Nicaragua In 2019 Would Make Anyone Proud

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Above Photo: Riot police block the entrance of Central American University (UCA) during a protest against the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, in Managua, Nicaragua November 19, 2019. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Carlos Fonseca Amador, the founder of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation would have a lot to be proud of in 2019, 43 years after he died in battle with the Somoza National Guard. Nicaragua continues to be a country in solidarity with others as it showed November 6 at the United Nations when it denounced the hardening of the US blockade against Cuba, a blockade which only hurts the people. The three countries that did not vote against the blockade were the US, Israel and Brazil.

Ten members of ALBA-TCP,  the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas – Peoples Trade Agreement met the week of Nov. 14 in Managua and issued a resolution that “Strongly condemns the coup d’état in Bolivia, demands respect for the institutionality of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia and supports the willingness of the Constitutional President Evo Morales to return to the country and convene a national dialogue as a political avenue to restore stability, peace and constitutional order to Bolivia.”

Hundreds of thousands of people marched for peace all over Nicaragua on Nov. 16 specifically repudiating US-supported regime change in Bolivia, asking for peace and the return of the former president, Evo Morales, with the proclamation “Evo, friend, the people are with you.”

Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, the FSLN has been back in the executive for thirteen years and has done much to improve the lives of the impoverished majority beginning with cutting poverty and extreme poverty in half (48.3% to 24.5% and extreme poverty dropped to 6.9%). Eighteen new modern hospitals have been built and others are underway for a total of 33 in the next four years. Ninety-seven percent of Nicaraguan families will have electricity by the end of 2019 and green energy production has gone from 22% to 62% during the Sandinista administration. 

Minister of Finance and Public Credit Iván Acosta presented the 2020 General Budget of which 56.7% will be earmarked for social spending, including 44.7% for health, education and universities.

The representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Ana Solís-Ortega, said on her arrival Oct. 8 that “PAHO has a special commitment to Nicaragua because it has achieved great progress in health indicators like national vaccine coverage, maternal mortality, child nutrition, and others. And Nicaraguan authorities maintain a clear perspective of what aspects need to be improved and the ways in which PAHO can support this work through technical cooperation.”

“Nicaragua has a perfect execution rate of its project portfolio and serves as an example for other Central American countries on how to plan investment projects and implement them efficiently,” declared Dante Mossi, president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) on Oct. 13. Nicaragua and CABEI are carrying out 29 projects including hospitals, roads, electricity, water and sanitation aimed at the development of infrastructure and the fight against poverty.

Two loan agreements for US$600 million were just signed between the Ministry of Finance and the CABEI. The loans are for the Road Maintenance and Expansion Program and the Program for Expansion and Improvement of the Potable Water and Sanitation System benefiting 432,000 inhabitants in the departments of Boaco, Chinandega, Chontales, Estelí, León, Masaya, Matagalpa, Managua and the two Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast.

Nicaragua was congratulated for its important achievements in gender equality and restoration of women’s rights, highlighting the recent publication of the UN Women and Inter-Parliamentary Union Women in Politics map, which highlighted that the Nicaragua Government cabinet is made up of seven men and ten women representing 58.8% of Ministers, making it the third place country in the word with the best gender balance. The recognition took place at the International Seminar on Violence against Women held October 8 to 10 in the Dominican Republic.

Alba Luz Torres, Minister of Labor (MITRAB), participating in the Initiative: “Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labor,” held from October 22 to 25 in Lima, Peru, said, “Nicaragua has been working on the elimination of child labor through public policies and effective social programs for the eradication of poverty and the restoration of the rights of children and adolescents.”

The South Korea Ambassador to Guatemala, Seok-Hwa Hong, at the South Korean-Latin American Cooperation Initiative said on Nov. 5, “Nicaragua is an example in the region of successful execution of productive development projects. In the last twelve years, national agricultural production has increased by 86% and livestock production grew 65%, contributing to the fight against poverty and strengthening food security in the country.” Nicaragua leads Central America in livestock and beef exports. Two weeks prior, the National Assembly passed an Update that establishes the obligation of the government to promote policies that contribute to food security as part of the National Human Development Plan and to the sovereignty of the country. 

