Nicaragua: Nearly Gone & Almost Forgotten


Genevieve Howe

 

Henri Lara Gutierrez was born in
Esteli, Nicaragua in October 1979, three months after the
July 19, 1979 triumph of the Sandinista revolution. This
year, Henri, like the revolution, will turn 18 years old. In
1989, at the age of ten, Henri was a slender, curly-haired
boy who went to school daily in a clean, pressed uniform. He
did his homework and raised his hand in class. He passed the
afternoons climbing trees for guayavas and playing baseball
in the street with his cousins and friends. He was healthy,
although he could have eaten more food than he found on his
plate. He had long since received all his vaccinations. The
doors of the hospital and clinic were open any time he or his
little sister needed attention.

The Nicaraguan revolution had
accomplished small miracles for the mass of poor citizens
oppressed by 45 years of the Somoza family dictatorship.
Literacy had increased from 25 percent to 80 percent. Free
education and health care had become state priorities. Land
reform had benefited thousands in the cities and countryside.
Countless projects had been completed with the help of
international donations, including construction of schools,
hospitals, and clinics, establishment of drinking water
supplies and waste water disposal, agricultural irrigation,
and environmental protection. The Sandinista government
continued to prioritize needs of the majority while the
country suffered from the crippling blows of the U.S.-funded
counter-revolutionary war and the U.S. economic blockade. The
United Nations World Court had ruled that the U.S. owed
Nicaragua $17 billion in damages from the U.S. economic and
military war on this small, poor country. The U.S. has never
paid any of it.

U.S. military and economic intervention
brought an end to the Sandinista government at the ballot box
in 1990. Violeta Barrios de Chamorro was inaugurated as
president in April 1990.

 

In the Clutches of the IMF

Anxious for resources to run her
government, President Chamorro implemented the
"neo-liberal policy" and "structural
adjustment program" of the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund (IMF). State employees were offered two years
of salary to quit. The government made drastic cuts,
primarily in education, health, and social services. The army
decreased from 95,000 to 16,000 soldiers. Many small farmers,
who had acquired privately or cooperatively owned land under
the Sandinista government, lost their farms to credit
policies that favored large farmers. Small farmers sometimes
became peasant laborers on land they had once owned. People
flocked to the cities in search of work. Squatters, living in
black plastic shanties, stretched the boundaries of Managua
and other urban areas. Cheap imports, including shoes and
chickens, caused many Nicaraguan industries to fold. By 1991,
 unemployment had grown from its 1989 level of 35
percent to 60 percent (officially) and remains so today.
Unemployment is nearly 90 percent on the Atlantic Coast.

The World Bank and the IMF now tightly
control Nicaragua’s governmental policies through
restrictions tied to loans. According to the video Deadly
Embrace
, produced in 1996 by Compas de La Primavera for
the Nicaragua Network Education Fund, "The World Bank
considers the growth of poverty to be a pathology, not a
consequence of an economic system." Nicaragua’s
foreign debt rose from $1.5 billion in 1979 to $8 billion in
1996. Each Nicaraguan owes $3,000, one of the highest per
capita debts in the world. Annual per capita income decreased
from $870 in 1983 to $430 in 1995. The only
"positive" aspects for the poor of the Chamorro
government’s economic measures has been control of
inflation and stabilization of the Nicaraguan cordoba against
the U.S. dollar.

Structural adjustment was designed to
enable poor countries to pay off their loans. Deadly
Embrace
describes it as, "not part of an economic
recovery program but meant only to create a cheap labor
force, cheap raw materials and a Nicaraguan market for
TransNational Corporations." Over 80 countries have
undergone structural adjustment programs. The video’s
companion book claims that the IMF brings in more money in
payments on interest and principal of debts than it lends
out: "According to one calculation, in 1990 there was a
global surplus of $180 billion, yet the IMF used virtually
none of it to alleviate the crippling indebtedness of the
South. Most of the capital went to private capital markets in
the North."

In 1991, the UN ranked Nicaragua 85th
on its human development index, a measure which takes into
account life expectancy, average education level, and average
per capita income. By 1995, Nicaragua had dropped to 117th,
second only to Haiti as the poorest nation in the Western
Hemisphere. According the December 1996/January 1997 issue of
Envio, "80 percent of the population lives in
poverty, half of those in abject poverty."

