Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 322 | Mayo 2008




Envío team

Continuing the confusing and contradictory way the government has been treating the controversial case of the bank bailout bonds known as CENIs, a judge and a prosecuting attorney close to the governing party legally confiscated the CENIs in the hands of BANPRO and BANCENTRO. These banks bought out two of the failed banks in 2000 and were issued the bonds ostensibly to cover the bad debts of the banks they absorbed. The move was an unprecedented media operation, justified as a measure to stamp an order to suspend payment on these Central Bank certificates. The bonds were seized just before an April 15 deadline by which the government had to pay the two banks nearly US$21 million on the bonds.

In an attempt to explain the contradictory move, Central Bank President Antenor Rosales announced that the payment commitment was still in effect but that the suspension was to work out a new modality. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court did not hand down the expected resolution on the CENIs’ legality in response to the findings of the Comptroller General’s Office. Some of the terms of the government’s renegotiation with the bankers who benefited from the allegedly illegal bond operation remain unknown.

Meanwhile, the Councils of Citizens’ Power (CPCs) are implementing a relenteless radio and TV campaign called “Make the Thieves Pay,” to instill the impression that Eduardo Montealegre, the Liberal candidate for mayor of Managua, was exclusively responsible for this case simply because he renegotiated the payment plan in 2003 as President Bolaños’ treasury minister.

This barrage of ads puts the lie to what First Lady Rosario Murillo, the government’s communication secretary and national director of the CPCs, told the FSLN’s municipal candidates: “We can’t fall into offensive provocation, character assassination, insults. We’ve succeeded in installing a different political culture, one of respect, in this country. One doesn’t see or hear us engaged in contests to see who can be the most insulting.”


In mid-April, after recovering in the military hospital of Quito, Ecuador, Lucía Morett, who was the only one of five Mexican student visitors to survive the Colombian Army’s attack against a FARC camp in Ecuadorian territory on March 1, arrived in Nicaragua as a “refugee.” On April 21, Daniel Ortega presented her at a party event.

Morett, who witnessed the death of four classmates, who were there doing social research projects, said emotionally, “I come to Nicaragua and you have opened your arms so I can be calm and safe, and continue the struggle from here… Since March 1, I have been fighting, not only as the victim of Colombian state terrorism that I am… It’s now not only for me, but for my four companions who were brutally murdered by the bombs. Someone said to me that from now on I’m not only one, but five. I initiated a struggle that I hope can continue in Mexico, in my country, which I love and where I would like to be right now. But there have been media campaigns against me so far… They have nothing to say against me, because I’ve committed no crime, save that of wanting a better world for our peoples, because that’s how I feel: the whole of Latin America is a single people and that’s who we’re struggling for.”


On April 18, Sandinista judge Celso Urbina found the chairman of the board of the newspaper La Prensa, Jaime Chamorro, and its editor-in-chief Eduardo Enríquez guilty of “injurias.” This crime is defined as an action or expression that wounds the dignity of another person, damaging that person’s reputation or committing an outrage against his/her self-esteem. Last December 20, under the headline “CPC licensed to beat people up,” La Prensa condemned the aggression its journalist Jorge Loáisiga was subjected to by President Ortega’s personal security chiefs during an act he was presiding. The following day, five women CPC members from a neighborhood near where the aggression occurred accused the newspaper of libeling them, even though none of their names appeared in the story. After a string of judicial and legal anomalies between January and April, the trial was finally held in the Central American University’s Department of Juridical Sciences and the judge implausibly convicted the plaintiffs of injurias, not libel as had been charged. We can only interpret this “trial” as a government signal to society that the CPCs have a privileged and unassailable status, as a threat to all the independent media critical of the government and as a serious attack on freedom of expression in Nicaragua. Chamorro was fined 9,000 córdobas (just short of $500) and Enríquez 18,000. La Prensa promptly appealed the sentence.


To calm the country and end suspicions of political pressure, General Omar Halleslevens and First Commissioner Aminta Granera, the respective heads of the country’s army and police force, gave a joint press conference on April 10 to assure the population that both institutions will always act within the legal framework. Both denied having been pressured by President Ortega. “I’ve never accepted any pressure or felt pressured,” Halleslevens said, describing his relationship with Ortega as “very frank, transparent, healthy and constructive.”

For her part, Granera assured that “I’ve never entertained the idea of resigning at any moment given my respect for the men and women who make up the National Police, the oath I took the day I received the staff of command of this institution and the commitment I acquired that day to work sparing no effort to improve the security of all Nicaraguans, as well as my respect for my family and myself.”

She also declared that she, not President Ortega, ordered the police not to intervene in the violent events in Bilwi on April 4 (see “Speaking Out,” by Hazel Law in this issue), “to avoid greater violence and keep the conflict from spiraling out of our control.”


A Latin and Central American summit meeting called by President Ortega was held in Managua on May 7 to discuss joint plans to deal with the food crisis facing the region. While representatives from Venezuela, including its foreign minister, played an active role in the discussion, President Chávez was unable to attend as expected, reportedly on doctors’ orders. No other Central American Presidents attended either.

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