By Nan McCurdy
In less than three months Nicaragua has been recognized at least ten times by the IMF, the World Bank, the International Development Bank, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Central American System for Economic Integration (SIECA) for its responsibility, transparency, excellent project execution, investments in health and good management of Covid-19, excellent services to the population as well as investment in service infrastructure and amazing growth in exports. Not one of these ten good deeds by Nicaragua has been reported in the US press. They are too busy reprinting numerous lies of the US-directed and funded opposition media to focus on what these international and regional banks and organizations report taking place in Nicaragua.
Transparency, gender equity and public satisfaction with health care
On August 14 the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) presented a report titled “Public Administration Panorama: Latin America and the Caribbean 2020” which found that Nicaragua is the country with the highest level of gender parity in ministerial positions (55.6%). It also reports that Nicaragua ranks third regionally with respect to public satisfaction with healthcare services and is among the top ten in satisfaction with education.
In late July the World Bank found Nicaragua with good transparency in public debt. The Bank developed a heat map showing public debt data dissemination practices in countries receiving assistance from the International Development Association (IDA) of the Bank. “We analyzed hundreds of public websites of national authorities to assess country performance along with key indicators such as accessibility, coverage, frequency of debt statistics and the availability of a debt strategy and an annual debt plan,” the World Bank reports on its website. Nicaragua is one of the countries that has full data accessibility on the website of the competent authorities. Information on loans contracted with the World Bank and the execution of financial resources is complete on the government websites, the World Bank points out. [Meanwhile, the Nica Act, passed by the US Congress in December of 2018, mandates that the US director at the Bank oppose all loans to Nicaragua from the World Bank agencies, the IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank.]
The first week of August the Central American Bank for Economic Integration praised Nicaragua’s excellent execution of resources. “The progress made in road improvement projects in Nicaragua demonstrates the strengthening of regional integration, which drives the CABEI,” the agency said on its website. They said an example is the VI Road Improvement Project for paving 73.16 kilometers, which allows integration of productive regions to the departments of León, Estelí and Nueva Segovia. Another project reflecting good execution is the paving of 30 km from El Regadío to San Juan de Limay, Estelí.
High investment in health, good management of Covid-19 and social programs
The Inter-American Development Bank ranked Nicaragua second in Central America and fourth in all of Latin America in health investment. The IDB report “Latin America Post Covid-19,” details that Nicaragua invests 5.2% of its GDP in health, while Costa Rica spends 5.6%. The report details that Nicaragua has the second lowest public debt in Latin American.
An recent analysis by the International Monetary Fund on Nicaragua’s fight against COVID-19 highlights that confirmed cases have been treated in accordance with international protocols and that the government has implemented measures, including the declaration of a national alert, the implementation of epidemiological surveillance protocols at the national level and sanitary control measures at land, air and sea entry points in accordance with international protocols. “The Ministry of Health monitors and provides weekly reports on the status of outbreaks. Health personnel have received training on prevention, detection, containment and treatment of COVID-19 and have exchanged experiences on these issues with international experts,” the multilateral agency’s analysis states. The IMF continues, “The government continues to prioritize programs to strengthen the social safety net including the provision of food packages among vulnerable families. Sixty thousand food packages were distributed in April.”
Excellent public services and infrastructure investment with lowest fiscal deficit
Nicaragua ranks third in all of Latin American in drinking water quality, energy and transportation according to an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report from late August. The report entitled From Structures to Services, says that since the beginning of the Sandinista government to date, investment in roads, electrification and drinking water has been huge, mainly by the public sector. In Central America only Belize and Panama make more investments in infrastructure, while Argentina and Haiti occupy the last positions in these areas. The evaluation of infrastructure development and services in Latin America highlights that between 2008 and 2018, Nicaragua went from 15th to 9th place out of 19 countries. In terms of infrastructure and service quality, Nicaragua registered a percentage change of +43%, the third best change after Ecuador and Bolivia and the best in Central America. Nicaragua is also one of the countries with the highest percentage of population with electricity (98%). The IDB also found it is one of the best in potable water supply and in transportation. Nicaragua is one of the countries that invests the most in productive social infrastructure, ranking second to Bolivia during the government of Evo Morales and Ecuador under Rafael Correa. Nicaragua is in the fifth place in best roads in Latin America and first in Central America. The IDB report shows that Costa Rica and El Salvador have the most primary roads in poor condition.
On July 24 the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report on Projection of “Fiscal Deficit Levels in the Central American Region at the End of 2020.” Nicaragua will be the country with the lowest fiscal deficit in Central America in 2020 according to the report, with a projected deficit of 0.8% of the Gross Domestic Product, followed by the other countries with much higher deficits: Guatemala (5.8%), Panama (6.2%), Honduras (6.4%), Costa Rica (8.3 %) and El Salvador (11.9%).
Greatest Growth in Exports in 2020
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) released a report on August 6 entitled “The effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19 pandemic on international trade and logistics.” The report stated that Nicaragua’s exports grew by 14.1% – much higher than any other country in the region. This confirms the decision made by the government of President Daniel Ortega not to paralyze the country during the pandemic. Other nations that did are now paying high social and economic costs.
