NicaNotes: News Briefs

School meals are served to 1.2 million school children throughout Nicaragua every school day. Supplies for those meals are being distributed now. Many schools have vegetable gardens to provide the children with vegetables. Photo: La Primerisima

Food for School Meals Distributed; Housing Advances; Roads Repaired
On Dec. 29, during her daily talk, Vice President Rosario Murillo reported that the “first distribution of food for the School Meal Program will begin on January 5” in advance of the start of the new school year on January 29th. Meals are served to 1.2 million children in Nicaragua’s schools each day. Murillo also spoke about housing, saying that houses were handed over to their new owners in El Ayote, Teustepe, El Castillo, Desembocadura, Chichigalpa, Santo Tomás, San Lorenzo, Mateare, Masaya, Villa Sandino, Río Blanco, El Coral, El Cuá, La Paz-Carazo and San Lucas. Streets in Diriamba, Buenos Aires, Villa El Carmen, El Ayote, Mulukukú, Jinotega, Niquinohomo, León, La Cruz de Río Grande, Rivas have been repaired as have roads in Diriomo, San Diego, Telpaneca, San Dionisio, Tola, Siuna, Nandasmo, Altagracia, El Tuma La Dalia, Matagalpa and Nueva Guinea. The Vice President also said that 650 property titles were delivered to families from Managua, Boaco, Juigalpa, Santo Tomás, Tola, El Rosario, Santa Teresa, Dolores, León, Santa Lucía, Boaco, Masaya, Nindirí, Granada, Diriomo, Siuna, Muelle de los Bueyes and Nueva Guinea. “In the coming weeks we will also be inaugurating a music study center that will bear the name of Alfredo Barrera, a great Nicaraguan musician, creator, performer and vocalist, there in his homeland in Masaya,” Murillo said. She added that in the community of the La Marañosa, in the river sector of Wiwilí-Jinotega, a new electric power system was inaugurated and in the Arlen Siu neighborhood of Managua, the system of street lights was finished for the enjoyment and protection of 8,000 residents. (La Primerisima, 29 December 2023)

The free amusement park known as Parque de la Alegría opened in December just in time for the holidays and has been visited by thousands of children and their parents. Photo: La Primerisima

Thousands of People Visit Parque de la Alegría
The new Parque de la Alegría [Happiness Park – a smaller version of something like Six Flags, but completely free] located on the shores of Lake Xolotlan in Managua and which opened in December, has been visited by national and foreign tourists who are looking for healthy and safe fun for their children. See photos: (La Primerisima, 29 December 2023)

New 8% Wage Increase for Free Trade Zone Workers
As of January 1, 2024, an 8% salary increase for 132,000 workers in the country’s free trade zones will go into effect. Pedro Ortega, a leader of the Sandinista Worker’s Central (CST) which brings together a number of union federations, explained that the salary that the workers of the sector will receive will be 8,746.46 Cordobas per month; however, with incentives and bonuses, the average pay will be around 10,700 Córdobas (US$290). Ortega said that this adjustment will apply to the textile sector, but also to workers who earn based on production (piece rate). He pointed out that call center workers will also receive benefits from the tripartite agreements. [Salaries are much higher in the call centers, beginning at about US$500 a month.] (Radio La Primerisima, 1 January 2024)

Vaccination Campaign Against Human Papilloma Virus is a Success
Health authorities reported that, as of January 1st, 249,981 doses of the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) have been administered to girls 10 to 14 years old, reaching 96.1% of the goal. According to the report, the government, working with the Community Network, families and health workers, has made significant progress with the National HPV Vaccination Campaign. (La Primerisima, 2 January 2024)

Trade Agreement with China Starts on January 1, 2024
The trade agreement between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the government of the Republic of Nicaragua entered into force on January 1, 2024. The agreement was signed on August 31, 2023. According to the agreement, the two parties will work toward a mutual opening in the trade of goods, services and access to investment markets.

In terms of trade in goods, the two parties will eventually implement zero tariffs on 95% of the products traded of which 60% will have zero tariffs immediately. In terms of trade in services, the agreement promotes economic and technical cooperation in the fields of agriculture, textiles, logistics, tourism and small and medium-sized enterprises. Analysts say it is a milestone in the development of bilateral economic and trade relations between China and Nicaragua, increasing bilateral trade and investment cooperation, and benefiting the people and businesses of the two countries, a mutually beneficial treaty. In terms of tariff concessions for trade in goods, China’s zero-tariff provisions will fully cover Nicaragua’s main export products, such as beef, shrimp, coffee and cocoa.

