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    AguaClara begins construction of water plant in Nicaragua

    Construction has begun on AguaClara’s 16th gravity-powered water treatment facility, and its first outside of Honduras. The newest plant will be in La Concordia, Nicaragua.

    Since 2005, AguaClara has built 14 gravity-powered, electricity-free surface water treatment plants in Honduras, with a 15th under construction at Zamorano University in Tegucigalpa. These plants bring safe tap water to approximately 65,000 people in the Central American nation.

    Now the Cornell-based program, run almost exclusively by engineering students, is expanding its reach in Latin America.

    Construction on the 16th AguaClara facility began Aug. 1 for a plant in La Concordia, Nicaragua. The ground-breaking was the result of two years of work by the Honduran nonprofit Agua Para el Pueblo, the U.S. nonprofit Water For People, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

    “I’ve been dreaming of the day when AguaClara technologies would begin to spread globally,” said Monroe Weber-Shirk, founder and director of AguaClara, and a senior lecturer in the College of Engineering. “The need for resilient, climate-friendly water treatment technologies is mind-boggling, with perhaps 3 billion people who don’t have access to reliable and safe water on tap.”

    Weber-Shirk admitted that the expansion beyond Honduras has been “slower than I anticipated. We’ve learned that it requires years of developing relationships and building consensus.”

    In 2015, Weber-Shirk was invited to give a presentation to a Central American water and sanitation congress in Managua, Nicaragua. In 2016 Agua Para el Pueblo hosted a tour of AguaClara plants for Nicaraguan water sector professionals, and Weber-Shirk returned to Managua last month to present to Nicaragua’s association of environmental engineers.

    He also traveled to the city of Jinotega to meet with Water For People and Agua Para el Pueblo and to the proposed site for the plant in La Concordia, a city of 3,000 people that currently draws its water from a nearby stream.

    The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is financing the technology transfer and the construction of La Concordia’s AguaClara plant. Water For People is financing improvements to the water transmission line from the source to the plant.

    Civil engineers from Agua Para el Pueblo of Honduras designed the facility and will supervise plant construction and train their Nicaraguan counterparts on plant design, construction and operation. The hope, according to Weber-Shirk, is that more AguaClara plants will be built in Nicaragua in the near future.

    The Nicaraguan nongovernmental organization Agua Para La Vida (“Water For Life”) and Water for People will assign engineers to the project to receive training. AguaClara engineers Rose Linehan ’17 and Ethan Keller ’15 – both working for Agua Para el Pueblo – will supervise the construction of the water treatment systems.

    AguaClara, LLC is in the process of establishing a New York State 501(c)(3) nonprofit, called AguaClara Reach, that will build a consortium of organizations to spread AguaClara technologies.

    AguaClara Reach will provide capacity building for new implementation partners, design services, certification and technical support.

    “AguaClara Reach will ensure that the Cornell AguaClara technologies can spread,” Weber-Shirk said, “and ensure that the AguaClara program at Cornell can continue to focus on innovative engineering, fundamental research and inventing better water treatment technologies.”

    Source:Cornell Chronicle

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    Nicaragua’s Business Sector Warns of Economic Downturn Should US Relations Crumble

    Businessmen in Nicaragua have asked President Daniel Ortega to ease growing tension with the United States, which is reviewing sanctions on the country that could have a major negative economic impact.

    The business sector spoke out when

    “Our country’s relationship with the United States must focus on the future,” said President of the Supreme Council of Private Enterprise José Adán Aguerri. (Youtube)

    proposed sanctions against the Ortega regime came one step closer to passing in the US Congress Thursday, July 27. If the sanctions pass, the US would be able to veto loans that multilateral organizations intend to grant to the Nicaraguan administration.

    Presidents of the Supreme Council of Private Enterprise, the American Chamber of Commerce of Nicaragua, the Nicaraguan Council of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise and other business organizations said there would be a negative impact on Nicaragua’s economic and social development should relations with the US fracture further, as it is the most significant trade partner the Central American nation has.

    “Our country’s relationship with the United States must focus on the future,” said President of the Supreme Council of Private Enterprise José Adán Aguerri. “To work hand in hand for the prosperity, security and democracy of our peoples. It is important not to back down. That’s why we don’t believe that in order to build, you must first tear down the old.”

    Nicaragua already lost funds from the United States Millennium Challenge Account in 2009, and European cooperation has begun to disappear. Venezuela’s support has dwindled and without the Nica Act, Nicaragua would have only a few loans in their favor.

    According to Álvaro Rodríguez, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Nicaragua, the Nica Act would reduce the support of multilateral financial institutions, which would increase the cost of credit and damage Nicaragua’s image.

    “There would be uncertainty among potential investors, impacting job creation and the fight against poverty that we must all support,” he said.

    Leonardo Torres, president of the Nicaraguan Council of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise said that “it is necessary to lower the confrontational tone that exists between them,” adding that “if things get worse” President Donald Trump “will make political and economic executive decisions” against Nicaragua before sanctions are passed in the US.

    Source: Panampost.com

     

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    Walmart Nicaragua Investment in Supermarkets

    Walmart store in Managua

    New stores, remodeling and a distribution center are what Walmart plans to develop in the next two years in the country, with an estimated investment of US$200 million.

