Uncertainty is in the air
The uncertainty affecting Venezuela is echoed in Nicaragua.
Will Venezuelan collaboration be reduced or even cut off?
Will the conditions of the oil agreement change?
Or will the government’s maneuvering room
be the only thing to shrink?
Uncertainty is very much in the air.
On December 8, the national celebration of the Immaculate Conception in Nicaragua, things took a dramatic turn in Venezuela. The gravity of President Chávez’s illness was revealed when he himself designated a successor “absolutely, irrevocably and totally.” What happens in Venezuela in the post-Chávez era will have an impact throughout Latin America… and beyond. And Nicaragua may feel some of the strongest aftershocks.
Unlike the crucial role the Cuban government is playing in Venezuela’s transition, Daniel Ortega’s government is just another spectator of its uncertain development. It is surely much more worried than it admits.
South-South cooperationBeyond his achievements in Venezuela in favor of the poorest, Hugo Chávez’s main legacy in Latin America are his economic and cultural initiatives to move South-South relations forward, most notably in recent years.
and people looking to the South
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and Venezuela’s Telesur television network have contributed in intangible, hard-to-measure ways to Latin America seeing itself today with new eyes and to being seen by outsiders with more dignity, potential and creativity, being more respected and taken more into account.
ALBA has posed a very interesting alternative to the failed US project known as FTAA, the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, which tried to turn the entire continent into a North-South free trade zone. For its part, Telesur, with its motto “the South is our north,” broadcasts to the continent and the world from Caracas, creating a counterweight to the North’s huge networks.
It was Dionisio Marenco, the FSLN mayor of Managua between 2004 and 2008, who in the middle of his term opened the way to Venezuela’s oil collaboration in Nicaragua. The offer from Caracas was both novel and generous: to supply oil with extremely concessional payment conditions. At the time, Marenco visited Caracas representing the Association of Municipalities of Nicaragua (AMUNIC), and he and the other FSLN mayors in office at the time were the first to sign on to the Petrocaribe agreement. Obviously enthused by the project, Marenco declared that the arrival of the first shipment of oil to our country was “a voice of encouragement for the Nicaraguan people” that would spread to the whole region, “to our peoples, oppressed by the high fuel prices. The best thing that could happen to the Central American peoples would be for those governing us to look to the South and incorporate ourselves into the solidary integration processes being proposed especially by Venezuela and its Bolivarian revolution.”
In 2007, when Daniel Ortega and the FSLN re-won presidential office, the Petrocaribe agreement was extended to the entire country and Nicaragua also joined the ALBA project. Over the years, in addition to that oil deal, abundant resources flowed in through other forms of collaboration, including credits, investments and exports. By 2011 Venezuelan cooperation was equivalent to 40% of the Ortega government’s tax revenues, which illustrates not only the magnitude of the relations but also Nicaragua’s enormous depen¬dence on Venezuela.
Much more than a lifelineThe traditional European cooperation flows have virtually dried up in most of Latin America and have been ebbing even in Nicaragua, in part due to the international economic crisis and in part because Europe prioritizes cooperation with Africa, which is both geographically closer and far more impoverished. In this context, Venezuela threw the eternally foreign resource-dependent Nicaraguan economy much more than a mere lifeline, more even than a lifeboat. It offered a full-size ship in which to set sail for better waters. No other government could or would have taken Nicaragua on with the interest and dedication that President Chávez did.
According Nicaragua’s Central Bank, the various expressions of Venezuelan cooperation totaled US$2.252 billion between the time Daniel Ortega took office and the first half of 2012. By 2011, those resources were already the equivalent of 23% of Nicaragua’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Nicaragua’s trade with Venezuela also grew significantly in the ALBA framework: between 2007 and 2012 annual exports to Venezuela shot up from $6 million to $417 million. The total income for cattle on the hoof, beef, milk, coffee, cooking oil and red and black beans exported to Venezuela in those six years exceeded $2.6 billion. That trade opening with Venezuela has also had the positive consequence of reducing Nicaragua’s traditional export dependence on the US market.
