Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 148 | Noviembre 1993




Aldo Díaz Lacayo


Just after the transport strike, President Chamorro and finance minister Emilio Pereira went to Washington for preliminary meetings with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, prior to signing a new accord with those multilateral lending agencies.

While there, they requested that these agencies pardon 95% of Nicaragua's foreign debt with them, which was refused. Of Nicaragua's $10 billion foreign debt, 15% is with these two banking institutions, 20% with foreign commercial banks, 25% with countries belonging to the Club of Paris, and 40% with the former Soviet Union.

In New York, President Chamorro delivered Nicaragua's annual speech to the new United Nations General Assembly. In it, she requested sustained economic aid with "exceptional" treatment for Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti, all countries lashed by violence and war, and seeking national reconciliation.

On October 1, some aspects of what the IMF and World Bank plan to impose on Nicaragua were made public. They want Nicaragua to slash state spending by $60 million more, completely eliminate the credit window at BANIC, a state bank, and totally privatize public utilities (water, electricity and telephones), the state petroleum company and all fishing and mining operations still in state hands.


Ottón Solís, Costa Rica's planning minister under Oscar Arias and now United Nations Development Program adviser to the Nicaraguan government, has serious criticisms of Nicaragua's economic plan. In a recent confidential memorandum to Minister of the Presidency Antonio Lacayo, he charged that "all economic indicators (the GDP, investment, investment as a percentage of the GDP, exports, the trade deficit and employment) show a deterioration in relation to the final years of last decade."
Solís argues that the economic plan must change and along with it the economic Cabinet or the country will sink into greater impoverishment and political non viability. His harsh assessment had a strong impact on the government, and on some economists, who used this "voice of authority" to demand major changes by the government.


Leaders of the National Union of Farmers and Ranchers (UNAG) announced that, despite a good rainy season and the government's promise of credits in the dialogue round regarding the agricultural cycle, the second planting failed completely due to the government's non compliance with that promise. It provided only 6% of the credit it agreed to for beans, 35% for corn, and 11% for sesame, and only 47% of what it promised for coffee, even though the harvest begins in November.


The first rounds of bilateral dialogue between the FSLN and UNO in October seem to have reached more points of consensus than the months of on again off again dialogue between UNO and the government. In an accord signed on October 7, both agreed in principle with the demand for a new economic policy, respect for President Chamorro's full term in office, and Gen. Humberto Ortega's retirement once the National Assembly has passed the new military organization bill.
Among the many remaining sticking points are UNO's demand that the Constitution be significantly reformed and the hard liners' preferred method for doing so (by electing a new "Constituent" Assembly). That, they trust, would also get rid of the "center group" in the current National Assembly loyal to the President, willing to work with the Sandinista bench and thus the obstacle to an UNO legislative majority. UNO's alternative regarding the center group is that it be dissolved by some sort of executive fiat.

Meanwhile, the 39 Sandinista legislators and the 9 in that center group released a document of their own, supporting certain reforms to the Constitution but opposing elections for a constituent assembly. In their judgment, such elections "would only deepen social and political wounds, unleashing explosive situations" at such a polarized moment in the country. The Supreme Electoral Council estimates that these elections would cost $30 million.


In public declarations to the US Congress and in letters sent to the Chamorro government, UNO and the FSLN, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter American Affairs Alexander Watson declared his full support for the Chamorro government and the tripartite dialogue. He also insisted that Nicaragua's problems "are not resolved in Washington" and indicated to UNO that its "intransigence" will not win sympathy in the United States. He signaled to the FSLN that the Clinton administration was open to dialogue, including with Daniel and Humberto Ortega, and declared that this political party "must chose between its authoritarian past and a democratic future." These are the Clinton administration's most explicit declarations to date on Nicaragua, and appear to represent a thoughtful position more distanced from Sen. Jesse Helms & Co. than heretofore.


Nicaragua's army reports that it suffered 90 casualties (30 of them deaths) in combat with various rearmed groups between January 1 and October 2 of this year. It adds that the rearmed groups of various political stripes lost 205 members among a total of 593 casualties and that 145 civilians were killed among a total of 203 affected by the armed activities.


The Nicaraguan government presented the final version of its 40 page "white paper" on the Santa Rosa arms arsenal case to its US counterpart. In English, and titled "Nicaragua's Democratic Struggle Against Terrorism: Dismantling an Inherited Problem," the report was written in response to the Senate's Helms Amendment, which conditioned release of $100 million in US aid on, among other things, proof that the Nicaraguan government is not involved in international terrorism. High ranking US government officials publicly stated their conviction that the Chamorro administration has no links to international terrorism, and the House of Representatives "softened" that condition. The US legislators, however, still insist on more civilian control over the military in Nicaragua.


Tropical storm Gert's 48 hours of torrential rains destroyed houses and crops in an erratic path across the country, leaving behind 30,000 victims and 20% of Nicaragua's average annual rainfall. Just as happened to the thousands of victims of hurricane Bret (most of them in the Atlantic Coast) in August, the plight of Gert's victims was immediately shoved out of the news by yet another crisis. In the first case it was the week long twin kidnappings; in the second the transport strike.

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