The Central America Economic Integration Secretariat (SIECA) reported that during May 2020, Nicaragua exports grew by 22.2% compared to the same period in 2019, registering the highest growth rate in the region. Reports from the Nicaragua Export Processing Center (CETREX) add that between January and June 2020, Nicaragua diversified markets and increased exports to its traditional markets, generating US$1.58 billion in sales.
These international and regional institutions report facts showing Nicaragua is meeting the needs of its people in a responsible way without increasing its deficit. But if you only read the US press, you would never know.
By Nan McCurdy
BID Says Nicaragua Has Third Best Basic Services in Latin America
An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report says Nicaragua ranks third in Latin America in highest quality of drinking water, energy and transportation. The report entitled From Structures to Services, says that since the beginning of the Sandinista government to date, investment in roads, energy and drinking water has been huge, mainly by the public sector. In Central America only Nicaragua, Belize and Panama make more investments in infrastructure, while Argentina and Haiti occupy the last positions in these areas. The IDB report shows that Costa Rica and El Salvador have the most primary roads in poor condition. Informe Pastran 24 August 2020
CABEI Announces US$50 Million for Micro, Small and Medium Businesses
The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and The Nicaraguan Counsel of Small and Medium Enterprise (CONIMIPYME) announced a fund of US$50 million is available for micro, small and medium enterprises to be provided through various financial institutions. This fund is for those businesses affected by the COVID-pandemic. CONIMIPYME said that these funds are available and are being channeled through private commercial banks such as Banco Produzcamos. The businesses will be allowed to restructure debt with private banks. The financing is aimed at the small tourism sector, production within the agro-food chain, the commercial sector in trade, services, construction, creative industry, renewable energy, and others. The average loan for micro businesses will be US$10,000; small businesses up to US$200,000; and medium-sized enterprises will have access up to US$5 million. Informe Pastran, 24 August 2020
Poll Shows Nicaraguans Want to Make Decisions without Foreign Intervention
A majority of Nicaraguans consulted by the company M&R Consultores reject foreign aggressions against Nicaragua, defend its sovereignty and self-determination. These are highlights of its most recent survey conducted with 1,600 samples nationwide in July. 76.4% reject United States actions against Nicaragua; 80.9% reject US pressure on international financial institutions to stop loans to Nicaragua; 82.3% are in favor of Nicaragua maintaining commercial and diplomatic relations with Russia and 82% agree with maintaining relations with Venezuela. Seventy-seven percent disapprove of Nicaraguans who request sanctions and aggression against their own country by the United States. 88.7% believe that Nicaragua should exercise its sovereign right to maintain relations with any country, independent of pressures or interests from other countries. 85.4% state that sanctions harm all Nicaraguans and 78.1% maintain that sanctions are an interventionist manifestation of the United States in internal affairs. Seventy-one percent think that the conflict lived since 2018 “has been an attempt supported from abroad to destabilize the country;” against 29.8% who believe that foreign intervention is to help democracy. Seventy-seven percent believe that problems should be resolved by Nicaraguans; 23% say foreign intervention is OK. Seventy-four percent say that US sanctions harm democracy; 26% support them. Informe Pastran, 25 August 2020
Health Plan Launched on a Massive Scale
On August 24 a massive plan for attention nationwide was announced by the Health Ministry. “My hospital for my community,” will bring specialized services to the population. Patients with diabetes or gastroenterology diseases or problems of the heart, lungs, neuromuscular system, ears, throat, bones or skin will receive attention twice weekly. The Ministry announcement adds that “healthy-heart fairs will be organized for clinical assessments, electrocardiograms,” among others. There will be “care-days for patients with diabetes, glucose measurement, eye examinations, foot care and advice for healthy eating. Other twice a week events are:
► Gastroenterology sessions with abdominal ultrasound and endoscopy to detect and treat bleeding from the digestive tract, gallbladder problems, and cancer biopsies.
► Workshops on lung diseases, with assessment of asthmatic patients, chronic obstructive problems, breathing tests and advice on lung therapies.
► Fairs for people with neuromuscular conditions with physiotherapy, natural medicine and complementary therapies for relaxation and pain management.
► Ear and Throat Health Fairs, with throat screening and ear exams.
► Day of Care for our Bones from children to adults including orthopedic care; consultations for orthopedic defects and specialized evaluations.
► Fairs for healthy skin, with dermatological examinations, cauterization of skin lesions, removal of moles, birthmarks, benign nodules.
There will be surgical days weekly for knee and hip replacement, urology, laparoscopy, maxillofacial issues, gynecology and otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat).
In every neighborhood there will also be specialized consultation services at least once a week in:
- General surgery, to identify and schedule surgical consultations immediately.
- Internal medicine, identifying chronic health problems
- Pediatrics, providing specialized care for children
- Gynecology, performing colposcopies, cryotherapy, identifying gynecological surgical problems and others
- Obstetrics, with comprehensive care for pregnant women.