The representative in Nicaragua of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Paola Valle, stated that “Nicaragua has a modern legislative system and these new norms will reinforce legal certainty and strengthen institutions in the productive, consumer and commerce systems, as well as the new climate change response system.” She also said the new standards are excellent inputs for the FAO 2020 Report on the legal contribution by Nicaragua to sustainable development goals. 

Nicaragua was recently elected to represent Latin America and the Caribbean on the Executive Committee of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. This election recognizes Nicaragua’s commitment to sustainable management of forest resources. Nicaragua is applying the Emission Reduction Program that seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million tons between 2020 and 2025, reducing deforestation and degradation of the forest on Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast by at least 50%. The World Bank representatives congratulated Nicaragua for designing a program that applied prior, free and informed consultation with the territorial governments of the Caribbean Coast and that meets all international standards for forest protection and emission reduction established in the Framework Convention of the UN on Climate Change (UNFCC).

US$110 million will be invested in the conservation of two of the largest reserves in Mesoamerica, the Bosawás Nature Reserve and the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve over the next few years. The financing comes from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Green Climate Fund and the General Budget of the Republic.

Alfredo Coronel, vice-president of the Free Trade Zones Corporation, announced on Oct. 24 that China plans to invest more than US$200 million in the Nicaragua’s textile industry. The company that will open in Mateare will create more than 3,000 jobs. October 31 the Central American Economic Integration Secretariat (SIECA) reported that Nicaragua is among the top producers and exporters of textiles and garments.

In celebration of World Food Day, the First International School Nutrition Forum was organized to evaluate progress in child nutrition as well as the School Meal Program. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) representative, Alexandre Florencio, said, “Nicaragua is an example because through the School Meal Program it has provided healthy and balanced meals to all schools in the country, beneficial for growth and academic performance of the children.” Antonella D’Aprille, representative of the World Food Program (WFP) stated that the Nicaragua School Meal Program is one of the largest social protection programs in the region, as it guarantees healthy meals to 1.2 million students, many of them in rural areas.”

Leonor Corea, director of the microloan program called “Zero Usury” reported that in the last 12 years Nearly 400,000 women from 140 municipalities have received US$23.9 million to establish and expand small businesses. Corea said, “In 2019, financing has been provided to 15,000 women contributing to revitalization of the national economy.” The “Zero Usury” program is part of the Plan for Strengthening Productive and Organizational Capacities within the framework of the National Model of Creative Economy. A crab processing plant on the Atlantic Coast that already generates 150 jobs announced Nov. 6 it plans to expand in 2020 in Bluefields to provide 200 more jobs. On Nov. 1, a Women’s Solar Oven project in Catarina won first place in the “Urban Innovation category” of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat).

Tourism is recovering after the 2018 failed coup. In London, Anasha Campbell, co-minister of Tourism, said tourism arrival figures were down by 29.7% in 2018. However, forward bookings for October to December 2019 were up by 98% compared with 2018. Before the political crisis that began in April 2018 and the British FCO travel warning, tourism numbers were flourishing, Campbell said. In 2017, Nicaragua experienced its “best year” and its 11th year of growth, with a surge in tourism numbers of 18.8%. On Nov. 5, Nicaragua was honored by “Agent Choice” with the “Environmentally Friendly Destination Award,” organized by the British tourism magazine “Selling Travel Magazine.” The winning destination is selected by travel agencies in the United Kingdom. The Hilton Worldwide hotel chain will be opening a second hotel in Managua under the DoubleTree brand in early November and will be powered by solar energy and have rooms for 400 guests.

Children and adults all over Nicaragua come to the capital to enjoy the Luis Alfonso Velásquez Park built in the 1980s and improved every year since 2007. The Park that covers more than 20 square blocks has an official youth baseball stadium, basketball and volleyball courts, a special course for rollerblading and multiple rides for different ages. It is one of the most visited spaces by families because of the wide variety of attractions for children and parents, who like the security, large trees, cleanliness and tranquility. Recently the largest trampoline in the capital was inaugurated, where children take advantage to perform their best acrobatics. “A trampoline is great fun for our children because they jump until they can’t. We are happy because our children have a great place to play,” said Tatiana Castillo. Antonio Berríos and his wife and grandchildren arrive early; walking in this space is an adventure they often do. They love the artificial lake and boats inaugurated in 2018.