    María Marta Rodríguez, coordinator of Corporate Affairs at Walmart, explained to Elnuevodiario.com.ni that they plan to open four new stores this year requiring an investment of US$106 million, and in 2018 another US$100 million is planned to be invested.

    Regarding purchases made locally, the company representative added that “… by 2022 Walmart plans to purchase more than US $282 million from Nicaraguan producers of fruits, vegetables, grains, seafood and meats for local sale. “That figure is slightly more than double what Walmart bought last year, when it purchased more than $127.5 million in agricultural products.”

    Walmart opened in Decemebr 2015 is first of its kind in Nicaragua, located in Carretera Sur in the capital Managua. It’s also the largest retail store in the city and is located in a safe location and has security

    In addition to the big-box store, the company also operates three formats of supermarkets: Pali, Maxi Pali and La Union.

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    Nicaragua Says ‘Nica Act’ Reflects Continuity of US Imperialism

    US Threatens Nicaragua With Sanctions for Supporting Venezuela

    The government of Nicaragua has rejected the decision of the United States to sanction the Central American nation through the so-called Nica Act and demanded respect for its sovereignty.

    The Nica Act seeks to impose economic sanctions by the U.S. on Nicaragua over alleged authoritarianism and corruption by President Daniel Ortega.

    “We reject and condemn the NICA-ACT as the continuity of historical policies of imperial interference of the United States in Nicaragua,” Vice President Rosario Murillo said as she read the official statement by the government.

    Nicaragua also demanded that the United States pay a compensation it was ordered to disburse in 1986 by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The compensation involves “the fatal damage caused to the people and government of Nicaragua for the destructive and illegal interference of that power in our national affairs” in funding Contras during the country’s civil war.

    The contras were U.S.-funded right-wing paramilitaries that fought to topple the popular Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua starting in 1979.

    Murillo also said the Central American country will continue to be sovereign and will work with other countries towards peace and unity in the region.

    The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday passed the bill, officially known as the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act of 2017, in an effort to impose economic sanctions on Nicaragua and add conditions to the provisions of aid from international financial institutions.

    Nicaraguans demonstrate in support of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. | Photo: La Voz del Sandinismo

    U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Laura Dogu said earlier this week that it is her belief that some members of the U.S. Congress would favor the Nica Act “simply because of the support that Nicaragua is giving to Venezuela.”

    Dogu added that the U.S. government has “noted which countries support Venezuela,” stating that Nicaragua “does not have many friends in Washington, for the support it gives to Venezuela,” according to Bolsa de Noticias newspaper.

    President Daniel Ortega showed his support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during the anniversary of his nation’s Sandinista Revolution and rejected the attempt of the United States to interfere in its internal affairs.

    The U.S. bill was presented as a sanction over alleged authoritarianism and corruption by Ortega.

    The U.S. government also imposed on Wednesday sanctions on 13 senior officials in Venezuela to pressure the government to cancel democratic and free elections on Sunday, to choose representatives for the National Constituent Assembly.

     

    Source: Telesurtv.net

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    US House Committee Passes Sanctions Against Nicaragua

    TODAY NICARAGUA – The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the bill known as the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act of 2017, or Nica Act, Thursday, in an effort to impose economic sanctions on Nicaragua over alleged authoritarianism and corruption by President Daniel Ortega.

    Nicaragua currently relies on 70 percent of foreign funds for its budget. The bill seeks to add conditions to the provisions of aid from international financial institutions to the country.

    The committee’s approval of the bill marks the last day before the summer recess of the U.S. Congress. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for a final vote in September.

    The Nica Act initially went out of circulation in the House of Representatives when the 2016 congressional session closed, only to be reintroduced in the U.S. House and Senate by Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, as well as Democrat Albio Sires in April.

    The new bill, significantly more stringent than the original, seeks to impose economic sanctions on Nicaragua over alleged authoritarianism and corruption practiced by democratically-elected President Daniel Ortega and restrict the conditions of loans from multilateral organizations.

    The Nicaraguan government released a statement in April calling the Nica Act an “ irrational proposal conceived by insensitive minds.”

    The U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Laura Dogu said earlier this week the U.S. government and congress members have “noted which countries support Venezuela,” stating that Nicaragua “does not have many friends in Washington, for the support it gives to Venezuela,” affirming that congress most likely will vote “in favor of approving the Nica Act,” according to Bolsa de Noticias newspaper.

    Not mincing words, Dogu concluded that it is her belief that some members of the U.S. Congress would favor the Nica Act “simply because of the support that Nicaragua is giving to Venezuela.”

    Ortega is a proud ally of Maduro and used the anniversary of his nation’s Sandinista Revolution as an opportunity to lambast U.S. interference and threats against Caracas.

    Washington is threatening to ratchet up the pressure ahead of Sunday’s elections for the National Constituent Assembly called by the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, imposing new sanctions on 13 senior officials Wednesday.

    Along with the Nica Act, the Foreign Affairs Committee also passed a resolution which condemns the political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

    Source: Telesurtv.net

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    Concern About Import Restriction on Dairy Products

    Nueva Guinea Nicaragua, June 9 2017 . Foto Jader Flores /LA PRENSA

    The dairy sector in Nicaragua anticipates a decrease in exports of cheese and other dairy products to El Salvador, due to more stringent controls imposed recently in that country.