Most of the young men on Henri’s
block are out of work. The few who have jobs barely feed
their families on what they earn. Henri’s uncle Toño
had always farmed with his father. Now Toño is overwhelmed
by the recent loss of his father in an automobile accident,
the shortage of other work, and the demands of raising four
children. Henri’s uncle Donald, married with three
children, suffers from alcoholism but keeps his family alive
with the little work he gets painting cars. Henri’s
uncle Wilfredo is an alcoholic, now near death from his
recent habit of sniffing paint thinner. "No one will
give him work," his mother laments. Both Donald and
Wilfredo were psychologically impacted by their experiences
in the Sandinista Army fighting the Contras. Henri had two
other uncles who were killed during the insurrections of the
late 1970s, when Somoza’s National Guard destroyed the
family’s car painting business in 1978, after
discovering that their house was used to hide Sandinista
rebels.

Henri’s neighbor Sergio has been
deported back from Costa Rica twice while searching for work.
In late 1996, Sergio spent several weeks working in one of
the textile maquilas or sweatshops in the outskirts of
Managua. When the "free trade zone" opened in 1992,
it employed 1,300 people. By the end of 1996, it employed
11,000.

Turnover in the maquilas is
high. Respiratory and other illnesses are common.
Approximately 80 percent of the employees are women and 60
percent are 15 to 24 years old. Like most employees, Sergio
couldn’t tolerate working there for long. His daily
salary of 24 cordobas (about $3 at that time) was reduced
further for room and board. The days averaged 12 hours, he
was watched over and always pressured to produce more. But
people are so desperate for employment that new job seekers
line up outside the gate daily. Sergio now spends his days in
a tobacco factory working for $2 a day. Henri’s uncle
Toño scrapes up what he can working his family’s farm
and fixing vehicles.

The 1996 Elections: Free
and Fair?

Nicaraguans anticipated the October 20,
1996 elections with tremendous intensity. Most believed the
ballot box offered their only real hope, for escape from the
poverty and hardship that settled into the country during the
Chamorro years.

Term limits coincided in 1996 such that
all six levels of public office were up for consideration in
one election: president and vice-president, national
representatives to the National Assembly, departmental
representatives to the National Assembly, representatives to
the Central American Parliament, mayors, and municipal
councils. In all, 32,500 candidates ran for 2,100 positions.

Bringing these elections to fruition
was a mammoth and tremendously costly task for the Nicaraguan
Supreme Electoral Council (CSE). The $50 million
administrative bill was paid for largely by foreign
donations. Violeta Chamorro’s government had refused to
allocate funds to run the election. Mariano Fiallos, who had
headed the CSE since the 1984 election, resigned in early
1996 charging that his job was untenable given the CSE’s
lack of funding and electoral law changes that encouraged
partisan influences.

The Supreme Electoral Council’s
challenges included: how to print and distribute under secure
conditions six ballots each for the nearly 2.4 million
registered voters, half of whom live in remote areas at the
end of long, muddy roads; how to find and train 45,000
reasonably impartial people to administer the elections, 3
for each of 9,000 precincts; and, how to receive and record
election results from even the most remote precincts quickly
and reliably.

The presidential contest was the most
highly charged. Although 19 parties and 5 alliances put forth
candidates, the polls indicated that only 2 ever had a real
chance. The Liberal Alliance (a coalition of five
conservative parties) ran Arnoldo Alemán, former mayor of
Managua and member of the PLC (Liberal Constitutional Party,
the party of the Somoza family). The National Sandinista
Liberation Front (FSLN) nominated Daniel Ortega, head of the
party’s National Directorate and President of Nicaragua
from the triumph of the revolution until his 1990 defeat.

Problems occurred with almost every
aspect of the elections. The 45,000 people hired by the
Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) were not well-trained, nor
could most of them be impartial in such a highly polarized
country. Many precincts opened hours late. Hundreds of
precincts telegraphed results to Managua on election night
that differed from their own official tally sheets. According
to the FSLN’s 646-page complaint filed with the CSE in
November, 800 of the 9,000 precincts reported more than the
400 maximum votes allowed in each precinct, most of them for
the Liberal Alliance. Thousands of ballots disappeared
altogether, as did many official tally sheets. Election
materials showed up in taxi cabs, private homes, or garbage
dumps. The FSLN’s parallel count showed 60,000 votes
missing entirely. Fraud may have been intentional, but much
of the chaos may have resulted from impractical logistical
processes and under-trained workers who abandoned their
responsibilities after 24 hours or more without food, water,
sleep, and access to a bathroom.

