NicaNotes: Thirteen Years of Sandinista Government

By Gaby Ulloa Z.

Translated by Nan McCurdy

[Editor’s Note: The Sandinista Revolution was a revolution of young people. The guerilla fighters in the countryside were called “los muchachos” because they were so young, which is why even today Nicaragua’s voting age is 15. The universities were hotbeds of revolution in the Managua as well. The Triumph of the Revolution was more than 40 years ago and those muchachos and muchachas now have children and grandchildren of their own. The narrative around the failed coup of 2018 was that it was a student-led uprising in an effort to capture some of that revolutionary mythos. It is true that in the early stages, private university students who had received training from the US National Endowment for Democracy and funding from USAID were at the center of the turmoil, but they were quickly replaced by leaders of the political opposition. The majority of Nicaraguan youth are true children of the revolution. We are happy to give Gaby Ulloa a platform in English to tell her story.]

Gaby Ulloa:

Of my almost 24 years, 13 have been with the Sandinista government.

Before these 13 years, I only remember the famous blackouts of 12 hours or more; the insecurity that characterized the country; that my parents had to pay for a pizza in a restaurant so that my brother and I would have a space to play with friends because parks were only a dream.

I remember giving a school desk to one of my cousins because in the neighborhood school the children sat on the floor. Or the absurd number of children at traffic lights asking for a peso; the ruined streets and roads because there was no maintenance or construction. I remember a story of my grandmother and an uncle who were travelling to Siuna and had to get off the bus because it got stuck on the terrible road. [Now Nicaragua has the best roads in the region.]

I’ll never forget how a friend’s father got me out of the school where I was studying because outside the government was repressing a university protest for 6%, a meaningful struggle of the students at that time trying to secure government support for higher education. [Today public university education is free.]

I also remember as if it were yesterday, November 5, 2006, when my family and I were glued to the television waiting for the election results.

And after the nightmare we had lived with the neoliberal governments, we came back into power; Daniel was elected President! We went out in the streets to celebrate with the red and black flag that has never been missing from my home. We walked through the streets of Managua living the emotion and joy that this awaited news had generated, encountering people from all the neighborhoods and communities. The only thing I don’t remember is the time we returned home, surely it was almost 12 midnight.

Now we are the president’s people! What we the Sandinistas have achieved in these 13 years with President Daniel’s leadership has not been easy at all; the work is hard and 24/7.

But it is rewarding when we see that our children have their school lunch on the table.

When we young people have the opportunity to study for free a technical career or a career at the universities.

When we women have obtained important positions in the public sector and have had our rights recognized, the most basic and elementary ones that we didn’t have before.

When, after a flood or earthquake, the young people of the Sandinista Youth leave their homes and families to go and care for the affected families giving them food packages, mattresses, personal hygiene kits, gas tank cookers and so on.

When the most remote community in this country has electricity service.

When the Pacific Coast is linked to the Caribbean through roads for the first time ever.

When international cooperation invests in Nicaragua and lauds the government for its management.

When we implement the “Love for the Little Ones” program.

When we see families enjoying recreational spaces everywhere in the country.

When we see the construction of new hospitals, health centers and maternity homes.

When we see that a family has been able to fulfill its dream of having its own decent home.

When numerous previously ineligible elderly now receive a pension.

And I could go on to mention many more achievements.

But it is necessary, people say. Yes, of course it is, and we are aware of it. But that’s why we don’t rest, so that our country can continue on the path of prosperity.

Congratulations compañeros for these 13 years of Sandinista government!

 

Long live Daniel!

Long live the Sandinista Youth!

Let’s go for more victories!

 

BRIEFS

By Nan McCurdy

Nicaragua’s Economy to Grow in 2020
Central Bank President Ovidio Reyes said that this year the economy could begin to recover after the effects of the failed coup d’état of 2018. Reyes indicated that in 2020 economic growth will likely be 0.5%, which would mean the beginning of the recovery of formal employment. “It is an important step in terms of the employment that will stop being lost because the economy will be on the rise,” said Reyes. He added that 2019 closed with good export figures, the financial system has begun to resume the dynamics of credit and the agricultural sector presents positive rates. (Radiolaprimerisima, 1/23/20)

Exports Increased 13.6% in 2019
Minister of Development, Industry and Commerce Orlando Solórzano has confirmed that Nicaragua’s 2019 exports increased 13.6% in value over the previous year. He said that “in 2017 exports were US$4.925 billion, in 2018, US$5.013, and in 2019, US$5.6 billion, a 13.6% growth.  Solórzano specified that Nicaragua is better off than several countries on the continent. “In other words, we have grown in exports; the system is working.” The MIFIC head said that this year they have proposed to facilitate and increase exports with quality standards and to strengthen all the free trade agreements that Nicaragua has with other nations to reinforce regional integration. (Informe Pastran, 1/24/20)

New FTZ Companies to Create 10,000 Jobs
The board of directors of the National Commission of Free Trade Zones has approved seven new companies that will be under the free trade zone regime.  Blue Apparel, S.A. will manufacture clothing in Managua; El Fumador, S.A., will process tobacco leaves in Esteli; Cacao Oro de Nicaragua Industrial S.A. will process cocoa in Rosita, North Caribbean Autonomous Region (RACN); Nicaragua Cocoa Beans, S.A. will process cocoa in Siuna, also RACN; Source Nicaragua & Cia. Ltda. and Villager de Nicaragua, S.A, will work in the Pre-Industry of Tobacco in Esteli. (Informe Pastran, 1/24/20)