    El Salvador is the main export destination for Nicaraguan cheese, and businessmen in the sector expect to feel a negative impact in the coming months due to new rules on importing cheeses and other dairy products which will come into effect in September in that country.

    Germán Flores, representative of the Nicaraguan Union of Milk Producers (Unileche) in the National Farming Commission of Nicaragua (Conagan), said that ” …”There is real concern about the rules that will be implemented in El Salvador … We have been analyzing what those repercussions would be, but we still do not have any concrete figures and we do not know the scope of the rules in depth, but we do believe that it will have some impact on small producers and importers.”

    The president of the National Livestock Commission of Nicaragua (Conagan), René Blandón, told Laprensa.com.ni that “… “The government has to do more than it is doing … It can turn to the WTO to make sure that trade in Central America is two-way, because if we receive products from those countries, it is not fair that we can not sell them meat or milk and its derivatives. Blandón reiterated the call to the Government to make use of the dispute settlement mechanisms allowed by law to accelerate the reopening of the Honduran market that has been closed to milk and Nicaraguan dairy products for over a year and a half.”

    Source: laprensa.com.ni

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    Essay: History of Nicaragua Independence

    As an ordinary person on the street about Nicaragua, and you are sure to receive a bevy of responses. Tourists may make a note of its beaches and volcanoes, adventure travelers may remark about the surfing opportunities along the coast, those with an ear to politics may mention the conflict between Sandinistas and the Contra’s, and then there are countries close ties to the United States. Its political and social landscape mirrors the often-volatile geological events that tend to wreak havoc upon this Central American country periodically.

    With the largest area in all Central America, Nicaragua is a country that has dealt with a lot of change and strife throughout its history. The same geological and seismic activity that formed the numerous volcanoes throughout the country also wrack the nation with earthquakes. So severe are these earthquakes that the capital city has been destroyed twice within the 20th century. It is a heartbreaker and is a true shame, but Nicaraguans have been dealing with natural disasters since time immemorial. They suffer, but they bounce back. With a mere 4. 2 million in population (the least densely populated country in Central America) one would expect that Nicaragua can come together and overcome the hurdles that its nation encounters. However, as it turns out, this is easier said than done.

    Political, social, cultural and financial turmoil have unfortunately plagued Nicaragua since the Spanish first step foot on its shores. Spanish Conquistadors immediately set out and began subduing the indigenous populace, of which many were mostly enslaved or killed in the end. Colonization of Nicaragua then ensued, and Spain pretty much had free reign of the land. Sure they encountered small rebellions, uprising, and civil unrest, but with the might of the Spanish fleets and armored soldiers, they were able to keep the civilians subjugated. It wasn’t until a new, and rising superpower decided to meddle in their affairs that the fate of Nicaraguans began to change.

    The United States has had a habit, throughout history, of “sticking their nose” into other country’s business, and Nicaragua was no different. Sensing that the ongoing in Nicaragua may affect trade and other socioeconomic factors, the United States have periodically backed ad funded several parties and groups in performing civil uprisings. Take the Somoza family, for example. The prominent family ran the entire country for 40 years. It’s widely know that they were well funded and provisioned by the United States and were considered to be their lackey. These dictators then faced opposition in the face of the Sandinistas which eventually succeeded to overthrow the Samoa’s in 1979.

    The Sandinistas considered themselves to be Marxist revolutionaries and earnestly tried to make their country a better place for all. They attempted to pass social and economic reforms that would have drastically changed the landscape that the Somoza family carved out. Unfortunately, the United States government has always had a knee jerk reaction to anything remotely resembling socialism or communism. Also, the Sandinistas were not as keen to “play ball” with Uncle Sam, and this represented a big problem for the United States, who saw an uncontrollable Nicaraguan government as a dangerous one.

    1980-1981 saw the formation of a small group of known as Contrarrevolucion (Counter-revolution), which was composed of Somoza loyalists along the borders of the country. This group was not only loyal to the Somoza family but were also tired of the changes that the Sandinista regime was trying to enforce. There were allegations that heavy handed tactics (much like those used by the Soviet government) employed, and that those were violating Human Rights. Nonetheless, the United States, along with neighboring Honduras, saw this as an opportunity to dethrone the ruling Sandinistas perhaps. The two foreign countries backed, supported, and armed the Contras.

    Unsurprisingly, and perhaps by design, a civil war erupted and raged on for well over seven years. The losses, both military and civilian, were high. The country destabilized which meant that it posed little threat to American interests, but the war machine is not so quickly stopped and went on for much longer than most anticipated. The war ended when peace talks between all parties began in the late eighties and thanks to a couple of democratic elections, peace finally settled over Nicaragua in the nineties. The civil war may be over, but the scars and damage it has left behind are plain to see today. Modern day Nicaragua stands as an independent country, but a cursory glance through its checkered past reveals a tale of subjugation, manipulation and external influence. Nicaraguans, many of which are used to rebuilding and growing past natural disasters, were naturally the victims of corruption, political discord, and economic turmoil, much of which they never had any influence over.