The December issue of Nicaragua
Monitor
of the Nicaragua Network Education Fund, based in
Washington, DC, interviewed Alejandro Bendaña, former
Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry of Nicaragua and
now Director of the Center for International Studies in
Managua. He said, "The chaos was so great that the
results were impossible to audit….This was the case in
one out of six precincts. What is in question now is not just
the legitimacy but the actual legality of the
elections."

Dorotea Wilson, a member of the FSLN
national directorate, was present when observers witnessed
irregularities in Bilwi (Puerto Cabezas) on the northern
Atlantic Coast. When she asked if they were going to report
the errors, the observers replied, "It’s not our
role to report these kinds of problems. They are
administrative and internal. We are here simply to watch the
voters vote."

By the time most of the irregularities
became apparent, most of the major international observer
groups had declared the elections "free and fair"
and gone home. "It was really election observation
tourism," said Bendaña. He found their behavior
insulting, "We are not some kind of colonial ward. The
foreign observers should have respected us enough not to
declare a winner before he was officially declared by our
electoral tribunal. This was offensive."

The two largest observer groups were
sent by the European Union and the Organization of American
States (OAS). The U.S. Agency for International Development
spent $9 million on the elections: $6 million for technical
support for the Supreme Electoral Council, $1.2 million for
the OAS observers, and the remainder for five other observer
groups, of which the Carter Center was one. Carter and four
other heads of state who led their delegation declared in a
statement on December 6, 1996: "The leaders concluded
that the elections contained flaws, but the results announced
by the Supreme Electoral Council on November 22, by and
large, reflected the preferences of the Nicaraguan people.
Allegations of fraud are unsubstantiated, and the delegation
concluded that Arnoldo Alemán won the presidential election
in the first round."

Some observers made more bold
condemnations of election irregularities. Hemisphere
Initiatives, the Women’s Observer Mission to the
Elections in Nicaragua (WOMEN), and other, smaller
non-governmental groups were among the first groups to report
voting procedures in violation of electoral law. Many of
these pertained to polling-station staff having allowed
people to vote without providing identification that
coincided with the list of voters registered to vote at that
location.

On October 22, two days after the votes
were cast, the New York Times declared, "Rightist
is Victor Over Sandinistas in Nicaragua Vote." The next
day, the Times ran a profile of Alemán, "the new
President of Nicaragua." The U.S. ambassador to
Nicaragua, John Maisto, also acknowledged Alemán as the
winner before the Supreme Electoral Council had performed its
scheduled count of the actual tally sheets and long before it
had reviewed accusations of irregularities presented by ten
parties, including the Liberal Alliance and the FSLN.
Bendaña exclaimed, "The U.S. Ambassador met with
Alemán’s entire cabinet before the results were final!
Obviously, U.S. ‘values’ do not include commitment
to institutional process."

Observer groups may have been prepared
to denounce anomalies if the FSLN had won the election. In
public, Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and part
of the Carter team, declared the elections legitimate, while
privately he said to Daniel Ortega in front of a dozen
witnesses, "God help us if this had happened in Costa
Rica or in a European country. The elections would have been
annulled at the very least."

It took the Supreme Electoral Council
(CSE) until November 22 to "review" the election
results and the challenges presented to them. Although the
CSE annulled 6 percent of all precincts and declared that
there were some "anomalies," it also blessed the
elections as "transparent and democratic." Alemán
won 51 percent of the vote and Ortega 38 percent. Of the 93
seats in the National Assembly, the Liberal Alliance won 42
and the FSLN 36. The other 15 seats went to smaller parties.
The FSLN captured 52 mayorships and the Liberal Alliance won
all 91 other mayorships.

