Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 146 | Septiembre 1993




Envío team


Two hours after the Revolutionary Front of Workers and Peasants (FROC) whose members are mainly "recompas," or former members of the Sandinista Popular Army (EPS) occupied Estelí, the FSLN National Directorate issued a communiqué in which, like the government and the army, it called the FROC members "delinquents" and the takeover "an act of vandalism." The document sparked tremendous debate at the Sandinista grassroots level, in which the majority, many of whom did not themselves agree with the action, also did not accept the National Directorate's characterization.

On July 24, two days after the shooting stopped, President Violeta Chamorro showed up in Estelí to "announce" a social plan which already existed and had been financed by AID for 14 municipalities around Estelí, but not for the city itself, whose municipal mayor, perhaps coincidentally, happens to be a Sandinista. This angered the city's residents, hundreds of whom booed the President in the streets, shouting "Resign!" and "Assassin!" at her, blaming her for the army's military response to the occupation of the city.

Nearly 150 former EPS officers in the northern departments made public an open letter to the Nicaraguan government in which they asked it to "listen and give a response to the demands of the FROC" and criticized the EPS top commanders for calling the FROC members "delinquents." "The EPS commanders forget," the letter said, "that without our effort, sacrifice, dedication and discipline, there would be no generals, colonels and lieutenant colonels with high social and economic positions in this country today."

On July 11, in a centennial commemoration of the Liberal Revolution in Nicaragua, the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) of Managua mayor Arnoldo Alemán convoked Liberal militants and sympathizers to a demonstration in the "Plaza of the Republic" in Managua. The PLC pulled together an estimated 10 15,000 people from across the country. Alemán predicted that the major contenders in the next elections would be Liberalism and Sandinismo. Another Liberal party, the Independent Liberals of Vice President Virgilio Godoy, held a separate demonstration in a different location on the same day, attracting about 1,000 people.

A week later, some 70,000 people, largely a young generation, gathered in the Plaza of the Revolution (the same plaza) to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the 1979 revolution. After brief speeches by leaders of each of the social sectors (including, for the first time, the Atlantic Coast and the women's organization, AMNLAE), in which the National Directorate members were exposed to concise and unprecedented public criticisms of themselves as well as of the government, FSLN Secretary General Daniel Ortega made the keynote speech.

Given the publication of the "Group of 29's" document only days before, the vast, tightly packed crowd was more than normally interested in what he would say. Some cynically wondered out loud if the Directorate would make the same mistake it had in the last pre election rally in 1990, when it took the crowd's size for unequivocal support rather than an indication of the desire to hear a concrete statement about the draft, and made no pronouncement.

This time, however, there were two major proposals in the speech. The first was a call for "a government of national unity" if the existing government does not change its economic policy. The audacious sounding initiative drew strong applause at the time, but people later admitted that it had been too generic and confusing in its sketchy formulation, and that they did not really know what to make of it. No one, however, had any trouble interpreting the second one: Ortega called for the celebration in the near future of an "extraordinary" FSLN Congress "to renew all of the party's leadership, from top to bottom."
When the formal event ended, no one at all moved to leave. As one singing group after another filed on stage to perform, a large part of the crowd stayed for hours, singing and dancing.


Even before the events in Estelí, and particularly afterward, different national sectors declared that the only way to achieve order and security in the country was to replace the army with a United Nations peacekeeping force. The Bishops' Conference in Nicaragua directly presented this demand to President Chamorro herself.
The rightwing parties in the UNO coalition supported it, as did the business interests in the Supreme Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP). The ultra right media followed up with campaigns in favor of the initiative, while the leftwing media campaigned against it, arguing hotly that it represented a sell out of national sovereignty. While informal pulse taking in Managua by this divided media tended to reflect the line of the journalist doing the asking, public sentiment has not been at all enthusiastic. One voice not yet represented is the UN Security Council itself.


The population's poverty and the crisis in the health system has contributed to spreading the cholera epidemic to 90% of the national territory by the middle of this year's rainy season.

The number of cases has more than doubled over the same period last year and 7 of every 100 known cases now results in death, a much larger percentage than last year.

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