    About author of this essay: Jeffrey S., freelance paper writer, https://www.advancedwriters.com

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    Nicargua Loses 3-0 To USA In Gold Cup

    Photo credit Richard Kruszynski/ISNSoccer.com (Dropbox)

    Matt Miazga scored on a closer-range header from Graham Zusi’s corner kick in the 88th minute, giving the United States first place in its CONCACAF Gold Cup group with a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua on Saturday night.

    Panama’s 3-0 win over Martinique meant the U.S. needed a three-goal win to move back over Los Canaleros into first. Joe Corona scored his first international goal in four years in the 37th minute and Kelyn Rowe doubled the lead in the 56th with his first international goal, but the U.S. squandered opportunities when Dom Dwyer and Corona took poor penalty kicks in the second half that easily were saved by Justo Lorente.

    Photo credit Richard Kruszynski/ISNSoccer.com (Dropbox)
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    Nicaraguans Can Now Travel to Taiwan Without Visa

     

    TODAY NICARAGUA – Nicaraguans no longer need a visa to travel to Taiwan, the government of Daniel Ortega announced on Tuesday.

    “It is the decision of the Government of Taiwan, to grant a free visa, in reciprocity by the free visa that Nicaragua grants to its citizens,” said Rosario Murillo, Nicaragua’s vice president.

    Murillo, the wife of President Ortega, explained that Nicaraguans can stay up to 90 days in Taiwan, provided they have their valid passport, show their round-trip air ticket, and have no criminal record.

    Nicaragua is one of the 21 countries that maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan and not with China.

    Taiwan

    Related: Panama Cuts Ties With Taiwan

    Taiwan is the best economic partner of Nicaragua in Asia, while China considers it (Taiwan) a rebel province.

    In 2016 Nicaragua exported goods for US$29.87 million dollars to Taiwan. In the first quarter of 2017, Taiwan ranked fourth in the export destination countries of Nicaragua, at 4.4%, behind the United States, El Salvador and Venezuela.

    In other diplomatic news, Nicaragua ratified friendship links with Cuba and established diplomatic relations with Kyrgyzstan.

    Cuban ambassador to Nicaragua, Juan Carlos Hernandez, greeted President Daniel Ortega on the 38th anniversary of the Tactical Reintegration to Masaya, an event that resulted in the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution in July 1979, on behalf of the Cuban people. In turn, the Nicaraguan leader thanked the Caribbean nation for its support and held a brief exchange with the members of the diplomatic delegation.

    In the text of the joint communique, on July 7 in New York, by Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, Mirgul Moldoisaeva, and Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations, Maria Rubiales de Chamorro, said the countries established diplomatic relations, guided by the principles and objectives of the UN Charter and international law, in particular, respect and strengthening of international peace and security, equality between states, respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, independence, observing treaties and non-interference in the internal affairs of the states.

    Source: La Prensa

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    The Investment Climate in Nicaragua According to the US

    Nicaragua has emerged as a fast-paced growing economy in the Central American isthmus.

    The US government has highlighted tax incentives and public-private sector dialogue, but warns that deficiencies in the rule of law, and extensive executive control can create significant challenges for those doing business in the country, particularly smaller foreign investors.

    From the executive summary of the report “Investment Climate in Nicaragua 2017” by the US State Department:

    The Government of Nicaragua is actively seeking to increase economic growth by supporting and promoting foreign investment. The government emphasizes its pragmatic management of the economy through a model of consensus and dialogue with private sector and labor representatives. A key draw for investors is Nicaragua’s relatively low-cost and young labor force, with approximately 75 percent of the country under 39 years old. Additionally, the country’s relative physical safety compares favorably with other countries in Central America. Nicaragua is a party to the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and enjoys a strong trade relationship with the United States.

    To attract investors, Nicaragua offers significant tax incentives in many industries, including mining and tourism. These include exemptions from import duties, property tax incentives, and income tax relief. The country has a well-established free trade zone regime with major foreign investments in textiles, auto harnesses, medical equipment, call centers, and back office services. The construction sector has also attracted significant investment, buoyed by major infrastructure and housing projects, as well as the telecommunications sector, which resulted in enhanced mobile phone and broadband coverage. The country’s investment promotion agency, ProNicaragua, is a well-regarded and effective facilitator for foreign investors. In October 2016, the Government of Nicaragua passed a Public-Private Partnership Law to facilitate infrastructure development.

    Weak governmental institutions, deficiencies in the rule of law, and extensive executive control can create significant challenges for those doing business in Nicaragua, particularly smaller foreign investors. Many individuals and entities raise concerns about customs and tax operations in particular. The Embassy continues to hear accounts from U.S. citizens seeking redress for property rights violations and has raised concerns to the Government of Nicaragua about the infringement of private property rights affecting U.S. citizens.

    Presidential elections held in 2016 further concentrated power, with an authoritarian executive branch exercising significant control over the legislative, judicial, and electoral functions. A bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress in April 2017 (H.R. 1918) which would prohibit the United States from supporting international financial institution loans to Nicaragua due to these shortcomings. Large-scale investors and firms with positive relations with the ruling party are advantaged in their dealings with government bureaucracy. There is a widespread perception that the judicial sector and police forces are politicized and are subject to external influence. Additionally, the important presence of state-owned enterprises and firms owned or controlled by government officials and members of the ruling party reduces transparency and can put foreign companies at a disadvantage.