Why Alemán Won and the
FSLN Lost

If the election results represent the
sentiment of the majority of the population, then there must
be reasons why the FSLN was not able to convince voters to
give them another turn in power and why Alemán was able to
appeal to voters. Marcos Membreño of Envio, and
director of research at the UCA, offered the following
analysis at a Washington, DC conference held by the Nicaragua
Network Education Fund in February:

  • During the latter half of the
    1980s, Nicaraguans faced a severe economic crisis
    manifested by hyperinflation and currency
    devaluations. The crisis fomented discontent and
    anti-Sandinista sentiments.
  • Alemán capitalized on the
    discontent in two ways: While he was still
    Managua’s mayor, he tried to appeal to voters as
    a populist politician; and, he managed to build a
    strong party at the national level in a short period
    of time.
  • The anti-Sandinista sentiment was
    consolidated under Chamorro because she managed to
    end hyperinflation, stabilize the currency, and
    terminate the military draft. Those who had money and
    opportunities did not suffer from increased
    unemployment. They saw the end of scarcity in the
    stores and received credit to buy automobiles and
    home appliances. Fear of Alemán liberals and even
    Somocistas dissipated among this group.
  • The FSLN handicapped itself in a
    number of ways: (a) it distanced itself from its base
    while the Liberal Alliance was engaged in wide
    sweeping proselytizing; (b) internal division and
    struggles prevented the party from developing its
    political leadership; and, (c) the party could not
    recover from the loss of credibility with its base
    after the 1990 "piñata," the distribution
    of state resources to party leaders who were not in
    financial need.

The Frente’s leadership problems
were expounded on by Envio: "The FSLN continues
to be run by a sexist structure rife with dangerous inertia
and unnecessary sectarianism, and always inclined to
doublespeak." The Frente may have further damaged itself
by rejecting the candidacy of Vilma Nuñez, Director of the
Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, for the presidential
nomination. A new face, that of a long and widely respected
Sandinista, and that of a woman might have paved a smoother
way for the FSLN in the 1996 elections.

The FSLN may have faced additional
setbacks from last minute attacks on Ortega’s candidacy
by both U.S. leaders and the Nicaraguan Catholic Church.

The U.S. government professed
neutrality throughout the campaign, yet two weeks prior to
election day, State Department spokesperson Nicholas Burns
said, in response to a question from ABC television, "I
would not use the word ‘democrat’ to describe
Daniel Ortega." The conservative Nicaraguan newspaper, La
Prensa
, picked up on these remarks and made its headline
the next day, "State Department: ‘Ortega is no
democrat.’" The phrase reverberated through
Nicaragua’s conservative media, bolstering the
right’s ability to paint Daniel Ortega as someone who
would not be popular with the U.S. government and who had not
changed despite the claims of his campaign ads.

Dorotea Wilson of the Frente’s
National Directorate said in February, "We are
optimistic. We came out of this election in a stronger
position than we were in after the 1990 election." She
gives the following reasons:

In 1996, the Frente knew losing was a
real possibility whereas in 1990, the party was shocked and
unprepared.

The Frente has been strengthened by the
alliance it formed in 1996 with agricultural producers and
former contra fighters.

The Frente had the advantage of being
an opposition party and criticizing the Chamorrro government
from the outside.

If we pretend that the election results
reflect reality, the FSLN lost support in some areas and
gained it in others. The Frente received almost exactly the
same percentage of the vote in 1996 as it did in 1990, 38
percent as compared with 41 percent. It is still the largest
political party with the strongest and broadest base of
support.

In 1990, the FSLN won 39 of a total of
92 seats in the National Assembly. But, according to Wilson,
only eight FSLN representatives were left in the Assembly by
the end of 1996, largely because of the break off from the
FSLN of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS). In 1996,
the FSLN won 36 seats in the Assembly, thus repairing its
strength considerably.

In terms of mayorships, the Frente
drastically increased its power in 1996. They won 52 of the
143 town halls, a sharp increase over 1990 when the Frente
put only 13 mayors into office. The FSLN is capable of
organizing formidable opposition to Alemán’s
government. However, as Bendaña cautions, "Keeping the
FSLN cohesive for the next period will be a challenge."

The Sandinista Renovation Movement
(MRS), which split off from the FSLN two and a half years
ago, ran Sergio Ramirez as its presidential candidate.
Ramirez was vice-president of Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega.
The MRS was trounced in the presidential race, winning less
than 1 percent of the vote. Even their leading candidate for
national representative to the National Assembly,
revolutionary commander Dora Maria Tellez, lost her seat. The
MRS would have had to dissolve, as most other parties did, if
it had not managed to win the Carazo departmental seat in the
National Assembly. That seat was won by Roberto Arguello but
ended up being assigned to Jorge Samper, husband of CSE
President Rosa Marina Zelaya.

