Nicaragua. According to Countryaah.com, Nicaragua Independence Day is September 15. President Enrique Bolaños encountered problems in his quest to reform and “depoliticize” the Supreme Court. The Sandinists and the President’s own party PLC (Partido Liberal Constitucionalista) argued that the reform, which would drastically reduce the number of members and abolish the parties’ right to appoint members, is in fact Bolaño’s way of taking control of the court. The Sandinists and the PLC exercised their right and appointed members to complicate the reform. Legal experts pointed out that the reform would constitute a violation of the Constitution, but since the prosecution of that accusation would be made by the Supreme Court, the matter has not been decided.
The deep gap in the PLC between supporters of President Bolaños (so-called Bolañistas) and supporters of former President Arnoldo Alemán (alemánistas) deepened during the year. The latter broke with the president in March in protest of his refusal to issue orders to release Alemán, who was charged with fraud, embezzlement and illegal money laundering during his time as president. On November 7, he was finally sentenced to 20 years in prison, but will serve the sentence in house arrest.
Nicaragua’s contemporary history
Nicaragua’s contemporary history is considered the time after the Sandinists and Daniel Ortega lost the presidential election in 1989 and the revolution was aborted. In the post-1990 period, Nicaragua has been characterized by major political disagreements and the policy is colored by both democratic and undemocratic events.
New election winner in 2016
Ortega won another controversial election with his wife Rosario Murillo as vice presidential candidate in November 2016. Prior to that election, Nicaragua’s top constituency (Consejo Supremo Electoral de Nicaragua) decided that Ortega’s opponent, Liberal Eduardo Montealegre, was not allowed to stand as presidential candidate at the election. Without its supposedly fierce opponent, Ortega won a superb electoral victory with more than 72 percent of the vote.
The policy pursued under Ortega after his return as president differs from the socialist policy of the Sandinists in the 1980s and is now a mix of traditional left-wing values, such as free health care and education, combined with pro-Catholic and pro-business elements. This is a policy that seems to be appropriate for the national economy, which has seen an annual increase of almost 5 per cent in recent years. Despite recent economic growth, Nicaragua is still one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Riot in 2018
2018 has been called an annus horibilis for Nicaragua. In April, the Sandinist government implemented a welfare reform, which meant Nicaraguan people had to pay more money to the National Insurance Fund (INSS) while reducing social security payments and pensions. This reform led to major protests and thousands of Nicaraguan people, most students, demonstrating their displeasure in the larger cities of Nicaragua. These peaceful demonstrations were brutally beaten down by the police, the Sandinist youth and paramilitary groups. Hundreds of protesters have been killed in these meetings. Ortega has been heavily criticized by the UN, OAS, Amnesty and other international bodies, without the repression of his political opponents becoming more visible. In the aftermath of the violent encounters, there has also been a very large emigration to neighboring countries Costa Rica, Honduras and to the United States.