    The Government of Nicaragua is actively seeking to increase economic growth by supporting and promoting foreign investment. The government emphasizes its pragmatic management of the economy through a model of consensus and dialogue with private sector and labor representatives. A key draw for investors is Nicaragua’s relatively low-cost and young labor force, with approximately 75 percent of the country under 39 years old. Additionally, the country’s relative physical safety compares favorably with other countries in Central America. Nicaragua is a party to the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and enjoys a strong trade relationship with the United States. To attract investors, Nicaragua offers significant tax incentives in many industries, including mining and tourism. These include exemptions from import duties, property tax incentives, and income tax relief. The country has a well-established free trade zone regime with major foreign investments in textiles, auto harnesses, medical equipment, call centers, and back office services. The construction sector has also attracted significant investment, buoyed by major infrastructure and housing projects, as well as the telecommunications sector, which resulted in enhanced mobile phone and broadband coverage. The country’s investment promotion agency, ProNicaragua, is a well-regarded and effective facilitator for foreign investors. In October 2016, the Government of Nicaragua passed a Public-Private Partnership Law to facilitate infrastructure development. Weak governmental institutions, deficiencies in the rule of law, and extensive executive control can create significant challenges for those doing business in Nicaragua, particularly smaller foreign investors. Many individuals and entities raise concerns about customs and tax operations in particular. The Embassy continues to hear accounts from U.S. citizens seeking redress for property rights violations and has raised concerns to the Government of Nicaragua about the infringement of private property rights affecting U.S. citizens. Presidential elections held in 2016 further concentrated power, with an authoritarian executive branch exercising significant control over the legislative, judicial, and electoral functions. A bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress in April 2017 (H.R. 1918) which would prohibit the United States from supporting international financial institution loans to Nicaragua due to these shortcomings. Large-scale investors and firms with positive relations with the ruling party are advantaged in their dealings with government bureaucracy. There is a widespread perception that the judicial sector and police forces are politicized and are subject to external influence. Additionally, the important presence of state-owned enterprises and firms owned or controlled by government officials and members of the ruling party reduces transparency and can put foreign companies at a disadvantage.

    Read the full report.

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    Nicaragua and Honduras: Closer ties for a better future

    In Managua, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his Honduran counterpart, Juan Orlando Hernandez, discussed the process of customs union and bilateral border security, as stated by an official source.

    The issues were addressed by both leaders during Hernandez’s layover in the Nicaraguan capital. This meeting was held after the Honduran president participated in the summit of Central American leaders held in Costa Rica. An event that Ortega did not attend.

    In the meeting with Hernández, Ortega reaffirmed the commitment of Nicaragua “to work for the incorporation of our country to the mechanisms of the Customs Union,” according to the vice president, first lady, and official spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo, in a press release.

    Honduras and Guatemala, nations who are also working together in the political realm, opened their borders earlier on this month to the free movement of goods becoming the first countries to formalize the Central American customs union.

    Ortega and Hernández also talked about “security in the region and how Honduras and Nicaragua have worked very well on this issue” through joint operations against organized crime, Murillo openly stated.

    “Honduras and Nicaragua continuously, through our Armed Forces and Police, carry out exercises, joint operations, that help strengthen security in our border region”, affirmed the vice president.

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    After Panama, Is Nicaragua Next To Cut Ties With Taiwan In Favor Of China?

    A Taiwanese citizen living in Managua holds Nicaragua’s flag and Taiwan’s flag as she waits for arrival of Tawain’s President Tsai Ing-wen at the textile industrial park in Managua, Nicaragua January 10, 2017.Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

    TODAY NICARAGUA – Could Nicaragua be the next in Central American to break ties with Taiwan in favor of China?

    Despite Nicaragua statement earlier this year, that it wanted to secure bigger international recognition for Taiwan, the recent ditching of Taiwan by Panama could have an effect on government of Daniel Ortega.

    Last month, Panama became the second country in the region to do so, following the example of Nicaragua’s neighbor, Costa Rica back in 2007.

    Concerned about Taiwan’s independentist posture following the election last January of the Democratic Progressive Party, China has sought to bring about a change of allegiances in various parts of the world, especially in Latin America, where Taiwan has a strong presence.

    Taiwan for its part has been fighting back, including a visit last January by President Tsai Ing-wen to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

     

    Altough Nicaragua is seeking Chinese investment for a massive canal to compete with Panama’s waterway, Ortega is said to continue backing Taiwan.

    In January, Ortega said in the state media of Taiwan,“We’re still engaged in this battle, which is a just battle, one of principles, so that the people of Taiwan continue to be incorporated in international organizations attached to the United Nations.”

    According to Forbes, in Central America, Nicaragua is the most likely to break ties with Taiwan. Again.Daniel Ortega’s government gave Tsai a warmer than expected welcome in January. But he broke relations with Taiwan for China in 1985 and Tsai’s visit to the country in January was oddly hard to plan, raising suspicion that Ortega was plotting another switch. In 2013 the Nicaraguan government turned over

    The Forbes report last month said Daniel Ortega’s government gave Tsai a warmer than expected welcome in January. But he broke relations with Taiwan for China in 1985 and Tsai’s visit to the country in January was oddly hard to plan, raising suspicion that Ortega was plotting another switch.