Women fared poorly in the 1996
election, far worse than they did in 1990. Of the 93 members
of the new National Assembly, only 10 are women. Of these 10,
8 are members of the FSLN. The Liberal Alliance counts only 1
woman among its 42 representatives. Alemán has named men to
all but a handful of his cabinet minister, vice-minister, and
commission leadership positions. Women won about one-quarter
of the mayorships, more than they won in 1990.

During the election, the Nicaraguan
Center for Constitutional Rights focused its resources on
getting women involved. The organization’s
vice-president, Angela Rosa Acevedo, was pleased that a large
number of women turned out to vote, but recognizes that there
is a long way to go: "Women are the ones who bear the
burdens of the economic crisis because we are the ones who
manage the household. Yet, we have lost important political
space….The power is with men. We must struggle to have
an equal voice….We must examine how to include the
women’s agenda in the legislative process."
Women’s organizations developed a list of priorities
during the 1996 campaign called the "women’s
agenda." It was signed by most parties, but not by
Alemán.

Democracy in Nicaragua?

Nicaraguans are largely deflated by the
messy aftermath of the October elections. Intense
anticipation and desperate hope for reconciliation and
economic development were shattered and left them with few
other bases for hope. They thought they had long since buried
Somoza-style, questionable elections.

Most citizens fulfilled their roles in
these elections. They tolerated an inefficient and clumsy
voter certification process and about 80 percent of those
eligible turned out to vote. Waits in line of 2 to 12 hours
were common. "The voters provided a civic example,"
said Angela Rosa Acevedo, "It was the institutions that
failed." She concludes, "We have to preserve the
new political culture. This is one country. We need to give
everyone a voice without the exclusion of any sector or any
political interest." She went on to say, "Nicaragua
faces a serious economic crisis. It has to fulfill the
conditions of structural adjustment which require economic
restrictions, increased levels of poverty, unemployment, and
underemployment. If we are talking about real democracy,
democracy of the human condition, then Nicaragua does not
have it. Nicaragua no cumple."

Democracy comes down to money,
according to Envio, "We need democracy to
advance; democracy needs elections as a test; elections need
money and ever more resources to be carried out." Envio
goes on to speculate that the first world nations’
requirement of "market democracies" in third world
nations, supported by expensive, complicated elections, may
be the newest form of north-south intervention.

Arnoldo Alemán has begun his
presidency in an atmosphere of controversy and chaos. He is
not expected to waiver from the relationships established by
Violeta Chamorro with international finance institutions. Now
that the country is strapped by debt, significant improvement
for the majority may not be seen for decades. Alemán’s
campaign promises included creation of 100,000 new jobs each
year and resolution of property issues.

Members of the Frente Sandinista
boycotted Alemán’s January 10 inauguration because he
was "fraudulently elected," as they saw it.
Outgoing president, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, refused to
pass the presidential sash to Alemán because, according to
her, he represents the Somoza era. In his inaugural speech,
Alemán claimed, "We will not return to the past; the
long dark night is over for Nicaragua," and the FSLN
threatened, "We are going to reorganize to confront
Alemán’s dictatorial policies in the streets."

In addition to opposition from the
Frente and other sectors, Alemán must satisfy the
conservative Nicaraguans and Cubans who helped put him into
office, while at the same time, not alienating the poor who
voted for him. Marcos Membreño expects Alemán to prioritize
protection of oligopolies that existed under Somoza and to
marginalize those that developed under Chamorro. The
oligopolies will pressure Alemán to continue to award credit
to them, rather than to small farmers and business owners.
Membreño also expects Alemán to try to dismantle everything
associated with the Sandinista regime, including
non-governmental organizations, universities, and the FSLN.

The toughest immediate issue for
Alemán is property. In Miami campaign speeches, Alemán
pledged that those with confiscated property would get their
land returned. When campaigning inside Nicaragua, Alemán
pledged that small farmers and owners of modest urban homes
would not be evicted. While many cases of homes and lands
redistributed under the Sandinista government have been
resolved, some are hotly contested. Sandinistas and Alemán
government representatives have been holding talks on
property disputes since January, with mixed results. In
March, Ortega stated that he did not think the property issue
could be resolved through dialog, since the government was
promising to suspend evictions, but not doing anything about
the actions of the police and courts to remove people,
sometimes violently, from property they have held for nearly
18 years. A few people have died in recent evictions and
dozens have gone to jail. Also in March, Ortega warned that a
"total war" could result if the National Assembly
doesn’t order a stop to the evictions.

