In Search of Peace, An American Doctor in Sandinista Nicaragua

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The economy has expanded briskly by Latin American standards : After declining by just 1. Moreover, growth has favored the poorest. Some 63 percent of rural households still live in poverty as defined by the World Bank. The IMF estimates that recent growth attributable to institutional reform as opposed to increases in capital and labor is among the lowest in Latin America.

Bio of Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez

The threat of losing its financial assistance from Venezuela has plainly increased U. The United States, which has effective veto power over aid from international aid agencies including the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, has allowed Nicaragua to receive multilateral support, conditional on ongoing payments for U.

But the Ortega government has recently gotten behind on these obligations, and would be even more hard-pressed to stay current without subsidies from Venezuela. Viewed in its best light, Orteganomics falls into a class of mixed economic models that explicitly targets income redistribution even as it embraces free markets. Similar approaches have made real headway in Brazil and Chile. But Nicaragua is far poorer than either. A big question, then, is whether the Sandinistas are sufficiently flexible to embark on the serious reforms in regulation and governance needed to increase the rate of growth and to keep foreign capital — public and private — flowing.

One reason for optimism is that Ortega has a long record of changing his stripes to maintain his grip on power, tacking sharply to the right after the election in and embracing both free trade and market-driven wage policies when it became clear that the alternative was economic stagnation. Stay tuned.

NICARAGUA SAYS CONTRAS KILLED AMERICAN CIVILIAN

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But his political risks are high. View Comments. More from Foreign Policy. Trending 1. Why Young Koreans Love to Splurge. On September 27, Mr. Maradiaga made a passionate plea for the international community to stay engaged with his country at an International Peace Institute event on human rights; this interview, which has been edited for clarity and length, was conducted shortly afterward.

About six months ago, in April, there was an eruption of protests in Nicaragua. What was Nicaragua like leading up to that? Central America is a highly volatile part of the world. Of the top ten most dangerous cities in the world—according to Interpol, based on the number of homicides per one hundred thousand people—three of those cities are in Central America.


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But Managua is not one of them. Ortega was able to persuade the international community that, precisely because organized crime and homicides in Nicaragua were at its lowest level, then the country was fine. But in fact, what we were experiencing was an authoritarian regime that was able to control crime, while, at the same time, demolish democratic institutions, to not allow a free press.

Over 90 percent of media was and still is controlled by the Ortega family— not even by the government, but by the family.

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So, prior to the protest on April 18, the country lived a complicated situation in the sense that there are—there were—citizens of two classes; if you were not a member of the ruling party, you were a second-class citizen. If you were a member of the ruling party, you would have access to jobs, scholarships, etc.

And a lot of people, particularly those of a very low income, accepted those rules of the game—they joined the party. On April 18 the students from public universities, which historically had been incredibly favorable of the Ortega regime, got fed up with that system. But something happened the next day, on April 19 th , something that was unexpected, even by those of us who for over a decade had been documenting political abuses, sexual abuses at the prisons of Nicaragua.

We had been documenting over 70 political assassinations in a ten-year period, for example, and extrajudicial killings, things of that sort. Even for us, we never expected that the response of the Sandinista police, together with paramilitary groups, was going to reach this level.


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At some point, one peaceful protester was being killed every five hours. Within the first thirty days, over seventy people had been killed. And today, depending on which of the accounts you want to take, the Inter American Human Rights Commission estimates close to people have been killed. Our independent estimates bring it closer to Five years ago, the office of the United Nations Development Programme was kicked out of the country.

In , many international missions were asked to leave. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, which was a US initiative to support local communities, was also suspended in Nicaragua after electoral fraud. Nicaragua is, geographically and geopolitically speaking, a small country. So of course, being in the international news is not good news for Ortega.

But as soon as the regime looked at the first report by these two missions, they were immediately expelled. So right now, we are completely isolated from the international community; there is no dialogue, and every single day, dozens of protestors are put in prison. A footnote on that is the fact that Ortega wants to present the crisis in Nicaragua as a protest that is designed from abroad against the Sandinista revolution. The Nicaraguan legal system allows for early elections; it only requires an approval from Congress.

We have used that method in the past—in , the elections in Nicaragua were used as a method of peaceful resolution.

La Insurreccion Leon Nicaragua 1979

We have done it in the past, and it worked very well.

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