    In 2013 the Nicaraguan government turned over responsibility of a 280 kilometer (175 mile) canal to a Chinese businessman. The US$50 billion Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal, which would connect the country’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts, is now either paralyzed or nonexistent. If China wants to revitalize the canal as part of its ever-growing Belt-and-Road initiative to spread its industry around the world, it might get Ortega’s attention again.

    For example, neighbouring Costa Rica which since 2012 has had a free trade agreement with China, has seen an increase in Chinese imports from us$1.4 billion six years ago to us$2.1 billion last year, while exports to China last year were valued at only us$46 million.

    Currently, the Central American countries left with full diplomatic relations with Taiwan are: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

     

     

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    Nicaragua Leads Latin America in Gender Equality

    Supporters of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega flock to the streets of the capital to celebrate his victory. | Photo: Reuters

    TODAY NICARAGUA – The 2016 Global Report about Gender Gap, issued by the World Economic Forum found that Nicaragua leads Latin America in promoting gender equality.

    The report examined gender gaps related to the economic participation of women and opportunities; access to education, health and political empowerment.

    Nicaragua country stood out in the global ranking as well — in 10th position — before industrialized countries like Germany, which ranked 13th, Canada, 35th, and the United States, 45th.

    The report found that Nicaragua has improved greatly since 2006, a year before the Sandinista’s Daniel Ortega won the presidency when the country was far behind in 65th place. Since last year, it especially improved the conditions of women’s participation in the labor force and their wages.

    Since a bill passed in Nov. 2012, Nicaragua also became the country with the highest rate of female legislators and ministers in the world, ahead of Switzerland, Finland, France, Cape Verde and Norway.

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    Nicaragua Economic Activity Up 4.9% up to April 2017

    Scene from the market in Rivas, a small city set to become the heart of activity around the canal.

    TODAY NICARAGUA – From a report by the Central Bank of Nicaragua, in April, the monthly index of economic activity (IMAE) grew by 4.9 percent compared to April 2016.

    Meanwhile, the annual average variation was 4.9 percent and accumulated growth in the January-April period resulted in 5.4 percent.

    The activities with the highest growth were: hotels and restaurants, 18.0 percent; Exploitation of mines and quarries, 10.4; Construction, 10.3 percent; Public administration and defense, 8.3 per cent; Financial intermediation and related services, 8.1 per cent; Fishing and aquaculture, 7.6 percent; Manufacturing industry, 5.3 percent; among others. 

    Remittances are a major source of income, equivalent to 15% of the country’s GDP, which originate primarily from Costa Rica, the United States, and European Union member states. Approximately one million Nicaraguans contribute to the remittance sector of the economy.

    Read full report (in spanish).

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    Why it’s not fair to lump Nicaragua with the U.S. when it comes to the Paris climate accord

    The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words ‘Paris Agreement is Done’ on Nov. 4, 2016. Only three UN members have opted not to sign one: Syria, Nicaragua and the United States. (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)

    Nicaragua is tired of being lumped in with the U.S. when it comes to the Paris climate accord.

    When President Donald Trump announced earlier this month the U.S. would not sign the international agreement, the U.S. joined just two other UN members in the same boat. One of them is Syria, which is mired in a devastating civil war. The other is Nicaragua.

    But Nicaragua’s problem with the Paris agreement is a lot different than Trump’s.

    Nicaraguan National Policy Minister Paul Oquist, the country’s negotiator at the 2015 Paris talks, outlined those differences to As It Happens host Carol Off. Here is part of their conversation:

    U.S. President Donald Trump

    U.S. President Donald Trump refers to amounts of temperature change as he announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

    Carol Off: Donald Trump says the Paris climate accord is too restrictive for the United States. Why didn’t Nicaragua sign on?

    Paul Oquist: Because the agreement is too weak. The agreement is not legally binding. The agreement does not keep temperature under 2 C. It doesn’t achieve the 1.5 C degree goal. It has developing countries renouncing their legal rights to indemnization for the losses and damages that they’re receiving year after year. So the Paris agreement doesn’t fulfil its own objectives.

    The Paris agreement is set up in such a way that it is getting the large emitters off the hook. The large emitting countries do not want to commit themselves to the degree of emissions reductions required to reach the 1.5 C target, or even the 2 C target. So they are looking for all kinds of subterfuges to not oblige themselves to take the political decisions, economic decisions, that would be required to stop climate change.

    Nicaraguan National Policy Minister Paul Oquist

    Paul Oquist, seen here at the 2016 UN climate change conference, says the Paris accord lets countries that emit the most greenhouse gases off the hook. (Youssef Boudlal/Reuters)

    CO: You’re saying it’s because it doesn’t go far enough.

    PO: Absolutely.

    It will be less water, less food, less health, less nutrition, more poverty — and more migration, by the way, towards the northern countries.

    There are already climate change refugees in the world. … The world is headed to very difficult times because of the failure of the high-emitter countries to come to terms with the absolute necessity that they reduce their emissions … so I think that the developed countries should think this through. Think through what the consequences of not assuming the responsibilities now are going to be.

