By Nan McCurdy and Katherine Hoyt
Just in 2023 Nicaragua has made incredible social advances to improve the well-being of the population. We will only cover a few examples here.
Once again, according to the annual World Economic Forum 2023 Gender Gap Index, Nicaragua has ranked in 7th place worldwide in gender equality, and first in all of the Americas. Nicaragua has the strongest parliamentary representation in the world with 51.65% of seats in its National Assembly being held by women. Nicaragua is also number one in women professional & technical workers, women’s educational attainment, women’s literacy, women’s enrollment in third-level education and women in ministerial positions.
Safety is extremely important for citizens and Nicaragua is the country with the second lowest homicide rate in Latin America and the safest in Central America, according to Francisco Diaz Madriz, Director of the National Police. In the framework of the Carlos Fonseca First Virtual Congress on Citizen and Human Security, Diaz Madriz emphasized that the government has prioritized citizen security as one of the fundamental pillars of its management. This approach has led Nicaragua to have the second lowest homicide rate in Latin America, with only 6.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. At the same time, it is the safest nation in Central America according to Homicide Monitor which found Nicaragua with the lowest homicide rate in the region: https://homicide.igarape.org.br/
Safety for women and children in particular is a priority for the government. Vice President Rosario Murillo announced the inauguration of two new Women’s Police Stations: numbers 266 in Dipilto and 267 in the municipality of Morrito in honor of the founder and head of the Sandinista Popular Revolution, Commander Carlos Fonseca Amador.
Government authorities have held meetings with non-governmental organizations, church representatives and individuals to present the booklet from the Ministry of Health entitled “The Right to Choose and the Duty to Respect,” with the objective of promoting love and unity in families. Minister of the Exterior Denis Moncada stated that since 2007 the government has promoted a solid model of dignified diversity equity through actions that contribute to the wellbeing of families. Moncada said, “Today brings us together in this important presentation of the booklet, work done by outstanding colleagues in the government, in a diverse world with the duty to respect the diversity of human beings.” He said that this primer is an instrument of peace to reaffirm that love in families allows them to find the way to understand, respect and accept the diversity of sexual identities. “All of us must not only ourselves respect people with diverse identities, but also foster respect in our communities.” To watch a video taken at one of these gatherings in April, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BJt2jwESCU&ab_channel=vivanicaragua13
The 2024 national budget earmarks billions of dollars for social programs. Approximately 80% percent of the resources of Nicaragua’s 2024 budget will be destined to guarantee public health, education, infrastructure, electric energy subsidies and potable water, said Iván Acosta, Minister of Finance and Public Credit, on October 19. He announced that the total amount of income in the 2024 budget is US$3.85 billion. Acosta said that 26 billion córdobas (US$722.2 million) will be invested in the education sector, and health will have a projected budget of 24 billion córdobas (US$666.7 million). Of the nation’s social spending, 37.5% is directed to education and health. Sixty-one percent of the budget is directed to the fight against poverty, which is equivalent to US$2.27billion.
Nicaragua continues to be the country in the region most praised by international financial institutions for its transparent, effective and rapid project execution. During an interview with EFE news agency on March 6th in Costa Rica, the President of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), Dante Mossi, stated that “Nicaragua is exemplary in the execution of projects financed by international organizations. It … has an extensive project portfolio that authorities execute effectively, with great transparency and agility. From the perspective of the Bank, Nicaragua is a member country in very good financial standing that always requests funds for projects to promote the integral development of the country; from first-world hospitals, support for the agricultural sector, electricity in the most remote areas and high-quality highways, generating real positive changes for the population. CABEI is pleased to support these types of initiatives.”
The government decision to increase subsidizes to cover all of the increases in hydrocarbons since 2022 has had a positive impact on people’s lives and on the economy. This decision prevented an increase in prices of cooking gas, gasoline and diesel, public transportation, electricity, and drinking water for the population. The impact on the electricity rate due to international oil prices has been US$120 million. The Sandinista government has absorbed the increases that in other countries has been passed onto consumers. In Nicaragua’s case subsidies have benefitted more than 1.1 million families. In 2022 the government contributed close to US$90 million in subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels to benefit families and economic sectors. In Managua, 966,000 users benefited from the transportation subsidy as did more than 300,000 users on the Caribbean Coast. Cargo transportation has benefited so that impacts on food prices have been avoided.
