Why Aren’t Nicaragua’s Children Fleeing to the United States?

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by The Nicaragua Network

(In the 1980s, the Peoples Alliance on Central America (PACA), which was affiliated with the Nicaragua Network, was a very active local Central American solidarity group that opposed both the US attempts to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and the US’s support of right-wing governments and death squads in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Those of us who worked in PACA can justifiably take the following statement by the Nicaragua Network as vindication of the solidarity work that we did over two decades agoBelden Fields)

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) presented in Nicaragua on May 19, 2014 its Regional Report on Human Development for 2013-2014 on security matters, and classified Nicaragua as “atypical” because of its low rates of homicide and robbery. Juan Pablo Gordillo, adviser on security at the Latin American Regional Services Center of the UNDP, said that “[t]he case of Nicaragua is an important achievement at the regional level,” adding that because Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, it breaks the myth that poverty causes violence. Nicaragua’s homicide rate dropped to 8.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. Honduras, with 92 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, has the highest murder rate in the world. El Salvador has 69, Guatemala 39, Panama 14.9 and Costa Rica 10.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

Speaking in San Salvador at a regional conference on community policing, Nicaraguan National Police spokesman Commissioner Fernando Borge said that the proactive, preventative, community policing model of Nicaragua’s police has helped make Nicaragua one of the safest countries in Latin America. He described “a model of shared responsibility, that of person-family-community” which shapes all the areas of police work. In 2013, out of each 100 cases reported to the police, they have been able to resolve 79. This compares to the almost complete impunity for crime, especially politically motivated crime, in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The problem of the children migrants is blowback from US policy in the 1980s, when our government trained and funded Salvadoran and Guatemalan military and police to prevent popular revolutions; and more recently, when the US supported the coup against President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. Those countries were left with brutal, corrupt armies and police forces, whereas Nicaragua, with its successful 1979 revolution, got rid of Somoza’s brutal National Guard and formed a new army and a new police made up of upstanding citizens.

Who consumes all those drugs that are causing all that violence and corruption in Latin America? Who has militarized the Drug War and is funding and training repressive militaries and police in the countries from which the children are fleeing? In both cases, it is the United States.

Respected Latin American polling firm M&R Consultants’ polls show that, at the end of 2013, 72.5% of Nicaraguans approved of government economic management; and President Daniel Ortega’s personal popularity stands at 74.7%, the most popular in Central America. Why? According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Nicaragua ranks second in Latin America and the Caribbean after Venezuela as the country that most reduced the gap between rich and poor in recent years.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Nicaragua’s predicted 2014 GDP growth rate will put it among the five fastest-growing countries in Latin America. Why? Because Nicaragua invests in poverty reduction, education and health care.

During the past seven years, agricultural workers’ income and wages grew, showing the effectiveness of programs for the rural sector, which is where there are higher rates of poverty and malnutrition, and taking away the economic reason for migration.

Nicaragua is the only country in Central America that managed to return to the pace of economic growth that it had before the international crisis of 2008-2009. This not only has been recognized by ECLAC, but also by the International Monetary Fund in its latest assessment. Why? Because the Sandinista government forced the IMF to support its poverty reduction programs, and to like it!

Nicaragua’s successful poverty reduction programs have caused multilateral agencies and governments to become more interested in the effective implementation of programs that cater to the poor and allow more Nicaraguans to have free access to health and education.

The Vice-President of the World Bank for Latin America, Hasan Tuluy, called projects in Nicaragua one of the best run portfolios of projects in Latin America.

Pablo Mendeville, representative of the UN Development Program (UNDP), has said that Nicaragua is striving to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of social policies to halve global poverty and could achieve this by the end of 2015.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recognized that Nicaragua is among countries that achieved ahead of time the goals set by the Zero Hunger Challenge and lowered the national poverty level. Official data from the Nicaraguan Institute of Development confirm this: in previous years, the level of “poverty was more than 40%, and that of extreme poverty was 17.2%; today we are calculating extreme poverty at 7.6%.”

Nicaragua recorded indisputable achievements in terms of disease prevention and health promotion, with a program of immunization which is an example for Latin America, with coverage as high as one hundred percent in children under one year old, and more than 95 percent in general. It has an effective campaign to prevent 16 serious diseases that can affect the population, such as diarrhea and pneumonia.

The maternal mortality rate of 93 per 100 000 live births in 2006 was lowered to 50 per 100,000 live births in 2013.

Educational programs have resulted in a school retention rate of approximately 96 percent of the students enrolled. In addition, the government achieved 100 percent coverage of students receiving school meals, thus benefiting students of public preschools, community schools and subsidized Catholic schools throughout the country.

Nicaragua is the country with the most gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean. and tenth worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). This means that Nicaragua is one of the countries where women have greater access to health and education, while they have more political participation and economic inclusion, said the study.

In the report Climatescope 2012, Nicaragua won second place after Brazil, due to its policy of clean energy, the structure of its energy sector, low-carbon business activity and clean energy value chains, as well as the availability of green credits.

According to the Executive, investments from 2013 to 2016 will raise the national rate of electrification from 76 percent of households to a little over 87 percent, as part of efforts toward economic development with social inclusion. In 2006 electricity supply barely reached 54 percent, and there were rolling blackouts averaging 14 hours a day.

The director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Jose Graziano da Silva congratulated the government for the effectiveness of programs implemented against poverty and hunger at the end of a 2013 visit to the country, after visiting various locations to check the value of plans such as Zero Hunger, Family Gardens and the Production Packages, aimed at promoting the development of the agricultural sector and guaranteeing the security of national food consumption.

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