the board was clearly trying to avoid setting a precedent, since public opinion has not forgotten the case of Daniel Ortega and the shelved request filed by his stepdaughter that the Assembly strip him of his immunity to face charges of sexual abuse.


The conditions in various parts of what is called the Mining Triangle (the towns of Siuna, Bonanza and Rosita), virtually abandoned by the central government for many years, have gotten even worse in recent months. The once-popular rearmed then demobilized group called the Andrés Castro United Front (FUAC), which has apparently rearmed again, has taken to extortion, kidnappings, pillage and intimidation. In mid-May, the mysterious forced landing in the zone of a helicopter stolen by four drug traffickers in Mexico gave rise to the rumor that various international drug-trafficking cartels, allegedly with links to FUAC members, were essentially taking over the Mining Triangle. Three of the drug traffickers, all Mexican, were captured—one committed suicide in jail only hours later—while the fourth, a Nicaraguan, managed to get away. The Army deployed some 1,500 troops to the conflictive area with a military plan to clean out the rearmed band. The insecurity reigning in the area has caused dozens of families to leave, and whole districts have been abandoned.

The National Assembly’s Human Rights Commission, headed by Sandinista Nelson Artola, submitted a bill to grant amnesty to all those who are currently rearmed, an idea backed by FSLN secretary general Daniel Ortega, also a legislator. The country’s three human rights organizations—CENIDH, ANPDH and CPDH—were joined by other social sectors in rejecting the proposal on the grounds that it would only reinforce impunity.


Days after the transcendental discovery of the remains of Nicaragua’s founder, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, in a tomb in the ruins of León Viejo, the city he founded in 1524, a team of archeologists from the Ministry of Culture found the remains of Pedrarias Dávila alongside him. The latter had ordered the beheading of Hernández de Córdoba in 1526 before setting up a bloody and despotic government in the lands recently conquered by Spain. In the exhumation act, Minister of Culture Clemente Guido said that Córdoba’s head was not found with the body, and will surely never turn up. "It remains lost somewhere in this land," he said, "the symbol of a tragedy that has marked Nicaragua’s history, the tragedy of political intolerance, which for so long has caused the heads to roll of valuable Nicaraguans who did not share the ideas of those governing them."

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