By Nan McCurdy
Today, July 17 is the 40th anniversary of the Day of Happiness when the US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza fled Nicaragua in the early morning hours. The final offensive against Somoza and the feared National Guard was led by the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN), in great measure a bunch of teenagers and young adults with excellent leadership. It lasted about two months – after decades of fighting the forty-five-year dictatorship of a father and two sons.
Somoza spent months bombing Managua and most of the largest cities like Matagalpa, Leon, Estelí and Masaya every single day and in many cases all day long with absolutely no regard for the lives of the people, of the children.
35-year-old Katherine Hoyt lived with her doctor husband Bayardo and their three children in Matagalpa. Click on this link to read Kathy’s gripping memoir of the final offensive in Matagalpa. You will feel like you lived it! Kathy was National Coordinator of the Nicaragua Network (the founding project of the Alliance for Global Justice) from 1991 until her gradual transition from staff to the AFGJ board. She led delegations to Nicaragua, created solidarity campaigns, and wrote Nicanet’s variously named information publications for many years and still edits the NicaNotes blog.
Tens of thousands of people gave their lives to end the dictatorship and begin the Sandinista revolution to carry out the 1969 Sandinista Program for transforming society and ending poverty. During the revolution of the 80’s, despite Reagan’s war (which began almost immediately using former national guardsman) they carried out a famous literacy campaign with high school and college students and others trained to be teachers in every corner of the country to bring 50+% illiteracy down to 12%. They brought vaccination coverage up to nearly 100%, eliminated polio and made healthcare and medicines free for all. They carried out a massive agrarian reform that gave land to more than 100,000 families as well as technical education and very low interest loans to farmers and newly formed cooperatives.
Since returning to the presidency in 2007 the Sandinistas have continued to carry out their program with love and determination and with a growing number of Sandinistas! Increasing equality between men and women is real with Nicaragua in fifth place worldwide in gender equity. The government has built twelve major hospitals and hundreds of health centers and maternal wait homes where women wait to give birth near a health center or hospital. Maternal mortality has been cut in half. Just as in the 1980s, Nicaragua often receives awards for their work in health and education.
The United Nations measured illiteracy now to be 4% which is considered zero. More than 95% of children finish sixth grade – in 2006 less than half did. Now they are working to get to 95% for 9th grade and of course education is free. The government provides more than a million children with uniforms, shoes, backpacks and materials and provides food for a hot meal program throughout the nation for over 1.2 million children. Six percent of the national budget is required for the universities which means that a lot of students from the countryside get their classes, housing and food for free.
Nicaragua is the safest country in the region and according to the United Nations has a much, much lower murder rate than the other countries. And it has the best infrastructure in the region which means roads, highways, bridges, ports, sanitation, electricity, water and more. 96% of the population now have electricity and those who consume a small amount receive a subsidy. The lights never go out any more – for anyone who lived in Nicaragua from 1990 to 2006 will know this is a miracle. 60% of Nicaragua’s energy is from renewable sources. Thousands of people have received homes or help with homes; currently there is a major housing project all over the country named for Bismarck Martinez, the municipal worked kidnapped, tortured and killed by the purported peaceful opposition in 2018 whose body was finally found in May of this year.
The government made recreation a key part of its program in the 80s and it has increased exponentially in the last twelve years. In every neighborhood there is a nice park, usually with a basketball or soccer court and free Wi-Fi! Yes, free Wi-Fi – now that is revolutionary! All over the country there are large regional parks with things like waterslides and baseball and soccer stadiums for kids and adults. In Managua there is a new baseball stadium lauded by Forbes magazine for its fine construction, comparing it to a major US stadium.
And on the shore of what used to be stinky Lake Managua, there is a miles-long boardwalk and pier with many different kinds of parks, attractions and restaurants where tens of thousands of families visit every weekend. All over the country now there are free and very low cost recreational spaces where people can go to enjoy a Saturday or a holiday.
Today the inequality between the rich and poor is less than in the US and going down every year. Nicaragua grows most of its basic food making it food sovereign unlike other countries in the region. And the country is investing in its micro, small and medium producers who kept the country fed even during the attempted coup.
The majority of the Nicaraguan people know that those who hold power in the US don’t want poverty to end in Nicaragua nor for most people to get good free healthcare and education and that this is why they backed the attempted coup. And the people also know they have to keep struggling to maintain and expand the conquests of the revolution that they have achieved. The US knows that to get rid of the revolution at this point would take a lot more than sanctions – it would require an all-out invasion that would become another Vietnam. Help educate your friends – get the US out of Nicaragua!
