Nicaragua. The November 5 municipal elections were conducted under the observation of a delegation from the United States Cooperative Organization OAS, according to an agreement in February with the government. The delegation reported that the elections were largely correct. Thus, the government coalition with the FSLN (Sandinist Front for National Liberation) at the center could count the elections as a great success. Although only one municipality was added to the 134 it already had, the party thus retains power in almost 90% of the country’s 153 municipalities, including all provincial capitals. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for frequently used acronyms and abbreviations related to as well as country profile of Nicaragua.
According to Countryaah.com, the OAS delegation’s report nevertheless recommended reforms of the electoral system, in particular to eliminate the risk of violence. Five people were killed during a riot in connection with the November elections. The opposition was more critical, particularly Panorama Electoral, an umbrella organization for a number of grassroots movements in the country, which pointed out that the state apparatus with the legal institutions is in the hands of the FSLN and that voter participation was extremely low, which put legitimacy in focus. Internationally, there was also skepticism about the electoral procedures in Nicaragua, especially from the United States.
At the end of June, Congress approved a series of changes to the criminal law proposed by the government. Among other things, the penalties were increased for a number of violent crimes. The reform was carried out in light of the fact that President Daniel Ortega’s popularity is largely related to the relatively low crime rate in comparison with the Central American neighboring countries, and contributed to his party’s success in the municipal elections. During the first five months of the year, 194 murders were reported across the country, which can be compared to, for example, El Salvador, where approximately the same number of murders occur on average in a week.
At the same time, concerns were expressed that political repression was increasing instead. At the end of April, for example, a major protest march was blocked by the construction of the large canal that is supposed to link the Pacific with the Caribbean over Nicaraguan territory by armed police. The leader of the protest movement, Francisca Ramírez, said the police’s allegations of violence on the part of the protesters were false and were themselves subject to threats and slander. The canal construction, which is estimated to cost $ 50 billion, is controversial and the government is accused of a lack of public transparency in the procurement process, environmental considerations and respect for local communities concerned. The protest march in April was the 89th since the plans were announced.
The divisions within the UNO, which exploded in the summer of 1990, worsened in the following years. The economic situation of the country also contributed to accentuating the contrasts, which, despite the cessation, from March 1990, of the US embargo (which was followed in September 1991 by the withdrawal by the Nicaragua of the request for 17 billion dollars in compensation presented in Washington after the judgment of the Hague Court) and a certain recovery of credits and international aid, has remained very difficult.
The persistence of strong trade balance liabilities and high inflation have been accompanied by persistent production stagnation and further growth in unemployment (up to over 50% of the workforce) and social tensions, which have given rise to bitter trade union conflicts, violent street demonstrations and land occupations. The program of privatizations, cuts in public spending and layoffs among state employees, launched by the government in May 1990, provoked a strong popular reaction and, after the insurrection strike in July (controlled thanks to the loyalty of the armed forces towards the new administration ), had to be resized and made more gradual. However, austerity measures continued to fuel social conflicts, while at the recontras) who contest the policy of V. Chamorro and demand the assignment of land; the military attacks carried out by them in the northern regions, in particular against farms and agricultural cooperatives, have resulted in the formation of armed Sandinista groups (called recompas), with a further spread of clashes and insecurity. Expression of the grave social situation as well as of political contrasts, recontras and recompas have sometimes joined forces in protest against the government and in the demand for land.
Divisions also manifested themselves within the FSLN, whose cautious collaboration with the Chamorro administration often came into conflict with the demands of the unions and the popular base of the party, exasperated by the crisis and the restrictive policies of the government. The deepening of the rift between V. Chamorro and the right-wing majority of the UNO has however led to a growing rapprochement of the former to leadership Sandinista (reconfirmed in July 1991 by the first congress of the FSLN), until the breakup of the old electoral coalition and the birth in January 1993 of a new parliamentary majority, made up of 8 deputies of the UNO in favor of Chamorro together with the 39 Sandinistas and the representative of a small left party. These developments have caused a deterioration in relations with the United States, which in May 1992 suspended its economic assistance program at Nicaragua; in 1993 a partial resumption of aid was coupled with strong pressure on the Managua government to reduce the political influence of the FSLNicaragua Indeed, since the summer of 1993, relations between the latter and the Chamorro administration have progressively deteriorated.