    CO: What do you think of Canada’s record on greenhouse gas emissions?

    PO: Canada left the Kyoto agreement, as you know. … Canada has two per cent of the world’s emissions. It’s among the top 10. [Editor’s Note: Canada’s emissions in 2013 made up 1.6 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to Environment Canada. It ranks ninth among the world’s top 10 emitters.]

    It would be wonderful if Canada would take a leadership role among them, because Canada has the ability to do so, I think. It has very good international relations. And to take a leadership role in here so as to plant the necessity of reducing the gigatonnes for 2030 from 55 to below 35. With that we could put the lid on 1.5 C temperature change in this century and save the world from a lot of grief — of death, destruction, massive migrations, and disease.

    But to do that it’s going to very strong measures to take the world very swiftly to a genuinely low-carbon economy and to massive capture of greenhouse gases via the reforestation of degraded land.

    Source: CBC Radio

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    Nicaragua Ex-Diplomat Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann Dies at 84

    Former Nicaraguan diplomat, priest and intellectual Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann | Photo: Gobierno de Nicaragua

    TODAY NICARAGUA; Former Nicaraguan diplomat, priest and intellectual Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann died Thursday, months after suffering a stroke.

    D’Escoto Brockmann, 84, was a longtime leader within the Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN, and served as foreign minister of Nicaragua from 1979–1990. He was also the president of the United Nations General Assembly from 2008 to 2009.

    News of his death was released by Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo.

    “He was a brother who was never sad,” Murillo said in a public statement.

    “He was an unyielding brother, a brother who fought with the people, for the people, together with the people, for all of our just causes.”

    D’Escoto Brockmann was born in the United States because his father, Miguel Escoto, was a diplomat for former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Garcia. In the 1970s, however, after being ordained a priest, he embraced socialism and liberation theology, eventually joining the FSLN in its armed struggle against Somoza.

    Upon taking state power in 1979, the FSLN appointed D’Escoto Brockmann as their top diplomat, building relations with a number of other Latin American countries — most notably with Cuba.

    When FSLN leader and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega returned to power in 2007, D’Escoto Brockmann was asked to move to New York City to serve as Nicaragua’s representative before the United Nations.

    Although Pope John Paul II banned D’Escoto Brockmann from celebrating Mass in 1984 because of his leftist political ideology, he was later allowed to partake in the ceremony in 2014 once Pope Francis ended the prohibition.

    “Father, priest, friend, comrade, godfather, and supporter of all just causes, we will forever miss you,” Murillo added.

    “A better world, a world of love, is possible — that was the motto of Miguel.”

    Source: TELESURTV.net

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    Activists in Nicaragua Reaffirm Unwavering Support for the Cuban Revolution

    TODAY NICARAGUA – Managua (Radio Havana Cuba) – Cuba solidarity groups in Nicaragua are demanding an end to the U.S. blockade imposed on the island for over half a century and the return of the territory illegally occupied by the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo.

    During the 14th National Solidarity with Cuba Encounter, held in Managua at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua), participants pointed out that the blockade remains intact, despite the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington.

    Prensa Latina reports that participating in the event were First Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Elio Gámez, and members of the Cuban diplomatic mission in Nicaragua.

    Speaking during the encounter, Cuban Ambassador to the Central American country, Juan Carlos Hernández, noted that the event took place in the context of a special date on which the fraternal ties which unite the two nations, joined by history, were sealed: the 122nd anniversary of the birth of Augusto C. Sandino and the death of Cuba’s National Hero José Martí.

    He went on to note that Nicaragua has been called upon to become the capital of solidarity on July 19, when leftist movements from across Latin America will descend on the country to attend the São Paulo Forum, taking place within the context of the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution.

    Speaking during the closing ceremony of the event, Gámez reiterated that Cuba will never betray the trust placed by its friends in the Revolution, nor will it return to capitalism or negotiate a single one of its revolutionary principles.

    He emphasized: “Everything that we are doing in the country to update our development model, which has been subject to popular debate across all spheres, has a single objective – to strengthen the construction of our socialism.”

    Meanwhile, delegates to the encounter stressed that there Is no justification for the U.S. to continue to maintain its military base on the island, which has not only represented an affront to the Cuban people since it was established following the signing of the Platt Amendment, but also features a prison where torture and human rights violations are committed.

    As such, the friendship groups called on those present to intensify work around the cause, above all through social media and in international forums. Tribute was also paid to the legacy of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, who represents a guiding figure for independence and anti-imperialist struggles across the continent.

    The event brought together Cuba solidarity movements from Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras, all of which highlighted the anti-imperialist legacy of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution.

    Meanwhile, they also reaffirmed their unconditional support and solidarity for the Cuban people and government, who after resisting for over five decades, continue to defend their Socialist Revolution and humanist values.

    The event rounded off with the announcement of details regarding the Ninth Continental Cuba Solidarity Encounter, set to be held in Nicaragua in July 2018.

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    Why Nicaragua and Trump Are Not Allies Despite Both Opposing the Paris Agreement

    So US President Donald Trump has gone ahead and decided to quit the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States is one of only three countries around the world who have refused to agree to the deal, the others being Syria and Nicaragua. But they have very different reasons.