The rub is how The oil agreement and its excellent repayment conditions are at the core of the cooperation from Caracas. According to the Petrocaribe agreement, the Nicaraguan government must pay half of the annual 11 million barrel bill at international prices within 90 days of receipt. The other half is to be paid over 25 years at only 2% annual interest and with 2 years of grace.
that wealth was used
The resources that remain in Nicaragua from the sale of the oil and other fuels received through the agreement grew fivefold between 2007 and 2011, by which time they had hit US$564 million. That amount is equivalent to the entire average international cooperation Nicaragua received annually over the five years of the Bolaños government.
From the outset, President Ortega insisted on keeping these and other abundant resources provided by Venezuelan cooperation—those administered by the ALBA-CARUNA financing institution—outside of the public budget so they could be used at its discretion, with no public oversight mechanism to guarantee transparency. This has resulted in what some call the gigantic “privatization” of Venezuelan cooperation in the governing party’s hands.
There is no question that, given the way they have been managed, these funds have fed corruption and been used for political clientelism, two vices deeply rooted in Latin America’s political culture, Nicaragua not excepted. Chávez turned a deaf ear to the widespread criticism in Nicaragua of the abuse in managing his country’s cooperation, but we will someday look back and recognize how much that unchecked generosity helped drive those roots even deeper.
“Social” and Only in response to pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did the Central Bank sketchily report some of the government’s use of Venezuelan cooperation in 2010 and 2011, but there are no data for last year. That information revealed that the government decided to deposit part of the resources from Caracas in national banks: US$222 million in 2010 and US$116 million in 2011. A prudent preventive measure against possible setbacks in Venezuela?
The Central Bank also reported on some of the “social and productive investments” the government is supposed to use the Venezuelan resources for, according to the agreement. A careful look at the list of those projects shows that the most substantial allocations haven’t been “investments” but the financing of various subsidies.
The most sizable are the subsidy to Managua’s bus fare, allowing the government to hold it at 2.50 córdobas (roughly US$0.10 at current prices) for the past seven years, and the “solidarity bonus” of some US$30 given monthly by the government—also outside of the budget—to 160,000 low-income public employees. Given Nicaragua’s poverty, keeping bus fares low despite the rising gas costs, and giving the lower rungs of government employees more income are not negative in themselves. One problem with that bonus is that it’s a “gift,” not a budgeted raise, so can simply be cancelled at the government’s discretion.
Likewise, when we look at what the government is investing in “productive projects,” we see, for example, that what is called “financing for energy sovereignty” does nothing more than subsidize the energy rates of those who use the least electricity, which is effectively 80% of all consumers. This subsidy represents a third of the total assigned to “productive” investments in those two years, while the two subsidies mentioned above represent two-thirds of the Venezuelan funds earmarked for “social” projects. The negative aspect of spending so much of this borrowed money on subsidies is that while it’s racking up a huge debt that must be paid back—Nicaragua’s cumulative debt with PDVSA, Vene¬zuela’s state oil company, is already sizable—it isn’t producing anything or increasing the productivity of anything; hence is not generating any income. It’s not even being prioritized for investments in developing human capital, such as increasing the quality of Nicaragua’s public education.
Finance subsidies with taxes In short, much of the over $2 billion in Venezuelan cooperation coming to us in very generous terms is not being invested in projects that would both help develop Nicaragua right now and guarantee a greater capacity to pay back those huge loans down the road. Instead it is being used for current spending, which could perfectly well be financed through the budget with government tax revenue. But that would require taxing the population fairly, making those who earn more pay more and freeing the tax system of exonerations and exemptions that benefit the biggest and most profitable income earners.
Looked at from that perspective, Venezuela’s cooperation has also served to maintain Ortega’s alliance with big Nicaraguan (and foreign) capital. The tax reform approved at the end of last year and now in effect maintains the inequity and injustice that has always characterized our tax system. The business elite came away with everything they wanted, as usual. Alleging other factors of uncertainty—the world economic system, the crisis of Europe and its currency, the need to attract investments—the biggest capitalists got a reform in which they still don’t shoulder their fair share of the tax burden. Some of the scandalous details of that reform’s inequitable results were published in the October and December 2012 issues of envío).
Who gets the In the meeting of the European Union with the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States—an important new regional integration project also pushed by President Chávez—held in Chile at the end of January, President Ortega admitted that the oil from the Petrocaribe agreement isn’t a gift; it generates a public debt that has to be paid. But that admission is not something Ortega makes a point of stressing at home, where the oil agreement is presented to his supporters as Venezuela’s “generous collaboration” and even ambiguously floated as possibly a private debt since it doesn’t appear in the budget and isn’t managed directly by the government, but rather by a joint Nicaraguan-Venezuelan enterrise called Albanisa, essentially run by the governing party.
best cut of ALBA?