National electricity coverage was 99.34% at the end of July, 2023, with 70% generation from renewable sources. Nearly 10,000 electrification projects have been carried out over the last 15 years, benefiting 3,666,959 people through coverage that has expanded from 54% in 2007 to 99.34%.
The digital media outlet “EnergyPortal.eu” published an article on June 29 titled “Solar Energy in Nicaragua: Shining a Light on a Bright Future”, highlighting the Nicaragua’s development and use of solar energy. The article states that approximately 70% of electricity used in the country is from renewable sources, and solar energy has emerged as a key component in the nation’s quest for sustainable development.
On Jan. 19, Erving Barreda, head of the Nicaraguan Company of Aqueducts and Sewerage (ENACAL) reported that 92% of the population now has drinking water service, while in 2006 only 65% of homes had potable water. ENACAL continues the expansion of drinking water and sanitary sewerage and also its sustainability. This year 40 water projects were scheduled to be inaugurated.
The director of the government microloan Zero Usury Program, Leonor Corea, reported that between January and October of this year, US$65.7 million was provided to 136,000 women to install or expand small businesses in the 153 municipalities of the country, promoting female entrepreneurship and revitalization of the national economy. The Zero Usury Program is part of the Creative Economy Model in support of female entrepreneurship.
Another low interest credit program is the Program to Finance Production, Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses (ADELANTE). On Oct. 13, the Ministry of Family Economy published a report on the achievements of ADELANTE. Between January and October, 2023, US$15.2 million was loaned to 7,984 small producers to strengthen the quality and competitiveness of the products and services they offer. The ADELANTE program is also part of the Creative Economy Model.
In housing, Nicaragua stands out as well. From 2007 to date, the Sandinista government has built more than 130,000 homes. This year the plan has been to build more than 7,400 low-cost houses for the most vulnerable population. As of October, 6,050 houses had been completed benefitting 24,000 people.
As part of the National Development and Fight against Poverty Plan, the government has processed and delivered 656,000 property titles [at no cost] to their owners in the last 15 years, 392,000 in urban areas and 263,000 in rural areas. More than three million citizens have benefited from the legalization of their properties. Twenty-five Indigenous and Afro-descendant territories were demarcated, covering 38,426 square kilometers in 315 communities in the two Caribbean Autonomous Regions.
Nicaragua is one of the countries with greatest emphasis on preparation of the population to deal with natural disasters. On Sept. 28, two million people participated in the III National Preparedness Exercise to Protect Life in Multi-Hazard Situations. The population practiced more than 8,400 scenarios, under different hypotheses among them the impact of a hurricane in the Caribbean Coast, an earthquake causing a tsunami in the Pacific and landslides on Ometepe Island. To see photos of this exercise, click here: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/dos-millones-de-personas-se-incorporaron-al-simulacro/
The environment is a priority. More than two million forest and fruit trees were planted between May 10 and July 30 as part of the reforestation campaign called Green, I Want You Geen! carried out by the Forestry Institute. The trees have been planted in reserves, protected areas, parks, schools, and in the plots of the producer families. The campaign has established a total of 3,655 community and municipal nurseries, with a production capacity of 20 million plants. To see photos, go here: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/avanza-con-exito-la-campana-nacional-de-reforestacion/
Through June 30th, of this year, 6,000 participants had enrolled in the 280 arts schools opened in different communities of the country: A total of 3,700 women and 2,300 men have participated. This strengthens citizen creativity and imagination through the artistic manifestations of Nicaragua culture. See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/contabilizan-280-comunidades-con-escuelas-de-artes/
On November 6, 250 buses arrived from the People’s Republic of China. This is the second fleet of Chinese buses making a total of 500 buses. This second fleet of 250 units will be delivered to the different member cooperatives of the Urban Transportation Collective in the capital to modernize the public transportation system. Nicaragua has purchased more than 1,100 buses in the last two years under favorable loan conditions. Modernization of public transportation to create better and low-cost options for the population is becoming a reality.