Armed groups continue to harass people
in rural areas, usually in a sort of highway bandit approach
to survival, but also with periodic political assassinations.
Innocent civilians continue to be attacked and/or robbed.
Nicaraguan Army troops confront periodic ambushes. A few
people are killed every month. The Nicaraguan Center for
Human Rights reported 199 violent deaths in Nicaragua’s
rural zones from January to mid-December 1996. Over half of
those killed were peasants and 39 were children.

Excessive levels of unemployment and
poverty have contributed to higher levels of crime in the
cities and an alarming increase in drug use and suicides.
National Police statistics reported 6.3 crimes per hour and 2
suicides every 3 days in 1996. The police reported 33
suicides in the first 48 days of 1997. There were a total of
206 suicides in 1996, up from 132 in 1995. Most of the
victims are men under the age of 30. Meanwhile, women and
children bear the brunt of structural adjustment policies.
Domestic violence and sexual crimes against both women and
children have also increased markedly.

Signs of Hope

Bitter struggles between the
legislative and executive branches erupted even before the
outgoing National Assembly had completed its session in
December 1996. Some legislators forecast a
"constitutional crisis" and a return to the era of
Somoza. However, there is reason to expect that the Assembly
will present a strong challenge to Alemán’s programs.

Victor Hugo Tinoco, vice-chair of the
FSLN bench in the National Assembly and member of the
Sandinista National Directorate, was another guest at the
February conference of the Nicaragua Network Education Fund.
He described the balance of power in the National Assembly as
follows: 47 votes comprise a majority of the 93 votes in this
Assembly. The Liberal Alliance has 42 representatives,
however, about 8-10 of them do not sympathize with Alemán.
The FSLN won 36 of the Assembly seats and other parties won
the remaining 15 seats. Of those 15, 4 can be considered
progressive votes, the MRS vote and the 3 from the Christian
Path Party. Thus, it will not be easy for Alemán to push
whatever he would like through the legislature. Tinoco also
noted that the balance of power between the National Assembly
and the executive branch is stronger because of
constitutional reforms passed in 1995.

Dialog over property disputes gives
reason to hope that one of the most intense issues may
finally find some resolution. Organizing on the part of
women, grassroots movements, and those few who are lucky
enough to be employed is an important route to defending the
gains of the revolution. Even those who work in the maquilas
are struggling for the right to organize. Likewise, the
strength of the Frente Sandinista and other political parties
as opposition forces will affect how far Alemán and possibly
even the World Bank and IMF can go.

Constructive reform of electoral laws
could improve faith in "democracy." Alemán cannot
change the heads of the Nicaraguan police or army or make any
new appointments to the Supreme Electoral Council until the
year 2000. It will be 2001 before Alemán can replace any of
the justices of the Supreme Court. The current administration
will also test the bounds of the Nicaraguan constitution,
developed under the Sandinista government and revised under
Chamorro.

Today, Henri Lara Gutierrez is the only
one with a job in his household of seven. When there is work,
Henri brings home about 27 cordobas ($3) a day. A pound of
beans costs 6 cordobas and a pound of rice 3 or 4 cordobas.
In mid-1996, it was calculated that a family of 6 required
$162 per month just to cover basic needs.

Without the boost he got from the
revolution in his first ten years, Henri would probably not
have made it past the third grade and might well have already
fallen into despair or substance abuse like some of his
neighbors or uncles. Whether Henri and his family survive and
whether any of the gains of the Nicaraguan revolution survive
the next five years of the Alemán government remain to be
seen.

Meanwhile, our tax and investment
dollars will be hard at work maintaining, if not
strengthening, poverty, rather, "democracy," in
Nicaragua.
         

Regular news reports from Nicaragua are
provided by Envio and the Nicaragua Network Education Fund,
1247 E Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003.

Genevieve Howe is a political activist
from New Hampshire. She lived in Nicaragua from 1989-1991 and
spent last fall helping to organize the Women’s Observer
Mission to the Elections in Nicaragua.