Ortega described the ALBA initiative in Nicaragua as being based on “justice, cooperation and complementarity,” adding that it promotes projects in the ALBA member countries that “tend to energize their small-scale economies so they can leave poverty behind.” Is that really true in Nicaragua? Who gets the best cut from ALBA and does that cut really contribute to a sustainable way out of poverty?
Apart from the non-productive subsidies favoring the poorest, and Houses for the People and other similar projects financed with Venezuelan resources, the ALBA project has served to increase the earnings of traditional big national capital, the main beneficiaries of the food exports to Venezuela, which are always channeled through Albanisa.
Strategic FSLN investmentsFed by the Venezuelan resources, Albanisa has also allowed the FSLN’s own increasingly impressive business group to make large investments. As stockholders, silent partners through third parties or full owners, those currently controlling the governing party have invested heavily in energy and telecommunications as strategic sectors in which to concentrate their new capital. While also dabbling in more medium-sized businesses, they have bought big: television channels, national and local radio stations, advertising/publicity agencies and at least one hotel, and are either direct owners of or stockholders in huge hydroelectric, geothermal and wind energy projects as well as traditional oil-based energy suppliers.
Gas Natural-Fenosa, the Spanish transnational that has controlled 95% of the electricity distribution in Nicaragua since that service was privatized in the late nineties, with the state as a partner following Ortega’s return to power, announced in January that it was pulling out of the country. Despite the important efforts by the current government to transform the country’s electricity grid, based largely in the populated areas of the Pacific side, it still depends on oil for 70% of the energy generated, has an obsolete distribution network and is hurt by consumers of all sizes practicing ongoing, virtually uncontrollable fraud. This has led the company to significantly increase its rates and the government to subsidize the majority of consumers.
There is very little information about who will buy the Gas Natural-Fenosa shares, but Albanisa seems to be preparing to launch itself into this barely profitable adventure, which would close the electricity generation-distribution circle in the hands of the FSLN business group as a virtual monopoly, excepting only a few independent small hydroelectric projects in rural areas and in Bluefields.
A lost opportunity?In October 2012 envío published a summary of Gloria Carrión Fonseca’s research on the course of the ALBA project in Nicaragua. The data are eloquent and the conclusions alarming. It is worth repeating the last paragraphs of that article here, as they have a special significance at this moment of uncertainties:
“ALBA represented and still repre¬sents a great opportunity for Nicaragua. The preferential access to oil, the opportunities offered by the Venezuelan market and the financial resources with the potential to be used for social and economic projects that would transform the harsh reality of most Nicaraguans are some of the most significant pillars of this agreement.
“There’s no doubt that the FSLN government’s social projects—Houses for the People, among others—have relieved many families economically. But these are small achievements given the magnitude of the Venezuelan cooperation and its potential to generate structural economic and social transformations…. The shift in ALBA’s implementation [by Ortega following his return to central government], which pushed the social movements, local governments and cooperatives out of its decision-making framework marked a before and an after.
“This change of strategy was followed by two dynamics that ‘exposed’ ALBA: the alliance between the government and the traditional private sector was strengthened and a new and powerful economic group linked to the governing party emerged, grew and is being consolidated. Neither of these two dynamics figured in ALBA’s original proposal or in the goals that this initiative is pursuing on paper. If we don’t ensure that the objectives originally proposed in ALBA—to reduce economic and social inequalities and transform the country’s productive structure—are respected, Nicaragua will have lost a historic opportunity to reverse years of economic, cultural and social backwardness.”
The acute Venezuelan crisis The uncertainty now being experienced in Nicaragua has to do with the economic basis of the political uncertainty about the post-Chávez era.
Venezuela’s economic situation isn’t at all easy for Chávez’s heir, Nicolás Maduro, and his group to resolve. The lavish public spending over the course of 2012 that guaranteed Chávez’s reelection increased the country’s fiscal deficit to a full 16% of the GDP, according to the Venezuelan research firm Ecoanalítica.