    Syria has been slightly preoccupied with a civil war which broke out in 2011. It was simply unable to send diplomats to attend the talks in Paris in 2012.

    But what about Nicaragua? Why on Earth are they opposed to a deal which would stop global warming?

    It turns out that the small Central American state, unlike President Trump, is actually very much in favor of tackling climate change and believes the Paris Agreement is too weak and will not work.

    Helen Yuill, from the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign in London, said much of the reporting in the past few days had been very inaccurate.
    “Media reports have suggested the US was joining two renegade states in opposing the Paris Agreement but that is both inaccurate and condescending,” Ms. Yuill told Sputnik.

    In 2015 Nicaragua’s lead envoy at the talks, Paul Oquist, gave a video interview with Climate Home about the reasons for Managua taking such a position.

    “It’s a not a matter of being trouble makers, it’s a matter of the developing countries surviving. We don’t want to be an accomplice to taking the world to three to four degrees and the death and destruction that represents. That is unacceptable. That is a threat to our agriculture, to our cattle grazing, to our fishing and our forestry,” Mr. Oquist said.

    He also said the Paris Agreement was based on a “failed mechanism” and he pointed out that Nicaragua and the other 99 smallest polluters in the world were responsible for only three percent of carbon emissions while the 10 biggest polluters accounted for 72 percent.

    Nicaragua contributes 0.03 percent of global emissions, according to the European Commission’ Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research.


    >
    It is also ranked fourth in one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change.

    Nicaragua was hit by 44 extreme weather events, including floods, droughts and forest fires, between 1996 and 2015.

    The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, in a point-by-point rebuttal of the Paris Agreement, said:

    “The Paris Agreement is not enough because it does not transform, nor even inconvenience, the current model of production, consumption, finance and lifestyle, which is unsustainable.”

    In 1998 Nicaragua signed the Kyoto Protocol, which included real consequences for the world’s major polluters, something which it says is missing from the Paris Agreement.

    The left-wing Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega has been an implacable enemy of Washington and has little or nothing in common with Trump’s bombastic regime.

    The Sandinistas first came to power in 1979 after US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza was overthrown by a popular rebellion. Somoza was assassinated the following year by Sandinista commandos after he fled into exile in Paraguay.

    Throughout the 1980s US President Ronald Reagan financed the Contra rebels who tried in vain to oust the Sandinistas.

    In 1990 the Sandinistas lost power after losing an election but they bounced back in 2007 and Ortega was elected President again.

    Relations with US have remained cool and were not helped when in 2014 Managua announced plans to build a huge new ship canal, which would rival the US-backed Panama canal, despite widespread opposition from environmentalists and many Nicaraguan farmers who would lose their land.

    But construction has ground to a halt amid suggestions that the financing, from China, has dried up.

    Source: https://sputniknews.com

  • in

    Why isn’t Nicaragua in the Paris agreement?

    TODAY NICARAGUA – Ever since US President Donald Trump declared that he would withdraw the US from the landmark Paris climate change agreement, much has been made of the fact only two other countries have not signed up.

    They are Syria, and Nicaragua – but the US is very different from either.

    Syria has been embroiled in a civil war for six years, leaving 300,000 dead, so it is perhaps understandable that it did not participate in talks.

    Nicaragua’s reason for refusing the deal, though, is not because it wanted to burn more fossil fuels, but because the agreement did not go far enough.

    The country already gets more than half of its energy from renewable resources, and plans to bump that up to 90% by 2020.

    A 2013 World Bank report labelled it “a renewable energy paradise”, with extensive opportunity for geothermic, wind, solar and wave energy.

    When the Paris deal was being negotiated, Nicaragua said there was a total mismatch between what the document said was needed to protect the climate, and what signatories proposed to do about it.

    The goal of the Paris agreement is to restrict temperature increases by 2100 to a maximum of two degrees Celsius more than before the global industrial age – and aim for 1.5C if possible.

    View of a corn field in La Tuna, a community in Madriz, Nicaragua, affected by severe drought, on Nov. 17, 2014. In Guatemala, 80 percent of the first season crops in the Dry Corridor in 2015 were lost, affecting 154,000 families. El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua reported corn production dropoffs in excess of 60 percent.Inti Ocon / AFP / Getty Images

    But Paul Oquist, negotiating for Nicaragua in 2015, said he had reservations about the level of commitment made by individual countries in their pledges.

    They would not restrict average temperature rises to 2C, let alone 1.5C, he said – and much more action is required.

    “These voluntary commitments don’t work,” Mr Oquist told Democracy Now after the negotiations.

    “Right now we’re looking at a three-degree world, and that is catastrophic and unacceptable.”

    That is in sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s speech announcing he was pulling out of the agreement – in which he said the Paris agreement was a deal that aimed to hobble, disadvantage and impoverish the US, to the benefit of other nations.

    Not so, Mr Oquist argued at the Paris summit – developing nations are being held equally accountable for climate change – something he argued was unfair.

    Historically, the US, Europe, and more recently China account for almost half of the world’s carbon emissions.

    The US outputs some 5.2 million kilotons of carbon dioxide every year. Nicaragua, by contrast, generated about 4,569.

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