Nicaragua is one of the countries in the region with the cheapest urban public transportation fares, according to a recent study by “Compare the Market,” carried out in 40 countries around the world. The study points out that the cost of the ticket in Nicaragua is 0.07 cents of a dollar, followed by Guatemala with 0.14 cents of a dollar, El Salvador is 0.30 cents of a dollar and Panama 0.40 cents of a dollar. The Nicaraguan government maintains a subsidy for public transportation that guarantees a low fare.
The Ministry of the Family provided economic production packages to 546 fishermen and women of the municipality of Corn Island, South Caribbean Coast, in order to ensure food for the families during the closed season for lobster fishing. Members of the Navy provided protection and security during the delivery.
The neo-liberal governments from 1990 to 2006 privatized or closed most of the child day care centers created by the Sandinista government during the 1980s. As a result, thousands of families faced the dilemma of finding care for their children. In the last 16 years, Child Development Centers (CDI) have multiplied and from the 32 that barely made it through the fateful 17 years of neo-liberal governments, they have grown to 276, all subsidized by the state with trained personnel, all with specific programs to instill values and knowledge in the children. These centers serve 16,500 children age six and under, who receive comprehensive care, food, weight and height monitoring, early stimulation and more. See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/en-16-anos-el-gobierno-ha-creado-244-cdi-que-atienden-a-16500-ninos/
For more information on recent advances in health see https://afgj.org/nicanotes-spectacular-advances-in-health-in-2023
For more information on recent advances in education and culture see https://afgj.org/nicanotes-profound-advances-in-education-and-culture
For more information on recent advances in infrastructure see https://afgj.org/nicanotes-good-infrastructure-makes-peoples-lives-better
In January of 2024 more information will be available on the specifics of social programs that make the lives of millions of people better.
By Nan McCurdy
FAO to Adopt Resolution Wording against Sanctions from Nicaragua
The Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) approved the adoption of a paragraph presented by the government of Nicaragua on the impacts of coercive economic, financial and trade measures (sanctions) on world food security, in accordance with article 30 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In requesting a vote on the impact of coercive measures and rejecting attempts to manipulate and alter the text presented, FAO representative Monica Robelo referred to the billions of people facing food insecurity as a result of these actions. She said the measures impact the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2, as well as food supply and international trade, shaking pillars of the world food system, which is in an already precarious condition. The paragraph will be in the Final Report of the 174th Session of the FAO Board under the theme “Challenges to global security and contributing factors,” an unprecedented outcome in the history of FAO’s Executive Body, and setting a precedent for future deliberations by recognizing the real impact of unilateral coercive measures. (La Primerisima, 8 December 2030)
Nicaragua Demands Climate Justice at COP 28 Summit
On Dec. 9 the government of Nicaragua denounced the repeated non-compliance by developed capitalist countries which continue to increase pollution and aggravate the climate crisis. During the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 28) being held in Dubai, the Nicaraguan representative Valdrack Jaentschke, Minister Advisor for International Affairs, demanded that the developed nations fulfill their financial commitments including reparations, based on their historical responsibility, so that developing countries can face the socio-economic and environmental impacts of climate change.
The statement noted that Nicaragua has no historical responsibility for causing climate change, stating that the ten countries with the highest emissions in the world emit more than 83%, while Nicaragua emits less than 0.05% of global emissions. However, Nicaragua suffers consequences that reach 8% of its GDP. The statement went on to say that “it is essential that capitalist countries reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2030. According to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, in 2023 there are more than three billion people threatened by climate change in the world, especially in Central America, island states and the African continent.