To reduce the effect of that “fiscal abyss,” the Bolivarian government has issued unbacked currency, which has triggered an inevitable inflationary spiral and a growing black market in dollars. The value of the US dollar with respect to the bolívar is four times higher on the black market than the official rate, and the government is strictly controlling and discretionally assigning dollars in the official market. To make the situation even dicier, the price of oil, the motor of both the country’s economy and Chávez’s project, has hardly risen on the international market, while oil production has dropped.
If Maduro remains There appear to be few if any alternatives to drastic adjustment measures in Venezuela: raising taxes, reducing public spending, devaluing the bolívar, even greater controls on US currency… But without Chávez visibly calling the shots, Maduro fears that deciding on such surely unpopular adjustments will cause even greater scarcities.
at the helm…
Every day Maduro and other leaders of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) try to calm the population’s anxiety and uncertainty about Chávez’s health, while sidestepping discussion of the economic problems and attributing the growing scarcity of basic products to speculators, warning the latter that they are “playing with fire.”
Ever since the transition got underway on December 8, information about Chávez’s health and other speeches seem designed to buy time until a constitutional and electoral formula can be consolidated to hand the baton to Maduro and ensure the continuation of Chávez’s political project.
If the PSUV stays in government with Maduro at its head in the post-Chávez era, Venezuelan cooperation with Nicaragua isn’t likely to end either abruptly or in the near future. But with a country in economic crisis considering adjustments to solve it, the collaboration will very probably not be as generous and the oil agreement’s favorable conditions could change. That will depend largely on how the PSUV’s internal contradictions are resolved, given that the party is a convergence of quite varied tendencies, a gamut of interests and a good dose of personal ambition for power and money.
Naturally, if the Venezuelan opposition takes over the government, all the generosity could be cut in a single blow.
The same commitment? The communication strategy in the Venezuelan transition insists on continuity for Chávez’s political project, encouraging a sort of “religion” that dodges or simplifies the economic aspect. And like any other religion, this one contains dogmas, commandments, mediators and rites.
In these critical moments, that communication strategy has been questioned by Telesur founder Aram Aharonian: “Notwithstanding the economic growth and low unemployment rate, the scarcity and inflation remain worrying. The explanation that they are a consequence of speculation doesn’t tell the whole story and doesn’t satisfy if there’s no effort to correct the low productivity and define some response to the business pressure to send their earnings out of the country, which has resulted in a galactic parallel dollar without eliminating capital flight.” He concluded that “without anyone decreeing it, a new Venezuela began on that December 8, which must shake off its extreme emotionality and suspension of critical judgment”
In this situation of intense emotionality devoid of critical judgment, in which the political and economic uncertainties could drag out, Venezuela’s population would take a dim view of subsidizing other countries so generously, and so wastefully. That could wear down the government, which would be pressured not only by the opposition, for whom “charity begins at home,” but by people in the government’s own party.
Maduro doesn’t have Chávez’s leadership skills, and while he has been a protagonist in Bolivarian inter-national relations and even ratified “new formulas” and “new mechanisms” in Caracas on January 9 to take ALBA forward, could he possibly have the same commitment to Nicaragua that Chávez had in the middle of so many political contradictions and economic challenges?
Bayardo Arce, Ortega’s economic adviser, claims he is confident that the same commitment will be maintained: “Vice President Maduro knows the love President Chávez has for Nicaragua, so we have no doubts he will maintain the same cooperation with Nicaragua.”
What would happen?If the oil agreement’s conditions change, the Ortega government would find it difficult to continue guaran-teeing the subsidies that have allowed it to neutralize social unrest. Where would it get the resources to maintain them?
To assuage any possible reaction to the end of the subsidies, would Ortega rethink his decision to continue exonerating the business elite from paying their rightful taxes? That possibility may well be why the government reserved itself full discretion in the recently approved tax reform to keep or remove exonerations based on a case by case study.
If the situation with Venezuela were to change, that same business elite, so nicely benefited by the new market that Caracas has opened to it, would also feel the effects. Up to now, Chávez’s generosity has ensured them social stability—fewer demands, fewer protests—because the government has been able to subsidize, give away goodies, cushion the poverty. It has lessened the tax pressure and opened up an eager market to them because Venezuela barely produces any food for its population while their companies do. The business interests represented in Nicaragua’s Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) have been pushing to have the Nicaragua-Venezuela relations enshrined in a free trade agreement or some similar accord. But the government has ignored them. Arce called it “bad taste” to insist on this with Chávez so gravely ill.