Over One Million School Packets for Students
The Ministry of Education (MINED) announced the distribution of school packets to more than a million students prior to the inauguration of the 2020 school cycle in February. Students in preschool, primary, rural secondary schools and special education programs will receive school supplies thanks to the Sandinista government. The school packages contain backpacks, notebooks, pens and other school supplies, depending on the level of the student. In addition, each child is given a glass, plate and spoon for their school meal. (Radiolaprimerisima, 1/27/20)

Nicaragua a Leader in Regional Security
Nicaragua was congratulated for its continued leadership in regional security and the effectiveness of its Fire Wall Strategy against drug trafficking implemented by the government at the meeting of Directors of Military Intelligence of the Armed Forces of Central America, Dominican Republic, Mexico and the United States in Managua. It was also noted that Nicaragua is free of organized crime and the maritime drug trafficking route that operates in Latin America and the Caribbean. The purpose of the meeting is to analyze security risk factors in the region and develop new security guidelines to protect countries against threats like terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime. (Nicaragua News, 1/23/20)

World Bank Awards Ministry of Health
As part of the award granted by the World Bank in recognition of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) Family and Community Health Model, MINSA received seven vaccine refrigerators that will be used to conserve vaccines and expand healthcare coverage. MINSA Director of Epidemiology Ligia Aragón said, “This is a recognition of the effort by the Government to restore the right to free and quality healthcare for all Nicaraguans.” (Nicaragua News, 1/27/20)

2020 to See Record Improvements in Managua
Managua Mayor Reyna Rueda announced on Jan. 27 that the city will invest more than US$2 billion this year in road works, water and sanitation, infrastructure and urbanization, in addition to clearing land for the expansion of the John Paul II Road. The mayor of the capital said that this will be a record investment and improvements will reach 700 neighborhoods. “We are going to have 601 newly fixed streets,” she said, adding that the city will build six vehicular bridges.  Rueda also announced the reconstruction of 13 Child Development Centers and improvements and maintenance for nine Managua markets, the construction of 2,000 homes in the Bismarck Martinez housing project, the expansion of the capital’s existing landfill, and the construction of a new municipal cemetery in the Laureles Sur neighborhood in Managua’s sixth district. (Informe Pastran, 1/27/20)

US$20 Million for Small Businesses and Cooperatives
The Ministry of Family Economy (MEFCCA) announced that the Government is allocating US$20 million dollars to support 846,350 small businesses and cooperatives with technical assistance and development of business plans. The investment is part of the Creative Economy Program that MEFCCA is implementing throughout the country. (Nicaragua News, 1/23/20)

Education System Recognized in UK
Minister of Education Miriam Ráudez and the Nicaraguan Embassy in the United Kingdom are participating in the most important annual meeting on education in the world, the World Education Forum, in its seventh edition in London, under the theme “One Generation: What is needed to transform Education?” It brings together education ministers and 1,263 representatives from more than 95 countries, representing two-thirds of the world’s population, from governments, the public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations, to discuss and enrich education policies, achievements, challenges and opportunities for the future of education. Nicaragua was recognized for its significant progress made in the last 13 years by the Sandinista government, through educational policies focused on ensuring access and universal coverage of free, quality education, focused on social justice, as a restitution of a human right, and as a fundamental factor in the eradication of poverty and inequality. (El19Digital, 1/24/20)

Nicaragua: Largest Dairy Exporter in Central America
The Central America Economic Integration Secretariat (SIECA) reported that Nicaragua continues to be the largest exporter of dairy products in Central America. In 2019, the country exported US$180 million in dairy products, representing 5% growth over the previous year. Development, Industry and Commerce (MIFIC) Minister Orlando Solórzano said, “In 2020 we will take advantage of the opportunity to export cheese duty-free to 27 countries in Europe, which will be a great boost to the national economy.” (Nicaragua News, 1/22/20)

Coffee Production up 6%
Edwardo Centeno, minister of Agriculture, said coffee production grew by 6% in the period 2019-2020. “Since the beginning of the harvest in October 2019 until January 15, 2020, 1.5 million hundred weights of green coffee have been harvested and processed, 6% higher than the amount in the previous cycle period,” said Centeno. He celebrated this 6% growth in coffee production and considered it as very good news for the small and medium coffee growers of the country that are complying with the national plan of production, consumption, and trade. As of December 2019, coffee exports were valued at US$460.2 million. (Informe Pastran, 1/28/20)

Rosita Hospital Remodeled
The Ministry of Health (MINSA) and the Embassy of Taiwan inaugurated the remodeled Carlos Centeno Primary Hospital in Rosita, Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region, benefiting 33,000 inhabitants. The US$988,490 investment is part of the “Maintenance and Repair of Hospitals” Cooperation Agreement signed between MINSA and Taiwan. (Nicaragua News, 1/22/20)

US$3 Million for Waspam Water and Sanitation
The Nicaragua Water and Sewage Company (ENACAL) began work on the potable water and sanitation system in Waspam, Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region, which will benefit 4,987 inhabitants. The US$2.9 million project is being financed by Nicaragua. (Nicaragua News, 1/23/20)

Nicaragua and Finland Strengthen Ties in Agroforestry
The Finnish Development Financing Fund (FINNFUND) announced Tuesday that US$10 million will be invested in the Production of Fine Cocoa and Certified Teak. FINNFUND Investment Manager, Ilkka Norjamäki explained, “The project seeks to promote growth in the agroforestry sector and strengthen business ties between the two countries”. The project will be developed on the Nicaragua Caribbean Coast and aims to contribute to sustainable growth in the production of fine cocoa and teak. (Nicaragua News, 1/22/20)