The Nicaraguan statement also referred to the war in Gaza saying, “We firmly express our support and solidarity with the Palestinian people whose cause is present in the global consciousness. Nicaragua recognizes the historic struggle and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to establish their independent State, according to the lines drawn in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
See the full Nicaragua statement: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/nicaragua-exige-justicia-climatica-en-cumbre-cop-28/ (La Primerisima, 9 December, 2023)
2024 Budget Approved
On Dec. 6, the National Assembly approved the 2024 Annual General Budget. Deputy Wálmaro Gutiérrez, President of the Committee on Economic Affairs, Finance and Budget, stated that “the Assembly approved a US$3.8 billion budget that reflects a 27.1% growth over the previous year thanks to the sustained increase in tax revenue that allows the government to continue guaranteeing funds for public investment and social protection programs necessary for the fight against poverty and the fulfillment of the goals established in the National Human Development Plan.” Sixty-one percent of the 2024 national budget is allocated to social spending, an 8% increase over the 2023 budget. (Nicaragua News, 11 December 2023)
178 Houses of Culture and Creativity Opened
The Institute of Culture, the Rubén Darío National Theater, and municipalities, working together, have opened 178 Houses of Culture and Creativity throughout the country, spaces where courses in dance, drawing, painting, guitar, violin, choir, singing, marimba, modeling, mural painting, wicker and fiber handicrafts, among others, are taught. Recently the municipalities of Waspán and Yalagüina inaugurated Houses of Culture with the participation of local families. See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/han-sido-instaladas-178-casas-de-cultura-y-creatividad/
(La Primerisima, 7 December 2023)
Via Campesina Denounces Sanctions Against Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela
Via Campesina International has proclaimed that it supports Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba, which continue to face criminal sanctions, smear campaigns and attempted “regime change” promoted by the United States and the European Union. All these unilateral actions in violation of the framework of international law “mercilessly affect the most vulnerable populations and undermine our food sovereignty,” the group said in a statement. During its meeting in Bogota, Colombia, from December 1 to 8, 2023, Via Campesina recognized the great advances in Nicaragua’s sustainable development in the last 16 years saying that “The social policies implemented have consolidated full access to basic rights in health, education and food sovereignty, placing this country as one of the best in social investment in Central American. Nicaragua deserves to live and develop in peace after so much suffering from conflict and natural disasters.”
Via Campesina also recognized the unanimous support at the United Nations in November 2023 (187 votes in favor) to lift the blockade against Cuba imposed since 1962. In the statement the organization demanded the implementation of the will of the world to free this nation from the criminal actions of the economic, commercial and financial blockade. “We also demand the exclusion of Cuba from the list created by the United States called Terrorist Sponsor Countries,” the statement said. Likewise, Via Campesina members said they assume as their own the struggle of the Venezuelan people who have faced more than 900 commercial and financial sanctions, seizure of assets and resources abroad, in addition to countless diplomatic and military aggressions in recent years. (La Primerisima, 7 December 2023)
Nicaragua Continues to Be Among the Least Violent Countries in Latin America
Nicaragua is one of the Latin American and Caribbean nations with the lowest homicide rates, according to the Global Study on Homicide of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Twenty-seven percent of the 458,000 homicides registered in 2021 in the world, were committed in Latin America and the Caribbean, which for yet another year continued to be the most violent region on the planet. The report points out that Jamaica was, with 52.13 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, the country with the highest homicide rate, while Brazil, with 47,722 murders (11% of the world total), according to 2020 data, had the highest number in absolute figures. The highest homicide rate in Central America in 2021, that of Honduras, was seven times higher than that of Nicaragua. (Agencia EFE, La Primerisima, 8 December 2023)
Over 400 Inmates Complete Primary Education
More than 400 inmates serving sentences in the different prisons of the country received their diploma on Dec. 8 after concluding their primary education studies.
Rodrigo García, director of the Jorge Navarro Penitentiary Center, said that once they finish their primary education, the students are automatically enrolled in secondary education, as part of the educational continuity. Luz Avilés, director of literacy and primary education for young people and adults, said that this is one of the many programs of the government’s educational model. She said that this year more than 3,000 students are taking classes in all the Penitentiary Systems. In primary education, a total of 424 inmates are graduating in the nine Penitentiary Centers of the country, having access to education as if they were out of prison, making it easier for them to integrate into society with further studies in technical or university programs. Maria Elena Hernandez, thanked God and the government for making possible the opportunity to learn even while deprived of freedom. She wants to continue studying, regardless of her age. See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/reos-concluyen-su-ciclo-de-educacion-primaria/
(La Primerisima, 8 December 2023)