As economist Néstor Avendaño sees it, the main impact of a significant drop in Venezuelan cooperation would be “the loss of macroeconomic stability, as Nicaragua could not maintain the gross international reserves it has today and the specter of high inflation and exchange market speculation would appear, which would discourage both foreign direct investment and national investment.”
The same triumphalism? Is the government prepared for a scenario in which it has to pay the whole oil bill in 90 days?
In November 2011, just after Ortega won reelection and before we knew anything about the return of Chávez’s cancer, Dionisio Marenco told envío: “Right now the government is in a moment of enormous inertia of motion, with a lot of strength and a triumphal spirit. But that can change at any moment. In Nicaragua we’re capable of entering into an economic crisis from one moment to the next if Venezuela’s political conditions change. One thing is Nicaragua with Venezuela and a whole other is Nicaragua without Venezuela. It would be two completely different countries. And I’m not saying just the FSLN government without Venezuela, but all of Nicaragua. If Venezuelan cooperation, the oil agreement, ends, the next meeting we have won’t be in here; it’ll have to be in the yard because there won’t be any lights. The solidarity cooperation ALBA provides us is greater than all the cooperation the United States and the European Union give us combined. It’s that simple. The petroleum we need would cost about US$1 billion, which is a billion dollars Nicaragua doesn’t have.”
Is there a Plan B?Will Ortega maintain the subsidies and other give-aways by using the Venezuelan money he has squirreled away in the banks? Will he insist that big capital pay more taxes, eliminating their exonerations? Will he be able to maintain the level of perks with which he has bought the loyalty of so many people during these six years in government? Is he hoping to find a plan B in the People’s Republic of China, as some suggest, pointing to the recent negotiations with China on telecommunications (satellite and telephony) and such far out projects as an interoceanic canal, in which members of his own family are actively participating?
This uncertainty, which could persist for months until the situation in Venezuela can be consolidated, has hit the Ortega government in the midst of yet another uncertainty: the one a required reform to social security is generating in a good part of the Nicaraguan population. This reform is a condition the IMF has imposed on the government in exchange for its signature on a new three-year program. Nicaragua isn’t in the same position as some other countries to say no to this program because it works as an endorsement for Ortega with other international financing institutions and bilateral cooperation agencies that grant credits, and is a green light to both national and international private investors that they can trust the country’s macroeconomic stability.
The uncertainty also coincides with a drop in international prices for our export products, especially coffee. This has come hand in hand with a coffee blight, devastating a good percentage of the coffee plantations in the region, Nicaragua included.
The same shortsightedness?The government has good reason to be uneasy. But if Nicolás Maduro secures his position in the transition and then wins the elections—a probable scenario in Venezuela and the best possible one for Ortega—the FSLN government’s economic maneuvering room will surely shrink, but the hecatomb will not be upon us.
What will surely prevail is the shortsightedness that permanently afflicts Nicaraguan politics. The government will probably try to gain time and resolve the social security conundrum with short-term patches, without delving into the problem in depth. That’s what Gustavo Porras, union leader, FSLN National Assembly representative and mouthpiece for the presidential couple, intimated when he stated that there’s no reason to be debating now a scenario that won’t arrive until 2021. But all research affirms that by then, barely eight years away, the social security system will no longer be able to cover the pensions of the insured workers currently paying in part of their salaries.
“Without fundamental changes,” warns Civil Coordinator economist Adolfo Acevedo, “the problem of financial sustainability, far from becoming less acute, will become increasingly worse, because the number of pensioners will grow out of proportion to the number of active contributors.”
The structural backdrop to the bankruptcy of social security is an economy that is not generating formal employment with workers on good salaries paying into the social security system. On the contrary, the vast majority of today’s workforce has precarious, informal, low-income jobs and therefore don’t pay in. And of course, as with so many other countries, there’s the added problem of longer life expectancy and dropping birth rates.
The only real option Acevedo sees for dealing with this dilemma would be for the country to make “a truly monumental effort to structurally change its economy and its society.” Like so many others, he stresses the urgent need to invest decidedly and massively to improve the quality of Nicaragua’s education: “The nucleus of this change would ensure that the two million young people who will be entering the job market in the next 15 years find work in activities and sectors with increasingly higher productivity and are properly skilled to perform them.”