The plan has been launched to commemorate Independence Days, which are celebrated on the 14th of September, for the Battle of San Jacinto in 1856, and on the 15th, for the Independence of Central America from the Spanish Empire. Radio La Primerisima, 24 August 2020
Mega Water Project in Bilwi
Nicaragua’s water company ENACAL began operation of the new drinking water project in Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas, in the North Caribbean on August 20. Water was installed in the homes of 16,000 families and six indigenous communities, providing service 24 hours a day. Thirty million dollars was invested from funds managed by the Inter-American Development Bank. Radio La Primerisima, 23 August 2020
Exports Generate US$2 Billion in 2020
Nicaragua’s exports reached US$1.8 billion during the first seven months of 2020, a growth of 14.6% over 2019, according to a recent report on exports from the Center for Export Processing. Exports are led by coffee with US$382 million; raw gold, US$331 million; beef US$317.6 million; cane sugar US$121.6 million; beans US$75 million; peanuts US$57 million; cultivated shrimp US$40 million; morolique cheese US$36 million; raw tobacco US$32 million; fish US$27 million; alcoholic and vinegar US$23 million; lobsters US$20 million; oils US$20 million; mozzarella cheese US$17 million; other seafood products US$17 million; processed cigars US$14 million; processed coffee US$12 million; rum US$8.8 million; and bananas US$4.7 million. Nicaragua sold US$818 million worth of products to the US and US$380 million to Central American countries. Exports to Belize, China, Cuba, Israel, Lebanon, Norway, New Zealand and Taiwan, among others, grew. Nicaragua did not stop its agricultural production, nor the country’s economy during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Informe Pastran, 24 August 2020
Wheelchairs and Food Packages to People with Challenges
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Great National Literacy Day and the 41st anniversary of the Sandinista Youth organization, thousands of young people delivered wheelchairs throughout the country on August 21, 22 and 23. Deliveries were made house-to-house to each person with a disability who needs a means to move around and not be confined to a bed or a single place. Young people, children, and elderly benefited from the wheelchairs given by the government regularly. In addition, each person with a disability receives a food package and medicines monthly. Radio La Primerisima, 23 August 2020
Police Rescue More People from Alcoholism
Twenty people who suffer from alcoholism who wandered the streets of Jinotepe and Diriamba were transferred to the DESAFIO Rehabilitation Center in San Marcos, Carazo. “With this new group there will be 63 people in treatment,” said Commissioner Pedro Rodriguez Argueta, chief of police in Carazo. Given the excellent results in recovery of men and women with alcoholism, the police along with members of Alcoholics Anonymous and some Evangelical Churches, continue the process of rescue. Radio La Primerisima, 23 August 2020
Modern Virology and Tuberculosis Lab
At the National Center for Diagnosis and Reference (CNDR), construction began on the Virology and Tuberculosis Laboratory to be completed in February 2021, with an investment of US$940,000 dollars. It will be unique in Central America and will have the Level 3 certification granted by PAHO/WHO which will strengthen research and epidemiological surveillance in public health in Nicaragua. Public health epidemiological investigations of microorganisms that currently affect the population such as Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, Leptospirosis, Tuberculosis, HIV, among others will be carried out. Radio La Primerisima, 24 August 2020
Covid Cases and Deaths Continue to Decrease
Since the peak on May 26, cases and deaths fortunately have continued to decrease.
For the week of August 18 to 23 there were 119 new registered cases, 128 newly recuperated and 4 deaths. In total there have been 3,659 registered cases, 3,339 registered recuperations, and 137 total deaths. Like everywhere there are likely many unregistered Covid cases that affected people not in a serious way. Juventud Presidente, 25 August 2020
The National Coalition (CN) part of the opposition again demonstrated weakness and division when one of the business leaders, Michael Healy, suggested major internal changes to solve their conflicts. Healy, who is trying to become the head of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), was explicit in commenting that he sees no future for those who oppose the current Sandinista government in next year’s general elections. Healy commented on a local television show that the Coalition was first launched on February 25, 2020, and re-launched on July 25, and to this day, what has the Coalition done? Healy said that the political parties that make up the CN have not gotten credentials to run on their own but would have to run on another party’s [credentials].” Healy received insults on social networks from the most fundamentalist sectors of the opposition as a result of his comments. Healy said the only way to avoid a failure of the coalition is to reach a political and economic agreement with the government, because the path of non-recognition of the government has not worked. “The Constitution says that this Daniel Ortega is the president; the international community recognizes him as president because I have not seen any country say that it is not recognizing this government,” he said. He even admitted that the Alianza Civica, one of the groups that integrate the CN, was a creation of the bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the 2018 coup attempt. He proposed a new electoral agreement with the traditional political parties. Healy’s opinions were like a bucket of cold water on the attempts of the opposition forces to achieve unity in view of the 2021 electoral process, but their internal divisions seem to be increasingly pronounced, despite attempts to resolve them, according to many analysts. Radio La Primerisima, 25 August 2020