Fr. Miguel D’Escoto, former foreign minister, former UN General Assembly President, and in general the representative of the courage, honor, humility, and humane face of Revolutionary Nicaragua, died on June 8. Fr. Miguel was well known to the international solidarity movement. His fast against the contra war was mirrored by solidarity fasts throughout the world. Nicaragua’s victory against the United States in its 1986 World Court case was the brainchild of D’Escoto. It remains an unpaid debt and a blot on the reputation of the United States which refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the World Court. Next week I hope to have an extended tribute to Fr. Miguel and to also publish short personal accounts of people’s memories of this amazing man. If you would like to send in a written contribution to next week’s blog, send it to Chuck@AFGJ.org no later than Sunday, June 18. In my message to our board when I learned of his death, I wrote that he was from a time when giants walked the earth. Fr. Miguel D’Escoto was a giant among giants. Miguel D’Escoto, presente, presente, presente!
- The Central Bank announced that the inflation rate through May was 2.91%, representing a reduction of 0.74% compared to the same period in 2016. The report also noted that this year the Nicaraguan economy is projecting 5% growth, with an estimated inflation of 4.5%. (Nicaragua News, June 8)
- Vice President Rosario Murillo, announced that more than 6,000 property titles will be delivered to Nicaragua families this month. She noted that most of the titles will go to female head of households and will help strengthen legal certainty and property rights in the country. (Nicaragua News, June 7)
- Juana Argeñal, minister of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) announced that the government is increasing its annual reforestation goal from the 15,000 hectares it committed to six years ago, to 20,000 hectares a year. Other speakers noted for Environment Day that Nicaragua has gone from 25% to 52% electricity production from renewable resources between 2007 and 2016, is treating sewage that previously went raw into lakes Xolotlan (Managua) and Cocibolca (Nicaragua), and forest fires have been cut by 54%. (El Nuevo Diario, June 6)
- US$1.54 billion of the current budget is allocated to poverty reduction, an increase of nearly $US12 million over last year. The increase is despite falling external loans and aid. This year 76.8% of poverty reduction spending is from tax revenues. International loans and donations have decreased by over 20% as Nicaragua’s ability to fund its own programs has increased. (El Nuevo Diario, June 7)
- In a remarkable example of the strength of Nicaragua’s Tripartite Model of negotiated minimum wage between labor unions, businesses, and the government, a minimum wage agreement was signed on June 8 guaranteeing an 8.25% annual wage increase for Free Trade Zone workers each year from 2018-2022. This is the longest period covered since the Tripartite Model was first implemented in 2009. The agreement will cover 115,000 Free Trade Zone workers, primarily textile and sporting apparel workers. (El Nuevo Diario, June 8)