In addition, China has granted Nicaragua a tariff-rate quota of 50,000 tons of sugar each year, with an in-quota tariff rate of 15%. Nicaragua will also apply zero tariffs on China’s main exports and tariffs will be reduced and gradually eliminated when most products, such as Chinese-made automobiles, including new electric vehicles, motorcycles, batteries, photovoltaic modules, apparel and textiles enter the Nicaraguan market. The FTA also includes chapters on cooperation and small and medium-sized enterprises, encouraging the two sides to carry out economic and technological cooperation in the fields of agriculture, textiles, logistics, and tourism and helping the two countries and their enterprises to make better use of the treaty’s preferential policies to achieve complementary advantages and inclusive and balanced development. All texts and annexes of the agreement have been published through the China Free Trade Zone Services Network (link:, and enterprises and individuals can inquire about tariff preferences, operations of origin and other rules through the China Free Trade Zone Services Network. (La Primerisima, 29 December 2023)

New Ministry of the Interior Law Strengthens Constitutional Order
On December 28 the National Assembly approved a law that establishes the functions and structures of the Ministry of the Interior in order to continue guaranteeing the constitutional and institutional order of the country established by the Revolution. The new law defines the objectives, functions and organic structure of the Ministry of the Interior and states that its mission is to implement and execute necessary measures to guarantee the security of the citizens, the State and internal order within the national territory.

Among the functions assigned to the Ministry of the Interior is the prevention, neutralization and termination of any activity aimed at destroying or undermining the constitutional order, as well as ensuring the protection of the life and physical integrity of Nicaraguans. The new law also establishes that the Superior Directorate of the Ministry includes the Minister, Vice Minister, and the Director of the National Police. It also states that the Ministry may organize delegations in the departments [provinces] around the country whose function will be to coordinate the actions of the Ministry in the departments. Migration services, fire departments, and the office that deals with non-profit organizations is also under this ministry. [The first MINT was created in 1979 with Tomas Borge, one of the four founders of the FSLN, as its head. When Violeta Barrios de Chamorro won the 1990 elections, her administration did away with the Ministry of Interior, changing many of its functions and personnel, and changing the name to the Ministry of Government.] (Nicaragua Sandino, 28 December 2023)

Doctor: Bishop Álvarez in Excellent Health
The government issued a press release on Jan. 2 reporting that prisoner Rolando Álvarez Lagos, former bishop of Matagalpa, was examined by internist Dr. Yesser Ríos, who certified that “Rolando Álvarez’s vital signs and state of health are fine.” The press release about the medical examination of Bishop Álvarez says:

“Today, January 2, 2024, Rolando Álvarez Lagos underwent a medical examination by Dr. Yesser Rizo (internist), in the presence of the general commissioners of the National Police, Zhukov Serrano and Luis Barrantes. The examination began at 3:25 pm and concluded at 3:40 pm. Vital signs: Blood pressure: 120/60; Heart rate: 84; Oxygen saturation: 99%. During the medical exam, Rolando Álvarez Lagos said that he felt well and that he continues to exercise. The doctor reported that Rolando Álvarez’s vital signs and state of health are fine.”

[Bishop Alvarez was tried and sentenced in February 2023 for money laundering, conspiracy and treason for undermining national integrity, and propagation of false news through information and communication technologies to the detriment of the State and Nicaraguan society. Radio stations and TV channels in Matagalpa run by Álvarez since 2016 received US funding that was channeled for undermining the government. Despite government warnings that these activities were in violation of the law as well as their status as religious media, Alvarez never closed the channels down or ceased his destabilizing efforts. Eventually, seven radio stations and two TV channels were closed for legal violations in 2022 by Telcor, the entity that regulates communications. Alvarez, along with two other bishops helped direct and encourage the 2018 US-backed coup attempt. On January 2, 2024, the US called for his release with the false accusation that he is being tortured.] See Photos:  (La Primerisima, 2 January, 2024)