Weakness + discontentThere is no sign of political volition in the government to turn that option of investing substantially in education and changing the course of the economy into reality. Nor is there any sign yet of any organized opposition with the strength to oblige it to do so. The government is resting very happily on its own laurels and on the weakness of the opposition parties.
The two latest polls (M&R and Cid-Gallup) reveal an enormous weak¬ness in the opposition parties, who didn’t pull the support of even 10% of those polled. That weakness goes a long way to easing the government’s uncertainty.
Despite that, the government may be preparing itself for a post-Chávez era with greater institutional legitimacy. That could explain why it might suddenly be willing to negotiate the appointments to some 40 top government posts still being occupied by officials whose terms are long up with the small group of opposition legislators—basically the Independent Liberal Party. In addition to improving its institutional image, that move would give Ortega the added value of further deepening the divisions in the political opposition, which is a permanent strategic priority for the FSLN.
But there’s another opposition that doesn’t ascribe to the parties. It is found in what Sandinista Renovation Movement leader Dora María Téllez describes in the “Speaking Out” section of this issue as “undercurrents.” This opposition consists of the accumulating discontent of a significant part of the population resulting from being treated by the government as objects with needs rather than subjects with possibilities. Téllez describes this population as “fed up” because “the government has obliged them to do things against their will and against their conscience.” The government is aware of this discontent and worried about it, although it doesn’t admit it and the polls don’t register it.
On principle and The FSLN’s new municipal mayors took office in a staggered way throughout January. Dozens of them had been handpicked by Ortega despite the objections of the party base in their municipality; others were designated by the electoral branch amid outraged cries of fraud, and still others won fair and square. Over the next four years their administration in the municipalities will have to be evaluated following the governing party’s new move to concentrate still more power at the top, dealing a serious blow to municipal autonomy.
over the long haul
During the government changeover in the mayor’s offices, politically novel attitudes were seen and heard in Ciudad Darío and Nueva Guinea, two of the municipalities affected by the alleged fraud. These were the ones in which defense of what much of their populations called the “true results” led to injuries, abuses, jailings and even deaths.
In Ciudad Darío, Edgar Matamoros, the PLI’s “losing” mayoral candidate, who was granted a compensatory Council seat in that municipality by law, refused to be part of the mayor’s office now governed by the FSLN. He explained that “for moral reasons I cannot lower myself from being a mayor elected by the people to occupying a seat as a municipal councilor. That would amount to telling my people that I have no principles.”
Matamoros “took possession” of the post he and much of the population believe was stolen from him, describing that he will hold a town hall session every three months together with the 12 PLI Municipal Council candidates, will go ahead with his government program and even hopes to collect municipal taxes. With admirable poise he said he wanted to make Ciudad Darío “an example of dignity,” a “little mirror in which other politicians can see themselves reflected.” Although his position was not echoed by his party, Matamoros has insisted that no opposition politician should assume any public post that legitimizes the Ortega government and has called on anyone who has already done so to resign.
For his part, Denis Obando, the mayor of Nueva Guinea who ran for reelection and is also widely believed to have truly won despite the CSE ruling, similarly refused to take the Council seat the law grants him. Before leaving office, the Nicaraguan electoral observer organization Ethics and Transparency awarded him a plaque as Nicaragua’s best mayor in the 2008-2012 period in recognition of his transparent, decentralized and participatory administration. When asked what the people should do about the current government, Obando said: “Civically there is no other resource than to make an authoritarian system enter into reason. Civic actions have results when there is a government with civic thinking. What awaits us is very big…. Civically speaking, I don’t see any possibilities in the medium future.”
The greater the certainty...In quantum mechanics the Principle of Uncertainty establishes that there is a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, for example position and momentum, can be known simultaneously. It further establishes that the greater the certainty in determining one property of the particle, the less possible it is to know the other.
In national politics, the principles of uncertainty currently affecting given pairs of projects—both that of the Nicaraguan government and its allies and that of the organized and not yet organized opposition—make it impossible to determine their precise futures. And the greater certainty with which we seek to determine positions, movements and momentum or velocity, the more uncertain we end up. We will only know over time… or possibly sooner.