Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 335 | Junio 2009




Envío team

In an act held in Bluefields in May, representatives of the Miskitu population in Nicaragua’s southern Caribbean region decided to support the Miskitu independence movement announced a month earlier by the Miskitu Council of Elders in the northern Caribbean region, which has a much larger indigenous population. Those in the south said they felt prodded into their decision by the abandonment, discrimination and disrespect for their territorial patrimony they have suffered at the hands of Nicaragua’s central government. On May 31, a thousand Miskitus held a demonstration in the north Caribbean regional capital of Bilwi in support of the separatist proclamation.

On May 18, the 104th anniversary of Sandino’s birth, the Executive Commission of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) published a manifesto titled “May the government’s failure not become Nicaragua’s failure.” As part of its analysis of the first half of President Daniel Ortega’s term, the MRS argued that “economically, the Ortega government is a failure because the country’s economy was showing clear signs of deterioration even before the international crisis. Socially, it is a failure because there are more poor and jobless Nicaraguans and more seeking the anguished path of emigration. Institutionally, it has reduced the Comptroller General’s Office, the judicial and electoral branches and public administration to ashes…. Politically, Ortega has divided Nicaraguans, is trampling on citizens’ rights and liberties and has deprived us of our most elementary political right: respect for citizens’ votes. Today Nicaragua is a country without a democratic electoral future, risking a return to the chronic cycles of violent confrontation. Internationally, Ortega has aligned the country in sterile confrontations that seriously harm national interests....”

An assembly of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) opened in Managua on May 11 with the participation of more than 60 bishops from all over Latin America. The meeting was headed by Vatican envoy Cardinal Re. President Daniel Ortega didn’t meet with them, but on the same day he did visit Cardinal Obando, who didn’t participate in the assembly either. Upon leaving, Ortega gave a brief press conference, with the cardinal at his side, and for the first time in his two-and-a-half years in office allowed the journalists at least two questions. One referred to a document acidly criticizing the Nicaraguan bishops that was signed by presidential adviser Orlando Núñez and had appeared on official web pages days before. Although Rosario Murillo attributed the controversial text to a “deluxe hacker,” Ortega said it had been placed on the presidential website by “people linked to the journalistic media.” He claimed to have names, but said his government would not act against anyone. Ortega’s dialogue with Nicaragua’s own Episcopal Conference, requested by the bishops months ago and again after the “Núñez document” scandal, has yet to take place.

Supreme Court Justice Sergio Cuarezma declared in May that the court has not produced any draft ruling recognizing the unconstitutionality of the October 2006 criminalization of therapeutic abortion, as Justice Rafael Solís had earlier reported. If true, Solís was either trying to pressure the bishops and attempt to silence their claims of electoral fraud or sending up a trial balloon to see whether decriminalizing it again would get the European donor community to renew financial aid to the government, suspended after last November’s electoral fraud. After Cuarezma’s declarations, Solís reiterated that there was such a draft. Dozens of unconstitutionality suits have been filed with the Supreme Court against the criminalization, most of which have been shelved for longer than is legally allowed.

In late May, the United Nations’ Committee against Torture mentioned the Nicaraguan state in its Annual Report for violating women’s right to health and life by prohibiting abortion even when the mother’s health and life is in danger and in cases of rape and incest. The committee urged the state to repeal the criminalization of therapeutic abortion, which had been on the books in Nicaragua since the late 19th century.

As part of Russia-Nicaragua cooperation, 130 Russian buses arrived in Nicaragua on May 13 for use in Managua’s public transport system. After President Ortega received them in Managua, it was announced that the buses, supposedly donated to the state, would be sold to different privatized bus coops through ALBA-Caruna, the FSLN’s para-state financing cooperative. The Comptroller General’s Office refused to comment on the issue and, following media pressure on this and other cases in which it had failed to act, decided to give no more declarations to journalists.

On May 27, 33 peasant men and women who were hired by the government for the histrionic, humiliating work of “praying against hate” in Managua’s traffic circles day and night for eight months went on hunger strike outside the presidential offices, demanding the 200 córdobas ($10) a day they had been promised. Their decision proved what was effectively an open secret from the beginning: that the prayers weren’t voluntary and that they were banana workers affected by the pesticide Nemagon who had been recruited by Communication Secretary Rosario Murillo. By June 9, 23 strikers were still sleeping in the streets having received no response.

The text of a manual that the government wants to impose on international NGOs working in the country was leaked during government talks with the European Union to reestablish budgetary cooperation. The text imposes annoying bureaucratic requirements and severe limitations on the work of such NGOs, as well as cutting back the civil and political rights of Nicaraguans who work for counterparts that receive resources from them.

Last month Nicaragua finally entered the last phase of the Humanitarian Demining Program conducted by the Nicaraguan army with resources from countries such as Denmark, Holland, Canada and Japan. The country has already deactivated over 170,000 mines, an estimated 97.5% of the total target areas to be cleared, at a cost of US$60 million. In March Canada announced it was contributing $400,000 to demining activities in four areas in the departments of Nueva Segovia and Jinotega, near the border with Honduras, where it is hoped that 6,500 mines buried in former war zone areas since the eighties will be deactivated.
The Army of Nicaragua has 588 demining experts, called “the best in the world” by former President Enrique Bolaños when he sent a group of them to Iraq.

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