Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 79 | Enero 1988




La Prensa Is Mot Amused
On Nicaragua's equivalent of April Fools' Day, December 28, Nicaraguans opened the morning Barricada to find on the back page what appeared to be the front page of opposition daily La Prensa. After the initial shock, readers recognized a clever parody of the well-known paper, which Barricada has carefully abstained from criticizing since it reopened in October.

The phony La Prensa lead story commented favorably on Congress1 approval of additional millions in contra aid. "Nicaraguan Triumphs Abroad," a laudatory article about top contra military commander Enrique Bermúdez, describes his successful career and role as exemplary family man. It is accompanied by a photo, presumably Bermúdez, an ex-National Guard official, beating an unarmed young man. "This photo shows Bermúdez in his younger days," reads the caption. "You can see his enormous capacity for leadership…”
A contra press release appears without comment, informing the public that the contras have defeated in combat a Sandinista troop unit. "The Sandinistas, making use of their well-known trick of dressing up as civilians, women and children," didn't put up resistance to the freedom fighters' attack, the statement asserts.

Below a photo of an impressive and jubilant crowd celebrating the eighth anniversary of the revolution, the caption reads: "A classic Sandinista demonstration, in which hundreds of public employees are forcibly transported to chant government slogans . Note the distressed and angry faces, showing the disinterest these poor obliged people have for official events." A second photo shows 20 or so opposition demonstrators gathered together, looking bored. "Sandinismo trembles !" reads the caption. "Our photographer captures one of the most militant moments of the huge march the opposition parties held yesterday afternoon."

Even La Prensa admitted the spoof hit uncomfortably close to home. "Barricada has kidnapped the journalistic essence and the informative orientation of La Prensa," its editors noted indignantly, while accusing Barricada of "falsifications."
More revealing of La Prensa than the spoof was its response. La Prensa's editors wrote a denunciation of Barricada' s "criminal action," and claimed the spoof defamed La Prensa, laid it open to prosecution under the Public Security Law, incited party members to commit serious crimes against La Prensa and its staff and put press freedom and the fulfillment of the peace accords in danger. La Prensa declared it would file suit against Barricada, and appeal to the National Reconciliation Conmission, the International Commission of Verification and Fol-low-Up, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, and the Interamerican Press Association. La Prensa's response suggests the paper is more interested in attracting international sympathy than addressing its audience at home--who might have been delighted by a spoof of Barricada.

Peace Reserve Created
In Río San Juan Valley
Central American biologists and ecologists met in Nicaragua in December for a conference concerning the Rio San Juan valley, located on the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border. This area is virgin tropical rainforest, its flora and fauna unique in Latin America.
The seminar participants proposed that Nicaragua and Costa Rica sign an accord declaring the zone a Peace Reserve, making a commitment to preserve its ecological values while developing part of the area as a tourist attraction.
Christinas for War Orphans
The Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security and Welfare (INSSBI) distributed toys to many of the more than 12,000 children left orphaned by the counterrevolutionary war. With the theme "A Smile for Peace," more than 30 parties were held as Christmas celebrations for the children. President Daniel Ortega spent Christmas Eve in the La Mascota Children 's Hospital in Managua, visiting n children wounded in recent contra attacks.

Military Privileges?
As proof that the Nicaraguan military does not enjoy special immunity from prosecution, the Auditor General of the armed forces, Lieutenant Coronel Alvaro Ramirez, announced that in the first ten months of 1987 3,470 members of the Sandinista Popular Army were processed for various infractions or crimes. Of this number, 791 are officials while the remainder are soldiers, mostly young draftees. Sixty-five percent of the cases concern infractions of military discipline and responsibilities; the rest are common crimes.

Drought Affects Harve'st
President Daniel Ortega declared a state of national emergency because of the effects of a severe drought on Nicaragua's basic grain harvest. Issuing a call for international relief aid, a presidential decree stated that the drought affected all six regions of the Pacific Coast, causing losses of 75% of the expected bean harvest, 45% of sorghum, 25% of corn, and 10% of rice, while agroexports suffered losses of lesser magnitude.

Region VI, one of the areas most sharply affected, formed an emergency committee including representatives of state agencies and producer organizations. According to the director of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Agrarian Reform in Region VI, Enrique Cabrera, 50,000 people in Region VI alone have, been directly affected by the drought.

Nicaraguan Film Wins Prize
The Nicaraguan film "Children of the River" ("Wanki Lupia Nani"), which tells the story of the Miskito people, won the Golden Dove award in the Leipzig Festival of shorts and documentaries. Films from sixty countries competed in the festival.

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