By Nan McCurdy
Largest Hybrid Solar Plant in Latin America Inaugurated on Corn Island
On July 13, the “Caribbean Pride” solar plant was inaugurated on Corn Island. The new 7,300 solar panel plant is transforming Corn Island into a true “green destination” for tourists on the Nicaragua Caribbean Coast, with the largest hybrid system in Latin America and the Caribbean. The new solar plant will benefit more than 7,000 inhabitants, guaranteeing quality, reliable and lower cost electricity for the first time in the history of the island. In addition to contributing to the social and economic development of the island, CO2 emissions will be reduced by more than 3.3 tons per year. The Executive President of the National Electricity Transmission Company (ENATREL) and Minister of Energy and Mines (MEM), Salvador Mansell explained that with this plant, 60% of the energy consumed in Corn Island will now come from a renewable source. (Nicaragua News, 7/15/19)
Nicaragua’s Commitment to Climate Change Reduction Grows
The Nicaragua Forest Program was selected to be part of the World Bank Carbon Fund portfolio. Nicaragua has committed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million tons during the 2020-2025 period, which involves avoiding deforestation and forest degradation on the Caribbean Coast by at least 50% and the establishment of a Trust Fund of approximately US$55 million in economic incentives for all the Indigenous Territorial Governments (GTI) and private farms. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the international objectives and commitments on Climate Change assumed by the Nicaragua State. (Nicaragua News, 7/15/19)
Electoral Reforms Will Be Negotiated with Political Parties
Francisco Rosales, president of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, and member of the government delegation at the negotiating table, stated on July 12 that Electoral Law reforms will only be negotiated with the political parties, which have representation in the National Assembly. The Electoral Law has constitutional rank, he said, therefore it can only be changed by an act of the National Assembly. He maintained that the opposition Civic Alliance does not represent the people. It represents the Catholic Bishop’s Conference which created it to replace the role of political parties in the National Dialogue. He recalled that in the first Dialogue in May 2018 the Civic Alliance was asked to lift the roadblocks and they answered that they did not have the power, so National Assembly Deputy Edwin Castro asked him, “What are we doing here if you do not represent anyone? Rosales warned that the so-called Civic Alliance wanted the political parties to be excluded from the dialogue. “They cannot go to an election because they are not a party, nor will there be any advance of elections,” he said. (Radiolaprimerisima.com, 7/13/19)
Nicaragua in Seventh Place in Best Roads in all of the Americas
The World Economic Forum (WEF) places Nicaragua in seventh place in quality of roads among the countries of the Americas. The WEF report also states that Nicaragua has a 4.3 score on road quality with 1 being the lowest and 7 the highest. Nicaragua ranks above all other Central American countries except Panama. (Nicaragua News, 7/11/19)
Modern Emergency Room in Manolo Morales Hospital in Managua
With an investment of US$7 million, a modern emergency room was inaugurated July 10 at the Manolo Morales Hospital in Managua. Minister of Health Sonia Castro said, “The emergency room has two modern x-ray machines, CAT scans, an MRI machine and three Doppler ultrasound machines to provide patients with good diagnoses.” (Radiolaprimerisima.com, 7/11/19)
Third Milk Bank Formed in Matagalpa Regional Hospital
The first milk bank was created in the Berta Calderon Women’s Hospital in Managua, the second on the Atlantic Coast in the Mining Triangle and now one was just inaugurated in the Matagalpa regional hospital. Many reconstructed areas of this hospital were just inaugurated including surgery, emergency, pediatrics, labor and delivery and the neonatal unit. (Canal 8, 7/10/19)
Nicaraguan Press Covers Release of Spanish Translation of “Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup?”
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, Radio La Primerisima ran a story about the Spanish language translation of the e-book, Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup?, published by the Alliance for Global Justice as part of a collaboration of journalists, investigators and activists in solidarity with the Sandinista Revolution, many of them resident in Nicaragua. We have advertised the English version in NicaNotes since its April 2019 release and have published portions in serialization. It is being released in a Spanish language edition in celebration of the anniversary. The English version can be downloaded in pdf or e-book version on the AFGJ webpage and the Spanish version, with the title “Nicaragua 2018: levantamiento popular o golpe de estado?” can be downloaded here. (Radio La Primerisima, 7/16/19)
Nicaragua with One of the Best Hotels in the Americas
In an article titled “16 brilliant budget hotels in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean” British newspaper The Telegraph, in its June 26 edition included a hotel in Nicaragua. The hotel included is Isleta El Espino, located on Lake Cocibolca, near the Nicaragua colonial city of Granada and less than an hour drive from “Mombacho” and “Masaya” volcanoes. The hotel on a private island offers incredible views of “Mombacho” volcano and breathtaking sunsets. Sara Gilbert, author of the article points out that the hotel is self-sustaining because it only consumes local products (garden to table), is powered by solar energy and does not use plastic bottles. (Nicaragua News, 7/11/19)
Forbes Highlights Infrastructure Transformation in Nicaragua
Forbes magazine highlighted the construction of the new National Baseball Stadium and the Plaza Centroamérica in Nicaragua as two of the 15 projects that have contributed to infrastructure transformation of the Mesoamerican isthmus. Forbes noted that the sporting complex inaugurated at the end of 2017, covers a 10-hectare site and was built according to Major League Baseball specifications at a cost of US$35 million. The Plaza Centroamérica is an eight-story building with 14,000 square meters of construction, observing the standards of the sustainable building certification system (LEED). (Nicaragua News, 7/11/19)